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Africa’s solarized digitalization agenda in the time of coronavirus



The seventh session of the Africa Regional Discussion board on Sustainable Improvement convened earlier this month with the theme “Building forward better: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063” and to advertise the financial, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable growth.

Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general of the United Nations, identified that creating a simply, honest financial mannequin that embraces inexperienced and renewable power, resilient infrastructure, and digitalization — whereas defending pure sources by broadening partnerships for science, expertise and innovation — might unleash the area’s inexperienced potential and gas financial transformation.

UNECA’s digital agenda

In line with a paper titled “Harnessing Emerging Technologies: the cases of Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology,” which was supplied by Victor Konde — scientific affairs officer at the United Nations: “The global pandemic caused by [COVID-19] has highlighted the importance of technology and innovation in developed countries. […] Digital technologies have transformed how people work, interact and access services.” It additionally highlights the “interest in the role of emerging technologies in driving Africa’s transformation” and in reaching the UN’s Sustainable Improvement Objectives.

As the doc states, the United Nations Financial Fee for Africa, or UNECA, performed profound coverage analysis and “provided policy advice to member States on several emerging technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.” The paper continues:

“The digital economy is unpinned by several key technologies, some of which include artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality, and augmented reality. However, as UNCTAD noted, China and United States currently own 75% of patents on blockchain, account for half of global spending on IoT and their firms accounts for three quarters of the global market of commercial cloud computing. As a result, China and the United States account for 90% of the 70 largest digital platforms while Africa and Latin America account for a combined share of about one percent (1%).”

The web and tech giants, reminiscent of Google and Fb, spend billions of {dollars} in an try to get extra individuals on-line in Africa regardless of a backlash from governments which might be making an attempt to close down entry to those companies. At the identical time, Vera Songwe, UN under-secretary-general and govt secretary of the Financial Fee for Africa, identified:

“Africa could expand its economy by a staggering $1.5 trillion dollars, by capturing just 10% of the speedily growing artificial intelligence (AI) market, set to reach $15.7 trillion by 2030.”

Digital currencies in Africa

Africa is the second-largest continent in the world in phrases of each territory and inhabitants (roughly 1.3 billion individuals), and cryptocurrency is in massive demand for the following causes:

  • International locations’ nationwide fiat currencies are susceptible to double-digit hyperinflation, in line with the UN.
  • Africa has a excessive unbanked inhabitants, a excessive penetration of smartphone use and an more and more younger, migrating inhabitants.

Throughout 2020, month-to-month cryptocurrency transfers below $10,000 in worth to and from Africa — usually traded person-to-person throughout the 816 million cellular telephones in Sub-Saharan Africa alone — skyrocketed 55%, “reaching a peak of $316 million in June.” They traded with a big margin that reached as much as 70% attributable to the small quantity of cryptocurrency retailers. Particular person residents and small companies situated in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya accounted for many of this buying and selling exercise.

China is the largest buying and selling associate of many African nations. It has been investing ($45 billion in 2019, in line with the United Nations Convention on Commerce and Improvement) since the mid-2000s into Africa’s expertise, communications and finance infrastructure, and blockchain expertise training. Already, Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Eswatini have been researching central financial institution digital currencies, or CBDCs. As a BRICS nation, South Africa is piloting one as half of Russia’s multinational digital foreign money initiative that shall be linked with China’s cellular Digital Foreign money Digital Fee system supported by its Blockchain-based Service Community.

Associated: Not like earlier than: Digital currencies debut amid COVID-19

Nigeria is the world’s second-largest BTC market

In its “Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report” of 2019, the World Financial institution laid out the nation’s digital economic system potential. Solely a yr later, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria surpassed China and presently ranks second in the world in Bitcoin (BTC) buying and selling, regardless that it lacks the regulatory framework to help the digital asset enterprise exercise.

Bitcoin buying and selling offers a supply of revenue for an growing quantity of unemployed younger individuals in addition to a method of sending and receiving cross-border funds. For instance, BTC funded the 2020 #EndSARS protests in opposition to police brutality, which had been carried out by younger individuals nationwide and unfold past Nigerian borders, parallel to solidarity protests in completely different components of the world.

Just lately, the Central Financial institution of Nigeria banned banks from servicing crypto exchanges and is incentivizing residents till Could 8 to make use of licensed worldwide cash switch operators for cross-border funds. Nigeria’s securities regulator adopted go well with by suspending its deliberate regulatory framework for digital belongings. This ban is predicted to be in place till a well-devised concrete regulatory framework for the $1.8 trillion cryptocurrency market is developed, maybe one that comes with the Nigerian Expertise Business Group’s core coverage solutions of instituting Know Your Buyer, Anti-Cash Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism laws. As the chairman of the Financial and Monetary Crimes Fee, Abdulrasheed Bawa, defined:

“We are going to digitalise our processes and we are going to create a new full-pledged directorate of intelligence to enable us gather intelligence so that we will be proactive in our fight against economic and financial crimes and by so doing we will also provide the government with necessary quality advice that will lead to good governance.”

Associated: South African president steps down as banks embrace blockchain expertise

The photo voltaic power potential of Africa

Africa has considerable power sources, together with photo voltaic power, because it receives extra hours of brilliant sunshine throughout the course of the yr than another continent. However it lacks dependable entry to trendy power, which is required for digitalization.

The continent is decided to green-energize and solarize its digitalization, as it’s most susceptible to the impacts of local weather change, regardless that it contributes minimally to CO2 emissions. With the exception of Eritrea and Libya, African nations have ratified the Paris Settlement with bold nationally decided contributions.

In line with forecasts by the Worldwide Renewable Vitality Company, “With the right policies, regulation, governance and access to financial markets, sub-Saharan Africa could meet up to 67 per cent of its energy needs [from renewables] by 2030.” And as identified by Songwe, it might probably “provide access to energy to over 70 per cent of Africans who are without access currently.”

Egypt is main regional efforts to transition to inexperienced/photo voltaic power, with the continent experiencing a surge of development in new photo voltaic installations, primarily pushed by 9 nations. In a first-of-its-kind challenge, Egypt just lately entered right into a three way partnership with a Chinese language firm to regionally manufacture sand-to-cell photovoltaic photo voltaic panels, with China having ramped up its abroad inexperienced funding to 57% below the Belt and Street Initiative, in line with analysis from the Worldwide Institute of Inexperienced Finance.


The nationwide lockdowns and worldwide journey bans imposed consequently of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated inexperienced digitalization efforts throughout African markets, which have promoted democracy and cryptocurrencies and damaged down geographic limitations to collaboration and distribution. Nigerian songwriter and singer Burna Boy, together with his music, and Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, together with his work, conquered the world throughout 2020.

Accordingly, the UN has devoted the complete yr of 2021 to the inventive economic system, because it performs a essential function in selling sustainable growth for a inexperienced restoration from the COVID-19 pandemic. A sustainable inexperienced restoration plan necessitates understanding the hyperlinks between local weather change, well being and inequality, and it requires implementing bold local weather change insurance policies that align with the Paris Settlement. Extra essential than ever, these objectives present a essential framework for a inexperienced COVID-19 restoration. The 12 artwork exhibits exhibited at the seventh session of the Africa Regional Discussion board on Sustainable Improvement convention mirrored these themes.

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed below are the creator’s alone and don’t essentially mirror or signify the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Quotes in this text taken from beforehand printed sources have been frivolously edited.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA, is a global tax legal professional and authorized public accountant who continuously writes about tax, authorized and accounting points for Tax Notes, Bloomberg BNA, different publications and the OECD.

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