Governments Urged to Embrace Digital Transformation

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Emma Okonji

The Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika, Amrote Abdella, has stressed the need for African governments to work towards achieving the goals of the fourth industrial revolution.

This, she said, would drive digital transformation across Africa.
Abdella in a statement, said it was an interesting glimpse into the mind of a demographic most impacted by the digital era, adding that what sets the leaders apart in any digitally transforming organisation, was not just a clear digital strategy, but a culture and leadership poised to execute it.

Employees today expect business leaders to be nimble, embracing digital tools to remain competitive and make strategic decisions with the future in mind, she said.

According to her, “As African countries work to become global leaders in the digital revolution, young people are looking for a tech-savvy and digitally mature government to boldly set the standards, and lead the way.”

Listing the many benefits of a digitally-savvy government, Abdella said, “Armed with technologies and the capabilities to use them, governments are empowered to be more agile, efficient, data-driven, transparent and connected to citizens. With machine learning and skills in data analytics, policy makers can be more forward-thinking, regularly re-examining policies, discovering new opportunities and mitigating risks for more productive and inclusive growth.”

She said a Deloitte Digital Survey also found that public sector leaders who understood digital trends and technologies were three times more likely to provide appropriate support for transformation, compared to those who do not.
High levels of involvement with technology typically result in greater investment, broader adoption and a greater number of successful implementations.

She quoted a recent IFC report where Africa was noted as having a slow and insufficient policy response to digital transformation.
Respondents called for accelerated efforts in developing clear-cut digital agendas. This included modernising school curriculum, training teachers, expanding broadband access, promoting a vibrant business climate by encouraging competition, and enforcing cybersecurity. Today, resources such as the Artificial Intelligent (AI) Business School geared specifically towards government can be the first stop for governments looking to upskill their employees, she said.

“With more digital champions in government, imagine how much more rapidly Africa could implement this transformation and advance its position as a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“In 2018, for example, the United Arab Emirates announced its intention to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence, leading in AI research, development and innovation.

“To do so, they began efforts at government level, appointing the first dedicated Minister of AI. The effort was applauded ensuring a necessary focus for implementation as opposed to just talking and ensuring solutions are based on the latest understanding of technology,” Abdella said.

According to her, for Africa to truly succeed and lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, innovative start-ups, technology companies and smart businesses need to collaborate on building an ecosystem where everyone benefits from technology.
Leading this charge needs to be progressive governments with clear roadmaps that both define and enable the digital horizon.
She added that the most critical area of investment by governments should be skills development in order to sustainably grow their emerging digital economies.