American philanthropist Melinda Gates and Zimbabwean entrepreneur Strive Masiyiwa helped launch ‘The Digital Manifesto’ on Wednesday – a 10-step guide on how developing countries can get ahead in the digital age.
The Pathways for Prosperity Commission on Technology and Inclusive Development launched its report in Nairobi, outlining how developing countries can achieve digital transformation.
The commission, which is based at the Blavatnik School of Government, Univeristy of Oxford, is Co-Charied by Melinda Gates and Strive Masiyiwa and brings together multiple stakeholders to make technology work in developing markets.
The report is the culmination of two years of research and analysis undertaken by the commission.
Along with numerous African countries, places like Mongolia and India were included in the investigation as the report seeks to offer a road-map for all low-income countries.
“It’s a roadmap that is not too prescriptive,” said Strive Masiyiwa, founder of telecommunications firm Econet, at the launch in Nairobi.
“It captures the key recommendations that governments need to be thinking about and that entrepreneurs need to be thinking about.”
The Zimbabwean entrepreneur and thought leader added that Africa has a “unique opportunity” to create its own digital revolution instead of being a recipient of technological advancements in more developed countries.
Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, described the report as “toolkit” which was created through “a lot of listening” to the concerns of various stakeholders in the digital economy.
She emphasized the importance of making technology work for everyone, saying that women in Africa are 10% less likely to own a phone than men.
Failure to switch on economies for the digital age will risk widening the gap between rich and poor countries, as well as fueling inequalities within them, the commission’s report says, leaving millions of marginalised people, including the poorest, rural communities and women, even further behind.
The ten steps to get ahead in the digital age are as follows:
- Design a country-wide holistic digital strategy
- Empower citizens for the digital age
- Secure citizens’ data
- Provide a social safety net
- Build foundational digital systems
- Nurture an enabling investment environment
- End digital exclusion
- Transform the health and education of your population
- Create adaptive localised tech regulations
- Coordinate internationally