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MWC Barcelona 2024: Supporting growth through technology

As a provider of RegTech solutions that enable governments, telecom regulators and central banks to ensure the good governance of mobile services, GVG needs to keep its finger on the pulse of the mobile industry. And what better place to do so than the Mobile World Congress? A GVG delegation therefore attended the event in Barcelona, which took place from 26 to 29 February. This year’s themes covered 5G and 6G, AI, digital engineering and manufacturing, game-changing technologies, sustainability and diversity, and the Internet of Things. The following session topics particularly attracted our attention due to their connection to our activity and to their potential when it comes to supporting growth through technology: e-governance, digital identity, and the data economy.

Digital innovation and e-governance

The digital transformation is changing the economy and the way business is done. But it is also changing the way in which countries are run. As the digital transformation progresses in Africa, governments have become aware of the need to harness it to enhance service delivery and thus stimulate socioeconomic development. Indeed, government technology, or GovTech, streamlines and automates processes, and allows different agencies and departments to effectively share relevant information. It also makes government services more accessible to the citizens, through a cellphone, for instance.

According to the African Union’s High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET), e-government platforms make it easier for the public to access essential services such as voting, tax payments and applying for birth or death certificates. Direct access through the Internet promotes ease of use, timeliness, and cost reduction, while lessening bureaucracy and corruption. All in all, GovTech helps governments include more citizens in the country’s administrative and financial systems.

Several African countries have successfully implemented e-government platforms. Common e-government platforms currently in use on the continent are online government portals, digital identity initiatives and G2G, G2B, and G2C activities, reports ICTWorks. Ghana, for instance, implemented a digital revenue collection platform, an integrated online payment platform and a domestic card payment scheme. These have promoted financial inclusion so effectively that the latter has now reached 100% in the country.

In the Republic of Congo, the telecom regulator, the ARPCE, facilitated the implementation of a transaction certification solution to reduce irregularities and security risks related to the mobile money (MM) payments of utility bills. This solution, provided by GVG, enables the electronic timestamping of these payments. It therefore gives the Congolese government full control and visibility over them.

Building digital trust through digital identities

GovTech can build trust between citizens and the government, by narrowing the digital divide and promoting social inclusion. Trust is a key requirement in many different areas of the digital society. However, lack of trust in digital services impairs their adoption, thus depriving the non-users of their benefits. This is particularly true of services requiring the input of sensitive information, like MM and other electronic payment platforms. Indeed, despite the popularity of digital payments in Africa, cybersecurity and data protection issues have been breeding distrust among the population.

Among the factors that cause security issues, inadequate or nonexistent identification plays a significant role. Individuals, businesses and government departments or agencies need to be able to reliably identify themselves online to limit the risks of data breaches. However, with an estimated 500 million people in Africa not having a legal ID, digital authentication remains a challenge. Digital identity can foster trust within the mobile ecosystem by supporting online privacy and security. Indeed, it provides a level of trust that identity validation systems require to function optimally. Furthermore, by facilitating access to financial services and to the civic life of the country, digital identity has a positive impact on socioeconomic development.

GVG’s RegTech solutions promote digital identity to contribute to the creation of a safe digital ecosystem. Our digital remittance oversight and SIM registration platforms, for example, effectively enable user identification. Both platforms leverage user identity to promote accountability and curb fraud in their respective ecosystem. The former flags suspicious or illegal remittance transactions, thus enabling the application of AML rules. As for the latter, it links every SIM in the country to a specific user, which helps prevent SIM-related fraud.

Leveraging data for revenue assurance and mobilization

It is common now to hear that “data is the new oil”. True, this metaphor, which first appeared on The Economist in 2017, has been the topic of numerous debates. However, there is no denying that data has become a highly valuable resource. Not only because it provides governments and businesses with the insight they need to function optimally. But also because it can catalyze massive financial and operational benefits for governments, tax administrations and other authorities involved in domestic revenue mobilization.

Revenue assurance and mobilization are key concerns for African governments, which require substantial funds to stimulate socioeconomic development on the continent. However, these funds tend to fall short of the target. The OECD indeed estimates that the continent’s sustainable financing gap until 2030 is approximately 1.6 trillion USD. This means that an extra 194 billion USD is needed every year to achieve the SDGs. As the OECD points out, Africa can tap into the strong potential of its domestic revenue to bridge the gap. Unfortunately, revenue mobilization represents a challenge, due to tax inefficiencies and fraud.

That is why GVG works to provide governments, regulatory authorities and central banks with the data they need to promote tax compliance and revenue assurance in key economic sectors like telecoms and digital financial services. Indeed, our RegTech solutions connect the relevant authorities directly to the sector they were tasked with overseeing. They gather and analyze the data to enable optimal decision- and policymaking. In Ghana, for example, they perform an ongoing and automated verification of all revenue-generating events from the telecom sector.

The mobile industry: Supporting growth through technology

The mobile industry is a fertile terrain for groundbreaking innovation and supports an ever-widening range of technologies and services that are transforming not only the industry itself, but also business and the economy as a whole. The MWC represents a sterling opportunity for industry leaders of the private and public sectors to engage with each other and with new technologies. This year’s themes gave rise to discussions that reminded us that, by supporting e-government initiatives and digital identity, as well as stimulating revenue assurance and mobilization, we make a targeted contribution to supporting growth through technology in Africa.

Would you like to read GVG’s insights on the 2023 MWC in Barcelona? Click here.