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More governments leaning on ICT to sustain strategies

February 13, 2020 | Interview
Published on

By Kerry van der Mescht

Published by Chris Tredger in ITWeb Africa.

Governments and regulatory bodies in Africa are increasing their levels of investment in ICT, making technology the cornerstone of their development strategies. Moreover, there is renewed interest in creating the best environment for tech implementations to happen – with the growing realisation that success equals efficiency.

This is according to James Claude, chief executive officer of Global Voice Group (GVG), a company with over 20 years’ experience in the provision of IT solutions for governance, revenue insurance and regulatory compliance.

Initially focused on monitoring voice and data traffic, the Group gradually diversified its tools to meet Africa’s digitisation challenges (regulation of telecoms and mobile money, electronic tax solutions and revenue mobilisation strategies).

“Using technology, the governments, administrations and services can become more efficient. They can create the right regulatory environment and through partnerships, these private investments boost job creation and foster the development of the digital economy, which is just an extension of the main economy,” says Claude.

Today there is renewed focus on creating the right framework for successful implementations. Claude says countries like Congo, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda are among several that are pursuing this approach.

“Most of them already have elaborated development plans with a central focus on ICT investment,” he adds.

Government continues to represent one of the more active investors in technology and regularly captures the attention of analysts who evaluate the size, scope, nature and consistency of ICT spend across markets.

At the International Data Corporation’s IDC Directions 2020 event, hosted recently in Dubai, analysts said that investments in digital transformation and innovation will account for 30% of all IT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) by 2024, up from 18% in 2018.

Claude believes the need for reliable data monitoring, as well as accurate, real-time data analytics and cyber security are key drivers behind this push to spend. The lack of trust and compliance is an overall challenge within Africa, as is cyber threats and the absence of the right infrastructures for protection.

“For many governments, as well as telecom regulators and banking and financial authorities, the complexity of the digital transactions and telecom ecosystem further complicates compliance matters. The need for reliable data monitoring drives these IT investments in order to improve decision-making in key economic sectors,” says Claude.

“Moreover, while digital safety and cyber-security are everybody’s business, including individuals’, companies’, and organisations’, governments have an overarching responsibility regarding national security and citizen protection. This is another crucial driver too,” he adds.

GVG is also of the view that data-driven technologies will play a crucial role in Africa’s ongoing battle with corruption.

“Data-driven technologies play a crucial role in this battle as they can help in creating proper trail and accountability. Dematerialisation and the use of technology definitely contribute towards an even more complex context, that requests the necessary technical tools to identify, track and have real-time information to address and fight against this phenomenon.”

With governments and regulatory bodies having to respond to the pressure to invest in technology and leverage 4IR-related tech influences like cloud, AI, machines learning and IOT, GVG believes its value proposition is ideally positioned and totally relevant.

“Today, technology is part of our daily lives more than ever before. On the one hand, we use our mobile phones almost every minute to communicate and transact and it’s a complex ecosystem. On the other hand, regulatory bodies set the rules for all stakeholders to comply with in these sectors. This is where GVG comes in. We provide cutting-edge technologies to these regulatory bodies so that they can set the rules more efficiently, monitor compliance with these and protect end-users,” Claude continues.

GVG is also confident that trusted digital identities for governments and regulatory bodies will encourage secure ecosystems. However, data sovereignty is eventually going to remain a key aspect of the digital transformation process, with a growing need to keep track of data and its location.

“For those who have already invested in these sorts of digital technologies, it seems natural that they deploy all efforts in terms of infrastructure and knowledge transfer to guarantee correct maintenance. And one way of investing from government’s side is to create the right regulatory framework to foster investment from the private sector and build PPP to accelerate the development of the sector,” says Claude.

“For governments considering investing, choosing the right partner to implement these technologies is essential to achieving optimum outcomes and successful digital transformation in their respective countries,” he adds.