On June 24, UNCDF held a webinar on Driving Digital Transformation in least developed countries (LDCs). The webinar was held in the context of the current COVID-19 crisis and provided key insights as to how digital technologies are mitigating not only the impacts of the crisis but are also laying the foundation for inclusive digital economies.
Earlier this year, the launch of the new UNCDF strategy Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era was held in Uganda to explore the potential of digital solutions in bridging gaps in finance, health, education and beyond. Leveraging digital finance to develop services for the last mile in agriculture, health, education and energy serves as the basis for the inclusive digital economy strategy. For this reason, UNCDF invited Uganda’s Minister of ICT, Judith Nabakooba, to join the discussion on digital transformation.
UNCDF invited the CEO of InTouch Senegal, Omar Cisse, and Senior Migration Governance Expert of the Swiss Development Corporation, Bettina Etter to join the panel and give their thoughts on the topic. On the side of UNCDF, Executive Secretary Judith Karl, Director of Financial Inclusion Henri Dommel and Regional Lead in West and Central Africa Sabine Mensah were present to describe specific activities that UNCDF carries out in driving inclusive digital economies.
The webinar began with opening remarks from Judith Karl followed by an introduction from Henri Dommel on the UNCDF vision of equipping millions of people to use innovative digital services in their daily lives to empower them and lead to achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). A quick overview on the market system development approach was given and some successful use cases in Benin and Senegal were highlighted.
Judith Nabakooba presented the state of digital transformation in Uganda as the country has been developing its ICT infrastructure and ecosystem over the past few years with improvements in connectivity and development of e-government services among others. UNCDF is working with the Ugandan government to provide technical assistance in its digital transformation efforts.
Nabakooba gave insights into SafeBoda in Uganda – a ride-hailing service redesigned to become a delivery service for goods during the COVID-19 crisis. SafeBoda is a specific case of how digital solutions are helping to mitigate impacts of the current pandemic by providing the population with a means to access food and groceries. SafeBoda is working with UNCDF to scale up their solution, with support from the Swedish Development Cooporation Agency (SIDA).
In Senegal, Omar Cisse provided data on how mobile money has driven digital transformation in the country and helped financial inclusion in rural areas. Access remains a challenge in some areas that are hard to reach but with the help of UNCDF, jobs as mobile money agents were created to provide access to cash points and money transfers in these areas. The mobile money industry simultaneously provides jobs and helps the economy as daily transactions can reach up to 2 billion FCFA (US$ 3.5 million).
The transfer of mobile money can be crucial in developing economies as remittances play an important role in sustaining cash flow in LDCs. With this in mind, and the Call to Action on remittances launched in June, Bettina Etter discussed the impact of COVID-19 on migrants and remittances. The call to action is led by the governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom and has been joined by over 10 countries since, to help migrants send money more easily through the reduction of transaction fees.
The webinar provided a space for dialogue between stakeholders and the public audience. 245 people tuned in from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. Several questions were asked related to digital infrastructure, digital literacy and skills as well as the provision of a gender lens in the work being carried out.
The webinar recording is available here.
Original Source : UNCDF News