Digital transformations and economic diversification in Central Africa: issues, challenges, and opportunities

The 35th Session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for Central Africa (ICE) was convened under the theme: Digital Transformations and Economic Diversification in Central Africa: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities on 23 – 27 September in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. The session aimed at boosting the digital economy and to bring together the endeavours of Central Africa towards digital transformation in order to promote an integrated digital ecosystem. During the session, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Economy, Planning and Finance César Augusto Mba Abogo stressed that ‘[Central Africa is] late for the 4th industrial revolution and we run the risk of becoming mere spectators and consumers of the global economy oriented towards a digital economy. [It] face[s] two major challenges: The first is to close the digital divide. The second, is to move from the internet of consumption to the internet of production. [It] need[s] to create wealth, added value, be more competitive in the global world, develop new industries, and boost entrepreneurship and innovation.’ Some of the key recommendations that were further put forward during the conference focused on a) establishing a regional multisector database to measure countries’ efforts towards achieving the SDGs using big-data processing technologies, artificial intelligence, and alternative data systems; b) creating a community investment fund dedicated to supporting start-ups; and c) setting up National Digital Identity Programs to provide timely legal identity to all citizens through effective digital ID systems.