How technology can be deployed to scale-up social protections during COVID-19: The case of South Africa, Nigeria, and Africa

Research ICT Africa published a new policy brief that looks at how technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), can be deployed to scale social protection programmes and to reduce corruption in the disbursement of social protection grants, which were manifested by the COVID-19 lockdowns as crucial lifelines for the most vulnerable. The research found that redistributive fiscal policies are vital to address the economic and social upshot of COVID-19 lockdowns since they provide an opportunity to improve national social protection programmes. The study further examined the pre-pandemic infrastructure endowments that are likely to enable or constrain the scaling-up of social protection at the household level and provided some recommendations on how technologies and last mile payment distribution could be optimised to alleviate extreme poverty and reduce corruption and maladministration. This includes

  • Leverage mobiles, digitisation, and private sector infrastructure to scale up social protection
  • Introduce open data policy that will improve information asymmetries and enable the better use of available public and private data to exploit new technologies
  • Develop and fund better the information regulator to ensure the enforcement of the Protection of Private Information Act
  • Enhance real-time governance of public funds
  • Build fungible long-term public goods
  • Complement social protection grants with support to businesses