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African countries reach data, digital ID interoperability deal to foster growth

African countries reach data, digital ID interoperability deal to foster growth

African countries including Ghana, Gabon, Guinea, Rwanda, Tunisia and Zimbabwe have signed a declaration on data and digital identity interoperability to advance their digital and economic integration and prosperity objectives.

The sextet, as foundation members, signed the Smart Africa Trust Alliance (SATA) declaration recently during the ‘Transform Africa Summit 2023’ organized by Smart Africa, a Rwanda-based tech initiative backed by some African leaders to spur and speed up the socio-economic development and transformation of the continent.

SATA is a collaborative initiative aimed at fostering trust and promoting secure and responsible digital transformation in Africa.

According to a press release from Smart Africa, the declaration specifically intends to encourage the adoption and expansion of digital public goods, streamline digital integration and data sharing, as well as encourage the development of digital identity ecosystems.

“There is no digital transformation without any digital identity,” said Smart Africa CEO Lacina Koné during one of the sessions during the event that spanned three days (26-28 April).

Ghana’s Communication and Digitalization Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, speaking at the signing ceremony, praised Smart Africa for the work aimed at strengthening its strategic pillars of innovation, connection and transformation.

“I call on all parties to respect the commitments they are about to make on the SATA principles and to respect them in good faith for the benefit of all African citizens. You can rely on the full support and solidarity of the Republic of Ghana in this important endeavour,” she said.

“By working together, I have seen and believe going forward, we can continue to unlock the incredible economic growth and opportunities that we have seen thus far to the benefit of Africa and the entire world.”

The SATA alliance brings together various stakeholders, including governments, private sector organizations, civil society, and academia, to collectively address the challenges and opportunities associated with digitalization and innovation on the African continent.

AfDB support for digital trade, payment project in 10 countries

During the three-day event which took place in Zimbabwe, Smart Africa, for its part, signed partnership agreements with a number of entities with the aim of fostering digital transformation in different domains.

In one of the deals, Smart Africa and the African Development Bank (AfDB) agreed to jointly execute a project worth $1.5 million to streamline digital trade and digital payment policies in ten African countries.

Per a press release from the AfDB, the project dubbed ‘Institutional Support for Digital Payments and e-Commerce Policies for Cross-Border Trade Project (IDECT)’ will involve Côte d’Ivoire, the Republic of Congo, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Liberia, Uganda, São Tomé and Príncipe, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The program, aimed at closing gaps in the digital trade and payment systems of these countries, will see over 600 persons benefit from regional training and capacity-building programs on cross-border digital payment and digital trade for governments, private sectors, and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

“This initiative will bolster the development of harmonized e-payment policies, capacity building, and gender-sensitive frameworks, ultimately fostering a digital trade ecosystem that generates employment opportunities across the continent,” says Leïla Mokaddem, AfDB director general for Southern Africa.

Smart Africa CEO, Koné, says the project underlines their desire of “fostering digital transformation and economic growth in Africa” by “addressing policy gaps and promoting gender-sensitive training, we are laying the foundation for a thriving digital trade and e-commerce ecosystem.”

The African Union and the European Union also have a partnership in place which aims to drive digital transformation for sustainable development in Africa.

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