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Technology and poverty alleviation in Africa

Welcome to the irony called Africa! A continent so blessed and yet so poor. My dear country, Nigeria, is known as the poverty capital of the world and I find this reality very shameful. This reality is almost the same for the majority of Africans as poverty continues to plague the continent.

All in all, however, it comes back to one fact: many Africans are poor and it is high time the heads of state and government of various African countries came together to address the issue of poverty. On the African continent, with a massive population of over a billion people, more than 500 million of that number live below the global poverty line of $ 1.25 a day. The first sustainable development goal speaks of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030, but the data on the ground does not show that Africa is winning the fight against poverty.

The burning question every concerned African should ask is how to change the poverty narrative in Africa. In my case, I am simply asking, “What are some of the practical ways we can use technology to lift more people out of poverty?” High poverty simply means that we are sitting on multiple barrels of gunpowder and we collectively do what we need to do or be ready to face the consequences.

Here are some areas that can make a difference if taken seriously:

Digital competence

Fortunately, the availability of the internet, social media, and the acquisition of digital skills that promote digital skills are not overly expensive. Nowadays, a lot of teenagers are engaged in the producing, writing, creating images and designs made possible by technology. Young people are very tech-savvy; Therefore, they make up the largest part of the population that has adopted digital skills.

In 2014, the Law on Innovation and Opportunities for Employees defined digital skills as a work preparation measure. As the technology is cheaper and available, digital literacy is required to get employed in some manual jobs. With the continent’s increasingly unskilled population, digital skills acquisition should be a deliberate plan enforced by the government at the secondary school level.

training

Years ago schools relied on multiple desktop computers to enable their students to use ICT. Today the entire classroom has been converted into a virtual class where students can study as they please. In fact, it’s not news that some people have actually gone through an institution without visiting the four walls of a classroom!

Many have taken advantage of the power of technology by simply watching videos and reading e-materials. The skills acquired were translated into profitable endeavors, changing the narrative from poverty to wealth.

However, broadband penetration remains a challenge, mainly due to a lack of infrastructure and investments, especially in rural areas. Providing facilities to facilitate e-learning and promote ICT will certainly go a long way in alleviating poverty on the continent.

Agriculture

The agricultural sector needs technology more than ever, and that applies to almost its entire value chain. For example, Farmcrowdy, an agrotechnology startup, is working hard to revolutionize the agricultural sector across the country by empowering smallholders to increase food production and security.

With the help of technology, this digital farming platform improves seeds and agricultural inputs, trains farmers in modern agricultural techniques and provides a market for the sale of their agricultural products. In turn, this has enabled rural farmers to cultivate more hectares of arable land and, in a broader sense, to increase food production and security in Africa.

In fact, the technology has improved the country’s agricultural value chain. With more infrastructure and favorable government policies, platforms like Farmcrowdy and other agricultural startups would make greater use of technology to empower rural farmers for food production and sustainability that alleviate poverty.

Banking

Banks no longer enjoy the monopoly of financial transactions as fintechs now compete with them. Platforms like Remita in Nigeria or M-PESA in Kenya are revolutionizing the sector, using technology and making it easier for bank customers to outsource cash processing, deposits and withdrawals. The excitement for mobile money transfer is fueled by its overall impact on the challenge of financial inclusion driven by the ability of providers to offer savings, credit, insurance and other financial products at low cost to the poor.

If the unbanked masses, usually the poor, could be rewarded by these services, then they would choose a service that leveraged technology while cushioning the devastating effects of poverty on them.

identity

A large population on the continent has no identity, which means that they would forego so many health, educational and social protection services. Nigeria has made progress on its national identity offensive, but it certainly could have been better.

It should be noted that the identity management challenge is not just national. Individuals, companies, and various types of organizations also need to solve this challenge. That’s why I praise what a start-up called Youverify is doing with YouID. It is a secure digital ID that enables the secure storage of personal information in an encrypted format while being used to securely access online services without filling out another Know Your Customer form.

Africa needs to work particularly hard to lift more of its people out of poverty and technology and all of its many possibilities need to be used appropriately to make this a reality. This is because technology can help promote transparency, improve access to education, curb corruption, improve accountability and, in general, lead us to become a much more sane society where leaders focus on the common good focus.

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