Rapid digitalization has the potential to enhance structural transformation among African countries as well as galvanize progress on regional developments like the recent African Continental Free Trade Area. However, these benefits are not guaranteed given the multipronged threats in the digital space that can limit trust and curtail the adoption of such innovations. Indeed, the platform-based business model that dominates the digital economy raises fundamental issues about data protection and citizens’ privacy. Likewise, the monopoly market structure that characterizes the digital platforms implies a winner-takes-all paradigm, leaving less for developing economies. Rising cybercrime, ransomware, and digital identity theft pose significant threats: African economies lost over $3.5 billion through cyberattacks in 2017 alone. The more worrisome threat emanates from the rise in the number of African states with spyware, surveillance, censorship, and internet shutdowns. This trend is affecting trust in the digital space.
March 23, 2022