Africa’s agenda for solarized digitization during the coronavirus era


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The seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum for Sustainable Development took place earlier this month under the motto “Better progress: Towards a resilient and green Africa to achieve Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063” and to promote the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability instead of development.

Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, pointed out that developing a just, fair economic model that includes green and renewable energies, resilient infrastructure and digitization, while protecting natural resources by expanding partnerships for science, technology and innovation could unleash the region’s green potential and drive economic transformation.

UNECA digital agenda

In an article entitled “Harnessing New Technologies: The Cases of Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology,” provided by Victor Konde, the United Nations Commissioner for Scientific Affairs: [COVID-19] highlighted the importance of technology and innovation in developed countries. […] Digital technologies have changed the way people work, interact and access services. “Interest in the role of new technologies in promoting African change” and in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is also highlighted.

According to the document, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conducted thorough policy research and “advised member states on various emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.” The paper goes on:

“The digital economy does not depend on multiple key technologies, some of which include artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing, blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality and augmented reality. However, as UNCTAD found, China and the United States currently own 75% of the patents on blockchain, account for half of global spending on IoT, and their companies account for three-quarters of the global commercial cloud computing market. As a result, China and the US make up 90% of the 70 largest digital platforms, while Africa and Latin America together make up around one percent (1%). “

The internet and tech giants like Google and Facebook are spending billions of dollars to get more people online in Africa, despite governments trying to block access to these services have had a backlash. At the same time, Vera Songwe, UN Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, pointed out:

“Africa could expand its economy by a staggering $ 1.5 trillion by capturing just 10% of the fast-growing artificial intelligence (AI) market, which is projected to reach $ 15.7 trillion by 2030.”

Digital currencies in Africa

Africa is the second largest continent in the world in terms of territory and population (around 1.3 billion people), and cryptocurrency is in high demand for the following reasons:

  • The countries’ national fiat currencies are prone to double-digit hyperinflation, according to the United Nations.
  • Africa has a large population without banks, a high prevalence of smartphones and an increasingly young, migrating population.

In 2020, monthly cryptocurrency transfers to and from Africa valued at less than $ 10,000, often traded person-to-person on the 816 million cell phones in sub-Saharan Africa alone, rose 55% to hit “im June peaked at $ 316 million “. They traded with a large margin that reached up to 70% due to the small number of cryptocurrency traders. Individual citizens and small businesses in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya made up most of this trading activity.

China is the largest trading partner of many African countries. Since the mid-2000s, the company has invested ($ 45 billion in 2019, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) in Africa’s technology, communications and financial infrastructure, as well as blockchain technology education. Egypt, Kenya, Rwanda and Eswatini have already looked for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). As a BRICS nation, South Africa is running pilot projects as part of the multinational digital currency initiative in Russia that will be linked to China’s mobile electronic payment system for digital currencies supported by its blockchain-based service network.

Connected: Not like before: The debut of digital currencies amid COVID-19

Nigeria is the second largest BTC market in the world

In its 2019 Nigeria Digital Economy Diagnostic Report, the World Bank outlined the potential of the country’s digital economy. Just a year later, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria outperformed China and currently ranks second in Bitcoin (BTC) trading worldwide, despite not having the legal framework to support doing business in digital assets.

Bitcoin trading provides an increasing source of income for an increasing number of unemployed young people, as well as the ability to send and receive cross-border payments. For example, BTC funded the #EndSARS protests against police brutality in 2020, which were carried out by young people nationwide and spread across Nigerian borders, in parallel with solidarity protests in different parts of the world.

Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria banned banks from serving crypto exchanges and encouraged citizens to use licensed international money transfer companies to make cross-border payments by May 8. The Nigerian Securities Commission followed suit and suspended its proposed legal framework for digital assets. This ban is expected to remain in place until a well-drafted concrete legal framework for the $ 1.8 trillion cryptocurrency market is developed, which may be the key policy proposals by the Nigerian tech industry group to introduce Know Your Customer Combating money laundering and combating cryptocurrency includes financing of terrorism regulations. As chairman of the Commission on Economic and Financial Crime, Abdulrasheed Bawa stated:

“We’re going to digitize our processes and set up a new, fully committed Directorate for Intelligence, so we can gather information so we can proactively tackle economic and financial crimes and provide the government with the necessary quality advice that leads to good governance . “

Connected: The South African President resigns as banks use blockchain technology

The solar energy potential of Africa

Africa is abundant in energy resources, including solar energy, as it receives more hours of brilliant sunshine during the year than any other continent. However, there is a lack of reliable access to modern energy, which is required for digitization.

The continent is determined to energize and solarize its digitization as it is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, despite its minimal contribution to CO2 emissions. With the exception of Eritrea and Libya, the African countries have ratified the Paris Agreement with ambitious nationally determined contributions.

According to forecasts by the International Renewable Energy Agency: “With the right policies, regulation, governance and the right access to financial markets, sub-Saharan Africa could meet up to 67 percent of its energy needs [from renewables] by 2030. ”And, as Songwe pointed out,“ over 70 percent of Africans who currently do not have access can gain access to energy ”.

Egypt is a regional leader in converting to green / solar energy. The continent is seeing a surge in growth in new solar systems, which is mainly supported by nine countries. In a unique project, Egypt recently entered into a joint venture with a Chinese company to manufacture sand-to-cell photovoltaic solar panels locally. China has increased its overseas investments to 57% under the Belt Road Initiative, according to research by the International Institute of Green Finance.


The national bans and international travel bans imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated green digitization efforts in African markets, promoting democracy and cryptocurrencies and removing geographic barriers to collaboration and distribution. The Nigerian songwriter and singer Burna Boy with his music and the Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo with his paintings conquered the world in 2020.

Accordingly, the United Nations has dedicated all of 2021 to the creative industries as it plays a vital role in promoting sustainable development for an environmentally friendly recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A sustainable green recovery plan requires understanding the links between climate change, health and inequality, and implementing ambitious climate action that is in line with the Paris Agreement. More important than ever, these goals provide a critical framework for environmentally friendly COVID-19 recovery. The 12 art exhibitions exhibited at the seventh session of the Conference of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development reflected these themes.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the sole rights of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Quotes in this article from previously published sources have been slightly edited.

Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA, is an international tax attorney and accountant who writes frequently on tax, legal, and accounting issues for Tax Notes, Bloomberg BNA, other publications, and the OECD.