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WHERE ‘GOING DIGITAL’ IS A WAY OF LIFE

Imagine if most of us sitting in this room did not have a name! How would we address and communicate with each other? Equally distressing is the scenario for someone coming to Africa and fi nding that more than half of the streets are unnamed. The tourism sector, eventually suffers. Another block in accelerating the socio-economic development of Africa is the lack of organized stored data of the citizens. The residents are unable to avail basic facilities due to non-regulation of mobile payments, electricity and water supply. They are unable to have complete access to socio-economic benefi ts such as health, education and transportation.

The Governments in various African nations are losing out on high amounts of revenue. These hurdles are delaying the development of the entire African economy. The solution? Information and Communications Technology. And KS Infosystems wants to be a part of this solution. The political and corporate leaders are envisioning a new Africa, and digitisation is an integral part of that dream. All over the world, right from waking up in the morning to retiring at night, people are surrounded by devices within their arm’s reach that are connected to the Internet. Everyone, everywhere is talking about going ‘DIGITAL’.

WHAT ALL CAN BE DONE IN ‘REAL-TIME’?

The time is not far when every citizen of the African continent will have the access and the ability to do their fi nancial transactions, or deal with government departments and private sector in a seamless electronic fashion. There are initiatives in progress but Africa needs a clearer roadmap. What will matter the most and how do we get there? What all can be done in real time? Digital technology has the power to transform the way people live their daily lives and the whole continent will move towards fi nancial inclusion. Initiatives such as direct benefi t transfer, where the initial idea is to directly transfer entitlements and subsidy payments to those who need it is possible through one such solution – the Smart Cards.

THE SMART CARDS

The leakages and the pilferage that may be present in the current subsidy and entitlement-distribution and disbursement system could be reduced to the minimum possible limit through smart cards. This could ensure that the money from the government coffers i.e. the entitled benefi ts could go to the benefi ciaries from the government accounts. The identifi cation of the benefi ciaries, too, is possible through smart cards. Discover the full potential Across the world, digital technology is being extensively used in practically every sector that a human being has access to – such as banking, real estate, retail, education and the like. However, Africa is yet to discover the full potential of the digital revolution. Even today, a number of countries rely on maintaining manual records in most of the sectors. However, one knows that to err is human and these manual records, too, cannot be a hundred percent secure. In addition, maintaining manual records comes with the burden of high cost, diffi culty in accessing those records which have not been used in a long time and the complications involved because of the fragmentation of data. In addition, the quality of manual records may not be persistent at all the places. Their authentication can always be questioned given how rampant corruption is in the society.

In such a scenario, it is essential to replace the practice of manual records with a more robust and reliable approach. And as they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” the digital technology has fi nally found its way into Africa, moving the continent a step forward towards embracing the world-acknowledged concept of going digital.

TRENDS OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY ACROSS AFRICA

In Kigali, Rwanda, paying fare for the bus just requires a quick tap of your pre-paid smart card. Several countries in Africa are using the mobile money route to go cashless. Mobile money is a form of electronic money through which one can conduct fi nancial transactions using mobile phone. In recent times, Africa has been successful in making cashless transactions using basic feature phones and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) systems technology. In a city called Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, more than half the payments made by commuters to the city bus is through this mode. Even though some parts of Africa have adopted the USSD technology for transferring money, the continent is not lagging behind in opting for other modes of digital payment as well. According to the Africa Frontiers Forum, between 2011 and 2013, Africa recorded a 52% penetration rate in 2012 and a compounded annual growth rate of 36% in mobile subscriptions. The penetration of M-Pesa, Africa’s fi rst mobile money platform, has been such that today, 96% of households outside Nairobi have at least one M-Pesa account.

South Africa, one of the most prosperous countries of the continent, is ahead in this transition towards going digital as it accounts for 30- 35% of the 10% retail payments in Africa conducted through electronic payment systems. Nigeria, too, is at the inception stage of becoming a digital economy with MasterCard gaining popularity in the payments industry. In sub-Saharan Africa, particularly where the scope of traditional banking is limited, mobile money has emerged as a low-cost and convenient option for carrying out digital transactions. A breakthrough in fi nancial services Digital transaction is an innovation in the fi nancial services sector that brings a host of benefi ts along with it. Apart from providing a hassle-free mode of payment, it ensures that the ‘unbanked’ population comes under the net of banking systems, thus increasing fi nancial inclusion. When people deposit their money in bank accounts, they earn an interest on their savings. Further, these savings improve the scope of future investments. Increased investments would lead to more entrepreneurial ventures, creating employment, increasing output and fi nally aiding the Gross Domestic Product of the region.

Access to mobile money served as a bridge out of poverty for more than 1,00,000 households in Kenya, which were pulled out of extreme poverty as per a recently published study on the long-term effects of mobile money on economic outcomes in Kenya. The study also mentioned that women, who were earlier engaged only in subsistence farming, ventured into business-related occupations after the expansion of mobile money in the country. The varying regional economies of Africa are in a transition phase as they are biding adieu to the traditional cashdependent transactions system and adopting digital payment modes in fi nancial services. Mobile operators too, are innovating in line with different needs of the people.

A technology of effi ciency How do you ensure that even the last man standing has access to digital technology? Though the languishing promotion of digital transactions is now expediting in Africa, one needs to provide incentives and assurance to the public that the solutions being offered are effi cient, safe and simple to use. The building blocks i.e. the technology and the digital infrastructure needs to be put in place. And the entire digital program should be made popular to the extent that not only the upper middle class, who are used to credit cards and money wallets, but the people at the bottom of the pyramid, the masses with a sky full of aspirations, too, get acquainted with digital technology. Remember, curbing cash could be a weapon to counter black money. The big question, however, is ‘How can we do it?’ KS Infosystems for Digitising Africa We have to tell people that this is an effective technology that will change your life. For any transformation to happen, for any revolution or for any big change to take place like that of digital revolution, there could be some hiccups along the way. KS Infosystems can be the fi x for all such roadblocks.

You have to change the habit of people – the habit of relying on paper money, the habit of hesitating to adopt technology, and that is not an easy job. It will only happen when people are convinced that this is a great mode of doing transactions. When you involve a large number of people into the digital economy, it will create a huge amount of database – the database that will point towards the spending behaviour of the people, their saving habits and the way they live. Digital technology that uses biometric identifi cation is being considered as one of the most promising and life-changing technological solutions in existence today, because of the multi-functionality and authenticity it offers. Moreover, when everyone in the world is unique, why not use this uniqueness for authentication. If you appreciate your time and individuality, then digital solutions offered by KS Infosystems are sure to become your ultimate companion for life! This entire process can expedite if the gap between the opportunity and the resource is bridged. Here Africa is the opportunity and KS Infosystems is the resource. We will develop an ecosystem where ‘going digital’ becomes a way of life. This summit and the decisions that we take here could be a trigger for building a Digital Africa, where we take the benefi ts of the digital technology to the mass level and not merely the class level. Digital technology is the order of the day. There is no Read More…

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