The ICT sector can make evidence-based policymaking a reality for Africa

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The ICT sector can make evidence-based policymaking a reality for Africa

The ICT sector can make evidence-based policymaking a reality for African governments.

Policymaking is fraught with uncertainties and political considerations. Research-based evidence has to compete with many other factors in government decision making, but policymaking based on evidence is gaining importance in several African countries. In the face of dwindling official development aid and competing needs, African countries need to use resources cost-effectively and ensure that the revenue is channelled to the most important needs. For this, they need data for informed decision-making.

Traditionally data comes from long, manpower intensive and costly studies. Technology that has the ability to extract data in real-time from high volume transaction sectors providing a much easier and efficient solution when it comes to evidence-based policymaking.

Evidence-based policymaking is needed in all spheres of government. Telecommunications is an important economic sector for most emerging countries and a country like Rwanda has made great strides forward in this area. Accurate data has enabled the country to make enormous progress in the communications sector: extending internet accessibility, improving infrastructure, and integrating ICTs, as well as prioritising e-Health and digital literacy initiatives—and the Rwandan government has ambitious plans to become a middle-income country by 2020. These are no insignificant achievements. The successes Rwanda has achieved have come largely as a result of accurate data from a collaborative effort between the country and ICT partners.

Tanzania is the first country in the world to have deployed mobile money monitoring technology—a progressive and important step which will give visibility into all mobile money transactions to protect the mobile money market and users and also to enable better planning of the cashless economy.

We live in a digital world where ICT is at the centre of economic security and the telecommunication infrastructure forms the backbone of the whole ecosystem. A mobile phone can now be used as a terminal through which financial services can be provided or to connect people to the internet superhighway. By monitoring the different areas of activity, the government can ensure that the necessary quality of service required for services like these is maintained. It can also channel resources to growth areas and smooth the way for future developments. The impact of these services on the economy as a whole can also be seen.

Accurate market data leads to better governance of the telecommunications sector, to market growth, to increased revenue for both government and the private sector and to better pricing for consumers. Evidence-based policymaking ultimately benefits the end-user or consumer as it allows the regulatory bodies to make informed policy and other decisions based on real-time evidence and not on speculation or political influence

The African continent is re-writing its history and shifting the paradigm of development. Africa is writing its own narrative for development that is embedded in social and economic structural transformation that will lead it to inclusive growth and sustainable economic development. Part of this narrative should incorporate evidence-based policymaking, it has proven results and will assist African governments in realising these development goals.