Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Accelerate Digital and Financial Inclusion in Africa

Segun Ogunsanya, the Group CEO of Airtel Africa, has issued a call to action to the telecommunications sector in Africa, urging the utilization of emerging technologies to foster connectivity, interaction, and global transactions for all individuals across the continent.

In his address at the recently concluded Mobile World Congress in Kigali, Dr. Ogunsanya emphasized the potential for telecom entities to narrow the digital gap, promote financial inclusivity, and enhance the accessibility of budget-friendly intelligent devices through the integration of progressive technologies. He specifically highlighted the potency of Generative Artificial Intelligence [GenAI] in foreseeing consumer behavior and amplifying insights into customer preferences.

Activating the notion of intelligent connectivity, an amalgamation encompassing 5G, the Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence, was emphasized by Dr. Ogunsanya as a catalyst for expediting technological progress and enabling revolutionary digital services.

“The telecommunications industry holds a distinctive opportunity to simplify digital entry for the populace by deploying these technologies,” remarked Dr. Ogunsanya, emphasizing the need for substantial investments in the construction of digital infrastructures throughout the continent. He also emphasized the significance of fostering a dynamic mobile financial ecosystem in conjunction with collaborations with equipment manufacturers and other key stakeholders to ensure widespread access to smart devices for every African.

Highlighting the prevailing gap, Airtel Africa’s Group stressed that a considerable segment of Africa’s youthful demographic remains untapped, with smartphone penetration at 59% and a mere two out of ten Africans possessing a mobile money wallet. The application of emerging technologies, according to the group, can extend to various domains, including AI-aided e-learning for tailored curriculum design, e-health for refined patient monitoring, and advanced agricultural technology utilizing AI and connectivity for crop disease detection.

Furthermore, the potential applications of these technologies extend to the establishment of smart cities for secure communities and efficient public utilities, development planning for predicting population shifts, and assistance to governments in formulating urban and rural development strategies. Dr. Ogunsanya also underscored the role of smart metering in ensuring precise usage measurement, fostering sustainability, and enhancing customer experience. Additionally, we highlighted the potential of biometric technology in authentication, privacy, access control, and non-repudiation.

Airtel Africa’s ongoing deployment of 5G networks across its 14 markets in Africa aims to facilitate a digitally interconnected world and unlock a myriad of opportunities. The company’s recent partnership with the Government of Rwanda, aimed at providing over 1 million people in the nation with affordable high-speed LTE smartphones, further signifies its commitment to advancing technological accessibility and connectivity in the region.

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