In an interview with the Milken Institute’s COVID-19 Africa Watch series—a hub created to share information and analysis about the pandemic’s impact on Africa—Malado Kaba, Amujae Leader and former Minister for Economy and Finance for the Republic of Guinea, outlined the potential for digital technologies to transform the public sector and enable a better response to future crises.
Malado discussed the leadership shown by many African governments in decisively responding to the spread of COVID-19 on the continent:
“We’ve seen that all governments’ work is actually quite effective in strategically leading the health response and being agile, making bold decisions, and also acting decisively. For instance, I was pleasantly surprised yet also quite struck by the decision of the government of Nigeria to lock down such a bustling city like Lagos to prevent the virus from spreading.”
Beyond the pandemic, Malado also highlighted the benefits for African governments and citizens in the adoption of new digital solutions. She outlined how the transformation may be accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic as people adopt remote working and other collaboration tools that they had previously resisted. Advantages include increased efficiency and accountability, the opportunity to expose corruption, and the chance to prepare the continent to fully participate in the digital economy:
“I think that digitizing public administration will help us provide more timely and accurate data in the public domain via the ministries’ websites, on portals that can be accessible to citizens, civil society organizations, private sector people, and also investors and our development partners.”
As the African continent moves further towards digitization, Malado talks about the need to implement policies to ensure that the transformation takes place in an equitable way, and the continent’s other challenges continue to be addressed:
“We also need to ensure that we leave no one behind. We know that there are large populations across the continent that are still offline and that do not have access to power. And we cannot talk about technology without access to power, and without also resolving some of our very basic infrastructure challenges.”
Watch the full interview with Malado here.