The World Bank has approved a $266.5 million ‘game-changing’ initiative, known as the Digital Transformation for Africa/West Africa Regional Digital Integration Programme (DTfA/WARDIP), in an effort to accelerate digital transformation in West Africa. The initiative focuses on enhancing internet access, promoting competition among service providers, creating employment opportunities, and access to services for 1.3 million individuals, including 50 percent women, and people with disabilities.
The programme, funded through the International Development Association (IDA) will target four African countries; The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania, where it will address existing challenges in digital connectivity, access, and usage in the region, and promote a single digital market in West Africa. The regional initiative will also collaborate with the African Union, Smart Africa, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to strengthen institutional capacities for managing and promoting digital markets.
Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Africa and the Middle East, emphasized the programme’s significance, stating, “DTfA/WARDIP is a crucial step toward an interconnected, innovative, and inclusive future for West Africa. Beyond shaping a digital landscape, it aims to foster regional integration through collaboration and strategic investments.”
She said: “It will break down barriers, cultivate a dynamic digital ecosystem, and empower local communities and businesses to thrive in the digital age”.
Additionally, DTfA/WARDIP will support Smart Africa to build capacities for African policy and decision makers in digital transformation, which is crucial for the development of the Single Digital Market. It will also help to close gender gaps in digital skills, entrepreneurship, and digital financial services, ensuring that women have equal opportunities to benefit from the digital economy. ICT service providers and businesses will get support to foster a regional digital market for expansion, while public sector entities, universities, and regulatory bodies will receive targeted support to enhance their digital development contributions.
Furthermore, the initiative will extend its support to ICT service providers and businesses, public sector entities, universities, and regulatory bodies to foster a regional digital market for expansion, as well as strengthening the capabilities of these key stakeholders.