SADC: Support for the development of the SADC Digital Transformation Strategy
SADC Member States have established digital transformation, industrialisation, competitiveness enhancement and deeper regional integration as core policy pillars. In terms of digital transformation, the SADC has identified the following thematic areas as priorities:
- Promoting the development of harmonised digital, legal and regulatory frameworks at the regional level;
- Enhancing equitable access to affordable, secure and high-quality digital infrastructure;
- Tackling investment hurdles and market distortions to facilitate the establishment of regional/continental operators;
- Fostering the improvement of digital skills literacy and supporting the digitalisation of public services and investments in e-Government;
- Improving capacity and skills of SADC states on cybersecurity, data protection, regulation enforcement and e-Commerce.
The advancement of the digital transformation agenda is anticipated to lead to several benefits, including the expansion of trade, job creation for youth and female workers, boosting productivity, enhancing financial inclusion and improving governments’ accountability and capabilities.
The overall objective of this assignment was to facilitate the development of the SADC Digital Transformation Strategy. The Strategy intended to identify strategic capacities and capabilities for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, the Strategy highlighted key interventions in the domains of digital governance, digital connectivity infrastructure, digital skills investments, digital platforms and emerging technologies (i.e. quantum computing, Big Data analytics and Artificial Intelligence). Our team provided analyses of the enablers of digital transformation, including regional legal, cybersecurity and regulatory frameworks, universal connectivity potential, the robustness of digital entrepreneurship ecosystems and the state of play of digitalisation across sectors (e.g. e-Commerce, e-Education, e-Tourism, digital agriculture).
To meet the above-stated objectives and scope of work, the methodology was designed to an inclusive and consultative approach involving the SADC Secretariat, Member State governments, private sector as well as non-state actors (e.g. research centres, women’s groups). The focus of the consultancy was to benchmark regional policies, strategies, programmes and delineate priority areas of interventions, possible partners and potential financing mechanisms.
- Drafting a Situational Analysis Report presenting an in-depth assessment and analysis of the regional Digital Transformation landscape; reviewing and integrating lessons learned from the development and implementation of digital transformation in other geographic regions.
- Conducting desk research and facilitation of consultative activities to identify priorities, capacities, expertise and knowledge gaps across the public, private and civil society sectors.
- Preparation of a Regional Consultations Report, documenting the progress, achievements and impact of regional consultations.
- Development of the blueprint of the draft SADC Digital Transformation Strategy and Action Plan.
- Identification and prioritisation of financing mechanisms on resource mobilisation and investment strategies to implement the SADC Digital Transformation Strategy.
- Estimate the financial requirements for the implementation of the SADC Digital Transformation Strategy Action Plan.
- Moderation of a validation workshop with representatives from SADC Member States to review, compile additional inputs and validate the blueprint of the Draft SADC Digital Transformation Strategy.
- Formulation of recommendations for the development of a wider regional digital transformation programme (with the potential to be supported by the EU-Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument).