The era of the digital: the Republic of Congo in the starting block

31 mars 2022

The digital transformation is at the center of the new century where the industry 4.0 is thriving through big data, and artificial intelligence, etc. This fundamentally changes the implementation of economic, social, and environmental activities by including the digital transformation which consists in integrating digital technology into all areas of activity in a sustainable way.

This digital transformation justifies Congo interest to make it a priority to accelerate the development.    

An abundance of multi-level digital initiatives in record time across the country

Several initiatives are raised since September 2021 across the congolese digital innovation ecosystem, among them: the Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire organisation of  Brazza Cybersecurity Forum initiated by Skytech Congo a private society, sounded the alarm on the strategic challenge of this digital field for public authorities and companies ; the 1st National Forum for Technological Innovation (FONIT) where the UNDP Congo Acceleration Laboratory identified fifteen innovative digital solutions, integrated into a database; the 3rd edition of the Congo Digital Forum under the high patronage of the Prime Minister, head of government with the participation of experts from Africa, Europe, and America; a symposium of a dedicated Youth NGO held on the challenges of reducing the digital divide in youth. Similarly, the launch of the White Paper on Posts, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, which in its prospective function has established a diagnosis of the sector and aims to anticipate the impacts the generation speed of innovations on markets. Also, debates on the issue of training women and girls in digital technology to boost women's technological entrepreneurship are emerging through the local media. 

The sector challenges in Congo

This dynamic on the digital in Congo is justified by the challenge to digitalize the congolese economy in all its components and to reduce the digital divide in the country.  This challenge brought thoughts in the national development strategy of the digital economy, also called Congo digital 2025. This national digital strategy “Congo digital 2025" is built on three pillars, oriented on digital services and contents respectively for the general public (pillar 1: e-citizen), for digital administration (pillar 2: e-government), and for private societies development mechanisms related to ICT (pillar 3: e-business).

The National Development Plan (NDP 2022-2026), a strength in the sector diagnosis

The new National Development Plan, NDP 2022-2026, included the development of digital economy among its six priority pillars with agriculture, industry, tourism, economic free zones, and the promotion of real estate. This digitalization operationally leads to the extension of the national optical fiber network to lower internet connection costs. A support of development partners will be useful to reach those results.

The UNDP new digital strategy, an opportunity for the country

Linked to the challenge of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 9 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, UNDP's DIGITAL STRATEGY 2022-2025 aims to outline the implementation of digitalization, one of the three catalysts of the new UNDP STRATEGIC PLAN 2022-2025.  This strategy plans to transform the organization by using digital to increase programmatic and operational capacities, to ensure that programming is executed digitally, to strengthen the global digital ecosystem and to make UNDP a digital-native organization, fully build of skills, process, and digital data. This digital transformation could inspire Congo in the implementation of its national digital strategy, that needs to be upgraded.

The digital development challenge in Congo exists through an internal favored dynamic, but it will be possible with quality infrastructures.

This UNDP Digital strategy could be used by the Country Office to set up an internal action plan, which would facilitate the mobilization of resources to support Congo in the digital world through an innovative, inclusive, and multi-year approach. The known challenges in this national development strategy of the digital economy, need an upgrade in accordance with the sector’s evolution. This upgrade should also aim to align this Congo strategical document of digital on the new National Development Plan. It would as well be useful to add to the upgraded national strategy an operational action plan. 

By Matt SEINZOR, Head of Solution Mapping-AccLab Congo