How emerging technologies can drive Africa’s digital and financial inclusion – Airtel Africa’s Group CEO

KIGALI, Rwanda: Airtel Africa’s Group CEO, Segun Ogunsanya has challenged the telecommunications industry in Africa to leverage emerging technologies to enable all people in the continent to connect, engage and transact with the rest of the world.

Speaking at the just concluded Mobile World Congress in Kigali, Dr Ogunsanya noted that through these technologies, telecom players have an opportunity to step up efforts to bridge the digital divide, drive financial inclusion and deepen availability of affordable smart devices.

He cited Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) as a powerful tool for predicting customer behaviour and deepening insights about customer needs and preferences. Opportunity also exists in intelligent connectivity, a concept that foresees the combination of 5G, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to accelerate technological development and enable new disruptive digital services.

“The telecom industry is in a unique position to make it easier for people to enter the digital world by deploying these technologies. This is through significant investments in building digital highways across the continent, while creating a vibrant mobile money ecosystem. Through collaborations with equipment manufacturers and other key stakeholders, we can put smart devices in the hands of every African.” Dr Ogunsanya said.

The Airtel Africa Group argued that a significant proportion of Africa’s young population still remains unreached with 59% smartphone penetration and only two out of ten Africans have a mobile money wallet.

Emerging technologies can be used in: AI-aided e-learning to design best curriculum based on students learning abilities; e-health to improve patient monitoring and more efficient health facilities; Agritech that uses AI and connectivity in crop disease detection tools; and financial inclusion, by
triangulating the digital highway, unified payment system and intelligent mobile wallets.

The technologies can be used in smart cities for safe communities and efficient public utilities; development planning to predict population movements and help governments in designing urban and rural development; and smart metering for accurate measurement of usage, enhanced sustainability and improved customer experience. Biometric technology can be used for authentication, privacy, access control and non-repudiation.
Airtel Africa is rolling out 5G network across its 14 markets in Africa with the aim of facilitating a digitally connected world and unlocking a broad range of opportunities.

The firm has also recently announced a collaboration with the Government of Rwanda to provide over 1 million people in the country with affordable high-speed, cutting-edge LTE smartphones.

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