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Interview: Deborah Asmah from Npontu Technologies on e-governance

Deborah Asmah from Npontu Technologies spoke to Connecting Africa's Associate Editor Matshepo Sehloho at the Africa eGovernance Conference (AfreGov) in Kigali, Rwanda about the importance of e-governance on the African continent.

She said there are a lot of digital governance challenges on the continent; however, narrowing these challenges down, Asmah said connectivity and not having supporting devices are some of the biggest challenges in digital governance.

She said that without waiting for 100% Internet connectivity, there are solutions that are still viable, like offline connectivity. "We need to be able to deploy such solutions, which include the use of USSD, it includes the use of SMS, it includes the use of voice SMS and that can be a starting foundation we can write on to bring in other digital things that we are looking at achieving," she explained.

Furthermore, she said social inclusion in Africa can be implemented when African governments and solution providers become more deliberate about the solutions they put out there.

"When I'm building an application, I need to ask myself, who are my audiences, are they at the same playing ground and if they are not, I need to level things for them. So for example, we are launching the Ghana Knowledge Skills Bank, ... but in doing that, we didn't just consider the English language and assume everyone is digital literate, we have made it possible for you to change the language," Asmah continued, saying this allows the user to select their language of choice.

Digital inclusion requires both governments and private sector

She firmly believes that inclusion also recognizes the type of people each community has, therefore, leveling the playing field for everyone.

Asmah highlighted how mobile money had been a game changer on the African continent.

"The partnerships between the private sector and African governments has brought the unbanked closer to digital growth. Now, even the farmer on the most rural part of Africa can receive payments and transact, without going to a bank," she said.

She said digital inclusion cannot just be left to governments to achieve; it should be a dual role that needs to be played by both governments as well as the private sector in Africa.

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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