Dr. Elshafie Khidir Saeid
Every day, it is becoming more convincing that the digital economy is the future driver for innovation, healthy competition and economic growth, especially in the developing countries like the Sudan. The Citizen-Centric economic strategies will utilize ICT in order to deliver sustainable and scalable expectations especially from the growing youth segment that constitutes more than 60% of the Sudanese population. The fact that digital transformation will close the wide gaps of digital and financial inclusion in Sudan is well received & accepted. However, still there is lack of an independent and empowered body that has the vision and focus on realizing the vision of a Digital Economy in Sudan. A Sudanese scholar, Dr. Ammar Hamadien, wrote a detailed paper on this subject titled “The Digital Economy in Sudan, the National Digital Transformation Plan 2022”. I felt it is worthy to share these ideas with our readers, so as to generate more brain storming on this vital issue.
Dr. Ammar’s paper discusses the rationale of the digital economy in Sudan, and projects the following main points: 1- The digitization of the Sudanese economy will have great positive impact of vital sectors such as agriculture, education, and health, justice, labor and social development, transportation, and other public administration authorities. 2- There is a critical need for an attractive environment for innovation in all sectors. 3- Sudan scores less than 40% in the global connectivity index. This means that a great majority of the population do not have access to digital means that can help them start micro businesses and small-to-medium businesses in order to elevate them out of poverty. 4- Digitization of government operations and scaling up the current e-government infrastructure will prove to an effective tool in optimizing the cost of serving citizens. 5- There is a need to form sustainable Public-Private Partnerships models that utilize digital technologies in order to achieve one of the objectives of the economic policy of the revolution, namely establishing a digital economy in Sudan. 6- Information and data related to Sudanese citizens must be protected and their rights to have privacy under the rule of law must be preserved.
Discussing how to implement this project, Dr. Ammar stated that we should start by building a national three-year digital transformation strategy that is inclusive of the critical sectors of the economy. The transitional government must establish a three-year roadmap to transition into the digital economy. It must establish the High Commission for National Digital Transformation with clear mandates. This High Commission should have autonomy and the empowerment from both the prime minister & the minister of economy and finance. The High Commission will be independent from the Telecommunications and Postal Regulatory Authority since it will be working across sectors and not focusing on one particular sector. Also, the government should organize an international conference in Khartoum. There are many experts from around the world who are willing to speak and deliver their insights into this topic. This international event should be inaugurated by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Economy and Finance.
Some prerequisites that should be fulfilled, including:
- All economic sectors should be linked to this Digital Transformation Plan.
- Current systems and processes must be audited, evaluated for better utilization.
- Build progressive regulatory and policy frameworks to facilitate this digital transformation.
- Capacity building, education and skills development across different sectors and regions of the country.
- Management and organizational structure review and assessment to ensure that this strategy is executed by qualified and skilled national talent.
- Form strategic alliances with regional and international government bodies, organizations, and academic institutions.