Are we optimising ICT to streamline our processes in Africa?
16 Jan 2017 - by Johny Smith
As African economies advance, better infrastructure changes the rules and processes that must be adhered to in order to increase efficiency. It ensures a more structural approach in how we conduct our business in Africa. This approach can streamline the continent’s business processes, allowing us to close the gap in the global trade arena.
Intra-African trade has become a topical debate. As the 54 countries on the African continent develop stronger trading relationships, information and communication are playing an increasingly important role in bridging the gap amongst between people in the regions and on the continent.
As an example, some countries have implemented a single window system, while others are in the process of developing similar systems to enhance trade across borders and improve their ability to trade with the rest of the world.
An area of trade exploding on the global scene is eCommerce. Using online social networks and internet platforms speeds up transactions, improving trade across various countries. More African countries are buying into this concept, which is gradually improving efficiency and unlocking trade opportunities with new trading partners.
Business travel for Africans in Africa has remained a major headache. Countries are being pressurised to improve on their border entrance procedures to allow smoother and quicker access to business people. But in some countries visas are still a challenge, with time-consuming processes hindering trade growth. On the positive side, some countries have learned to use technology optimally to improve such processes, thereby enhancing trade opportunities. Just recently I visited Abidjan in the Ivory Coast and was able to apply online for an e-visa through the official website and paid for it with my credit card. The process took me about five minutes. At the airport I was assisted by officials and obtained my e-visa in less than 10 minutes. This is a sure example of how Governments can utilise technology to improve processes and thereby reduce the time and cost of trade.
In answer to the question: ‘Are we optimizing ICT to streamline and fast track our processes in Africa?’ I would say: ‘Yes we are getting there’. As Africa we have to continuously learn from others and explore new opportunities in order to improve trade within the global market.
Johny M. Smith is currently the chief executive officer of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG), a Public Private Partnership (PPP) of transport and logistics stakeholders who jointly work towards developing the various Corridor routes through the Port of Walvis Bay, and facilitating fast, safe, reliable and efficient transport along these routes. He has more than 25 years' commercial experience in the fields of telecommunications, land and sea transportation. He holds a B Comm degree and MBA. He serves as a Commissioner of the National Planning Commission and is director of other Boards as well as chairman of ACMA, which is an alliance for all corridor management Institutions in Africa.