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May 17, the inescapable anniversary

May 17, the inescapable anniversary

A certain global crisis, unparalleled, which still strikes all countries, has revealed the essential role of information and communication technologies (ICTs). It also revealed the great disparities, between poor and rich countries, and differences locally, within the same countries, between rural and urban areas. Faced with this unprecedented crisis, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is working tirelessly for ICTs development and for the acceleration of the digital transition. And to emphasis the importance of the digital society, this body of the United Nations (UN), celebrates May 17 of each year, the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day.

Hot news, and in connection with the Covid crisis, the theme chosen for the 2021 edition will deal with support for “Accelerating digital transformation in these difficult times”. The objective of choosing this theme is to make all UN member countries aware of the importance of digital technology. This theme will also be an opportunity to remind these countries of the role of telecom technologies as essential levers of economic growth and competitiveness of countries, particularly in this critical period. It is obvious that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are now an asset that can help accelerate the achievement of each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially that there are less than ten years left to achieve these 17 goals. For more information on this interaction between the 17 SDGs and digital technology see the following link https://lte.ma/les-technologies-dinformation-et-de-communication-tic-au-service-des-objectifs-de-developpement-durable-odd-fixes-par-lonu/ .

Digital transformation is not a simple switch from one technology to another, it is above all a change in mindsets and a cultural evolution. And digital technology is not a personal or an optional option, it is strategic for both States and companies. It helps States to control their revenues and expenditures, to make services transparent to citizens, to dematerialize and simplify administrative procedures, to improve the productivity of the various services including health, etc.

For Africa, for example, even if the internet is not yet accessible to all citizens, and even if digital trust is still to be built like what is currently being done in Europe, the digital revolution is on its way. With more than 40 countries already equipped with 4G technology and others ready to launch 5G, African countries could access to their international market shares, thanks to the digitization. Our continent, whose digital economy is growing, has more than 500 million smartphone users in 2021.

So that Africa does not miss the train of this new digital revolution, and so that digital transformation to succeed, skills’ learning must be better provided. In order to understand these technological revolutions and to better adopt them, it is necessary to strengthen digital culture among African citizens, or actually to reinforce it among all Africans: Decision-makers, politicians, elected officials and youth.

On the other hand, Africa has been successful in mobile money, a model that is being extended, with some improvements, to other continents. And to multiply successes, the time has come to review the school programs which should aim to introduce our young people, from secondary school, to computer programming. It is also important to promote digital applications in dedicated incubation centers, to support the 300 billion dollars of investments planned for new digital technologies in the next ten years in our continent, as affirmed recently Mr. Hamadoun Touré ex Secretary General of the ITU.

A successful digital transformation requires a vision and a good strategy with upstream prerequisites and actions during and after this change. First of all, it requires a clear vision, which must be instilled in a concrete and recurrent manner to all the actors concerned. The reason behind this, is to clarify to them all the aspects of such a big scale project, and consequently to help them assimilate its stake and its added value, and thus motivate them to prepare themselves to face this new paradigm.

In addition, this vision must be accompanied by a planned and active strategy. Also, the time, budget and human resources sufficient for such a project will have to be well scheduled. Moreover, even if it is based on collaborative work and the effort of all, digital transformation remains human-centered and at the same time requires the redefinition of everyone’s role. To overcome people’s resistance to this major change and make this transition lucid, specific trainings and developments prior and during this phase should be planned. Whether it is a public institution, a ministry or a company, the success of the digital transformation is based on the 5 generic pillars of change which are developed in the Knoster model. In this guide to digital transformation, whose references are mentioned below, we measure the importance of each parameter and the serious consequences for the entire project if a single parameter is neglected.

The 5 pillars of digital transformation according to Knoster

The guide to digital transformation Vincent DUCREY and Emmanuel VIVIER at Eyrolles: ISBN 2212570791

By Ahmed Khaouja Director of PTT Maroc and ITU expert

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