Kinshasa: professionals, scientists and decision-makers reflect on the contribution of digital technology to the development of the DRC

On Thursday 24 November 2022 at the Protestant University of Congo (UPC) a symposium was opened on the theme: “Digitalisation and development of the Democratic Republic of Congo: challenges and prospects”. Organized by the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Development (CRIDESS-UPC), this scientific event which brought together different professionals, decision-makers and researchers working on the topic of digitization and development will make it possible to disseminate the results of the research carried out by different researchers on the topic of digitalisation ; confront and compare notes with the various players in the sector on the evidence and facts resulting from this research; deepen the reflection on the contribution of digital technology to the development of the DRC; identify factors limiting the adoption, diffusion and positive impact of digital technology in Congo; propose effective solutions for the success of the digital transformation.

Speaking among the speakers, Augustin Kibassa Maliba, Minister of PTNTIC, presented some progress already made in his sector to facilitate the country’s connectivity. Furthermore, he hammered on the need to train to face the challenges of digitization.

“Three years ago the telephony penetration rate was 44% today we are at 52%, the internet usage rate was 18% today we are at 26% we are aware of the fact that we must do more but the most important thing today it is to tell ourselves that we are moving forward, we are going in the right direction and we must continue in this way excellent infrastructure, we can have the contents but if we do not have people dedicated to this problem it is a problem, for this we think that training is very important,” he said in his speech to professors, students and other guests.

And to add:

“Today we are working with the ministries of EPST, of vocational training, of scientific research, mainly because we need researchers who find and many other ministries who can really make sure that all the efforts that the government is trying to find are successful and that overall we can really take advantage of this dynamic that we are putting in place to take a good step into the future”

On behalf of the Minister of Digital, his Chief of Cabinet, Noël Litanga presented what his ministry has already achieved since its establishment to implement digital according to the digital vision plan dear to President Félix Tshisekedi. This close friend of Minister Eberande Kolongele indicated that the objective pursued is to allow the Congolese not to be spectators but rather actors in the digitization of the country.

“We must not be consumers of solutions that come from elsewhere, we urge young people to create, to develop solutions that respond specifically to our needs because our realities are not those of others. We will also need our digital economy to be led by Congolese players, we need data analysts, masters, there is a whole range of professions for which the emergence of digital technology will require human resources, we must already be ready for this, the economies of tomorrow will be economies based on data, on information, we make sure that our strategic data is controlled, protected and monetized in a way that brings us value” specified Noël Litanga in his communication.

And to add:

“Today I think that digital can facilitate the rate of financial inclusion, we have a rate of 6 to 8% of the banking sector while the level or penetration rate at the level of mobile financial services is around 13% to 14 which means that the technology can fill this gap there, it will also dematerialize banking services and allow the state to block what is called the revenue stream”

Through a study focused on agency theory and transaction cost theory, Dédé Aliango Marachto, Professor at the Protestant University of Congo and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Development Research (CRIDESS-UPC) has demonstrated how digital can contribute to economic development within an organization .

“Digital will now help reduce information symmetry, why? Because if, for example, everyone is identified, we have a digital identity, I have a card with a chip when I come to the bank, we link my card and we all have my identity , currently it is not possible because I can say that I live in Lemba as I live in Ngaliema, so digital will help, improve businesses, reduce the opportunism of economic agents and can improve financial management. Transaction cost theory, this theory si will focus on the transaction, the transaction cost theory is based on the notion of organizational efficiency for this theory is effective for the organization that minimizes this cost, minimizing the cost, reducing costs means investing in certain things, digital technology can help minimize the cost, i.e. in a company we can do more, we can produce more when we are connected where we have software for example for management management of funds, credit management, it makes you the calculation that a human being could do in 5 hours and in 2 seconds the software gives you the result so you can reduce the cost of transactions, if it reduces the cost of transactions it can improve organizational efficiency” he illustrated during his speech.

These two-day sessions (November 24 and 25, 2022) will allow participants to have a fairly comprehensive view of the issue of digitization, the factors limiting this dynamic and its current and potential contribution to the development of the DRC. Effective solutions resulting from discussions with key industry players will be identified and a final report will be produced with relevant recommendations on the contribution of digital technology to the development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The areas of reflection are: Digitization and financial inclusion, Digitization and legal challenges, Digitization and health, Technological prerequisites for digitization and digitization and Socio-economic development.

Clement Muamba

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