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China's success in digital economy a "role model" for Ethiopia: officials

Updated: February 28, 2024 Source: Xinhua News Agency
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ADDIS ABABA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- China's success in digital economy development can serve as a "role model" to promote digital transformation in Ethiopia, according to local officials. They made the suggestions Monday during the launch of the first Digital Ethiopia Week in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, under the theme "United Effort for Digital Ethiopia."

Speaking to Xinhua, Abiyot Bayou, a senior adviser at the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology, said there are lots of lessons Ethiopia can draw from China's digital transformation, including strong political commitment, exploitation of indigenous knowledge and local capacity, to advance digitalization in the East African country.

Noting that China's success in integrating the traditional economic system with information and communications technology (ICT) was instrumental in boosting its productivity and competitiveness, Bayou said Ethiopia needs to promote a digital economy as a national strategy, like China did, for better economic success and transformation.

"China invested a lot at the grassroots level and that helped the nation make a breakthrough in digital economy development and become globally competitive, especially in e-commerce. Like China did, Ethiopia should integrate ICT and its social and economic development plans," he suggested.

He said the shortage of finance and digital illiteracy remain to be major hurdles for digitalization in the East African nation with a population of about 120 million. The majority of the Ethiopian population, however, is out of school and engaged in informal employment, making digital illiteracy worse.

According to the adviser, the number of data users in Ethiopia has reached 35 million from 17.5 million three years ago as the cost to use digital technology has declined to 3.3 percent of monthly income in 2024 from 9.5 percent in 2020.

Yeshurun Alemayehu, state minister of innovation and technology, told Xinhua that the government of Ethiopia has significantly improved the legislative level of the digital economy, including the cybersecurity law, law against unfair competition and e-commerce, providing a legal basis for digital governance in Ethiopia.

He said the digital economy in Ethiopia is nascent, but if guided by appropriate policies and strategies, it will have an immense potential to trigger productivity in all sectors of the economy.

"The Chinese are a digitalized society and they can get all services just with one sign-in. They do not interact without digital technologies. So, there is a need to draw lessons from China to create a digitalized society," said Alemayehu, adding Ethiopia uses China as a benchmark to make its big population a digitalized one to promote national development.

Noting that digitalization will help Ethiopia create more decent jobs and become globally competitive, the state minister called on Chinese companies to invest more in the digital economy, especially in the building of cloud data centers in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has unveiled a new strategy dubbed "Digital Ethiopia 2025," aiming to issue 70 million digital IDs, triple digital payment which currently stands at 1.2 trillion birr (about 21.15 billion U.S. dollars) per year and increase interactions among government, private sector and citizens by 2025.

The Digital Ethiopia 2025 strategy, which is said to have been in line with the country's homegrown economic reform and 10-year development plan, aims at creating pathways to unleash value chains in agriculture, manufacturing and tourism sectors among others.

Editor: Tian Shenyoujia