(FT) Jonathan Ledgard and John Clippinger–How a digital currency could transform Africa

Here is a proposition: provide a secure and authentic digital identity for every person in Africa who wants one.

India has shown it is possible to achieve something similar at scale. Its Aadhar national identity scheme, launched in 2009, has registered 500m people using a number code and matching biometrics. It will improve service delivery ”“ although it also strengthens the state in a way that tempts over-reach. Improving technology makes it possible to think more audaciously in Africa. Instead of just tagging a person ”“ gathering their personal data ”“ why not give them digital sovereignty?

Connectivity is already in place across the continent ”“ with more than half of young Africans on smartphones ”“ which means the era of big data is on its way. The question is who benefits and how.

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