Technology, Digitalisation Hold Great Promise To Leapfrog Economic – Elsie Addo Awadzi

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Elsie Addo Awadzi
Elsie Addo Awadzi

The Second Deputy Governor, Bank of Ghana, Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi says technology and digitisation hold a great promise to leapfrog the economic, political and social advancement of women by levelling the playing field in a cost-effective way.

She said in the increasingly digital global economy, the use of information and communication technologies offered great potential for the attainment of key
development goals, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in particular, SDG5 on “Gender equality and women’s empowerment”.

“The digital economy provides immense opportunities for women to advance themselves through online education and skills acquisition, telemedicine, increased trading in goods and services with more digital payment options, telework where it is available, digital savings, credit, insurance, investment and pensions opportunities, all leveraging widely available technology,” she said.

Mrs Awadzi said digital financial services had the potential to make a significant difference in bridging the gender gap in access to finance, which has remained at nine percent in the developing world since 2011, by increasing women’s financial autonomy and improving their economic participation.

She said digital financial services could help bridge the gap in account ownership, increase women’s participation in the financial system and give them the opportunity to save formally or access credit.

It can also help their business by lowering costs and giving access to a diversity of financial services.

Mrs Awadzi said despite the significant opportunities for leveraging digital technologies to increase access to and use of digital financial services by the unbanked, particularly women, there were some barriers such as mobility constraints and privacy concerns that prevented them from accessing formal
financial services and from full participation in the traditional economy.

In addition, there are also other barriers that are peculiar to the digital
economy, including a lack of literacy and digital skills, lack of trust in DFS, and lack of affordability continue to be key barriers to mobile internet adoption.

The GSMA’s 2021 Mobile Gender Gap Report suggests that women are 15 percent less likely to own a smartphone than men, down from 20 percent in 2019, with
234 million fewer women than men accessing the mobile internet.

The gap differs between regions and appears most pronounced in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, women are 14% less likely to own a basic mobile phone and 34% less likely to own a smart phone that can connect to mobile Internet, and in Ghana, women are 16 percent less likely than men to have a mobile phone that connects to the internet.

Even when access is granted, the digital gender divide persists in usage. Among smartphone owners, women are 18% less likely to use mobile Internet.

Female mobile users also feel less able than male users to learn a new activity on a phone by themselves. These factors
translate into lower usage of digital financial services where they exist.
Beyond the social cost, excluding women from the digital economy can take a significant economic toll on low and lower-middle income countries.

However, she said, opportunities existed for women to harness the benefits of technology and new markets across Africa under the AfCFTA and beyond Africa, thanks to technology and e-commerce platforms among
others.

These market opportunities offer hope to women-owned and women-led businesses in Ghana to scale up and to compete with their peers abroad.

To enhance more participation of women in Ghana in the digital economy, however, there is the urgent need to address supply side and demand side
barriers by adopting gender-focused interventions to respond swiftly to the opportunities presented by the digital economy.
Enea Stocco, Country Lead Ghana, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), said women’s economic empowerment and closing gender gaps are central factors for countries like Ghana to promote an inclusive economic growth and to achieve the 2030 agenda for SDGs.

He said to financial services was a key priority to achieve SDG 5 and empower women towards economic independence.

 

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