By Oluwatobi Opusunju
ADE Digital Media, one of Nigeria’s leading digital agencies has unveiled an initiative called “Free Digital” to accelerate digital inclusion and adoption across industry verticals in Africa as it celebrates its third year of delivering innovative digital marketing solutions to its clients such as Peugeot, 9Mobile, Interswitch, Access Bank, Oando Plc, Verve, EMC, Konga, Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Continental Basketball League (CBL), Skye Bank etc.
The co-Founder and CEO of the company, Michael Ebia at the unveiling of the initiative explained that it aims to promote an understanding of the possibilities digital initiatives provide in improving the socio-economic possibilities of Africans, provide a platform for Africa’s digizens (digital citizens) to experiment and create innovative solutions that are commercially viable and improve human development outcomes and influence policy actions to incentivize investment in, development and adoption of digital tools for improved human outcomes
“It has been an extremely exciting and rewarding three years. We started ADE Digital with a vision to create very tangible value in the digital marketing value chain. In this time, we have worked with clients who have allowed us experiment, explore and deliver measurable value to their brand development & customer engagement activities. “In celebrating the third anniversary, the company is introducing its flagship social initiative, the ‘Free Digital’, which has an overarching objective of further democratizing the use of digital technology tools and resources, to improve human development outcomes across Africa,” Ebia noted.
While most other regions have undergone a boom in Internet adoption and considerable Internet related growth over the past decade, Africa has trailed behind. Factors such as network infrastructure, government’ policy, taxation among others have all contributed to the stalling and derailing of the development of a digital inclusive society in Africa.
As at June 2017, Africa had an estimated 388,104,452 internet users with 31.2% internet penetration rate representing 10 % of the total world internet users. However, with digital technology development in Africa still trailing the rest of the world and preventing the continent from taking advantage of technology as a growth enabler in a huge number of industries, Ebia stressed that the ‘Free Digital’ initiative will further help to build a network of partners that can work together across the digital space to upend this narrative.
“Africa has made a lot of progress in digital technology adoption, but for us to fully harness the potential of digital technology in improving human outcomes on the continent, we need to expand the current demographic scope for digital. ‘‘Free Digital” seeks to among other things, accelerate the digital inclusion that is required to achieve the continent’s human development outcomes,” stated Ebia.
On the strategy to achieve the objectives of this initiative, Ebia asserted that it will educate demand and supply-side of stakeholders on the various opportunities digital technology provides in improving human development outcomes across various verticals like education, healthcare, citizenship, commerce, job creation, to mention a few, ensuring that there is a commercially sustainable context to approaching digital opportunities.
It will also empower these stakeholders to take advantage of these opportunities by initiating technology development projects and developing technology hubs across the continent. Additionally, Ebia said in cognizance of the importance of policy in driving change, the initiative will continuously advocate for development-friendly policies to drive a more broad-based digital adoption in Africa.