Digitally-enabled access to basic services
Digitally-enabled access to basic services5 February, 2022 •
A scoping study of five African countries
Access to basic services –education, energy, health – is an important socio-economic development goal and directly relevant to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Yet, socio-economic challenges, infrastructure concerns and fiscal constraints still undermine many developing countries’ attempts to provide quality services to all.
In recent years, digitally-enabled models have emerged to help to fill this gap. Digitally-enabled delivery models refer to the use of technological innovations (digital tools and digital channels) to enhance the delivery of a product and/or a service to consumers: be it to connect users to digital content, digital payment mechanisms, or to provide virtual access to service providers like doctors or teachers.
The rate of digital transformation globally means that a wide range of digitally-enabled models are already being used to enhance access to basic services in Africa, notably:
- In the education sector, several initiatives provide e-learning or tutoring as a complement to class-based learning and a number of models also drive access to digital, rather than hard-copy, content material.
- In the energy sector there are several examples of solar home systems or mini-grids that extend electricity access to areas outside the reach of the national grid, incorporating smart meters and digital payments.
- In the health sector, a number of telemedicine initiatives enable medical consultations over a distance, while mobile health models are used to share medical information and help with preventative care.
Against this backdrop, FinMark Trust commissioned Cenfri to consider the current role and potential scope for digital delivery models to enhance access to basic services in education, energy and health sectors in five emerging markets in Southern Africa: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar and Malawi. Each of the FinMark Trust access to basic services country diagnostic considers the current landscape of digital delivery models in the three focus sectors, as a basis for assessing the feasibility of these models to extend access to basic services, and for concluding on the role development agencies and market systems facilitators can play in further expanding the reach and sustainability of digital delivery models in each sector.