At a glance
Niger ranks last in the Human Development Index, faces immense challenges as a result of climate change all while its population is growing rapidly. At 40%, literacy among the young population is low by global standards, and Internet use in the country is also low by African standards. Particularly in rural areas, electricity, Internet availability, bandwidth and mobile telephony are only partially available to a large part of the population. Due to the fact that the monthly cost of mobile Internet is relatively high when measured against average monthly income, only few people use the Internet regularly. This accounts particularly for women and other marginalized groups.
However, the large proportion of young people in the total population – the average age is only 15.2 years – as well as an upwards trend in literacy rates are an indication that the Internet usage rate could increase enormously in the coming years. It is therefore crucial to support the country in identifying the opportunities and risks of the digital transformation already now, in order to lay a solid foundation for the foreseen development in this area. Great potentials can be identified in particular with regard to the commercialization of digital products and services as well as in the area of (online) education, although it has hardly been exploited to date. A special focus must be placed on marginalized groups, such as women and girls, or the population in rural areas, in order not to widen the digital divide. The Digital Transformation Center Niger is therefore focusing on these areas in order to develop needs-based and sustainable solutions together with its partners.
One of the driving forces to foster the digital transformation in Niger is the German project PromAP (Programme de Promotion de l’Agriculture Productive). This project supports the agricultural sector – a main pillar of economic power at around 35% of GDP – with urgently needed digital resources for the development of a digital library. In conjunction with the digital learning platform atingi, it also lays the foundation for the BMZ Digital Transformation Center Niger.
The most important partner in implementing Niger’s digitalization agenda at state level is the National Agency for Digitalization ANSI. Its strategic direction was adopted as part of the Niger 2.0 – Smart Villages initiative. The aim of the Digital Transformation Centre is to pioneer work to improve the digital literacy of girls and women by specifically addressing female target groups, for example via micro-influencers. In principle, digital content is to be designed and made accessible for all population groups aged 15 – 59.
The Digital Transformation Center is essentially built on four pillars:
Together with the partners RECA (National Network for Chambers of Agriculture) and ANSI (State Digitization Agency), a digital library with a focus on agricultural content has been built since 2020. The public platform, which is accessible free of charge, is successively kept up to date and will serve as a starting point for the targeted training of agricultural advisors. Due to the lack of Internet infrastructure in rural Niger, robust yet portable servers were developed together with a French partner company. Distributed in many regions of the country, these enable a wide variety of end devices to access the digital library at any time, even without power or Internet supply.