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What is Digital Identity, Digital Trade and Digital Economy for Africa?

What is Digital Identity?


Digital ID is a means of identifying or authenticating the identity of an individual both online and offline. Digital identity can be created from information found on a government-issued legal ID and be used to accurately recognize an individual in order to provide them with their rights or entitlements. A digital identity can also be created to provide an individual with access to digitized commercial services, such as e-commerce, e-government, digital banking etc. A digital identity can be formed in practice when and individual engages in digital economy through information gathered from the various types of data he/she uses, such as phone data, search history data, social media data etc. The collection of these data information can then be used to identify and profile an individual.


What is Digital trade?


The definitions of digital trade vary across countries and organizations.

  • World Trade Organization (WTO) uses the term “electronic commerce” instead of digital trade. WTO defines it as “the production, distribution, marketing, sale or delivery of goods and services by electronic means”. (WTO, 2016).
  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) defines e-commerce as purchases and sales conducted over computer networks. (UNCTAD, 2015)
  • United States International Trade Commission (USITC) defines digital trade as the delivery of products and services over either fixed-line or wireless digital networks. (USITC, 2013)
  • European Union defines digital trade as “an area where individuals and businesses can seamlessly access and exercise online activities under conditions of fair competition, irrespective of their nationality or place of residence” (European Commission, 2016).
  • McKinsey Global Institute defines digital trade asthe direct exchange of digital goods, and digitally enabled exchanges of services or labour. (McKinsey, 2014)

The common thread remains that it is an economic activity conducted through the application of modern technology based on the internet and all the necessary networks, software and systems essential to make it happen.  


What is Digital Economy?


Digital economy is the global flow of goods, services and finance through the means of digital computing technologies that are unbound by national boarders. The surge of global Internet accessibility gave way to a more intricately connected world, instantly linking billions of people and countless companies around the world. This allowed for digital economy to grow and thrive in the 21st century. It gave the opportunity for people to exchange valuable streams of ideas and innovation around the world. The global economy relied on the flows of physical goods and finance in the 20th century, but it has since flattened or declined and the global economy in the 21st century is being redefined by the flow of data and information (McKinsey, 2016). Digital economy has become the future reality of the global economy.