Digital economy

Our work has increasingly focused on technology innovation and the opportunities it provides for improving the development potential of African nations. This work is aimed at supporting developing economies to forge new tech-enabled pathways to inclusive growth.

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Expertise Areas

Competition economics

As the leading provider of competition economics services in Africa, Genesis Analytics has an unmatched breadth and depth of skills and experience. Blue-chip companies across Africa routinely rely on us for expert advice and support when they interact with competition authorities. We also work extensively with regulators and competition authorities, giving us a position of trust based on a strong reputation for providing robust and independent expert economic views.

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Digital business advisory

We use insights from digital psychology to provide behaviourally informed insights. We design user journeys, wireframes and copy across all digital platforms that incorporate these insights and help our clients to optimise their social and commercial goals through their new and existing digital platforms.

Digital financial services

At Genesis we provide digital strategy support and advice to our clients looking to embark on a transformation journey, enter new markets with a digital proposition or optimise their existing strategy through better use of digital analytics.

We have a broad understanding of fintech innovation and keep abreast of developments across the financial service core competencies. These include payments, lending, deposit taking, investments, and wealth management and capital markets.

We have advised a number of financial institutions on their digital transformation journeys and have contributed to how policymakers can support and enable innovation that promotes improved access to finance while protecting consumers and ensuring the stability of the financial services sector.

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Digital work and inclusion

We help our clients across the public, private and civil society sectors to identify where the digital economy can deliver income-generating opportunities and social welfare benefits, and the practical steps required to ensure that people of different skills levels, incomes and geographies can access these opportunities and benefits.

Read more about on the South Africa in the Digital Age project and download the report.

Evaluation of digital programmes

We conduct rigorous evaluations of programmes that make use of digital technologies, or for digital technology interventions, that aim to solve global development challenges. Our work cuts across sectors, and includes interventions that leverage the ICT sector to create new economic opportunities for youth and agricultural programmes that provide technology-enabled products and services for smallholder farmers.

More about our work in Monitoring and evaluation

National and sector digital strategies

We work with governments and the donor partners that support them to develop digital economy strategies. These strategies identify where digital and emerging technologies can be harnessed to solve development challenges - like job creation, public service delivery and human capital - and the imperatives which must be put in place for these opportunities to be inclusive and scaled.

Tech solutions

We use digital technologies to build solutions for our clients to connect with information and stakeholders in new and innovative ways. Our digital solutions are built with human-centred design principles in mind and centred around healthcare, agriculture, and monitoring and evaluation. These digital solutions aim to open up new platforms for our clients to engage with information or stakeholders that would previously have been inaccessible or harder to access.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we built two dashboards to track the curve globally and the risk to the healthcare system in South Africa.

Tech governance and competition

We work with governments and regulators to cut through the complexities of digital markets and ensure that digital policy and regulation is fit for purpose, striking the optimal balance between intervention and innovation. Our work includes all aspects of governance and economic regulation including competition, digital rights, data protection and privacy, consumer protection, e-commerce, economic structure and digital trade.

Projects

Genesis supports Uganda with strategy to capitalise on 4IR to drive growth

Project name:
Uganda National Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Service:
Market analysis and positioning
Strategy

Sector:
Digital economy
Agriculture and Agribusiness
Human capital
Human development

Area of Expertise:
National and sector digital strategies

Client:
Government of Uganda

Date:
2019 - 2020

Country:
Uganda


The fourth industrial revolution has brought rapid advances in technology that are changing the way societies produce, distribute and consume goods and services.

This revolution has seen a convergence of technologies. Whereas applications like autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, nanorobots and bioprinting have traditionally been experimented with in siloes, these can now be easily integrated. Uganda has identified an opportunity these technologies provide for accelerating development and creating new opportunities for employment and growth.

Genesis is providing technical support to Uganda's Presidential Taskforce on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) to formulate a national 4IR strategy. The taskforce was appointed by the president to guide the country on areas where 4IR technology can be domesticated to achieve development objectives.

This strategy recognises that digital technologies are not just becoming the cornerstone of people's daily activities, but are becoming a critical factor of economic growth. This requires governments, businesses and individuals be adequately prepared to maximise the gains and minimise the risks that this revolution brings.

Genesis conducted a comprehensive scoping of 4IR opportunities in Uganda to identify the areas of 4IR application that hold the greatest potential to deliver the country's Vision 2040 of becoming a middle-income country. The identified opportunities are improving the productivity of agriculture, transforming human capital development, closing the shortfall in economic opportunity, and managing urbanisation and governance.

Unlocking these opportunities relies on the availability of strong systems, resources and coordinators. Genesis conducted a 4IR readiness assessment that diagnosed the state of the 4IR ecosystem in five areas critical for these opportunities: 4IR connectivity, agile governance, upskilled population, eGovernment, and resource mobilisation. This analysis provided a view on areas where intervention is required to support the emergence and scaling of these opportunities.

These two areas of analysis were key inputs in the design of Uganda’s 4IR strategy. Genesis used these insights and worked with the taskforce to obtain further input from a broad cross-section of the 4IR ecosystem in Uganda to formulate a national 4IR strategy.

The strategy identifies the critical enablers required to realise the identified 4IR opportunities. Some examples include access to mobile networks, the availability of technology skills, and the existence of a legislative and regulatory framework that supports the emergence and safe deployment of 4IR innovations. Actions to strengthen these enablers are highlighted. The strategy also identifies three delivery mechanisms required to support the sustainable and safe rollout of the strategy. These delivery mechanisms enable coordination in resource allocation, in government decision making, in execution of opportunities and in the data ecosystem. Uganda’s 4IR strategy is under review by the taskforce.

Insights into changing nature of work for young Africans

Project name:
MasterCard Foundation Changing Nature of Work

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation

Sector:
Africa’s youth
Digital economy
Human development

Client:
Mastercard Foundation

Date:
2019

Country:
Ethiopia
Kenya
Malawi
Nigeria
Senegal
South Africa


Automation, artificial intelligence and the emergence of digital platforms are not only changing the way companies manufacture goods but also shifting the social contract among workers, companies and governments.

The positive transformations associated with digital technologies are unlikely to unfold positively in Africa on their own. All stakeholders need to act quickly and collaboratively to ensure that young Africans can take advantage of these dynamic opportunities. In response to this, the Changing Nature of Work (CNW) initiative aims to offer a vision of how long-term trends will shape labour markets and opportunities for young Africans.

Genesis was contracted by Mastercard Foundation's Strategy and Learning team to perform audience-needs research for a new initiative to improve the availability of insights relating to the changing nature of work for young Africans in the coming 10-15 years.

As a starting point, the Mastercard Foundation seeks to improve the availability of insights relating to CNW for young Africans in the coming 10-15 years and this study will act as a baseline against which the Mastercard Foundation can plan its activities. The purpose of this study was two-fold:

• To understand the decision-making process and information, data and insights used for current decision-making related to CNW.

• To understand needs regarding information, data and insights related to future work trends and opportunities.

The study was targeted at five key audience segments: implementing organisations, government stakeholders, private sector stakeholders, youth, and the Mastercard Foundation country teams.

Genesis Analytics employed a mixed data collection method to understand what information stakeholders needed and the current decision-making process.

This study found that there was a need to improve understanding of CNW across audience types and countries, and there was a gap in understanding between rural and urban youth. Key actions towards the future of CNW is researching and developing more systematic ways of identifying skills required for CNW, facilitating the creation of taskforces/think tanks that promote collaboration within government departments, and identification of where CNW conversations and collaboration are happening e.g. Kigali City and South African National Taskforce, and support existing groups and scale to other countries.


Unpacking gig opportunities for unemployed Kenyan youth

Project name:
An assessment of the current state and future outlook of the Gig economy in Kenya

Service:
Strategy
Market analysis and positioning

Sector:
Africa’s youth
Digital economy

Area of Expertise:
Digital work and inclusion

Client:
Mercy Corps, Youth Impact Labs, Kenya

Date:
2019

Country:
Kenya


Kenya is experiencing a “youth bulge” with approximately 20% of its population between the ages of 15 and 24 — above the world's average of 15.8% and Africa's average of 19.2%. Furthermore, 15-34-year-olds account for 84% of those unemployed in Kenya.

Over the last decade, the online gig economy has grown in Kenya, transforming how Kenyans access work and is gradually transitioning young Kenyans towards more accessible, competitive and consistent job opportunities. With the overall unemployment rates standing at 26.4%, and the Kenyan economy’s inability to provide formal employment opportunities, the gig economy is increasingly gaining importance.

Given this backdrop, Genesis partnered with Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs (YIL) Kenya to undertake a study that unpacks the potential that the gig economy has in solving Kenya’s unemployment challenge. The study “Towards a digital workforce: Understanding the building blocks of Kenya's gig economy”, provides an estimate of the total size of the online Kenyan economy and its future prospects. Our report estimates that the online gig economy is estimated to be worth about $109 million, employing 36,573 gig workers. Based on current investment levels, it is expected to grow by about 32% over the next five years to $345 million, employing 93,875 online gig workers.

Our analysis showed that with growing internet and smartphone penetration, together with the proliferation of mobile money, gig work is revolutionising the Kenyan economy and changing the Kenyan workforce. Online platforms are a new source of income for talented, innovative young people who otherwise would be left on the sidelines.

Despite the gig economy anticipating significant growth there is still a need for improved regulation on social protection, equal employment opportunities, and labour standards. Current laws and regulations in Kenya are geared towards formal employment. The report further establishes opportunities for catalysing the growth of the sector, identifying opportunities for both donors, tech innovators, investors and corporate employers.

Overall it was found that the gig economy holds considerable promise to formalise Kenya's large informal workforce. Collaboration between industry players, however, will be critical to generate demand for gig work. Investors, tech innovators, training institutions, development agencies and policymakers will be needed to build skills such as communication, pricing and marketing that are critical for the gig economy to thrive and unlock barriers.

This report comes at an important time for Kenya because there exists limited research to date on the size of Kenya’s gig economy and its impact on the country. This lack of knowledge limits the investment in the development and growth of the gig economy, and the ability of policymakers to understand the experiences of workers and employers, a challenge for the development of evidence-based policy responses.

Read more about Mercy Corps

Balancing innovation with regulation to grow SA financial services

Project name:
The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on financial services in South Africa

Service:
Business and operating models
Market analysis and positioning
Regulatory economics and accounting
Digital financial services

Sector:
Financial services
Retail banking
Capital markets
Payments

Area of Expertise:
Fintech market enablement
Tech governance and competition

Client:
Centre for Excellence in Financial Services

Date:
2017

Country:
South Africa


Technology is changing the way financial services are produced and consumed worldwide. South Africa has long been acknowledged for having a sound, advanced banking system. However, at the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, with humans and technology interacting like never before, South Africa faces a new set of opportunities and challenges as technology becomes a central part of financial services.

Policymakers and regulators must find ways to preserve our sound financial system, while enabling innovation that promotes improved access to finance and growth in the financial services sector.

To understand which policy and regulatory approaches best suit the South African financial sector in managing this balancing act, it is crucial to know where South Africa stands relative to its global peers. Genesis partnered with the Centre of Excellence in Financial Services to answer this question in a report titled “The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on the South African financial services market”.

The centre wanted to benchmark our technological innovation against international trends, and partnered with Genesis to undertake an industry-wide analysis of financial-technology (fintech) and innovation in the South African financial services market. This is a landmark report that provides the most comprehensive analysis of innovation in financial services in South Africa, how it is disrupting the sector, and what the implications are for South African regulators based on international best practice.

The analysis included identifying and researching successful local fintechs in the core banking functions of payments, deposits and lending, capital raising, investment management, and market provisioning. The team conducted over 40 interviews with stakeholders from banks, innovation labs, fintechs and regulators to understand their perceptions of innovation in the South African market, how digitally enabled banks were, the impact of a digital revolution on the existing operations of banks, and any challenges in achieving a digital strategy.

This information, together with research, allowed us to document the approach the industry was taking with regard to fintech, to highlight some of the cutting-edge technology that is shaping innovation, and to consider how regulation could support this industry while protecting consumers and ensuring the stability of the financial services sector.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of fintech and financial innovation in South Africa, the approaches to fintech regulation around the word, and how this should influence South African regulators’ approach to regulating fintech. The Centre of Excellence chose to submit the report to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to their consultative document on the implications of fintech for the financial sector. The report is now available to the public on the Centre of Excellence website and will generate necessary debate amongst industry stakeholders and regulators on this important topic.

Impact of 4th industrial revolution on SA financial services market: Executive summary and Full report

SA fintech policy to take shape in 2019

Media report: Better banking through technology

Setting the baseline study for global digital development

Project name:
Global Digital Ecosystem Baseline Study

Service:
Monitoring and evaluation
Market systems development
Digital financial services

Sector:
Public and Social
Digital economy

Area of Expertise:
Digital work and inclusion

Client:
United Nations Foundation for Digital Impact Alliance

Date:
2017 - 2018

Country:
Global


Description Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), an independent organisation established to engage and resolve barriers associated with integrating digital development and data in developing and emerging nations, engaged Genesis to undertake a global baseline study.

The purpose of the study was to inform DIAL’s results framework indicators and to provide additional insight into the experiences and interactions of these stakeholders. The focus of the study was on funders, technology specialists, governments, NGOs and implementers.

Through a robust methodology that included the use of an online survey distributed via various social media channels and an extensive key informant interview process, data was gathered and several general themes emerged from the findings.

These included an observed typology of ICT4D, gaps in funding for digital services, factors influencing the design of digital solutions, gaps in various actors’ capacity to use digital data and technology, and stakeholders’ awareness of, and experiences in implementing, the Principles for Digital Development.

Digital-credit scoring tool to expand credit to MSMEs

Project name:
FSDA Market Scoping, Zimbabwe

Service:
Market systems development

Sector:
Agriculture and Agribusiness
Climate Change
Digital economy

Area of Expertise:
Rural and agricultural finance
Tech solutions

Client:
Financial Sector Deepening Africa (FSDA)

Date:
2017

Country:
Zimbabwe


In March 2016 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) published a National Financial Inclusion Strategy. At its heart is a micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) finance priority area that recognises the critical role the MSME sector plays in economic development in Zimbabwe through job creation and poverty alleviation.

As part of a broader consortium bringing together data analytics capability, mobile application technology and agricultural value-chain financing expertise, Genesis proposed to develop a digital-credit scoring tool for micro, small and medium enterprise lending in Zimbabwe.

The tool will be developed to enable financial service providers to lend to previously excluded entrepreneurs and MSMEs across a number of economic sectors using alternative data and non-traditional sources of data.

The purpose of the market-scoping assignment was to identify sources of appropriate data and commercially viable markets for the digital-risk scoring tool, once that is developed.

The market scoping was a research and insight assignment that led to a critical decision for the funding of a longer-term implementation programme over 24 months, rolling out the tool to deserving MSMEs in Zimbabwe.

TOP: A group of cowpea farmers from Rushinga District in the Mashonaland Central Province who were interviewed during the market scoping exercise.

Scoping plan to strengthen financial integration in SADC

Project name:
Scoping study: Strengthening regional financial integration to support financial inclusion

Service:
Strategy
Financial inclusion

Sector:
Financial services
Payments

Client:
International aid agency

Date:
2015 - 2016

Country:
Malawi
Mozambique
Zambia
Zimbabwe


Genesis was commissioned by an international aid agency to define the scope for the design of a new Regional Financial Integration (RFI) programme aimed at improving financial integration within SADC. 

Few economists would disagree that the small and often landlocked states of Southern Africa, with their deep historical links to South Africa, would be better served by deeper regional integration, or that such integration should include the free flow of capital within the region, particularly from South Africa’s developed capital markets. 

Little progress has, however, been made in achieving regional financial integration. A study conducted by Genesis in 2011 showed that, while some progress had been made at the level of country preparation and cooperation, not much headway had been made on the more difficult harmonisation commitments required at regional level.

The intention of developing a new programme was therefore to extend the reach of the existing RFI programme, while simultaneously adopting a fresh and more effective approach that would support other DFID focus areas, such as migration and the strengthening of cross-border infrastructure.

The market diagnostics and stakeholder engagements conducted by the project team revealed that there remained important challenges or ‘gaps’ in a number of areas, including exchange control policies; payment, clearing, and settlement systems; anti-money laundering measures; controls related to combatting the financing of terrorism; remittance flows; and trade finance. The project team therefore recommended that a number of key areas and approaches to intervention should form the core of the new programme. 

The team’s recommendations were accepted and incorporated into the design of the new programme.

Financial model sets new mobile termination rates

Project name:
Expert economic advice and financial cost modelling for the development of new termination rates

Service:
Regulatory economics and accounting

Sector:
Communications and Media
Digital economy

Area of Expertise:
Digital work and inclusion

Client:
ICASA

Date:
2014 – 2015

Country:
South Africa


The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) issued new termination-rate regulations during the first half of 2014, which were challenged in the High Court by some of South Africa’s mobile network operators (MNOs), particularly MTN and Vodacom (Challenge to ICASA by MTN and Vodacom). After the court ruled that ICASA had to develop new termination-rate regulations later that year, Genesis was asked to assist in this regulatory process.

‘Termination rates’ are the prices telecommunications operators pay each other to terminate calls originating on each other’s networks (for example, when an MTN customer calls a Vodacom customer, MTN pays a termination fee to Vodacom). For a variety of pro-competitive reasons, regulators around the world set these rates equal to the costs operators incur to provide termination services to each other.

Financial models built by Genesis on behalf of ICASA uncovered the termination costs of South Africa’s fixed and mobile telecommunications operators. This enabled ICASA to introduce truly cost-oriented termination-rate regulation in South Africa for the first time. To maximise their pro-competitive potential, the regulations progressively reduce termination rates over time, to encourage future termination cost reductions. The regulations also recognise that smaller MNOs have higher termination costs and accommodate this through asymmetric rates, making more manageable the adjustments required of smaller MNOs.

Genesis’s independent expertise improved decision-making in two different respects. It first helped the High Court to understand that, while ICASA’s initial 2014 regulations would not harm any operator, scope existed to develop new regulations that would deliver better competition and consumer outcomes. It then helped ICASA to realise this objective, resulting in a best-practice regulatory outcome that has sparked greater price competition between South Africa’s telecommunications operators, particularly between the MNOs.

Genesis Analytics was a critical component of a regulatory process that lowered the costs of communication in South Africa, an outcome that benefits every South African consumer.

Meet the Team

Areas of Service Expertise

  • Competition economics
  • Digital business advisory
  • Digital financial services
  • Digital work and inclusion
  • Evaluation of digital programmes
  • National and sector digital strategies
  • Tech solutions
  • Tech governance and competition

Related Sectors

Our work in C0DE (Centre of Digital Excellence)

SADA releases plan to create 500,000 new jobs in 10 years

South Africa in the Digital Age (SADA) is an urgent, multi-sectoral, economic strategy development process to charter South African pathways for inclusive growth in the digital age. The process is a joint venture between the University of Pretoria's Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), Genesis Analytics and the Pathways for Prosperity Commission. Read more

Projects

Project

Genesis supports Uganda with strategy to capitalise on 4IR to drive growth

Genesis is providing technical support to Uganda's Presidential Taskforce on the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) to formulate a national 4IR strategy to guide the country on areas where 4IR technology can be domesticated to achieve development objectives.

View Project
Project

Insights into changing nature of work for young Africans

Genesis was contracted by the Mastercard Foundation to perform audience-needs research for a new initiative to improve the availability of insights relating to the changing nature of work for young Africans in the coming 10-15 years.

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Leading the team

Mark Schoeman

Principal (C0DE)

Mark Schoeman
Principal (C0DE)
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Amreen Choda

Manager

Amreen Choda
Manager
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​Zoë van der Hoven

Manager

​Zoë van der Hoven
Manager
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