Togo's NOVISSI Program demonstrates how digital technology can break down barriers and transform lives. Image: Unsplash/Gnim Zabdiel Mignake
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- Togo is a pioneer in creating equitable access to digital technology, breaking down barriers and transforming lives.
- Togo is now establishing an Interoperable Social Information System that prioritizes data protection and cybersecurity.
- This system aims to lay the foundation for future social protection programmes and has the potential to be scaled across low and middle-income countries.
In today's rapidly evolving world, the importance of digital inclusion cannot be overstated. It has become critical in ensuring equitable access to essential services and opportunities, particularly in developing nations. Togo, a West African country with a population of eight million, has shown remarkable progress in this area through initiatives such as its NOVISSI Program.
The NOVISSI Program demonstrates how digital technology can break down barriers and transform lives. Drawing inspiration from this platform, Togo is now establishing an Interoperable Social Information System that prioritizes data protection and cybersecurity. This system aims to lay the foundation for future social protection programmes, and it has the potential to be scaled across low and middle-income countries.
How is the World Economic Forum fostering a sustainable and inclusive digital economy?
Inclusivity through digital solutions
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Togo launched the NOVISSI Program as a swift measure to support individuals in the informal sector who were severely impacted by containment measures. It was swiftly developed into a fully digitized platform that facilitated seamless cash transfers to reach vulnerable households across the country.
Originally designed to assist urban people on a low income, the NOVISSI Program quickly expanded its reach to include rural communities in Togo's 200 poorest cantons. This expansion touched the lives of over 920,000 beneficiaries working in the informal sector, impacting around 25% of Togo's adult population, with women comprising 63% of the beneficiaries.
The NOVISSI Program's distinguishing feature is its emphasis on inclusivity through digital solutions. Beneficiaries are able to register using basic mobile phones through a short USSD number, eliminating the need for an internet connection. It utilizes biometric voter ID cards for unique identification, enabling efficient relief aid delivery, even without a formal social registry.
Harnessing technology for targeting
Togo's collaboration with US-based research teams showcased the power of technology in refining targeting methods. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning enabled the identification of the poorest districts and individuals within those districts. Satellite imagery and telecom operator call detail records were utilized for this purpose.
Building a foundation for future social protection programmes
Building on the success of the NOVISSI Program, Togo envisions an Interoperable Social Information System based on these six core components:
1. Inclusive Unique Identification
Togo is implementing a national biometric ID programme covering all citizens from five years old and above. This comprehensive identification system ensures that targeted interventions can reach every citizen in need.
2. Dynamic Social Registry
Togo is using AI to create a social registry, continuously assessing the needs of vulnerable households. This data-driven approach determines eligibility for social safety net programmes.
3. Direct Payment Platform
An enhanced version of the NOVISSI platform that facilitates high-volume direct benefit transfers ensures financial support reaches beneficiaries promptly and securely.
4. Data Lab for Evidence-Based Policy
Togo is establishing its Data Lab in Lomé to leverage data and AI for evidence-based policymaking, robust monitoring and programme evaluation.
5. Cybersecurity and Data Protection
Togo has adopted cybersecurity measures and data protection legislation, with a dedicated agency overseeing cybercrime prevention.
6. Building Partnerships
Togo is joining forces with organizations such as the World Economic Forum's EDISON Alliance Lighthouse Countries Network to amplify the impact of digital inclusion initiatives.
In conclusion, Togo's journey towards digital inclusion and social protection exemplifies the transformative potential of technology. By leveraging innovative solutions, Togo is laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and resilient future. The NOVISSI Program's success serves as a testament to the tangible impact of digital inclusion, fostering socio-economic advancement and gender equality. Through collaboration and global networks, Togo aims to accelerate its digital transformation agenda, ensuring all citizens benefit from the opportunities of the digital age.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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