Grocer Amadou Bousso poses with smartphones at his shop in Dakar, Senegal. Photo: Seyllou/ AFP

Africa's opportunity to transform itself into a "cyber-continent", bypassing capital-intensive legacy infrastructure and leaping straight into the fourth industrial revolution, has been boosted by the unusual digitalisation demands of the global pandemic – but this new world requires its own unique infrastructure, skills, services, investors and entrepreneurs.Digitalisation’s strongest suit is, as noted by Dr Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary-General and chief of the body’s Economic Commission for Africa, driven by the continent’s dramatic embrace of mobile technology, with more than 80% of its population having a mobile phone subscription.

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Michael Schmidt is a veteran investigative journalist, best-selling non-fiction author, and human rights activist with more than three decades’ experience, having worked in 47 countries on six continents. He is official rapporteur of the international Safe Havens arts rights justice summit, and convenor of the Creative African Defensive Network (CADENET).