Togo’s president Faure Gnassingbé has looked to solve that problem with Novissi, a digital cash transfer program that sends funds to citizens through mobile money. The program targets informal workers whose incomes were “disrupted” by lockdowns. As of mid-April, over 1.1 million Togolese citizens had registered for Novissi with around 450,000 people (65% of which were women) proving eligible beneficiaries and receiving up to 35% of the minimum wage.
“The fact that Togo can do this, at scale and so quickly, shows the power of good digital technology to reinvent government services,” says Anit Mukherjee, policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and co-author of the Center’s recent report on state-powered digital payments schemes. “If countries can use digital systems and tools appropriately, they can also do what Togo did—it’s not rocket science. They just need to have the will,” he adds.