Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

AFRICA presents fertile ground for digital evolution

05.11.2018
After several years of lagging behind in the digital sphere, digital technologies have recently spread across the continent at a very swift pace. In its quest to embrace the digital world, the greatest impact has been felt mostly in the financial sector where it has empowered millions of people to access banking services, facilitated financial inclusivity and greater productivity in the economies. However, we look beyond the fact that digital technologies have revolutionized the continent to examining how Africa still possesses huge growth potential for technological advancement.

Today, it has been duly observed that digital technologies are making their way into every facet of life in society. As a result of the rapid penetration rate, a lot of countries have already turned towards the path of a digital economy. Recently, Senegal set a target of generating 10 percent of its GDP from the digital economy by 2025, while Rwanda rolled out 4G and fiber connectivity to deliver online e-government and other services across the country.

Digital technology refers to electronic equipment and applications that use information in the form of numeric code. It entails the use of devices that enable access to cyberspace, the use of digital audio/video and information communications technology.

Several organizations across the globe are seeking to expand in Africa, which is a clear indication that digital transformation is underway in Africa. Google announced that it will open an artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Accra, Ghana, later this year, its first on the African continent. The company has currently employed staff in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and, Senegal, and is expanding its Africa head office in Kenya, as a means of expanding its presence in Africa.

Lately, Nigeria is fast becoming a centre for big tech investment and commercially oriented start-ups as major investors are attracted by the prospect of scaling applications to Africa’s largest population and economy.

In Kenya, and, Rwanda, tech innovation is starting to influence multiple sectors: energy, agriculture, banking, healthcare, entertainment, transport and fashion.

THE FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGICAL GROWTH LIES IN AFRICA

Africa has demonstrated huge capacity in harnessing technology in recent years and, there is still a huge potential for digital impact in Africa. Statistics indicate that 21 out of the 25 least-connected countries in the world are in Africa and only 22 percent of the population has access to the internet. Again, online connectivity in Africa is below 5% of the population, and a large part of the continent still has no access to electricity.

With more than a billion people, Africa has the unique opportunity of taking advantage of the digital trends that are emerging at present. The continent still remains the leader in mobile money with over $22 billion moved annually and that trend is likely to continue.

With Africa being poised for a digital revolution, underlying improvements in technological capabilities, connectivity and the proliferation of mobile devices presents exciting times ahead for the digital transformation of the continent.

The late arrival of the continent to the digital economy is placing them at a vantage position due to the fact that corporations are scrambling to be a part of the growth story as the region is striving to become a digital hub.

However, Africa needs to prepare itself in order to better make use of such growth potential. The region will have to pay attention to developing better digital literacy and skills since people need digital literacy to interact with the digital world and workers need digital skills to use technology in daily work. It will be highly beneficial for the region to focus on instituting innovative business models for connectivity and improving the policy and regulatory environment to boost private sector investment.

Article from AFRIC editorial.

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