Is Africa Missing Out on the Tech Revolution?

by | May 22, 2017 | African Desk |

In the final piece in this series we look at the topics discussed so far in “The Business Tech Spectrum” as well as “Innovation & The Potential to win over Customers” and how they specifically relate to an African context. We also look at Africa from a macroeconomic level, considering other risks or limitations which act as roadblocks to digitisation and innovation.

If you have followed the two prior pieces in this series, you will have seen how we have attempted to unpack technology in business – setting the scene for why businesses who are adopting technology are providing great success stories, the world over. Whether it is that customers are experiencing lower fees from businesses who are now simply being more efficient or that customers are finding their brand interactions less cumbersome and more intuitive, to a large extent it is technology that has been the catalyst in most of these cases.

 

Build it and They Will Come

So we now turn our sights to Africa and look to see whether our continent is realising the same benefits of what has been seen abroad. Are those living in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia & Nigeria seeing the benefit of the introduction of digital solutions? Is the infrastructure allowing for these solutions to be present? Are the devices available to these customers affordable enough to allow for the running of these solutions? Is the customer educated around the presence of these solutions? Is the African customer able to benefit financially through the introduction of technology and the digitisation of products and services?

These are all questions which in their own right could warrant answers paragraphs long, but my over-arching belief is that we are slowly but surely getting there. I would estimate that there is still quite a long way to go, but we have seen the ever increasing competition in the MNO (Mobile Network Operator) space leading to lower data costs and wider data accessibility. With this has come a scourge of smart devices out of Asia at a far more affordable price point. So from an infrastructure point of view, yes I believe we are certainly moving in the right direction – whether this is yet accessible to the masses is still up for debate.

 

Our Differing Needs

When it comes to awareness and education, again we need to be thinking of this from a non-Western perspective. Perhaps the consumer has not heard of the likes of AirBnB or Uber but the reality is that these solutions may not be a priority to a citizen living in Cameroon. The likes of someone who is simply looking for a solution to manage his/ her finances that does not involve excessive monthly costs with a big banking outfit.

We have seen the birth of solutions to truly 3rd world issues in the areas of agriculture, finance, energy and health. This is the reality of Africa and although it may not be as prolific as we may want as yet, there are certainly many people who have a vested interest and expertise to make sure that the benefit realisable from the implementation of technology and digitisation in business translates to a better quality of life, service offering and cost impact on the man in the street.

 

Alive with Opportunity

So, do I believe that we are missing out on the tech revolution in Africa? Certainly not.

It requires one look at the start-up funding numbers, the level of mobile money users or the amazing solutions coming to life and being used in health-care and agriculture to know this. The needle is certainly moving in the right direction and with a little more investment in infrastructure and education, I believe the digitisation of business and industry is able to elevate our continent to new levels.

Having spent most of his life operating in Southern Africa, Alex Acton, who heads up WWC’s African business is no stranger to the continent. With a deep appreciation for the opportunities that it presents, Alex has spent a significant amount of time in the far to reach corners of the continent. With this background, he understands the importance of building strong relationships as the cornerstone to successful business partnerships. 
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