Africa like every continent is utilising technology. If you go to any rural or remote part of the continent you are likely to see an older gentlemen or lady talking on a cell phone. From business activities such as banking to social networking, Africa is enjoying a surge. Many technological and economic experts predict that Africa is going to grow twenty fold in the next five years according to the Guardian newspaper (5 June 2014).
Ericson expects subscription to increase to 551million and double it to 930 million by 2019. Ericson also noted that mobile usage in Sub-Saharan Africa is approaching 70% and forecasting to catch up to the global rate of 92%. Nigeria and South Africa have emerged to be the biggest markets with their respective regions, West Africa and Southern Africa accumulating the biggest share. Kenya has emerged to be the leading market for East Africa.
The question though remains, is Africa correctly harnessing this important sector in growing their economies. In countries such as India and China this sector helped to transform their economies even countries such as Bangladesh also benefited from technology. Almost all multinationals at one point had or still has operations such as call centers in these countries. Apart from money transfers, social networking and voice calling, Africa doesn’t seem to be doing much to harness the power of technology.
We haven’t seen major multinational conglomerates clamoring to move some of their operations to Africa despite the embrace of technology by majority of Africa’s population. Governments in Africa needs to understand how important this sector is and how it is going to affect the planet’s future. African Government needs to understand how important democracy is to investors. Stable and democratic governments adhering to rule of law is essential to securing investments. Secondly there is a need to invest in infrastructure such as water, roads and power. There is a serious lack of understanding in part of African governments on how foreign direct investment (FDI) impacts economy.
Ireland doesn’t have much in minerals and is a very small country but every multinational company in the world wants to have their headquarters there. Ireland’s GDP per capita is €39,873 and with GDP of €183.8 billion (Wikipedia). In 2013 Ireland was in the top ten with $46billion (€33billion) beating economic powerhouses such as Germany (Independent.ie). After the crash they created 18000 jobs directly from FDI and aim to create 100 000 by 2016 (Irish department of Jobs and Enterprise) and most of those jobs are in the ICT sector. To someone those job numbers looks miniscule but Ireland is a small country with less than 5 million people.
Thirdly Africa needs to invest in IT education. That means instead of pilling money in defence and police budgets mostly because of imaginary enemies save for those countries fighting terrorism; health, education and transport sectors should be getting bigger share of national budgets. Schools and universities should be equipped with computers instead of relying on outdated donated computers from charity organisations. Teachers should be trained to ensure pupils are well equipped to face the 21st century. We need tomorrow’s inventors (the bill Gates, the Steve Jobs) from Africa It’s not too late but the window is closing.