African Entrepreneurs In The Age Of Digitization
One of the latest tech firms to list on the New York Stock Exchange isn’t from Silicon Valley.
It’s from Africa.
Africa now has 122 million active users for mobile financial services, and its smartphone connections are expected to double to 636 million in 2022, which is twice the projected estimate in North America. The same goes for mobile data traffic across Africa. Though Africa has the lowest mobile broadband penetration at the moment, it can claim to have the highest growth rate of this kind of penetration. Increases in mobile subscriptions are followed by greater imports of the required communication equipment for it, as Rwanda and Zambia have proven.
Africa’s digital economy is evolving rapidly, but at different speeds across countries. Where Nigeria has 32 million people using the Internet (between 2012-15), cellular services in other countries reach less than a third of the population, such as in the Central African Republic (CAR), Eritrea, or South Sudan.
As a digital marketing agency, we’re committed to exploring what works best in Africa, and digitization of sectors like education, healthcare, and finance means agencies like Digital Odyssey can help your business grow and expand using the right tools and catering to the right demographic.
As our continent grows more connected, it produces more inventive web-based applications and new high-powered business models. Innovative start-ups like Andela bridge the education gap and shortage of digital talent, by recruiting and training African software engineers (in its Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda campuses), then hire them out as “distributed teams” to companies worldwide.
So far, they’ve hired 1,200 developers over four years, and supply to 200 international companies.
The Internet’s biggest impact will most likely be in the sectors of financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture, and government. We have room and requirement for more such digitally-driven innovations, and large populations will only stand to benefit from them.
For example, let’s look at higher education. The Digital Odyssey team worked with the African Leadership University (ALU), a tech-enabled institution looking to close that gap. Their Rwanda and Mauritius campuses encourage students to manage their own education with technology, partner-company internships, and peer learning. ALU was recently named one of the world’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.
Why is digital marketing important for African SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises)? You can read up on why we think so here.
Notwithstanding Jumia’s successes, Africa needs more investment in its technology sector, and tech firms will have to navigate major infrastructural challenges, such as the fact that Internet data is still slower and more expensive in Africa than other continents.
Most countries here have strategies for communication technology in place, and if these are fully implemented, Africa’s public and private sector expenditure on Internet-based services could rise by 2025 as companies begin to digitize operations. This includes filing taxes online, and digital health & education initiatives.
But African digitization is still affecting economies in a lot of ways. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual/augmented reality, and three-dimensional printing are some examples. Tanzania is using 3D printing to recycle plastic bottles into prosthetics. IBM is using AI – named Watson – in Project Lucy to solve developmental challenges in energy, healthcare, water, and agriculture sectors.
Digitization means a holistic, cross-sectoral, and innovative approach to policy making. A lot of African countries also lack statistics on key aspects of their digital economies, and hence impede the ability to create evidence-based policies and programs that can appropriately benefit the people.
Africa is seeing the rise of entrepreneurs with the boost in digital connectivity. Especially for women entrepreneurs.
The Digital Odyssey team was founded and is led by women – and we can help you stay on top of trends to effectively navigate the complex waters of the internet. Our marketing agency can help you with further ideas of how to design world-class websites, seamless user journeys and digital marketing campaigns.
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