Africa is the next big digital market. Out of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world in 2020, six are African nations. It is a known fact that Africa has big potential and that if it embraces digital development – its future is very promising!
Technological experts are optimistic that Africa is well on the path to being the next China. The scope of opportunity available now is a result of modern technology, compared to 25 years ago when China had nothing of the sort. Africa is favoured and its economic growth is set to reach unprecedented levels.
Where does Africa stand now?
The African digital market is one of the few digital markets in the world right now that is in its early stages – albeit its population is over 1 billion people. Digital companies have much to offer and learn by working hand-in-hand with African companies and governments.
The large percentage of youth with potential that is yet to be harnessed, the jobs that digitisation will create, and the ease of access in all kinds of areas that Africa can benefit from – are some of the ways that digital development can produce a complete turn around in the African landscape
But while the rest of the world has been undergoing the process of digitally innovating on many levels – individually, as businesses, and in government sectors, the African population’s access to the internet still remains out of reach for most people in the continent, with only 39% reported to have access, in 2020.
But don’t get us wrong, of all regions, some of the strongest growth has been reported in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the percentage of people using the Internet increased from 0.5% in 2000 to 25% in 2017. And while that is commendable news, there is still a long way to go to bridge the digital divide between Africa and the world.
In Africa, too few citizens have digital IDs or transaction accounts – this locks them out of access to critical services and e-commerce. Many businesses have not switched to digital, and entire villages do not have access to fast services and instead, have to wait days or travel long journeys to get what the rest of the world hears immediately.
Areas that digitisation could improve include educational organisations, health systems, road infrastructure, power supply, food production, investment boosting, and economic growth.
To date, there are hundreds of thousands of citizens in Africa who lack the facilities to benefit from services offered by various businesses; and due to lack of technological systems in place, many aren’t even aware of such services.
So when businesses in Africa take the step and decide to change and utilize digitally-centered business models to connect with those customers who were previously out of reach due to geography or low-income levels, millions of people’s lives are made easier.
How digital innovators will benefit Africa’s digital market
The role of the digital innovator is to bridge the gaps between the user and the service provider. They are experts who work with clients, across industries, helping with the planning and the implementation of projects.
Africa deserves the enabling of this change, and for her locals to be taught to make use of their capabilities that lie untapped for continued success in the future.
Digital innovators are equipped with the digital applications, training, and knowledge that is needed to help ‘traditional’ businesses slowly adopt digital technologies and platforms to boost productivity and sales.
They place teams in clients’ organisations for short periods and focus on providing a long-term impact by helping to strengthen leaders and optimise management processes.
In digitally reforming a client organisation, digital innovators support clients at every stage of the activation of innovation, from diagnosis to strategy to implementation.
Unleashing Africa’s talent and capability of clients is essential to the long-term success of Africa’s digital market, so digital innovators work to leave organisations equipped to carry on the work by themselves and sustain improvements long after a project ends.
In the social sector, digital innovators have complex public and social challenges to address, and by rallying local specialists and professionals they work to produce significant improvements in lifestyle and service delivery for African citizens.
The support of the governments of Africa is crucial. Systemic and strategic investment by public sectors in Africa towards digitisation will help in improving digital infrastructure, services, skills, and entrepreneurship. Africa needs to be empowered with the digital innovation, technology, and digital guidance that is essential to thriving in an increasingly digitised global economy. When governments partner with digital transformation implementers, a more quick and effective means of delivering services is guaranteed.
Digital development in Africa will unlock brand new pathways for swift and significant economic growth, innovation, job creation, and access to services that would have been inconceivable only a decade ago.
The end result is yet to be seen, but no doubt this is the time for Africa together with digital innovators who really want to see her shine – to get to work!
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