Africa in the Age of Tech Development
Africa has long been viewed as the poorest and most unstable continent. Many tragic events such as civil wars, political-social unrest, and humanitarian crises have occurred there. Today, because of the resilience of its people, Africa is leaving its past to become a center for large technological investments and business start-ups. The technological advances on the continent are tangible; for example, Rwanda has been able to grow its income by more than 6% per year through digital transformation.
However, much remains to be done for the development of technology to truly reduce poverty on the continent and to have a deeper impact on African societies and democracy. Western partners and multilateral institutions need to revitalize their cooperation and development aid to support the continent’s digital progress.
Technology is an engine for Africa to create sustainable jobs. It enables private businesses not only to benefit the poorest but to have the means to improve the value of what they produce and to strengthen their role in larger markets. Encouraging technological development in Africa will stimulate regional trends in business, investment, and modernization of the private and public sectors. The time has come for Western donors and international institutions like the World Bank to change their traditional approach to development and see Africa’s emerging technological landscape.
Technology can improve transparency and good governance. For a very long time, the delivery of public goods and services has been a nightmare for most people on the continent, especially in areas of inaccessible road infrastructure. 55% of economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa is informal, so it is very important to invest in the technology industry to modernize the continent. The implementation of technological solutions will promote efficiency in private and public institutions and enable people to benefit from better services. Technology can also help increase public participation in decisions that affect their community.
Imagine an Africa where technology is more accessible; there will be a growing mosaic of entrepreneurs, tech companies, and innovation centers across the continent. Investing in technology will go a long way- in fostering growth and transforming the workforce. This will benefit Africa to compete with other continents. Technology is already a tool for socio-economic transformation in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. For example, the expansion of technology is benefiting Nigeria to become an attraction for start-ups, which helps reduce poverty. Other countries like South Africa and Kenya are seeing the emergence of an IT ecosystem with the investment of Silicon Valley. Despite all these technological advances, Africa is still lagging other continents.
To truly make Africa a preferred destination for technological investments, Western partners and multilateral institutions must revise development priorities. Massive investments in technological infrastructure should be the priority of new economic agreements. There is a trade gap in services such as enterprise software, small business banking, affordable third-party logistics, or Internet access. A massive investment in technology will boost the African economy as a whole.
Africa has the world’s fastest-growing population and an estimated one billion people, half of whom are under age 20. The potential for sustainable development through technology will help the region prepare for the future of these young people and reduce inequalities. Technology investment can foster greater economic inclusion. This means that technological investment will allow men and women to have more and better jobs and to participate in the creation of wealth as well. It is also a way to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) throughout the continent. The continent’s donors or economic partners can put the implementation of DEI as one of the conditions for receiving investments.
However, technological investments alone are not enough. The socio-economic conditions of the population, the opacity of mismanagement in the private and public sectors, and the culture of bad governance all need attention. Africa still needs investment in basic skills and basic infrastructure such as ordinary electricity to attract investors and foster development.
The last two decades have been positive for the African continent with tech innovation that touches all aspects of life. Energy, agriculture, banking, healthcare, entertainment, transportation, and fashion have all been influenced by the tech industry on the continent. Investment in technology, with the assistance of Western partners and multilateral institutions, will continue the rapid and positive transformation of the world’s youngest and most dynamic continent.