About 500 years ago, Africa was booming. Indeed, as reported by the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, the first European explorers to reach Africa circa 1500 were stunned and amazed by its wealth — both financially and culturally.
Why does this matter? Because Africa —the continent that was allegedly described by a certain world leader as being (to put it very mildly) home to sub-par countries with sub-par people — is on the rise again, and the world is taking notice. Except this time, instead of showcasing gold, silver, pearls, silk and amber, the spotlight is shining on Africa’s vision and leadership in the world of information technology.
Here are four key reasons why the future of IT across the world will be significantly — and perhaps even predominantly — led and shaped by Africa:
- Population Growth
While many countries are in population decline as families get smaller and many adults choose to forgo parenthood, the opposite is happening in Africa: the population numbers are booming. In the century ahead, this will position Africa to have a very favorable and enviable “dependency ratio” (the number of working people compared to the number of children and elderly who depend on their labor and income).
- Economic Growth
The bulk of the world’s fastest-growing economies aren’t in Asia or South America — they’re in Africa, with countries like Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, West Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria enjoying substantial year-over-year GDP and GNP growth. Naturally, this surge is also increasing the ranks of an all-important middle class that will crave and consume technology: everything from IoT appliances to self-driving cars, and the list of technology-led solutions goes on.
As reported by the United Nations, a big driver of Africa’s technological growth is fueled by unprecedented innovation — especially when it comes to mobile technology. More than 80 percent of Africans own at least one smartphone, and the continent continues to be the fastest-growing mobile phone market in the world; outranking digital heavyweights like the U.S. and India.
- Increased Investment
Technology and R&D need two things: great ideas and plenty of money. A growing roster of highly educated and entrepreneurial-minded Africans are supplying the former, and tech investors from within and beyond the continent are supplying the latter. Granted, foreign investment levels aren’t (yet) at those enjoyed by other markets, such as parts of South America or Southeast Asia. However, the numbers are rising each year, as more tech investors look to tap into Africa’s enormous potential. It’s as if the continent has unfurled giant banner signs that say: INVEST HERE!
The Bottom Line
Africa’s history is a complex and unique story; one tends to be poorly understood in other parts of the world. Still, the fact remains: Africa’s rise is real, and the future of IT across the continent is brighter than ever.