THE REAWAKENING OF TECHNOLOGY IN AFRICA

By 2030 one in five people will be African. Africa will account for more than half (54%) of the 2.4 billion global population growth in coming decades. The United Nations predicts that between 2015 and 2050, Africa will add 1.3 billion people, more than doubling its current population of 1.2 billion. Combine the continent’s soaring population with technology, improvements in infrastructure, health and education, and Africa could be the next century’s economic growth powerhouse.

Africa has had a sporadic growth in Technology through the development from spears and arrows from trees, to the discovery of machines and software to making life better. Even in this evolution of Africa in Science and Technology, research still shows that Africa portrays a gap in Technology compared to the rest of the technology inclined world, due to the myopia on the part of its Government to recognize the value and need for science and technology in its country’s development.

As Africa transitions from the margins to the mainstream of the global economy, technology is playing an increasingly significant role. According to the IMF’s 2014 World Economic Outlook report, of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, six will be from Africa.

Past Technological Achievements

Despite suffering through the era of horrific system of slavery, countless contributions to the fields of science and technology was made by early Africans. The first evidence of tools used by African ancestors is interred in valleys across Sub-Saharan Africa.

There is no doubt that tech and innovation can play a big role in making some countries richer than others. About half the differences in GDP per person between countries are due to differences in productivity. Countries that encourage their firms to innovate, and that invest in educating their people and pushing the boundaries of science, generally grow richer than those that do not.

The Reawakening (MPESA)

Most discussions of the origins of Africa’s tech movement circle back to Kenya in 2007, when Kenyan telecom Safaricom launched the M-PESA mobile money product. M-PESA allows people to store money on mobile accounts and make simple transfers via SMS messaging — you don’t even need a smartphone to use it. MPESA (known popularly as mobile money) is an innovative technology which allows people to

send money and conduct other financial transactions using their mobile phones. M-PESA has

grown from Kenya and is now being replicated in many countries such as India, Afghanistan,

Egypt, Ghana, and even countries in Eastern Europe, among others. Groups that typically have limited access to formal financial services have benefited from the financial products offered through M-Pesa.  Its short-term Pay Bill Account service allows users to fundraise for a variety of purposes, including expenses relating to medical needs, education, and disaster relief.

Shortly after M-Pesa’s introduction, four technologists created the Ushahidi crowdsourcing app, a highly effective tool for digitally mapping demographic events anywhere in the world. Ushahidi has since become an international tech company with multiple applications in over 20 countries. Since 2010, iHub has produced 152 companies and grown a membership base of nearly 20,000 techies.

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Currently, budding generation of technologists, coders and entrepreneurs are rising to solve the continent’s most pressing problems. Entire new industries around payment solutions, crowdsourcing and entertainment media are springing up in tech hubs in Kenya, Nigeria and other countries. This is the rise of Silicon Savannah, (like its American counterpart, Silicon Valley). A recent study revealed the existence of roughly 200 African innovation hubs, 3,500 new tech-related ventures, and $1 billion in venture capital (VC) to a pan-African movement of start-up entrepreneurs.

In conclusion, the future of Technological growth in Africa lies in our connectivity. Data is still sold at an exorbitant price and the rural areas are still not reached. With the west making major advancement in Artificial intelligence and Big data, Africa is still lagging as we lack the ability to generate and keep data. There is still a lot that needs to be done.

 

 

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