Faced with the wave of digitalization, Francophone Africa faces challenges as modern technologies collide with their traditions. One wonders what the future holds for computing and telecommunications on the African continent.
In this article, we will explore how different sectors can take advantage of the opportunities offered by technology in order to contribute to the economic development of the region. We will also examine the advantages offered by various sectors in order to increase the IT and telecom potential of the continent.
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The outlook for the IT and telecommunications sector in Africa
The African continent is made up of more than 2 billion people, making this region one of the most populated regions globally with the number of people present expected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. These large populations provide companies with a huge and diverse market to expand their business.
Africa has therefore established itself as an attractive destination for international investment in recent years.
Today, international companies are looking to the African continent to identify the opportunities offered by this growing market. In the IT and telecommunications sector, these opportunities are ideal given the high penetration rate of digital technologies which continues to increase every year.
The assets available to the African continent to develop these sectors
When it comes to the IT and telecommunications sector in Africa, it is important to note that there are a number of assets to encourage this development:
- Growing demand: the technological penetration rate is still on the rise in many countries on the African continent. Innovative systems adapted to local contexts are currently being developed. Native mobile applications are designed in particular to respond to African pecular culture and provide a personalized experience to users.
- A young population: the young population represents nearly 60% of African consumers, which means that technological products have great potential for popularity among younger generations.
- A solid foundation: according to a study published by UNCTAD (World Trade Organization), more than 15 million direct and indirect jobs have been created thanks to information and communication technologies (ICT). This represents about 6% of the total GDP of the African continent.
E-commerce greatly surpasses traditional commerce in Nigeria
The e-commerce industry has witnessed dramatic growth in Nigeria in recent years. According to the KPMG report, online sales increased by more than 25% between 2018 and 2019 to reach $2 billion.
This trend was confirmed in 2020, with an increase in revenues linked to electronic transactions of up to 15%.
This growth is mainly due to the high adoption of smartphones among Nigerian consumers. Now, they can place their orders on Alibaba, Jumia and other mobile applications without even moving.
These modern technologies are highly valued by Nigerians who have found a convenient and cost effective way to shop.
Agriculture and information technologies, a perfect symbiosis
Digital technologies also provide an excellent opportunity for African countries to automate their agricultural systems. Indeed, agriculture still represents the main source of income generated by Africa, which means that a better agricultural system will greatly improve the standard of living of rural communities across the continent.
Today, some technological initiatives aim to create a bridge between agriculture and information technology (IT). They implement a variety of digital services such as smart tools to improve agricultural productivity or connect farmers to the local and international market.
What are the main challenges for the development of the IT and telecommunications sector in Africa?
The growing use of digital technologies in Africa has countless benefits but it also raises some challenges that need to be addressed:
- Insufficient IT infrastructure: Despite the progress made in recent years, many African countries still lack adequate IT infrastructure to fully exploit the benefits brought by the web.
- High cost of internet services: although the internet penetration rate is relatively high in Africa (more than 40%), the cost of the service remains very high. According to the Statista study, the average cost of internet access in Africa is 5 times higher than the world average.
- A weak presence of GAFA on the African market: big tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple (GAFA) have yet to invest heavily in the African market. This can be explained by a lack of confidence of these companies in Africa given the legal risks involved.
Although these challenges remain significant, today there are some local initiatives like CoinAfrique that have the mission of developing digital technologies in Africa. This innovative service allows users to pay their bills online and generate income through the sale and purchase of new or used items.
Similar projects have been successfully implemented by Madlyn Cazalis, a leader in 100% natural Made in Africa cosmetics. These initiatives are tangible proof of the immense potential that Africa offers for a better future.
It can be said that Africa is rich in assets for the development of information technology and telecommunications. Native mobile apps designed to blend in with African culture are emerging and helping to boost the industry. In addition, after an in-depth study of Nigeria, we find that e-commerce greatly surpasses traditional commerce there. Faced with these promising prospects, companies wishing to invest on this continent have all the cards in hand to succeed and benefit from this very buoyant market.
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