Karani Nyamu on Africa’s Digital Revolution

Image Source:http://borgenproject.org/category/zambia/

By Karani Nyamu,

Nyamu is the founder and Group CEO of VerveK.O, an enterprise software solutions firm based in Nairobi.

Digital connectivity is to Africa what manufacturing is to China and railroads were to Americas in the 17th century. Africa so far has between 7-11% of the world digital revolution. It has also been estimated that only about 1 in 400 person will be connected to Wi-Fi in Africa by 2018. Needless to say Africa is defying every digital statistics and projections by far.

The potential for even greater growth fuelled by more affordable digital infrastructure from China will continue to set the pace for the revolution. The chief growth has been in mobile telephony with more than 155 million gadgets purchased in Africa and Middle East alone in 2015.

I. Invest In Digital: Africa needs to start investing in futuristic digital enterprises. It’s no longer possible to wait until the demand arises since the Eastern and Western Corporations will move in fast and outpace local producers. The level of content generation in Africa is also growing fast and the underdevelopment of digital infrastructure will cap this wonderful growth in digital content creation. The investment from both governments and private sectors have to be quick, efficient and profitable in the long haul.

II. Digital Diversification Is Key: We cannot afford to limit digital revolution to communication alone. Pockets of local innovations should also be recognized as primary drivers of this digital revolution. Digital communication should be viewed simply as a conduit that ought to be tweaked to enable different industries make full use of it. Any industry that has no online presence is essentially a dead industry.

III. Invest in Hubs for mentorship: Its high time Kenya made use of the digital hubs and partnerships made by western and eastern tech giants. This opportunities avails the much needed technological knowledge and expertise that is most often domiciled in these large tech corporations. The fact that few years ago we barely had telecommunication engineers as a country to handle the mobile telephony growth speaks to our lack of preparedness.

IV. Invest in Business Scaling: Most African tech hubs focus on start-ups as opposed to opening up their platforms to act as conduits for the growth of existing SMEs. There are lots of SME firms that have the ability to grow and become world class players. This disconnect between existing firms and incubation centres has robbed the country off precious capacity for growth and development.

V. Drive Regional Integration: The one opportunity that the digital revolution has barely utilized is regional integration. The success of Africa’s digital revolution will require close corporation between academia, civil society, tech industries, governments and individuals across borders. The social media, and the internet fibre-optic cable has provided the link for such cooperation what remains is the political goodwill.