Growth of the digital economy which can be defined as the various economic and social activities powered by ICT including banking, buying and selling and accessing education and entertainment activities via the internet through connected devices in Africa at large has tremendously increased giving a positive outlook of the continent. This has been possible through factors such as improved data connectivity, increase affordability of smart devices and falling data prices that have played a major role of fueling the digital economy in the region.
According to Ericsson, a giant technology company: In the two years to early 2015 there was a double increase to the number of mobile data traffic. It is forecasted that there will be a twelve fold increase for data in the next five years which has encouraged the growth in number of operators of data service and a boost in their earnings. For instance, the MTN Group with operations in around nine countries of the Sub Saharan Africa reported a 27 percent data revenue share of the total revenue in 2016 which was a 4 percent rise from the previous year as per the data reports posted on the company’s website and reported by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA).
According to GSMA, the number of SIM cards in use reached 731 million at the end of 2016 in the Sub Sahara and the number is expected to rise to nearly one billion by 2020 with an increase of broadband connections to half a billion which is more than double the number at the end of 2016. Smartphone connections have also doubled over the last two years to about 200 million with a strong growth in demand in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and DR Congo.
With the growth of internet users across Africa, mobile money services are significantly raising financial inclusions and easing the cost of conducting business making the Sub Saharan Africa a global leader on the use of mobile money as a primary means of financial transactions. All this has indeed offered new opportunities for productivity and efficiency gains to national governments, businesses and individuals. The mobile money platforms have enabled financial transactions through the transfer of money from one party to another either in the form of cash, mobile money or mobile payments enabling consumers make purchases of goods and services such as phone credit, water, electricity and other household utilities.
A Digital Economy offers Africans the knowledge of leveraging technology to make lives better by enhancing understanding of markets, expansion of education systems and creation of employment to grass root levels and still deliver monetary benefits for the informal sector and government. Today, customers use their phones for almost every single service or task therefore through this technological empowerment SME’s can better monitor and cater to their customers wants and needs.
Putting in place all the factors and pillars to strengthen Africa’s digital economy is worthy. From the recommendable growth of African nations GDP’s and other parameters of measuring national wealth and income it is certain that it plays a major role in unlocking Africa’s potential.