There is no doubt Africa is a future tech superpower.
The continent’s tech start-up ecosystem is growing quickly, but it still lags behind the rest of the world. Africa has already been at the forefront of using technology which has enabled it to bypass traditional ways of development.
A relatable example is that the continent skipped landlines and went straight to mobile phones, and it started using mobile money and e-banking when traditional bank accounts for individuals was still low. African tech creators are already creating some exciting innovations in the world.
This is because Africa has the world’s largest free-trade area and the highest rate of entrepreneurship. There is a lot of tech potential on the continent, and now is the time to act.
By 2030, tech financing will hit US$90 billion but there is a lot that African governments have to do to reduce the risk of investing in tech start-ups. Governments and donors will have to work with the private sector to create new investment tools.
In addition, governments have to make things better for businesses. Currently, tech start-ups have to pay a lot to comply with regulations that are sometimes not clear. These regulations differ in the 54 different African countries which makes it a lot of work for investors to scale faster across the continent.
To deal with this, leaders in the different African nations need to come up with a common, unified framework that makes it easy to expand into regional markets.
For things to work much better and faster, there is need to get more people to help each other since ecosystems that have more links are stronger and grow faster. African leaders should work on policies that can enable ecosystem players start a Pan-African tech start-up network to help tech start-ups grow and get better.
To address these challenges, African governments need to quickly create and implement a digital economic policy that will open and connect economies and create jobs for the continent’s growing number of young people.
Africa can be a tech superpower if it creates a good business environment, enough money, and strong connections. The future of tech in Africa is exciting and leaders can take steps to build thriving, competitive ecosystems for tech start-ups that lead to innovations that change the world.
Opportunities in Africa’s tech
Africa’s population remains a boon for the continent’s economic growth.
Before the pandemic, 22 per cent of working-age Africans started new businesses. With the continent being home to the world’s largest free-trade area and a strong culture of entrepreneurship, the only way to go is up.
People in Africa have shown that they are willing to use technology and tech start-ups’ funding on the continent is growing at a rate that is six times faster than the average for the rest of the world.
In 2021, a record US$4.9 billion was raised, which is more than triple the amount in just one year. But this is still a small part of the whole: African start-ups only make up 0.2 per cent of the US$3.8 trillion in value around the world. Africa’s start-ups are still being held back by hurdles like complicated rules, a lack of digital skills, a lack of funding and highly fragmented markets.