African countries are rapidly embracing technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Undoubtedly, technology is an engine for these countries to create sustainable jobs for their people. Slowly and steadily, the world has been emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic. The public and private sector leaders are looking for ways to ensure sustainable economic expansion, focusing on investment and partnership rather than aid and dependency.
For the African continent, the technology aims to enable businesses to not only benefit the poorest but to have the means to improve the value of what they produce, strengthening their role in larger markets.
Innovation, linked to fast-paced industries like technology and entrepreneurship, is a key to more healthy, long-term development for the continent. Uplifting technological development in Africa will stimulate regional trends in business, investment, and modernization of the private and public sectors.
But a deeper understanding of these technologies can unleash different socio-economic contexts, particularly in developing countries. Here is why technology innovation can change the future of Africa.
Improve transparency and good governance
Harboring a stronghold in technology and ICT startups provides an overload of possibilities and benefits. First and foremost, technology can improve transparency and good governance among communities and the masses.
Unless citizens demand good governance, it will not be supplied by authorities. For Africa, the relationship between governments and the people has proven to be an enduring challenge.
Emerging technology is having a powerful impact on the security and stability of African states. Yet the digital revolution’s legacy will be determined not by technology but by how it is used. African countries that take advantage of opportunities and limit the risks in emerging technology may achieve greater peace and prosperity. Yet many countries could be left behind. As the continent recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders must choose between harnessing emerging technology to improve government effectiveness, increase transparency, and foster inclusion or as repression, division, and conflict tool. For citizens to push for improved accountability and greater transparency, they require access to information, knowledge about policy options, and the means to hold those in power responsible.
Increasing rates of cellphone use and internet penetration facilitate access to information and reporting issues. Unreliable and expensive postal and telephone services are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Rather than physically reporting a problem and making a complaint to a government department, it is now possible to do so via the internet: through a website, social media, or an app.
Social media, in particular, has grown exponentially in popularity, especially amongst the youth. The eagerness of this demographic to embrace it for political and social activism has been demonstrated in Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. For example, mobile phone cameras have been used to record election results posted outside counting stations in some parts of Africa. Ultimately, dialogue facilitated by technology is not a one-way street. African governments need to start to use technology to talk to citizens.
The rapid spread of the internet across Africa has been heralded as a critical driver of prosperity and a sign of the continent’s technological coming of age. Today, at least a quarter of the population has internet access, a nearly fifty-fold increase in internet usage since the turn of the millennium. By 2030, the continent could achieve rough parity with the rest of the world when three-quarters of Africans are projected to become internet users.
Access to the internet means saving, investing, and borrowing money. It also confirms getting an education, having access to healthcare, and trading with more significant markets. The essentials, as mentioned earlier, are fundamental to socioeconomic advancement.
Tech has been a powerful force fueling economic growth across the globe. Joining the bandwagon is Africa. The African countries are accepting rapid increases in internet penetration to facilitate improvements in the lives of citizens.
Unfortunately, digitization brings vulnerabilities that expose countries to cyber espionage, critical infrastructure sabotage, and crime. Until recently, Africa was responsible for such a negligible portion of overall internet traffic that its systems were not particularly vulnerable to sophisticated cyberattacks. That could change as African states, criminal enterprises, and threat groups become increasingly prominent cyber actors in the coming decade.
Technological innovation and diffusion
Most African countries are low-income and tend not to rank among the world’s foremost technological powers. Hence, it is often assumed that African states might be unable to use technology. Dubbed as ‘beyond their control,’ the questionable assumption stops Africans’ growth and questions their intelligence.
Slamming the discouraging mindset, numerous African countries are already harnessing two critical emerging technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and drones, in ways that are at once innovative and disruptive.
The ultimate impact of emerging technologies will depend mainly on how governments choose to use them. From provisioning countless job opportunities to introducing new inventions, technology will aid in enhancing corporate profits and regime security.
While it is early to tell where things are headed, the continent’s general trajectory is bound to be one of further economic development.
Most likely, African governments will continue to exhibit tremendous variation in their ability to adapt to this period of geopolitical uncertainty and technological change. Some more innovative countries may surf the spread of digital technology to prosperity and stability. For Africa’s digital revolution to yield wealth, governments must focus on adopting emerging technology. The signs of Africa’s digital revolution are impossible to miss with the high probability of success.