TECH IN AFRICA IS CREATING A NEW FRONTIER

Tech in Africa is creating new frontiers for the continent and is rising rapidly against the rest of the world, drawing investment opportunities in the sector. More and more African tech start-ups are being acquired by international companies. Many of these technologies are mobile-based and are built off the back of Africans being willing to experiment and adopt new technologies that people in more developed markets might be willing to try.

For instance, the financial services giant Discovery perfected its Vitality rewards programme in South Africa, progressively integrating it with new technologies (including smartphone apps and wearables), years ahead of their competitors. This success then allowed it to expand the programme internationally to more than 20-million users in countries like the UK, Canada, and China.

Over 500 operating tech firms were recorded in Cape Town at the end of last year, surmounting to a total of over 40,000 within these firms. African Tech Ecosystems of the Future’s 2021/22 report by Foreign direct investment (fDi) ranked South Africa as first in the overall fDi ranking, inclusive of Economic Potential, Business Friendliness, and Start-up Status.

South Africa’s tech ecosystem is thriving, and Cape Town is home to Africa’s oldest tech and start-up incubator, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi).

The CiTi has been prominent in supporting over 3,000 entrepreneurs for over two decades with the city offering highly developed venture capital network. In 2020 despite the many uncertainties R1.2-billion of investment into the tech sector spanning 46 deals was achieved.

In the connectivity category of the fDi, South Africa was ranked second after Nigeria and in the FDI Strategy category, the country ranked second. As the world makes a shift to finding innovate opportunities through technology, TopCo, South Africa’s leader in business research, recognition and networking, has helped over 2 500 organisations with robust networking experiences aimed at kick-starting economic growth in Africa, using technology.

In May, TopCo together with various partners in the tech industry, and Brand South Africa, hosted an Africa Tech Week to forge clearer paths to digital transformation and inspire collective growth within business in Africa for Africa.

Top-Tech companies, innovators and investors came together during the hybrid conference, to hear what renowned leaders had to unveil on their winning formulas and “techs of the trade”. Brand South Africa through its Research Unit used this opportunity to unpack insights on South Africa’s 4IR capabilities. The Capability-Inclusive Internet Index (3i) stated that overall South Africa ranks at 47/120, the highest ranking in Africa.

Redefining a “New Normal”, the Africa Tech week also recognised companies in Africa that have excelled at innovative product development.

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According to Zahra Baitie, Head of Partnerships and Programs Africa’s Business Heroes at Jack Ma Foundation said “it is predicted that Africa will create 54 million jobs by 2022, largely generated by small and medium enterprises. African women are twice as likely to start a business as women elsewhere in the world. African entrepreneurs have a massive opportunity to uplift the African community”.

Mr Thomas Davin, global innovation director for UNICEF, commented saying “approximately 60% of the African population is younger than 25, we need to upskill and equip Africa’s youth and ensure that they have access to technology and the internet. The education system is moving towards machine learning – enabling individual learning journeys”.

“Ensuring that South Africa’s workforce will be ready for the future of work will require a combination of effort from various stakeholders. Streamline 4ir policy and regulatory framework, a strengthen STEM education at secondary and tertiary levels, targeted infrastructure and energy strategy” said Brand South Africa’s Acting General Manager for Research Ms Shamiso Hlatshwayo.

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before; said George Colony, CEO of Forrester

The African continent is growing in innovation importance, of the 25 countries that are identified as outperformers, 8 are from Sub-Saharan Africa, with South Africa, Kenya and Rwanda topping the list. – Global Innovation Index (GII)

Ndagi Job Goshi, General Manager of Liferay Africa  said that “ultimately, while Africa may be less digitally mature than other markets, there can be no doubt that businesses on the continent are unafraid to embrace technology and innovation. And, in the customer-centric ways in which they’ve done so, despite facing adversity and strong headwinds, there are lessons for the rest of the world to learn from the tenacity and ingenuity birthed and nurtured in the African soil”.

Africa is rising and technology is part of the new frontier that is ensuring that the continent is a destination of choice for investment opportunities and a solid economic recovery post COVID-19.

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