Businesses in Africa are booming, and a significant amount of this growth is attributable to the investment in technology across the continent. World Bank projections indicate that out of 20 high-growth economies in the world, 11 are located in Africa. This growth is driven by industrialization and the prominence of free markets. The economic growth in the continent can be seen from its move away from labor-intensive sectors to ones that are witnessing rapid growth such as financial services, telecommunications, and retail.
This article highlights some critical African sectors and the impact of new technologies on these sectors.
The use of internet in financial services has led to a reduction in the costs of transactions. It has made financial services accessible to the rural and remote parts of Africa. For instance, in Kenya, mobile-money services such as M-Pesa have offered consumers a practical solution for their financial services needs. The cost of remitting through this platform is nearly 50 percent of that of other formal domestic remittance providers. With such services, families that had no access to banks earlier can now efficiently transact at their convenience.
It’s no secret that esports or online gaming is a rapidly growing phenomenon in Africa, especially South Africa. The growth of online gaming in Africa can be gauged from the fact that the country’s game development industry saw an increase in revenue from R29.7 million in the year 2014 to R100 million in 2016.
The rapid growth in South African online casinos is, at least in part, attributable to telecommunications. The massive rate of mobile penetration in the continent has fuelled the online gaming industry, especially in South Africa. With rampant smartphone penetration across the continent, the demand for premium services with sports-related content is on the rise. Presently, Eastern Africa and Kenya are the fastest growing online gaming markets on the continent.
Africa will be home to over 20 billion people by the year 2050, and the farm productivity on the continent must grow at a rate that is faster than the global average to cater to its growing population. Technologies from abroad have been ineffective in African farming as farmers find these cumbersome to use. As the barrier to developing and implementing farming technologies has dropped, entrepreneurs are now using various digital tools to make useful technological platforms available to farmers.
Despite limited connectivity for farmers, they now have access to data such as aerial pictures from drones and satellites, weather forecasts and soil sensors that enable them to manage the growth of crops in real time. Automated systems offer early warnings in case there is some abnormality in the crop growth or other factors.
While Africa has a substantial rural population, it has a low hospital bed base as well as limited medical care professionals. This poses a considerable challenge in providing adequate healthcare across the continent. Sub-Saharan Africa presently has only 1.3 medical care workers per 1000 people.
Now, telemedicine has made its advent into the healthcare system of the continent. This technology utilizes telecommunications and electronic information to offer clinical medical care to distant regions. A 2015 Deloitte study highlighted that the global telemedicine market is poised to grow at an annual compound rate of 18.5 percent between 2012 and 2018. This technology is helping Africa bridge the urban and rural medical care divide by providing healthcare facilities to the most remote parts of the continent.
Advancements in technology are shaping the landscape of various sectors in Africa. The growth of the internet and mobile penetration are the key factors facilitating the rampant economic growth on this continent.