The information revolution in Africa will be successful if we put in place the right technology development strategies. Small teams of entrepreneurs in their bedroom or co-working spaces can build products for millions of people across the World. They just need the right skills and investments.
The rise of the Internet and related information technologies is probably one of the greatest things that have ever happened to mankind. They brought unprecedented changes to our global society. We’re just getting started integrating these technologies and witnessing their impact on our everyday lives. No one can for sure predict the future especially since the pace of changes itself is accelerating. But we cannot fail to notice how this information revolution is important across the World. The information revolution in Africa is even more important as it brings new hopes to the continent.
The Information Revolution in Africa Brings Unseen Opportunities
In the global marketplace, organizations, companies and countries are competing in their ability to create, acquire and use new technologies. New rules, not those of the industrial era, drive the global economy. Africa has missed most of the benefits brought to the World by the industrial revolution. And we’re at risk of missing those of the information revolution. The african continent simply hasn’t kept the pace with technological advancements.
As the global marketplace becomes increasingly liberal and competitive, African countries can benefit. They can reduce their technological gap with the rest of the World and increase their growth rate. This information era is very different from the earlier industrial one. African entrepreneurs have many opportunities never available before.
As the Internet develops, the transfer of technology is easier. African entrepreneurs, builders and technologists can easily and quickly – almost in real-time – look at what their counterparts from other more developed continents are doing.
Technology, Education and Skills Development Is The Biggest Challenge
The Web has enabled anyone from anywhere to share their experiences and learn from others’. It’s a huge opportunity for African people as it offers ideal conditions to import technologies, upgrade existing ones and export what we create. We need to put in place effective technology development strategies that go beyond importing tools. We need to use these tools at their full efficiency.
- We need to acquire and develop new technical skills and management techniques.
- We need to create links and exchange ideas with other organizations across the World.
- We need to adapt imported technologies to local conditions and practices.
- We need to develop deep technical capabilities and a solid information base necessary to make the right choices.
- We need to develop the ability to upgrade and improve acquired technologies.
This is only a subset of what we need to do to build world-class capabilities and master new technologies.
One of the often-cited issues hindering Africa development is infrastructure. In the industrial era, one needed a lot of infrastructure to run competitive world-class factories. They were complex and very expensive machines and other infrastructure elements like buildings, roads, seaports, etc. In the information era however, a small team of entrepreneurs in their bedroom can build and sell products to thousands, even millions of people. Companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, Dropbox, MongoDB and plenty of others have reached billion dollars valuations with only a handful of employees.
The infrastructure required to create a startup is mostly limited to computers and Internet access. And even if you need other things like hosting for the apps you build, collaboration tools, analytics, etc. they don’t cost millions of dollars. You still need an investment but it’s not that huge. You’re not building an industrial factory.
The biggest challenge for African entrepreneurs in this information era are technology, education and skills. They are the most important requirements to create successful products and companies today. That’s where we’re focusing our efforts and that’s how we’ll win the information revolution in Africa.