Africa’s 2017 tech opportunities

January 19, 2017

Those close to me are aware of my deep interest and firm belief in African tech market. A blud working at McKinsey yesterday asked me what business opportunities do I think will be lucrative in the continent this year. At first it looked like a basic question whose answers were automatic but that wasn’t the case. Without going further into details of our discussions, my answers were centred on digital transformation solutions. One of them is data management solutions which will do very well in East and Southern African countries while the second was software as a service solutions that West and North African economies need more that data management solutions. As I told McKinsey blud, Africa’s information and communications technology sector has the potential for further steady growth, with cloud and business mobility being among the key focus areas for businesses this year. I know of several companies that are focusing on providing data management solutions to help enterprises handle their data needs. All those companies solutions are leveraging the market and extending their reach from back up and recovery for cloud, virtual and physical environments to become a foundational platform for unified data protection. However, this will greatly help enterprises to solve increasingly complex IT challenges in Africa’s digital environment.One company focusing on data management has businesses in Zambia, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, operated under the management of the South African team, with the rainbow country seen as a high potential market for growth, as the Southern African countries are investing in ICT infrastructure aimed at improving productivity and connectivity, in order to spur growth.

As one of the under developed markets in Africa, the ICT sector has the potential to grow significantly, after two decades of underdevelopment. In your blogger’s view, cloud was no longer optional for African organisations looking to remain competitive, while the key trends impacting enterprises this year will have a huge impact on businesses.Software As A Service in my view will grow to become an even bigger part of the African enterprise software market this year, as businesses and organisations of all sizes look to consolidate their cloud and on premises based business functions and IT strategies. In Tanzania for example, business indicators shows that such solutions providers are supporting both scenarios and that is helping Tanzanian customers navigate and streamline the complex shift in technologies.The continued rise of emerging technologies in Africa accelerating toward the cloud, however does not mean that businesses storage needs will disappear. African businesses still need to be able to manage storage holistically based on real business needs, such as cost, up time and responsiveness. While African organisations are looking for more turnkey-style solutions for managing storage across their hardware, I believe software defined storage will also help them align and merge their cloud and on premises strategies. According to a projection, IT spending in Africa this year will come in at some 6 per cent higher than 2016 level.

No doubt ICT solution providers will continue to help businesses achieve flexibility, agility and scalability as well as remaining focused on enabling cloud and business mobility. For those focusing on business agility, they will have to concentrate on providing software that helps African organisations to manage their multiple cloud environments to drive business agility. There are also new solutions in the African markets that are enabling enterprises to govern, manage and secure applications running across public and private clouds. Business mobility is also another area of focus for ICT solution providers. In the mobile cloud era, devices, employees, applications and data are increasingly living beyond the physical walls of the data centre, workplace or the network, and African digital enterprises are in dire need of delivering a unified digital workspace largely because of a disjointed technology.Digital business models is transforming African industries pushing businesses, big or small, to innovate faster. As a fast growing cloud market, African businesses are now ready to extract greater value to provision their mobile workforce with greater efficiency, reliability and speed. Given the strong push for businesses in African countries to boost productivity, deploying technologies will enhance resource efficiencies, cost savings as well as enable businesses to leverage emerging technologies to automate processes and enable business growth.In conclusion, I hold the view that cloud computing in 2017 will be a key driver for business transformation as more businesses in Africa will increasingly recognise that it is key to driving innovation and enabling efficiencies, productivity and cost reductions. It is also clear the digital economy in Africa is growing.

Contador Harrison