Gearing up East Africa for a future with technology

October 9, 2014

In the past eight years, the most successful high-tech industries in East Africa, one is base on the mobility of information industry and the other is mobile based financial industry. These are the two foundations of region’s technology industry. However, the region is entering a period of uncertainty where threats are indeterminate even as changes in technology accelerate and innovation. In response to the growing need for innovation, East African countries have already developed national policy regarding innovation. Also, in order to foster further growth and sustain competitiveness, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda must maintain a high rate of technological innovation. It is, therefore, incumbent upon technocrats, business leaders to understand the many forces driving innovation. Service innovation is vital important issue in East Africa. The focuses on service should be about packing the innovation business model by means of the product and firms need to extend the value creation activity for customer.

Enhancing the middle customer’s value by cooperating with the upstream, downstream and competitor. Trends such as social media, cloud computing, mobility and big data are challenging businesses and demanding more specialist IT skills than ever before. These mega trends aren’t hitting just the IT sector, they’re affecting organisations across East Africa’s lending competitive advantage to those who ride them, while rapidly rendering obsolete those who ignore them. Information technology enables businesses of all sizes to stay agile and adapt business models for sustainable growth and competitiveness, both domestically and as more Kenyan, Tanzanian and Ugandan businesses generate more of their revenues overseas. To stay competitive as a region, fostering IT talent isn’t an option anymore but it’s an imperative. Demand in ICT skills is expected to increase 23 per cent by 2020, requiring an additional 60,200 workers in five East African Community states. Yet employers in the region are citing a clear mismatch between this demand and the current supply. Despite a slight uptick in the past year, the region is not developing the right domestic ICT skills to meet the booming demand, raising serious concerns for the future of technology innovation in East Africa and the skills of the region’s future generation. Me think it is not enough to solely rely on government and education institutions to address this shortfall.

Leaders in business and in the technology sector, now more than ever is the time for Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania organisations to take on responsibility of addressing this gap and help build a better future for East Africa. Businesses taking charge and investing in initiatives will be crucial to helping provide more opportunities for youngsters to access better learning programs and technology education. Such work should involve providing financial support for scholarships, equipping the classroom with technology for learning, development of innovative education programs like universities of Nairobi and Makerere are doing, as well as access to professional mentors as University of Dar Es Salaam is working on. Fundamentally, the private sector needs to work collaboratively with governments and other not-for profits and educational institutions aligned to the same agenda to encourage greater student interest in science, technology, education and mathematics at a tender age. The ICT industry in has an incredibly important responsibility to build home-grown talent to ensure EAC states can thrive in the digital economy. The talent is most definitely there, the planners just have to find it early and nurture it continuously.

Contador Harrison