ICT industry is a catalyst for innovation in Africa
Africa is fast becoming an increasingly competitive region and such development are being accelerated through information and communications technology sector that has seen double-digit growth over the past fifteen years. Having traveled to more than a dozen countries in continent, there are exciting things happening in Africa with almost all countries implementing the projects under the ICT. Studies show that Government are continuing to support their country’s innovative spirit through their multiple programmes and initiatives aimed at transforming lives, businesses, and the education sector. As a result, the software vendors have launched various initiatives, such as organizing the Innovation competitions. One of them is Google’s funded ‘Africa connected’ competition where five successful entrants will win $25,000 each and Google hopes to find the most inspiring stories in Africa about how the web has transformed the lives and business ventures of its users in Technology, Education, Entertainment, Arts and Sports, Community and NGOs as well as Small Businesses.According to various surveys the continent’s top 10 ICT hubs out of a total 53 states in the next five years pinpoints South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya as the top three countries in the continent. The ten leading countries in ICT are South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda, Botswana, Angola, Uganda and Zimbabwe. South Africa has traditionally been the leading technology hub in Africa and is home to international ICT firms operating in the region but research shows that lately it has been losing its glow to Kenya that was Africa’s first nation to have an open data policy. Nigeria’s ICT industry is largely driven by its population that shows one out of every six African people is Nigerian and this will continues to place it in good standing as a guaranteed market for ICT global players.
To encourage students think up innovative ideas to solve the Africa’s toughest problems is important in equipping software startups with right development tools and right talent.This trend has led to the setting up of local software companies and innovation hubs in different countries, such as iHub in Nairobi Kenya and Tanzict located in Kijitonyama in Dar es salaam Tanzania. Many companies are now joining the bandwagon by equipping various non-governmental organizations with their software products under through unlimited Potential programmes that are driving the ICT sector in Africa to global standards. Such initiatives that are targeted at narrowing the digital divide the gap between the technology haves and have-nots in Africa should be supported. It is interesting to see technology being used to solve socio-economic problems in the sub Saharan Africa. In addition to that, African governments have ICT Master Plan which are plans seeking to spur the development of technology companies and facilitate the creation of world class innovations. The race to become Africa’s ICT hub is on with South Africa position coming under heavy competition from Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Ghana among others. In order to have a robust industry that will generate jobs and income, African ICT industry must avoid duplication of ideas and governments must commit to funding research driven ideas. That way, I see Africa as an epicenter of growth due to the region’s growing number of talents and innovations.