Cryptocurrencies, online banking and mobile phones are the tools of the 21st century to combat global poverty. For Africa, these technological innovations may be the help necessary to get the world’s most concentrated area of impoverished people out of poor living conditions. Here is some information about Africa’s tech industry.
Tech Hubs in Africa
Africa’s tech industry has picked up pace in development over the last few years as international companies invest in local start-ups, creating technological hubs throughout the continent. With these tech hubs sprouting up throughout Africa, some of the poorest countries in the world are now able to access the internet, online banking and other digital enterprise advantages. There are more than 600 tech hubs across Africa providing jobs, resources and digital technologies. The three largest tech hubs in Africa are in Lagos, Nigeria; Cape Town, South Africa; and Nairobi, Kenya.
In Nigeria, there are 90 tech hubs providing internet to 122 million people accounting for 20% of all of Africa’s internet use. South Africa is home to 78 tech hubs with nearly 30 million people having access to mobile internet. As for Kenya, there are 50 tech hubs within the country, where more than 200 startups are operating with a total combined value of more than $1 billion.
The Necessary Basics
Although tech hubs provide internet access to many areas in Africa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reports that some countries like Rwanda and Nigeria have a high percentage of access to the internet. However, only 28% of Africa’s overall population uses the internet.
This hurts the potential benefits that people can gain from these advancements because with all the innovations sprouting up throughout the world today, the first tool necessary in technological economic advancement is access to the internet. Without internet access, many programs such as online banking apps or AgTech innovations could not function. For Africa to utilize the growing tech industry on its home front, basic technological infrastructure must undergo intercontinental establishment.
Technology, Not Poverty
With such a large number of developing countries on one continent, the issues surrounding global poverty are ever-more pertinent. Africa is home to the top impoverished nations in the world, with nearly 70% of all the world’s poor people living in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Innovation, and the digital information technology that accompanies it, has become a necessary component of any effort to address such challenges as food security, education, health, energy, and competitiveness,” IMF reported. “Africa must shift its focus to retaining and creating wealth, better managing its resources, fostering inclusiveness, moving up on global value chains, diversifying its economies, optimizing the energy mix, and placing human capital at the center of policymaking.”
In many African nations, the poverty rates are increasing due to COVID-19. However, the pandemic has also provided the opportunity for these countries to accelerate their technological advancement in areas such as health, education and financial technology. As the pandemic pushes Africa’s acceleration in technological advancement, it has affected FinTech.
New Tech Programs to Help Develop Africa
One of the most significant investment programs happening in pan-Africa’s technological ecosystem is through the Global Innovation Initiative Group (GIIG), which recently started a $100 million program funding local tech start-ups in Africa. It aims to bring Africa up to speed in global network connectivity within the borders of Africa.
IBM, a global powerhouse in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), has recently expanded its operations for cloud services in Africa, working with the pan-African bank, Ecobank, to provide online banking services to 33 countries.
A blockchain currency banking start-up in Africa, called KamPay, will soon launch in seven countries allowing more than 50 million potential users to make daily transactions with businesses and individuals. The company will be launching an “e-voucher system” for farmers to access means for growing crops more affordable, as a recent Forbes article has explained.
With the push from outside investors, international monitoring and local support, Africa’s tech industry is beginning to implement into the lives of the poor, giving them the tools and resources to lift themselves into a better standard of living. Only time and future investments and development into Africa’s tech world will prove how its innovative solutions in the fight against global poverty will spread.
– Ali Benzerara