Africa was nowhere to be found years ago when the world was moving from mechanical and analog technology to digital technology. Fast-forward to 2019, the continent now plays a pivotal role in tech and is on the move towards the 4th Industrial Revolution. Here is how Africa had fared tech-wise in 2019.
The Africa continent has moved from grappling with innovation to being innovators and producers of groundbreaking technology products. Heard about Mara? That is a phone wholly made in Africa. The continent can boast of indigenous tech scientists and techpreneurs that manufactures locally-made tech gadgets and championing several technology products.
Meanwhile, Mobile phone penetration has grown from the initial 67% to 76% in recent times. The same applies to internet penetration that grows at a cumulative average of 4.6% yearly.
According to GSMA reports, the unique mobile subscriber’s penetration is expected to reach 623 million by 2025 as against 456 million in 2018. This is indeed a great improvement in the Africa tech ecosystem.
Just like mobile penetration, internet usage and penetration also grew considerably. The 2019 internet penetration by region collated by We Are Social reveals that the continent has embraced tech through the swift penetration of the internet. The report states that Northern African has 50% internet penetration in 2019. This was followed by Southern Africa with 51%, Western Africa 41%, Eastern Africa 32% and the least penetrated region being Middle Africa with 12%.
And as internet penetration increased, so did social media penetration. Today, about 40% of the population has access to various social media platforms.
Africa’s Fintech sector also thrived in 2019. The move from analogue to digital banking has been one of the best gifts of the year. We have witnessed startups develop solutions across different financial technology offerings viz Savings/Investments, Trade, Crowdfunding, Payment Processing, Lending, Mobile Money, Agency Banking amongst several others.
It is imperative to note that the fintech sector has witnessed a 24% growth rate in the past 10 years. This growth has led to the reduction of queues in banking halls and birthed seamless payment cum financial inclusion. As of December 2019, we had over 500 fintech startups in Africa. Interesting heights I must say!
And as fintech continues to gain grounds, so did on-demand businesses. There were tonnes of startups that sprout up as a result of digital banking. Startups like Flutterwave, Barterpay & Paystack also became popular for the funds processed.
Human transportation has also been hugely impacted. Compared to periods before now, the rise of transport-tech services is gradually improving human and commodity commuting in Africa. On-demand ride-hailing companies like Uber, Opay, Taxify, Safeboda, Swvl, MaxOkada, Careem, Kobo360 are all working to achieve a seamless experience for their teeming customers. As we observed, they are all keying into the successes that the fintech sector has recorded in terms of reach and ease of usage.
And as tech continues to take the fore, all sectors including lifestyle, media and even the gaming industry (like betting) also adopted technology changes. A report by Alexa notes that sport betting sites ranks as one of the most visited websites in Nigeria.
And while fintech continues to grow and aid diverse businesses so did tech hubs. The continent currently has over 643 tech hubs and accelerator as against the 442 hubs in 2019. The hubs also combined efforts as seen with CcHub Nigeria completing the acquisition of iHub, Kenya. Technology Interconnectivity all the way.
And as we all know, the global tech world has finally recognized and reckoned with Africa’s stand-in technology. This brought various tech investments and visit the continent.
Thus if asked whether tech has thrived in Africa; my reply will be affirmative. The continent has embraced the future and is gearing towards the 4th Industrial Revolution. I am, however, hopeful that there will be greater growth in the tech space come 2020. I am very much receptive to technology. Are you?
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