Unlocking Africa’s economic growth potential requires comprehensive technological innovation solutions that empower everyone, regardless of economic status or literacy level.

  • The current digital revolution is transforming economies and driving innovation in many areas of the economy.
  • Communication is critical to the process of economic growth.
  • As a multiplier of increased economic growth, a growing digital ecosystem is particularly important.

The history of technology in Africa

The history of technology in Africa began in 1921 when South Africa received its first tabulating technology from the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, later known as IBM. Numerous units were then spread across the country and by 1959 IBM had set up the first proper data processing system in Johannesburg. A few decades later, in 1980, the African Information Center in Rwanda received the first computer in Africa. This development cleared the way for the widespread use of the Internet.

There isn’t much in the way of Africa’s involvement in the history books of internet and digital innovation. in 2019 34.7% of people in sub-Saharan Africa were illiterate, however, the region has witnessed various innovations due to its cultural diversity. Evaluative inquiry is a powerful tool for creating innovative solutions by redirecting human attention to the positive aspects of a problem.

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The wave of the digital revolution

The current digital revolution is transforming economies and driving innovation in many areas of the economy. Africa and its leaders face a dual challenge: achieving the SDGs while adapting to climate change. Innovative approaches and inclusive financing methods will be needed to digitally transform all aspects of the continent’s economy, from education to health and agriculture to telecommunications.

For Africa to reach its full potential, it must equip its people with the necessary digital skills. Africans need access to digital tools and technology while operating in a regulatory environment that protects the safety and interests of all.

Mobile subscriber statistics in Africa are already growing. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have 615 million mobile subscribers by 2025. This subscription represents huge potential and demonstrates Africa’s innovative capabilities. Access to technological innovation must be linked to socio-economic well-being. Innovations in health, education and commerce must target the pain points of the most vulnerable members of society.

Raising literacy levels through digitization of language.

Communication is critical to the process of economic growth. About 2,000 languages ​​are spoken in Africa. Interactions between and within communities influence the economic, social and cultural well-being of the continent.

Governments should invest in local languages ​​to increase literacy and digital literacy levels. Encouraging the development of different languages, primarily through digital media, can help diverse people gain critical understanding and improve their communication talents.

Technology should also be used to help people master information. In many African nations, there is little or no information on real-time demand patterns. The lack of search engine data for such information does not mean that it does not exist; rather, the algorithm that extracts this information should include African nations.

Investments in research and development

African countries should prioritize research and development (R&D) funding, emphasizing the development and commercialization of scientific knowledge. At the ninth regular session of the African Union Assembly in 2006, member countries pledged to donate 1% of their GDP to research and development. Now only four African countries have this amount in their annual budgets.

Institutions of higher education can raise funds using non-traditional methods such as micro-contributions, fees, public-private partnerships and market-based financial transactions to bridge the shortfall in the research and development budget. University donations will enable higher education institutions to achieve better research results through new financial mechanisms.

Cultivating a culture of technological innovation

In Africa, the culture of innovation has taken root. One can see how Africa values ​​and scales innovation from professional learning communities in agriculture (agricultural cooperatives) to neighborhood organizations.

However, the history of African innovation fails to record many of these triumphs. Local knowledge transmits innovations from one generation to the next. Several communities, for example, continue to adapt to the effects of climate change using localized, highly effective mitigation methods.

Meanwhile, research has revealed that about 90% of R&D initiatives in large corporations and enterprises fail. This failure is mainly due to lack of time and human resources. The most valuable export in Africa and among its people must be the development of a common culture of creativity. Democratizing and spreading a culture of innovation will generate a drive to create solutions to community-specific challenges. The changes will also empower people to change their communities for the better.