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IBM study identifies African businesses’ need to adopt technology

A recent study by IBM titled Setting the pace in Africa: How IT leaders deliver on the potential of emerging technologies has revealed that 36% of businesses in Africa could be considered as prioritizing and rapidly adopting technologies. This forward-thinking approach to business is crucial for Africa’s future economic growth, it argues.

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The survey looked at 180 Africa-based IT leaders across 29 industries in countries such Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco. This gives us a bird’s eye view of what the current playing field of business and technology in Africa looks like. Though certain industries are expected to have high growth rates with the adoption of technology, there are still a lot of existing hurdles that need to be addressed.

“The primary reasons for not moving on adoption were a need for technology leaders to play a greater role in strategic business leadership, a lack of IT skills development across the continent, and information security concerns,” said IBM General Manager for East Africa, Nicholas Nesbitt.

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The 36% of businesses adopting technology as critical support structures are known as pacesetters. The study found that 85% of pacesetters link IT investments to business outcomes, compared with 67% of their peers. Moreover, 46% of pacesetters develop IT skills to meet future business needs, compared to 26% of their peers. Technology adoption further contributes to far greater communication and collaboration between business peers.

Nesbitt also says:

“Africa is characterised by an innovative mindset, and a billion-strong market ready for innovative products and solutions. Regardless of individual realities, the opportunity for business growth through IT adoption cannot be denied. The pacesetters in Africa’s business community have seen the potential and taken action to help them realise it. With the right strategy, their peers can follow suit.”

Industries said to boom by 2020 include retail/wholesale, retail banking, telecommunications and tourism. If sustained, these industries are expected to grow to a US$400-billion. IBM notes that “this represents an enormous opportunity for African businesses — if they are prepared to seize it.”

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