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In recent years, Africa has become a hotbed of technological innovation. The spread of mobile technology has spurred new companies, such as delivery service MamaMikes, which allows dispersed family members to send gifts, and energy provider M-Kopa Solar, which now provides energy to a reported 150 000 homes across East Africa.
This shift has transformed Africa’s investment landscape. African developers will continue generating cutting-edge technology in the coming years, and investors who jump on these new opportunities will reap the rewards.
Here are four reasons to source your next tech product from Africa:
1. Mobile Tech Boom
Smartphone penetration continues to increase as devices become increasingly affordable. With money transfer, search, and news aggregation platforms, these devices are strong agents of socioeconomic change.
Their spread speaks volumes about Africa’s rising economy and, more importantly, the growth of technological solutions in Africans’ daily lives.
Smartphones also allow for data collection in the geographically fragmented region. Combined with data centres that are improving access and delivery, smartphones have the potential to bridge data and information gaps and allow for new investments.
2. Research and Development Initiatives
Both governments and private companies are increasing investments in research and development, creating fertile ground for the next generation of information communication technology.
IBM, which already has a research centre in Nairobi, announced plans to establish an innovation centre in Lagos, Nigeria. And MasterCard is expected to roll out an US$11 million research hub in Nairobi this year.
Additionally, platforms such as iHub in Kenya, BongoHive in Zambia, and kLab in Rwanda are providing resources to generate tech ideas and bolster enterprise growth. If managed well, these initiatives could lead to African blue chips or multinationals.
3. Friendly Policies
A majority of African countries are adopting bold policies aimed at creating economies built on innovation.
For example, Rwanda adopted the National Information Communications Infrastructure (NICI) policy in 2 000 to achieve full digitisation in 20 years. NICI has already achieved major strides by increasing the number of Internet service providers from two to 10 and the number of Internet users from 25 000 to 1.2 million.
There are now 3.5 million mobile phone users, up from 42 000 in 2000.
4. Facility and Infrastructure Gaps
Necessity is the mother of invention, and facility and infrastructure gaps in Africa are forcing tech entrepreneurs to create new solutions.
For example, Nandimobile in Ghana offers a service called Infoline that provides a SMS feedback platform for businesses to communicate with consumers, and Kenya has gained a reputation as the home of mobile payments innovation.
Thanks to the rapid growth of technology as well as research and development, new policies, and infrastructure gaps, Africa will be a frontrunner in the future of tech. This creates a huge opportunity for investors to source their tech products from Africa.
As developers and thinkers from the region increasingly shape the future of tech, investors will benefit from their innovations.
Image by Santiago Medem via Flickr