• Editorial: Digital revolution in Africa, a new African growth lever

Editorial: Digital revolution in Africa, a new African growth lever

By Edith Brou, CEO of Africa Contents Group / BuzzyAfrica.com

50% of the African population are less than 25 years old and youth means innovation. For more than ten years, a driving and passionate energy, such as a steamroller, drives the digital revolution in all sectors of activity in the continent. From 4,514,400 users in 2000, Africa rose to 345,676,501 in 2017 (Worldstats internet figures), which clearly shows a significant change in the habits and maturity of the African market.

With 81% of the African population subscribing to mobile phones, sub-Saharan Africa is the most dynamic region in the world in terms of telephony. The rapid development of mobile money to the detriment of banking practices is a palpable proof of this. Many services have developed around this new sector: sending money to someone, even to remote areas of the continent, paying bills or transportation costs. New markets are opening up: insurance, savings or micro-credit … Actually, every problem of an African is a ​​business idea.

African startups driving force of the digital revolution 

The digital revolution is even more visible with increasing startups offering more innovative solutions than the others and improving the lives of African populations. By 2015, the number of mobile banking users in Africa was estimated at nearly 100 million. About 12% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa would have a mobile bank account not linked to any conventional bank account, a real slap for the banking sector mainly in this region of the world. But we are still far from cashless…

Africans, long deprived of the joys of access to e-trade, can now, from their smartphones, do shopping in a wide range of choices. Indeed, this ease of payment “boosted” the development of the sector in view of the many existing platforms in Africa. With Jumia becoming the first unicorn in Africa, Souq, which invested $ 275 million and C-Discount, which closed operations in Cameroon, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, it goes without saying that 2017 will be a key new year for the development of e-trade in Africa.

Healthcare is not left behind with digital initiatives such as Doctix (a startup based in Mali which facilitates the appointment of patients to their doctor), WapiMed (a mobile application which is a multi-service portal), JokkoSanté (A mobile Senegalese mobile application that pools the needs and availability of its subscribers’ medicines) and Doctor Gratis (based in Nigeria, a mobile medical advice application). Countries like Kenya or Rwanda are already experiencing smart cities through the use of medical drones to deliver blood bags to rural areas. At the level of African states, digitization seems to be increasingly at the heart of concerns. 

Visible social impact

Of course, with the political will, e-governance settles into the habits of African citizens for whom the need has always been latent. From Internet, you can get a birth certificate, request a criminal record, start a business or pay taxes. No more queuing and thus, we  save time. And in this regard, countries such as Rwanda or Tunisia are models to be followed and copied.

For example, in the Rwandan capital, thanks to the popular “Kigali Permit System” platform, the inhabitants can access all their municipal services on Internet because all procedures have been dematerialized. The citizens can pay their local taxes online, get a building permit, a title deed, a birth certificate, etc.

All this has an impact on the employment sector as the needs of businesses in digital and technological profiles are increasing. A real “hunt” with experienced profiles is underway. Every day, I receive messages from companies looking for experienced and young people in this sector. To fill this gap, many training programs and schools are available, including the 10,000 OBJIS, Simplon, SheIsTheCode and ESATIC school project in the Ivory Coast, Webforce3 with Jokkolabs in Mali or Ecole 42 in South Africa.

Africa will be digital or not!

In spite of all the socio-economic upheaval and ostensible booming ICT, efforts still have to be made in terms of Internet coverage, accessibility costs, and political will in African countries. The mobile industry has already transformed the societies and economies in sub-Saharan Africa, but there are still opportunities for further growth and innovation provide the right conditions are met.

Yet, with about two billion people by 2030, Africa could ultimately be the lever of global growth. There are tremendous challenges but the continent is experiencing growth despite the fall in oil prices. This growth, though unevenly emerging, will affect more and more people and give more impact to this digital revolution for a significant improvement in the purchasing power of the population.


* Edith Brou, CEO of Africa Contents Group / BuzzyAfrica.com, is also a Youtub user, Blogger and a web-activist.




* Edith Brou, CEO Africa Contents Group/BuzzyAfrica.com, est aussi une Youtubeuse, Blogueuse et une web-activiste.

Author: Edith Brou // Photo: Edith Brou © DR

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