Innovation faces several challenges on the African continent. According to the World Bank technologies and innovation are currently shaping progress on the continent, yet an age-old question remains: that of the potential for Africa to leapfrog technological advances worldwide and cement its position as a hotspot for future technological innovation. Africa is unique in the sense that most of its population access new digital technologies mostly through mobile phones, and this explain the dynamism of emerging eBanking and mobile banking platforms.
Statistics by GSMA reveals that in 2016, 320 million mobiles connections already existed in West Africa alone, and 45 million more are expected to be listed by 2020. In 2010, 1 out of 12 Africans also had access to the Internet. At the time, Africa only had 86 million internet users, and this represented an internet penetration rate of 8%.
According to the report “2018 Global Digital”, published by We Are Social and Hootsuite, the world currently has more than 4.021 billion Internet users out of a global population of 7.593 billion people. Yet Africa is, in 2017, the fastest growing region of the world in term of Internet users’ volume and growth: 435 million users out of a population of 1.272 billion people. The continent has recorded an annual increase of 20%, or 73 million new subscribers. (ECOFIN AGENCY).
« However, these successes do overshadow a not so glowing reality. Several conditions are to be met for Africa to become a beacon of innovation: massive investment in infrastructures are needed, new regulatory frameworks are needed that are friendly to new economic models, and, of course, emphasis is needed on research and development, but also science and technology » asserts Makhtar Diop, a World Bank Vice-President.
Mezouaghi, of the French development agency AFD highlight the urgency of technological innovation as follow: “Agriculture is key to economic development in Africa. The most recent technologies ought to be relied upon to achieve food self-sufficiency”. It is therefore essential to rethink African economies. Innovation may offer avenues for increased socioeconomic growth, provided cooperation is achieved that create a business environment propitious to development.
Let’s discuss this further on the 15th and 16th October of 2018 at the International Forum on African Digital Potential in Montreal.