Innovations challenges in Africa

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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.

Digital Transformation in Africa

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Africa is currently witnessing deeply entrenched digital transformation processes. Digital transformation is affecting and improving the stakes for several industries in the continent, including those central to development issues and concerns, such as, agriculture, energy production, transport and infrastructures.

In agriculture, the progressive integration of agricultural technologies into reformed agricultural processes has demonstrated the potency of digital transformation as a factor improving the yield of arable lands. A significant number of entrepreneurs have also focused on providing FinTech solutions for farmers. The sector is thus burgeoning with activity and dynamism, specifically in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana; 82 agro-technology start-ups currently operates in 16 African countries.

In energy, several new generation of technologically advanced power plants are being built or currently being planned across the continent. In Cameroon, for instance, several initiatives are being implemented that will help ensure a steady supply of energy, and improved efficiency of the electrical grid in majors Cameroonian cities.  These includes the construction of a new, gas-fired, power plant, the Kribi natural gas floating production plant, and the new hydroelectric dam at Memve’ele.

It is also relevant to mention other such interesting projects; including the project for the construction of railway networks connecting Algeria to South Africa. This colossal project, envisioned by   Algeria’s Issad Rebrab, will create a vast African network   that will eventually link all African countries and thus boost economies and trade. We should also mention also    the new Oran terminal, a jewel of green technologies; or the young Kenyan who recently famously created his own Solar Car. Let’s discuss this further on the 15th and 16th October of 2018 at the International Forum on African Digital Potential in Montreal.