This piece is not to largely focus on the economic history of the African continent or to list countries therein or the continent’s technological milestones. But just to hit the nail that Africa will largely benefit from technology with all other factors being equal.
The world’s second largest and second most-populous continent is Africa, after Asia in both categories. With adjacent islands and about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles), the African continent covers 6% of Earth’s total surface area and 20% of its land area.
Africa has various natural resources and in abundance as well but it remains the world’s poorest and most under-equipped continent. this contrast is attributed to many different factors; non-performance or serious human rights violations of citizens, failed central planning, of corrupt governments, high levels of illiteracy is eating deep, lack of access to foreign capital, and frequent tribal and military conflict. The total nominal GDP remains behind that of the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, India, and France. According to a Report by the United Nations’ Human Development in 2003, the bottom 24 ranked nations (151st to 175th) were all African. Poverty caused by one thing or another, diseases and under development in Africa has been grave in the continent consequently affecting the quality of social, cultural and political lives of the people.
The development of Africa has probably been moving but at a very slow pace but the existence of information and communication technologies (ICT) has come bearing the gift of an alternative path to development. The problems of Africa may go beyond the lack of digital or Technological infrastructure and the likes, but we can agree that Technology is a big part of aiding economic growth. Failure to catch up with technological advancement, African countries will continue to be left behind.
Education has been sung like a song in Africa. There is a need for a vast number of the African population to acquire education. Education may seem overrated but really is the basis to spring forth from in any path an individual chooses. Lots of talk and promises by the government to build schools, sponsor education, create learning infrastructures but hardly any action. There is a gap between policy formulation and actual implementation that needs to be bridged. Education is really one way forward to leverage Technology as a tool for economic growth. If the government intervenes by an exemplary use of technology it would stir the business-minded individuals towards technology.
Capital Mobilization is an important key on the list for technological advancement which has proven to be a key challenge in Africa. Even at that the continent still receives from foreign capital inform of grants a much more. Perhaps it is easier to continually lament but mismanage funds or misappropriate them when they are available. There really may not be projects that are worth investing in; the type of projects that are innovative, benefit and profit-yielding, as well as the execution of such projects, being thoroughly mapped out. Reportedly lack of venture capital is seen worldwide, venture capital generated in the Metropolitan area of Washington, D.C. In the U.S., only 7 percent of startups get venture capital funding. Africa collected $350 million in venture capital in 2017 which about the same generated in Washington. It’s really not about what we get, but what we do with what we get.
The government has a big part to play; as mentioned earlier the government may need to step up and set the trend for its citizens. But as the top figure/Governing body a lot of lucrative measures should be on the drawing board in line with technology advancement to be implemented. Sensitization of citizens, empowerment, and sponsorship of prospective Technology experts. It really isn’t always a lack of funds. Most of the preparatory steps to exploring technology big time are not about money. Identify strong contenders, innovators, gurus, willing business individuals; pooling resources almost never goes wrong. The Rwandan government is said to take active roles for the provision of infrastructure and some level on insurance for the investor. This is an attraction to potential investors therefore; if the government itself does right investors will emerge.
No one wants to fuel a leaking tank: Large scale capital investment is a goal for the African Continent but will not happen if immediate priorities, such as basic needs are not fixed. They may not thrive if the standard of living is not right. When the living standard is unbalanced, generated funds will be misplaced. Countries without basic amenities that enable good living may begin to see Technology benefits as ‘the savior.’ This is not to imply that it can’t be, but when technology begins to yield benefits for the investors and continent the countries may become excessively dependent. There was a time Agriculture was the biggest form of inflow to the Nigerian economy and over-dependence on just that sector may have slowed down its effects. We need to look at innovative low-cost ways of innovating and avoid replicating other regions’ work.
Africa has undoubtedly made imprints in the Tech space. They really do need to go back to necessary blueprints and do things rightly, without selfish interests, but for the good of the continent at large. I for one have been awaiting the time in my Lifetime for Africa to be an all-around strong contender in as many capacities as well as Technology.
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