Technology has continued to push the boundaries of what is possible and achievable in our lifetime. In the past decade, technology has enabled Africa to innovate solutions to challenges such as food security, access to health, financial inclusion, and education. Digital technologies can help address the significant inequalities the continent faces, help manage climate change, increase food production, improve education, increase access to healthcare, and even democratise elections. All these benefits can significantly increase the living standards of people on the continent.
The future of business on the continent is a single digital market. A mind shift is required for businesses to thrive and grow in this new reality. ALN deeply believes in integration. In a single market. In one region. Indeed, it is part of our vision for the continent and how we deliver legal services, – Dominic Rebelo, Partner, ALN Kenya.
Given the important role that technology is taking up in Africa, ALN was keen to have a conference about technology and digital transformation in Africa with key industry players.
Having a forum where different stakeholders in the tech space could meet and discuss the landscape was important, – Gbenga Oyebode, Senior Partner, ALN Nigeria. The conference played an important role in sparking interest in collaborative, continent-wide engagements aimed at unlocking the potential of Africa’s tech ecosystem; helping stakeholders understand some of the practical challenges facing tech start-ups in different sectors and different jurisdictions; and exploring potential solutions to some of the challenges that were identified.”
Despite the enormous benefits of technology on the continent and the massive growth it has shown so far, there are still some challenges. Insufficient infrastructure, lack of funding, suboptimal (and sometimes incoherent) regulations, skills gap, and inadequate data for investors are some factors hindering Africa’s tech ecosystem growth.
With a tech-savvy young population, rapidly growing and, so far, a promising tech start-up ecosystem, Africa, has the potential to be a future tech superpower. According to ‘Africa: The Big Deal’, Africa is the only continent to have recorded YoY growth in terms of startup funding in 2022. This year, African start-ups have raised USD 5.1 billion, more than they did last year. In 2021, start-ups attracted investments of approximately USD 4.9 billion. However, contextualised against global trends, there is much to be done to unlock Africa’s potential. Africa still lags globally in tech funding. Recent figures indicate that African start-ups account for just under 0.2 percent of the USD 3.8 trillion global funding. A funding gap of USD 90 billion needs to be plugged in by 2030 for the region to remain competitive.
Although tech start-ups have a head start in digital transformation, there is still time for other companies, including larger, older businesses, to begin the process. The COVID-19 pandemic was a full-stop on business as usual and a launch pad for organisations to become virtual, digital-centric, and agile—and to do it all at a lightning-fast speed. The crisis forced every company into a massive experiment in how to be more nimble, flexible, and fast. The companies that led the way out of this crisis, the ones that grabbed market share and set the tone and tempo for others, were the first out of the gate. However, simply going faster isn’t enough. Instead, winning companies invest in the tech, data, processes, and people to enable speed through better decisions and faster course corrections based on their learning.
Another opportunity for African companies to unlock immense value is through the regional integration ushered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It is imperative for stakeholders in the tech ecosystem to consider how to make the industry fit for purpose – Karim Anjarwalla, a Senior Partner at ALN Kenya.
The fundamental reality is that the accelerating speed of digital means that we are increasingly living in a winner-take-all world, and the organisations that are able to prepare for and leverage on the AfCFTA will definitely be winners, Ajibola Asolo – Partner, ALN Nigeria.