As the new year heralds, with high expectations for Africa’s ICT sector, a brand and marketing communications expert, Dipo Mohammed, has observed that despite the economic headwinds experienced in 2023 across sectors due to foreign exchange and inflationary patterns, the sector remains a strong platform largely through the efficacy of being a major change maker for the continent’s growth.
Mohammed, who is the Brands, Marketing, and Communications Manager at Inlaks, a leading ICT infrastructure and system integrator in sub–Saharan Africa, stated that Africa’s ICT sector remains a driver of the continent’s development.
He called on stakeholders in the sector to see the current trend as a propeller for the opportunity to drive local talent and investment to build from within.
According to him, “The continent recently thrived with an upsurge of Fintechs driven by a younger generation, a big win starter for individuals, government, and corporations. While there has been a record high-level interest in investments of Africa’s unicorn in Fintech and a 13-fold increase from 2021 according to a study by Boston Consulting Group, and QED investors, the continent has also recorded liquidating Fintechs of less than two years due to poor management or the incapacity to understand the spate of market forces that align with long term success. Inadvertently, these market forces result in job losses from the liquidation and a stopgap that builds from the financial inclusion efforts of the start-ups,”
The expert, who was recently recognised as the Most Outstanding Tech PR Personality at the Nigeria Technology Awards, pointed out that; “coupled with a large interest and a vast population who continue to embrace technological dynamics, it is important to drive an efficient reputation towards the sector’s growth. Otherwise, the continent holds the potential of the fastest-growing Fintech space and a dire need for efficiency. With a high growth level in ICT adoption, especially with Fintechs, there needs to be a streamlined path to legislating Fintech and creating policies that guide them. Beyond the large investment and Venture Capital visibility, capacity building and expertise should be a criterion for the continent’s burgeoning interest. The sector needs to show openness to more collaborative efforts where African talents get to have a balanced co-existence in driving the sector.
“In 2024, there will be some pervasiveness in the upspring of more tech start-ups as the existing and successful ones have proven there is a chance for consistency. Rightly so, these start-ups will venture into more areas where African tech users are showing interest including Artificial Intelligence, extended reality, new energy solutions, cybersecurity, and a more personalized digital experience across sectors,”
In view of global and local trends, Mohammed argues that Tech will continue to be a genuine currency driving an interesting future for young Africans.
To this end, he opined that young Africans would build more online community platforms that would connect them and enable them to showcase their prowess. According to him, these efforts can be drawn into a larger base when the government recognises its essence and pushes it towards the growth of digital economies.
He further stated that, “On a wider scale, the growth of Public Relations in Africa is expanding and should create a convergence in telling stories about areas that place the continent in a positive spotlight. From identifying a sectoral asset in Africa’s response to the growth of ICT to being a watchdog for its narrative, opportunities abound to position and imbibe development through stakeholder engagement. Africa’s PR Dynamics in Information and Communication Technology should look more into the indices that make for long-term efficiency within corporate and conservative operations. These insights should then be used to evaluate and build a recurring push for the sector’s growth,”
To domesticate the opportunities in the sector, Mohammed urged ICT Organisations to focus on home-grown solutions pertinent and responsive to Africa’s own needs.
“Agile and young Africans who yearn for change and more impact teams are the deal to enhance more interests. These should be encouraged through further investments in human capacity development through existing hubs and upgrades in facilities to meet changing needs and innovative standards. These tech hubs, some of which already exists should inculcate business management platforms within their training and be more visible and access-free in Africa’s top metropolitan cities including Lagos, Accra, Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, Kigali, Kampala, Harare, and Cairo.
“This effort should be spearheaded by public-private partnerships using the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) as a fulcrum. The essence should also be on uniting Africa’s young people with various digital skills on a connecting platform that brings them together for collaborations, partnerships and problem-solving. It opens further the realisation of Africa’s digital agenda, especially with citizens who are being more receptive to the prospect and usage of data to make progressive decisions by the government, ”he said
In driving home his position, he observed that the continuous prospect of a thriving ICT sector in Africa is exciting as it remains a major catalyst to transformation evident in job creation, corporate financing, and investments.
“Nevertheless, the dynamics should read toward empowering Africa across the board. The media should thus be a proponent of actuality in not just reporting the status but pushing for perspectives to manage the right conversations that attract long-term opportunities,” he added.