African opportunities in ICT

By: | Updated: July 17, 2015 12:31 AM

The continent's mobile telecom market is expected to be$234 billion by 2020

It is estimated that by 2050, one out of every four workers in the world is likely to be from Africa. Recent evaluations also indicate that the economy of the African continent, as a whole, is the world’s second largest after Asia. Africa’s GDP is projected to rise by an average of over 6% a year between 2013 and 2023. All these facts serve to point out that Africa is the next emerging market, with immense scope and potential that needs to be tapped.

The information and communication technology (ICT) sector particularly is demonstrating dynamic growth in Africa. The growth in this sector has been on the back of increasing mobile penetration that currently stands at over 67%. The African mobile telecom market is expected to be $234 billion by 2020, which appears attainable since it is one of the fastest growing telecom markets in the world.

The expansion of Africa’s technology space is rapidly changing the continent’s macroeconomic landscape. Most African governments are embracing wide-ranging communication solutions for voice, data and video. IT technology and services, including increasing Internet access, is a crucial plank of their development plans.

With Africa emerging as a rapidly growing market in the ICT sector, Indian companies stand to gain by expanding their business interest in this region. Indian ICT firms like Bharti Airtel, Essar, Tata and Wipro have ensured a significant presence in Africa–and there are others who are looking at opportunities in international markets.

Recognising Africa as the next global economic growth engine, Exhibitions India Group recently organised the Convergence Africa World 2015 expo in Nairobi, Kenya. The expectations from events like these are that the participants will establish a foothold in the region and expand their business to other parts of the continent; and this is important because the East African countries are the fastest growing economies in the continent.

Kenya is demonstrating better governance, developing proactive ICT policies, showing an interest towards developing infrastructure, removing obstacles to business, inviting international participation in development, and encouraging investment in new technology.

Kenya targets to have the ICT sector contribute above 20% of its GDP by the end of 2017. This provides an opportunity for the government and the private sector to collaborate in order to achieve this goal.

African countries, and their leaders, have traditionally shown an affinity to India and the Indian people. There is a substantial Indian diaspora in Africa who are educated and disciplined.

African governments generally welcome business, social, and educational interaction with Indian businesses. Indian companies are considered global leaders in the ICT industry, known for their quality and price competitive products and services. There is significant scope for growing exports to the African continent.

The author is chairman, Exhibitions India Group

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