Technology and innovation are quanta entangled with growth and development. Any change in either reflects on the other. There are fundamental domains that need intent attention in accelerating growth and development through technology and innovation in Africa. These are all encapsulated in crafting digital solutions to common African problems. Human resources, institutions, and personal lives, in general, are 3 of some of the domains where the use of digital solutions should be fostered. Those 3 domains are far-reaching because they are characteristic of every facet of human endeavour.

Youth Are Central To All This

Young people aged below 30 make up 70 per cent of the African population – that percentage is projected to surge even more in the coming years. On average, these young people spend an effective 2 days or more on the internet per week. Surveys have shown that 9 out of 10 adults tend to have their buying decisions influenced by young people aged 25 and below. Their premise will be largely informed by perceptions they assume due to surfing the internet and social media. Suffice to say youths are agile enough to appreciate tech innovations and rub it off to peers and older generations. Why am I saying all this?

It is because the youth cannot be ignored in the rollout of technological innovations on the continent. They are potent avenues through which such innovations can either be developed or propagated. Equipping these tech-savvy youth with digital skills and digital infrastructure is central to growth and development. Many young people are becoming entrepreneurs or occupying strategic posts in the corporate world. They are a mighty task force and we cannot talk of technology and innovation in Africa without them.

Technology And Innovation In Governance

Growth and development cannot be consummate if governance frameworks are compromised. It is public knowledge that corruption is one of the most menacing vices in issues of governance. If we could name just one impediment to African development it is CORRUPTION. The uptake of technology and innovation in issues of governance in Africa is long overdue. Not only is it overdue but it wields tremendous power to curtail corruption in issues of governance. There are many assertions over the role technology and innovation plays in curbing corruption. It is no wonder why most government leaders are not keen on implementing say, e-government systems – it is because they know the implications.

Technology And Innovation In Politics

Politics is yet another interesting domain that is now heavily affected by technological innovations. The way political elections are now done is intricately tied to technology. We are talking about the whole spectra from campaigns to the actual elections. It would be aloof to think that technology does not affect the politics of the day in Africa nowadays.

The digital divide comes into play too because the vast majority have no reliable access to the internet or none at all. You then find scenarios where only a speck of the population is well abreast with current affairs because of access to digital platforms. The irony is that those with limited or no access are the majority and easily become subject to vote-buying and all sorts of misinformation and manipulation. At the end of the day, elections tend to be swayed in favour of the majority without access to new-age technologies or digital platforms. It is abundantly apparent here that technology and innovation are influencing the outcomes of general elections – directly or otherwise.

Technology And Innovation In Education

Education is the key to stimulating growth and development in any nation, particularly here in Africa. Due to the proliferation of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), approaches to societal endeavours are shifting. This means African education systems and approaches need to be redefined. They have to be digitized so that the skills and knowledge acquired are well suited for the digital age we live in.

Education barriers can be surmounted through digital e-learning. Students can become part of the global ecosystem so that they are impactful beyond just the African continent. All these things are heavily dependent on the use of technology and innovation. New age technological innovations such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, and the like are now central to equipping students for the present age and the one to come.

Technology and innovation are also instrumental to making access to information (particularly online) much easier.

Tech And Innovation In Industry And Commerce

The internet and social media are now indispensable pillars in entrepreneurship. Business success now hinges heavily on being able to make a business enterprise regional and global. African businesses need to tap into the global digital economy to unlock value for the continent. Technology and innovation are central to making that a reality. The widespread ease of access for both businesses and customers to digital online platforms is needed for industry and commerce to flourish in Africa.

As we look at all these areas we need to bear in mind the 3 key things. We need to pay attention to how human resources operate, how institutions operate, and people, in general, operate in those areas. The role of technology and innovation in accelerating growth and development in Africa cannot be overemphasised when we examine those metrics.

Africa is generally seen in bad light globally – mostly due to biased narratives broadcasted on the internet and social media. This is one of the reasons why investor confidence is paltry for the most part. Even Africans in the diaspora are sceptical about investing home because of negative narratives. Technology and innovation can help us write and propagate our own untainted stories. They can help us push relevant content that makes Africa more alluring. The best way to do that is online; technology and innovation are essential to that.