The African continent has been described as the fastest growing mobile phone market in the world, and that seven of the ten fastest growing internet populations in the world are in Africa.
This was one of the submissions of Mr Idris Ayodeji Bello, who was the Guest Lecturer at the 4th Biennial Lecture of the Africa Regional Centre for Information Science (ARCIS), University of Ibadan (UI), with the theme, Africa’s Footprints in the Digital Age, which took place at the Trenchard Hall of the institution last week.
Bello, who is an Afropreneur and Partner at Loftyinc Allied Partners Ltd and Co-founder, Wennovation Hub, Nigeria, said Africa may be the smallest market today, but that it is also the fastest growing worldwide, adding that this would give rise to new digital economies.
He said: “The potential is high for Africa and the whole world is aware of this. Today, Africa’s tech ecosystem is enjoying growing global exposure than ever before and for the first time, Google Launchpad Accelerator became interested in African start-ups, and is establishing a physical hub in Lagos early next year. Facebook is also following suit and now many African start-ups are now competing on the global stage.
“African Tech Ventures investments grew by 33 per cent in 2006 with starts-ups raising about $336.8m, 30 per cent of which went to Nigerian start-ups. There are now over 300 technology hubs and innovation spaces across the continent according to GSMA and AfriLabs, the network of African tech hubs.”
He said despite a slow start that Africa’s digital development is now accelerating, saying as the continent grows more connected, that it is already producing innovative web-based applications and dynamic new business models.
“For now, the internet in Africa remains a wide-open space where companies can capture large opportunities if they move rapidly and decisively.
“Most exciting of all are the possibilities for using the internet to revamp the delivery of education, health, financial services, retail, agriculture and other public services –transforming lives in the process,” he said.
Earlier, the Director, ARCISS, Professor Wole Olatokun, in his welcome speech at the event said he appreciated the Almighty God for sustaining the University of Ibadan in her pursuit of standard and quality in teaching and learning, research and other engagements, saying they are the trademarks that still unequivocally make the university the primus inter pares among other universities.
While tracing the history of the centre, which he said was created 27 years ago, Olatokun said the first ARCIS Biennial Distinguished Lecture took place in November 2008, and that it was part of the activities marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the University of Ibadan.
He said the theme of this year’s lecture, Africa’s Footprints in the Digital Age was topical considering the imprints and track record of Africa in the application of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in health, agriculture, finance, education, governance and entertainment among others.