Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Africa's ICT Leaders: Present and Forecasted

What does an emergent IT sector mean for Africa, some have asked. It may mean the following:

  • Increased foreign exchange earnings from other parts of the world outsourcing to Africa.
  • Reduction in Africa's vulnerability to natural resource price fluctuations.
  • Populations could become less reliant upon traditional media for their information needs.
  • Producers could broaden market exposure which could grow revenues and employment.
  • African countries and organizations could begin to control the PR that they receive.
  • More transparency for public, private, and civic organizations.

African Internet Usage from 2000 to 2006-

see table

Judging from the data describing Africa's IT and internet markets, several African nations are poised for tremendous IT growth. For further refererence on this topic you may go to Internet World Stats. In this post we have included data from 9 different African nations.

South Africa, Egypt, Morroco, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda have each made the list for countries to keep on the IT radar for 2007. Each of these countries has a unique set of circumstances and strengths that could help them become IT hubs for their respective African regions.

For the purpose of simplicity let's look at Africa in the basic regions of North, South, East, and West. If we do this; then the countries above that most intrigue me are Nigeria, Egypt, Rwanda, and South Africa.

Here the reasons broken down by country:


  • Within just five short years over $5 billion has been invested into Nigeria's ICT sector via foreign direct investment.
  • The current administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo has placed a heavy emphasis on being cxertain that Nigeria becomes a major player in the global ICT market.
  • Over 36m Nigerians own mobile phones.
  • Nigeria is West Africa's largest economy, meaning there is still much more room for ICT growth here.
  • The telecoms sector projects continued growth of over 4 million new phone lines annually over the next 5 years-this makes Nigeria the fastest growing telecom sector worldwide.

  • The ICT sector has experienced 50% year by year growth since 2000.
  • Egypt's ICT sector represents 7% of the GDP or $580m.
  • Huge annual talent pool of new graduates
  • Out of 2, 300 primary schools, 1, 138 have at least one computer each
  • 400 secondary schools are fully equiped with 4,000 desktop computers
  • These schools are also training 2,000 teachers in basic computing
  • Rwanda's government is aggressively pursuing more IT development
  • Next, Rwanda aims to have all rural & urban schools "connected"-with solar or electricity.
  • All of Rwanda's ministries have been mandated to appoint ICT directors.
  • Rwanda is already on it's way to having Africa's largest underground fiber optic network.

South Africa
  • Network is 99% digital
  • Already a hub for several very large IT multi-national companies-each being worldwide market leaders in their respective fields.
  • Electronics revenues in South Africa at growing faster than the GDP growth rate.
  • South Africa already ranks 37th worldwide in ICT according to World Economic Forum's Global Information Technology Report.
  • Many of South Africa's local ICT companies have expanded into southern, West, and East Africa.
In closing, this was not meant to be all-inclusive, there are many other regional players accross Africa that are also making great strides. However, the countries above were mentioned here primarily because they have continued over a relatively long time span to make significant progress in the IT and technology field. Also, one more time I would like to point out the signifigance of Africa's IT growth in one statement-uplifting the local economies. That could be one reason that there has been so much buzz on this topic lately.

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