A new business report on Africa says that technology and innovation will be the key to stimulating growth in Africa. In addition, at the eLearning conference taking place in Cairo, Egypt, this month, the key is how infrastructure and resource sharing will enhance and accelerate the African Union’s 2063 Vision for a ‘transformed continent’.
The PwC Africa Business Agenda report, which compiles results from 153 CEOs and includes insights from business and public sector leaders from across Africa, says that CEOs in Africa are ramping up their efforts to innovate and find new ways to do business on the continent in a move to stimulate growth in a challenging and uncertain global business environment.
Across the continent, shifting demographics, rapid urbanization, rising disposable income and technological change are all influencing growth opportunities and strategies. Africa’s CEOs rank technological advances (75%), demographic shifts (52%) and a shift in global economic power (58%) as the top three defining trends that will transform their businesses over the next five years. In addition, new advancements and breakthroughs in R&D are opening up more opportunities for businesses.
The survey of CEOs reveals four common priorities among Africa’s business leaders: diversification and innovation; addressing greater stakeholder expectations; effectively leveraging growth catalysts like technology, innovation and talent; and measuring and communicating shared prosperity.
The PwC report says that in Africa, the environment is constantly changing and the growth opportunities are unparalleled. After more than a decade of urbanization, Africa is poised for a digital revolution. Increasingly, organizations are using technology to challenge business models and disrupt competitors in markets.
Technology was seen by CEOs in the survey as the best way of assessing and delivering on customer expectations by implementing customer relationship management systems (69%), interpreting the complex and evolving needs of customers through data and analytics (56%), and improving communication and engagement by means of social media (58%).
Sharing infrastructure will speed up universal broadband access
The African Union’s Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, HE Mrs Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, will tell participants at this year’s eLearning Africa conference that sharing infrastructure must also be a top priority for African governments. Mrs Ibrahim is convinced that, by sharing telecommunications infrastructure, African countries could save billions of dollars and speed up the provision of universal broadband access, which will have a major impact on education outcomes.
“A review of infrastructure-sharing experiences found that developing countries can save billions and speed broadband access by sharing infrastructure,” Mrs Ibrahim said. “These savings can be obtained both through sharing telecom infrastructure, such as ducts, fibres and masts, as well as sharing with other utility infrastructure, such as roads, power grids, fuel pipelines and rail lines.”
Better access to education and training through improvements in communications is a crucial element of the African Union’s 2063 Vision for a ‘transformed continent’ and Mrs Ibrahim will stress the importance of improvements in infrastructure for meeting the AU’s targets. “Policymakers widely accept that access to information and communication technology (ICT) in education can help individuals to compete in a global economy by creating a skilled workforce and facilitating social mobility.”
Many African governments have recently become convinced that poor telecommunications infrastructure, rather than a lack of ICT hardware, is the main factor preventing African countries from using new technology to create a ‘multiplier effect’ in their education systems.
The focus of this year’s eLearning Africa event will be on the African Union’s 2063 Vision and the theme of the conference is ‘Making Vision Reality’. Other keynote speakers will HE Yasser El-Kady, Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology; Günter Nooke, special representative for Africa of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Professor Ismail Serageldin, Director of the Biblioteca Alexandrina; Thierry Zomahoun, President of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences; and Tarek Shawki, Head of the Presidential Council for Education and Scientific Research.
[Photo credit: UN Climate Change Newsroom]