Africa Initiative |
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The Digital Rise Of AfricaIn comparison to other regions of the world the African continent still remains under developed in regards to Information Technology. This is only to be expected due to poverty and lack of developed infrastructure in the region. Having said that, large I.T corporations view Africa as an emerging market, which has led to a dramatic increase in the amount of investment flooding into the continent. Africa's growth potential is considered huge as they have a population of approximately 680,000,000 making up 10% of the world's overall population.
African based firms are now enhancing their technical capabilities in terms of manufacturing, marketing, and product quality in order to remain competitive with the rest of the world. Information Technology plays a strategic role in the long-term survival of any firm. It is now considered a necessity for businesses to have a sound online presence that works alongside their offline business model. While many people in world enjoy easy access to information through the Internet, hundreds of millions of people in Africa as of yet do not have this luxury. The technological divide is not a problem in itself, but rather a symptom of a deeper, more important divide of income, development, and literacy. Fighting poverty is more than transferring money to the poor or direct job creation for the poor; it is providing tools that will empower people to be more independent.
Internet usage for the Africa population currently lies at 4.7%, this figure is low when compared to 21.3% for the rest of the world. However if growth figures are analyzed it shows Africa has grown at a rate of 874% over the past 7 years, compared to 236% for the rest of the world. This figures show first hand why Internet based businesses view Africa as an untapped market with huge growth potential.
Recently Africa's first news based social networking site was released; the website is called AfricaNe.ws. It provides a platform for African news and related stories to be bookmarked by region. The site encapsulates the full ethos of web 2.0, which is a statement to the rest of the world that African website developers are not willing to sit back on their laurels in regards to the Internet's continual development.
Web based entrepreneurs with vision view Africa as a challenging market, however they also understand that being first to market could prove to be very lucrative in the future. Mike Kofi Okyere the owner and developer of AfricaNe.ws is fully aware of the growth prospects that Africa holds in relation to Internet based products and services. Although Mike Kofi is a successful businessman in his own right he is also passionate about providing Africa and its people with Internet based products that are on par with the rest of the world. Having spoken with Mike Kofi at length on the subject of Africa and Internet development I fully realize how passionate he feels about providing Internet services for the African people.
One thing is for certain, it will take many years for Africa to close the gap in the technological divide, however with entrepreneurs like Mike Kofi Okyere working hard to promote African based Internet products and services, when the gap is closed Africa will be in a much stronger position.
By: Osei Kofi