Digital revolution. Picture: ISTOCK
Africa’s digital revolution has been a long time in the making. For the past decade, internet usage has lagged significantly behind most other parts of the world. And most online activity and infrastructure has been concentrated in just a few countries — SA, Kenya, the North African countries of Morocco and Egypt, and the smaller economies of Mauritius and Seychelles.
Fast forward to 2016. The number of Africans online, 29%, is still low compared with the global average of 46%. But Africa is going digital, and fast, with almost half a billion Africans expected to be online by 2020.
More Africans online means more opportunities for African businesses and digital entrepreneurs; and, if nurtured right, a growth engine for economies across the continent.
Many young Africans are succeeding in the internet economy today. People like Segun Abodunrin from Lagos. Eighteen months ago, Abodunrin attended a training programme to help young Nigerians get a better grasp of digital skills. He learnt the fundamentals of how to establish and promote yourself online, and used this knowledge to set up Tway Media, an agency that provides online services and support to small and medium-sized businesses. In just a few months, Abodunrin has worked with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs and businesses, helping them to use the web to grow.
Abodunrin is one of many people in Africa who are using web tools to build new businesses or grow existing ones. But digital skills are still underdeveloped and the knowledge gap threatens to hold back the potential of Africa’s digital economies. Many education systems in Africa are ill-equipped to provide young people with the key skills they need to take advantage of the fast-developing African digital economy. And in teacher education, digital skills training rarely features.
To help close this knowledge gap, we are pledging to train 1-million young people in Africa in digital skills in the next year. We’re supporting our partner, Livity Africa, to give digital skills training to young people looking to develop a digital career. And we’re launching digifyafrica.com — an online-learning portal that will house a range of digital skills courses, available to anyone in Africa. The courses are designed to be as “light” as possible so they don’t eat up valuable data.
We believe that more needs to be done to empower people in Africa to succeed in the digital world, and we want to help make that happen. Sixty-percent of unemployed people in Africa are between the ages of 18 and 35, so developing digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for young people is critical to Africa’s transformative growth.
We’re committed to helping Africans make the most of the digital revolution. This is for everyone.
FOLLOW NEW AFRICA BUSINESS NEWS ON FACEBOOK @ New Africa Business News.com