Thanks to new technologies and changing social conditions, the ingredients are coming together for an African revolution in creative thinking
Many underestimate Africa as an incubator for innovation, but no other continent is better positioned to enjoy an explosion of creative thinking that will transform the continent. Here are five reasons that East Africa will become the next forefront of innovation.
Africa is the youngest continent – over 200 million of its population are aged between 15 and 24, a figure expected to double by 2045. This is notable because of the bias innovative thinking has for youth. Young people today have grown up in an age where technology is ubiquitous and they are the ones who will make the greatest use of all of the digital tools they have at their disposal.
East Africa is forecast to be the fastest growing region in the continent thanks in part to newly discovered resources. The Kenyan economy is expected to grow by 5 – 7% while Tanzania exceeded its predicted growth rate of 7% in 2013. Rwanda is ranked amongst the top five best countries, on the continent, to start a business and the other countries in the region have similarly sunny economic forecasts of around 5%. The middle class is rapidly expanding. Innovation requires capital and education, and East Africa can provide both.
Even the most optimistic of analysts cannot deny Africa’s socio-economic issues. Paradoxically, we can see in these the signs of a promising future. Extraordinary problems require extraordinary solutions and Africa’s young prodigies have experience in coming up with unusual solutions overwhelming challenges even with few resources to spare. East Africa can boast many such innovators who are focused on bringing basic utility services to a population in need.
The African continent is adapting to newer technologies at breakneck speed. With over 650 million mobile subscribers, a significant portion of them in East Africa, the stage has been set for an explosion of entrepreneurship fuelled by connectivity. Resourceful thinkers are empowered to make their big ideas a reality through the use of the latest communication technologies.
Foreign investors are beginning to take notice of Africa’s tech revolution. 2013 was the most active year for technology investment on the continent and this is only set to grow. Major companies are investing in African start-ups, entrepreneurship programmes and innovation hubs.
Analysts ignore Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit at their own peril. The signs are all there that the continent’s most creative thinkers and risk-takers will have the means at their disposal to reach new heights.