Next tech billionaire could come from Africa

22 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Next tech billionaire could come from Africa

The Sunday Mail

AFRICA’s youth prefer using local innovations and believe the next tech billionaire could come from the continent, according to the recently launched report titled “Africa-innovator or imitator? Exploring narratives around Africa’s technological capabilities” by Africa No Filter, a not-for-profit organisation.

The research was done in Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The report interviewed 4 500 people aged 18 to 35 to find out their perceptions of African-led innovation.

It also sought to assess if they are influenced by dominant narratives that promote Global North countries as superior innovators.

Random sampling was used to reach 500 respondents in each country.

Questions were designed by GeoPoll and Africa No Filter (ANF), and conducted in English, French and Arabic.

While the image of Africa as an innovator appears to be overshadowed by stereotypes of a “backward” continent that is largely a recipient of Global North innovations, the study found that young Africans (79 percent) believed it was possible for poor countries to produce great innovations that can influence the world.

Seventy-two percent said it was possible for their own countries to produce tech billionaires.

The majority of respondents (62 percent) believed in the power of African innovation and preferred using local innovations where they were available.

Technology and innovation have had a rapid impact in shaping the world, Africa included.

Local innovations have transformed healthcare, how Africans do business and how African governments interact with citizens.

In 2021, Africa accounted for 70 percent of the total value of mobile money transactions globally and the continent appears to be leading the way in fintech.

Last year, 109 African fintech start-ups raised over US$1 billion in growth funding.

ANF executive director Moky Makura said: “There have been a number of innovations and tech solutions that show that Africa is an innovative continent. The youth’s positive attitude towards innovation across the continent and in their own countries shows that there is a lot of potential for the sector; young people are interested in innovating and supporting local innovations.

“We commissioned the report because we wanted to understand how innovation resonates with young Africans. The report shows that while respondents value homegrown innovation and innovators, more can be done to remove barriers like lack of infrastructure.”

The report also highlighted that the West is not necessarily best when it comes to innovation. Sixty-two percent of the respondents believed in the power of African innovation and preferred using local innovations where they were available.

The next greatest innovation could emerge from Africa. Forty-eight percent of respondents saw no reason innovators could not come from Africa, and 24 percent said they already existed.

Africans also trust local innovation. Sixty-two percent of respondents said they trusted and would prioritise using local innovations over international ones. West Africans were the most positive (66 percent) regionally, while Kenyans (71 percent) were the most supportive country.

Innovation could come from anyone, but government is not seen as the most important driver of tech innovation. Fifty percent of respondents believed everyone should drive innovation, out of necessity and curiosity, but 44 percent of respondents felt government restrictions were a barrier to innovation. Only 37 percent identified the government as being mainly responsible for innovation.

African youth are very aware of the tech innovations in their countries. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they were aware of the different innovations existing in their countries. There was also a high level of awareness of innovation across the continent.

Depending on where you are, innovation is encouraged and supported. Fifty-nine percent of respondents felt there was support for innovation and innovators, and that there was an enabling environment in their country. Respondents from Kenya (67 percent) and South Africa (65 percent) felt innovation and technology were encouraged. Only 39 percent of Nigerian respondents and 49 percent of Ghanaian respondents agreed.

Infrastructure deficiencies are the main barrier to digital technology and innovation. Fifty-three percent of respondents cited infrastructure deficiencies as the main bar.

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