Structured global partnerships, favourable regulatory environment, constant engagement with policymakers and increased investment in technology training are some of the factors that could help boost Africa’s economic growth prospects. These would ensure that Africa attains technological competence, and becomes more developed and economically competitive, thereby closing the huge gap between it and the developed markets of Europe and North America in the next 20 years.
Speaking during the media unveil of the 2014 Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition in Lagos, Dr. Evans Woherem, Chairman, Digital Africa Global Consults Limited, organisers of the Conference & Exhibition, and host of the 2014 edition of the World Electronics Forum, called for constant engagement between technology industry players and policymakers, favourable regulatory environment and increased investment in capacity building if Africa must close the huge gap between it and developed markets in 20 years.
Africa, according to available data, is a passive consumer of technology products that must be galvanized into becoming a dominant innovator and producer. It is now commonly known that countries that have technological competence are more developed and economically competitive.
According to Dr. Woherem, Africa lags behind other continents of the world in technology acquisition. Other continents, especially the Americas, Europe and Asia seem to be on steroids in acquiring and adopting new technologies. He regrets that in Africa, there is no sense of urgency in this regard at all. Advocating technology entrepreneurship and innovation as the way forward, he distinguished between passive consumption and being a producer of technology products.
“Of course, there is a difference between using technologies invented and innovated by another country and actually being the inventing country. It is more rewarding to be one of the key inventing and innovating countries of the world in technology. This is what I mean as technological competence. In other words, it is not the mere purchase and use of technologies invented from abroad or technological diffusion. To get to the level of technological competence of the rest of the world, African countries need to run faster than they are doing so far. This requires our leaders to comprehend that reality and develop a sense of urgency for the development of technology and the economy”, Dr. Woherem stated.
He added that Information and Communication Technology is a bright spot for the African continent that must be seized to move ahead confidently. This can be achieved with policy support from government, creation of a favourable regulatory environment conducive for technology startups, increased investments in technology training and structured global partnerships towards local content development. “Africa is the last frontier for most global technology brands that are seeking fresh and virgin markets. North America and Europe have almost reached a market saturation point for many ICT products and services. Growth in Asia and Latin America is quite modest. As at today, the most exciting Information and Communication Technology business opportunities lie in Africa and the Middle East”.
On her part, Ms. Nneoma Ofodile, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Africa Global Consults Limited said, “It is for this reason that Digital Africa Global Consult Limited was incorporated in Nigeria to provide ICT Services and engage in organizing events that bring ICT manufacturers, customers and policy makers together. We also promote activities that lead to increased level of innovation in Africa and provide a gateway for international companies interested in setting up presence and growing their businesses in Africa.
“In line with our vision of driving innovation and effective use of digital technology in Africa, the 2014 edition of Digital Africa Conference & Exhibition, which is the second edition, will also host the 19th World Electronic Forum. The theme of the event is “Towards Digital Singularity in Africa” and deliberations at the conference will proffer solutions that would enable Africa make significant advancement towards competing strongly in the global digital market. It will feature the following amazing segments: One-on-One Sessions, Conference Sessions, Signature Events, Discovery Hall, Technology Showcase, Gala Dinner and Awards nite”.