As Africa transitions to the mainstream global economy, technology is increasingly playing a major role. The development of an IT ecosystem in a growing patchwork of entrepreneurs is also bolstering regional trends in investment, business, and modernization. Innovation of centers and tech ventures are also fuelling Africa’s informal economy in various ways.
According to key speakers in the recently concluded Africa Tech Summit, the development of SMEs and the consumer market are a priority for technology in the continent. The summit was launched on June 11th in London, welcoming various stakeholders and representatives from tech giants operating in the region.
Facebook’s client partner Catalina Ionescu revealed that SMEs are the key to improving Africa’s social development and accessing their economic potential. Catalina argued that technology is enabling SMEs to operate in areas that were once left for multinational corporations. That’s mainly due to the change in consumer behavior, and the acceptance of mobile internet, with over 50% of Africans expected to subscribe to data services by 2025.
The change was also reflected in the event’s other discussions.
Access and Transparency
Led by Edward George from Kleos, a blockchain-focused panel was enthusiastic about the use of technology as a tool for access and freedom. According to George, bitcoin is one of the tools invented to enhance the freedom of transacting without the obstacles placed by regulators and banks. However, bitcoin isn’t well designed for fast transactions.
According to Elizabeth Rossiello from Bitpesa, the blockchain presents the opportunity to access services currently unavailable in various countries. Rossellio also believes that people should get the opportunity to trade on the financial market. However, these financial services are limited by poor understanding of the underlying technology by the local authorities.
For instance, punters in most African countries have limited payments options due to strict measures imposed by the local authorities. However, international bookies like Betway South Africa are partnering with local firms to offer reliable banking methods within the set regulations.
Other jurisdictions have also banned multiple digital payment methods on the blockchain, and several others are considering banning them. That was echoed by Ted Lin of Binance, noting that several regulators are still devising ways to be strict.
During the summit, the investor’s perspective was a key issue. Saad Sheikh from TLG Capital highlighted the importance of high yields and scalability in potential investments and value of government support for investments as seen in Nigeria and Rwanda.
Richard Woodhull from the US OPIC presented a finance development perspective, explaining that the organization is investigating direct investment. He also revealed that his company is also incorporating technology in various existing markets and businesses. That comes after the US unveiled new strategies for the African investment last year.
Several other speakers agreed that banks are crucial partners to growing fintech operators that are trying to use big data and machine learning to produce results. However, huge markets haven’t been addressed yet despite this modern technology proving useful in various markets. That shows that a new market is being developed for the benefit of small and growing businesses such as Betway and other trying to break in the formal economy.