What is the first thing that comes into your mind when you hear the word, Africa? Could it be the limitless skies and vast lands extending acres of miles away? Or a place home to many of the world's most famous fauna in human culture? Elephants, giraffes, hippos, leopards, zebras, or perhaps Simba? I’m just kidding. Africa is, in fact, the world's second-largest continent consisting of tropical rainforests, deserts, and savannas. Well, what if I tell you that Africa, an animal kingdom, or rather what it has always been known for, pledged to promote the study of science and technology in hopes of partaking in a global race of attaining the next big growth market in the technology sector.
To begin with, Africa's technology industry is rapidly growing. There has been a 50% growth in technology hubs across the continent in the last several years.
The above photo was taken in a Community Knowledge Centre in Entasopia, 170 kilometers southwest of Nairobi. The village was named one of the top ten remote tech places in the world by cnet UK (crave.cnet.co.uk/gadgets/0,39029552,49303909,00.htm). The community center provides services and information, as well as ICT training and thereby improves the livelihoods of its members. The villagers lack information on markets, livestock, pest and diseases management and technical issues like computer skills. The center has become vital focal point for knowledge sharing.
As technology businesses in Africa arose, computer engineering is widely in demand. Now, this is where things start to get a little complicated. Africa is an agricultural hearth, so where did the spread of digital technologies and the aim of achieving a technology-driven economy even come from?
In relation to the Great Powers which refers to countries with political and economic dominance over the global arena, imperialism has occasionally been brought up. During the colonization of African countries, imperialism attempted to “civilize” the tribes through forced acculturation. Due to the long history of colonialism and imperialism in African culture, the colonial mentality evolved. Currently, the effects of colonization are still noticeable. Despite being a continent rich in natural resources, Africa is home to approximately 422 million people suffering from poverty.
This is the result of shaping the education of Africans based on the needs of transnational corporations in line with the motive of making Africa a source of cheap labor, materials, and a market of surplus goods. Another fruit of colonization is the neo-colonial educational system to maintain control over the lives of Africans through the commercialization of education.
However, it is also possible that Africa has found the opportunity to develop its competitiveness through technological advancement to empower the marginalized with access to information, job opportunities, and services that improve their standard of living. Artificial intelligence is attracting interest in Africa, as they see the potential of such innovation to address social and economic challenges and escape cycles of poverty.
Launched in October 2016, the drone delivery project made Rwanda the first country in the world to use the drone technology at the service of saving lives. With the help of these drones, patients no longer have to wait for blood for hours to get to remote clinics and hospitals. They can now receive blood transfusions in minutes.
Currently, the program is focusing almost exclusively on blood deliveries. However, the project aims to expand the deliveries of vaccines and essential medicines for the treatment of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis
However, there seems to be an evident flaw. African countries constantly struggle with the acute shortage of electricity. The continent is home to almost a fifth of the world's population but accounts for less than 4% of global electricity use. This disrupts economic productivity which encompasses the revolutionization of technology.
Just as stated by Armando Manuel, "You can't develop in the darkness and you can't go to the Moon when you have constraints to go to the next corner." Truly, only in enhancing governance for better management of challenges and opportunities while recognizing the heterogeneous initial conditions of each African country can skill and labor demand for technological advancements be fulfilled.
Allen, Nathaniel. “The Promises and Perils of Africa's Digital Revolution.” Brookings. Brookings, March 12, 2021. https://www.brookings.edu/techstream/the-promises-and-perils-of-africas-digital-revolution/.
“African Animals.” Animal Facts Encyclopedia. Accessed July 8, 2021. https://www.animalfactsencyclopedia.com/African-animals.html.
“The Stakes for Africa in the Fourth Industrial Revolution | Best Countries | US News.” U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report. Accessed July 8, 2021. https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2020-01-23/the-stakes-for-africa-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution.