In the bustling streets of Cairo, the young people look like any other well developed country. Technology plays an important part in their lives and they will often be found at laptops, pcs and mobile phones. Watch them down the street and you’ll see them texting one handed and surf the web to check out prices, locations and information they need. For the more affluent, it’s a source of entertainment too and they are looking outside Africa – Downton Abbey and Coronation Street streaming to Nairobi on ITV Player anyone !
Of course it’s not quite the same when you move away from the big cities in Africa with their advanced infrastructure. There is lots more to be done bringing global telecoms to the more remote areas of the continent but it’s certainly changing fast. It’s not surprising really many nations and large companies can see the massive potential in Africa. The African people love their mobile phones and are natural communicators. There are some incredible estimates of the potential in the country, for instance one report has suggested that there will be over one billion mobile phones being used in Africa by 2016.
That’s an enormous potential market for any company, and more importantly for the African entrepreneurs themselves. In many ways this is where the first benefits will be seen. Obviously many if not most areas of Africa are economically disadvantaged, however to the local businessmen there would not be a huge problem of individuals having limited spending power.
Businesses as always need to be tailored to meet customers needs, and enterprises like micro finance, micro insurance and simply setting up cyber cafes can make very sucessful businesses in Africa. What’s more the whole process is enabling – more people become aware of the possibilities and the technology. The early adopters who are successful can then invest in tools and perhaps buy a fake IP address (source:} to expand their businesses into Europe or North America.
There is no doubt the opportunities are there, in fact it is expected to be the fastest growing sector of the economy in Africa at some point soon. There are gaps though and internet penetration (the numbers who are connected to the internet) are still extremely small compared to developed nations in Europe and Asia for instance.