Can the internet reboot Africa? With smartphone use and web penetration soaring, Africa is set for a tech revolution – but only if its infrastructure can support it
Posted in: Digital Divide at 26/07/2016 18:23
You can buy sunlight with your phone, conduct an eye test on someone 100 miles away and attend a church service on your iPad. There are apps for investing in cows, for sending parcels and for mapping unrest. And soon you'll be able to deliver blood and medicines by drone.
There's free Facebook, mobile banking, and the promise of cashless societies and digitised land records. And from Accra in the west to Kigali in the east, a spray of "tech hubs" talk about "leapfrogging" technology and incubating start-ups.
Such are the giddy promises of Africa's "fourth industrial revolution" - a giant step forward into the digital world which the Guardian is reporting on for the next two weeks. Some are salivating that it will amount to the renaissance of a marginalised continent, while others soberly warn of the hype.
By 2020 there will be more than 700m smartphone connections in Africa - more than twice the projected number in North America and not far from the total in Europe, according to GSMA, an association of mobile phone operators. In Nigeria alone 16 smartphones are sold every minute, while mobile data traffic across Africa is set to increase 15-fold by 2020.