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Africa and IT performance 2016

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Another end of year looms. At this time, I try and look at what has been achieved in the ending year, and what we can expect for the New Year. However, risky the latter is in the IT industry. So, let us look at some African stories this week.

Last week, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) met in Gaborone, Botswana and released their annual report. With regard to Africa, their findings highlight that the world is becoming more connected – however, great opportunities still exist to connect the unconnected. According to them, Africa’s showing remains below standard.

Majority of the 39 African countries are classified as ‘least connected countries’ – and this reflects the lower level of economic development in these countries. Not hard to believe, bearing in mind in Malawi that the recent power cuts and other ongoing infrastructure failings has led to a loss of confidence in potential FDI companies, as well as impacting adversely on internet access in business and residential sectors.

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But it does appear that some countries governments are sitting up and taking notice. Oracle advised that the cloud take up in the continent is rapid and is keeping up with cloud services adoption in the first world economies. They point out – for example – that the services and technology currently available in Kenya equals those in Silicon

Valley. They anticipate a rosy future for the cloud in Africa –and economic improvements via an increased emphasis on mobility solutions and analytics.

Sticking with Kenya – there is strong government support for the country’s ICT industry with the launch of the Presidential Digital Talent Programme (PDTP) in partnership with global players, including Google Africa and IBM.

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This announcement comes days after a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg – the Facebook founder in Kenya. This has led to 400 university ICT graduates enrolled into this year’s programme with the aim of preparing them for work in the IT industry.

Now to the much referred to country about IT in Africa – Rwanda. The government here grasped the potential of African countries to use IT policies to encourage innovation which can exploit the global market. They have adopted e-government initiatives, and successfully wooed international investors.

This last has been achieved by reform in its private sector which now has led to them being ranked 54th on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business list—ahead of developed countries such as Greece. Together with Kenya – the formation of skilled IT authorities to lead on IT – has led to a number of other countries, such as Tanzania, drastically reviewing their national technological strategies.

Earlier this year, Google stated that by 2020 they predict that there will be half a billion internet users in Africa.

Imagine the business opportunities for digital entrepreneurs and businesses? As a follow on, soon after, they launched their online training portal for Africa -ttps://digitalskills.

With google.com/, offering 89 courses in three languages to the continent. They are proud to announce that in their estimate over 500,000 people in Africa have used this facility to gain digital skills. They anticipate this number rising to one million rapidly.

These skills allow young Africans to access web based jobs and grow their countries economy. However, skills shortages and infrastructure challenge remain, making conspicuous achievements harder to measure.

Just recently Microsoft offered free online Microsoft Cloud training to its partners across the continent, under an initiative called IT4Afrika, which has been successfully running in Africa for some time. Yes, Malawi has been included in this and a number of IT professionals registered, including consultants from our company. Unfortunately, this training had to be aborted in house due to the recurrent power outages experienced both in Blantyre and Lilongwe – which also overloaded the internet.

I know a number of other IT professionals in Malawi participated and would be interested to know if they are still on track. It is a shame that we are in an environment where developing professional skills is currently being curtailed by essential service challenges. Drop me your feedback if you have been part of this initiative.

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