IT trends: IT across Africa


Love it or hate it, IT continues to have an impact on business and personal lives across the continent. Here is a roundup on recent news about us and our neighbours, both good and bad.

Our close neighbour, the Zambian Technological Authority (ZICTA) has just signed a lease agreement in Lusaka as the first step towards the building of its first PC assembly and data center plant. The plant, estimated to cost around US$75 million and to be complete by 2017, is expected to create at least 1,000 IT related jobs, as well reduce the costs of importing computers and laptops from outside the country. Zambia recently introduced compulsory ICT examinations in schools. However, in November 2015 power supply issues and a limited number of available computers, compounded by bureaucracy, impacted on examinations with authorities having to request that pupils share infrastructure. It is hoped that this government initiative will make such problems history.

In South Africa, telecoms companies are currently facing increased demands by the growing uptake of bandwidth intensive applications such as Cloud services and internet TV streaming from businesses and consumers alike. Fast-changing user behaviour is putting pressure on telecom operators to evolve their business models and the likely result, combined with reduced costs of fibre deployments, will lead a strategy of fibre everywhere connectivity.


This should lead not only the expansion of internet TV services, but a massive take up of cloud services including offsite data backup and storage and software and infrastructure as service offerings. Reduced business costs for startups and enterprises alike should result on companies becoming more successful and profitable by focusing on to a lean, customer-oriented business operating model.

A recent study for 2015 has found that Africa outstrips the US and the UK in political discussion via Twitter. Twitter has experienced massive growth since 2012, almost 34 fold, with 1.6 billion geo located tweets in Africa. Of these, more than 10 percent related to political discussion. Political discussions have become the second most popular form of discussion in Africa, with Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Burundi and Egypt the most active in these political conversations. Interest in politics also transcends national borders, with hash tags about the Nigerian elections and strife in Burundi among some of the most popular hash tags across Africa.

An example of technology assisting in the perception of an United States of Africa? Of course not all governments have reacted favourably to the increased political awareness in the social media. Some have tried to curtail this – example being Uganda and Congo which banned the use of social media during their recent elections. In Congo, Government ordered telecommunication companies to cut all mobile phones, text message and internet services for at least 48 hours in order to prevent “illegal” transmission of election results. This ban lasted five days. This has been perceived by many as an attack against the free press, election transparency and democracy. With most countries in the world increasing communication networks as means of sharing information and educating their people, this is a retrograde step for these countries’ economies and people.

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