The working age population in Africa is expected to increase from 705 million people in 2018 to close to a billion by 2030. In 2050, Africa will be home to nearly 2.5 billion people, or more than a quarter of the world’s population, and of which half will be under the age of 25. According to the African Development Bank (ADB), Africa’s economic performance continued to improve in 2018, with GDP growth estimated at 3.5% and expected to accelerate in the coming years. At the same time, however, the ADB has observed a deindustrialisation of African economies, which supposes structural changes to foster job creation. The success of economic and social development programmes and projects across the African continent is thus vital to the globe’s economic equilibrium.
Digital technology has emerged as both enabler and accelerator of growth and development in Africa. The digital revolution is not a promise for a far-off future, but very much a current source of differentiation, and a lynchpin of successful action plans. As Zinsou theorised, the fact of having lagged behind for so long allowed African nations to leapfrog over certain stages, and adopt the most advanced technologies – many of which have been developed locally – straight out of the gate. That said, only programmes that are regional or broader in scale, and that incorporate digital technology, will enable African nations to go from leapfrogging to entering the race between “stealthy felines”.
Of course, strengthening infrastructure, regional development, improving living conditions, ensuring access to health and educational services all require both investments and clear and methodical oversight. But the goal of integrated and lasting development in terms of GDP, education, public and private sector investment… is inconceivable without including strategic thinking about the opportunities created by digital technology. Digital technologies make it possible to move faster, to be more agile, more innovative, more entrepreneurial in every sector of the economy (farming, industry, services…).
For several years now, IDATE DigiWorld experts have been analysing and anticipating the changes at work being driven by digital technology in Africa, in all its diversity and multifariousness. Our consultants help shepherd major projects on behalf of African governments, institutions and local authorities.
In 2018, we at IDATE DigiWorld, Europe’s leading digital economy think tank, decided to open up our first offices in Africa. At the behest of our 80 members, which include major corporations, top multinationals, institutions and start-ups, we created not only our first subsidiary in Morocco, but also established a partnership with the Euromed University of Fes for the first edition of DigiWorld4Africa, which was a tremendous success. After Montpellier, Paris, London and Brussels, we are opening a new chapter by offering an independent forum for discussion and analyses with our members and partners who are present in Morocco.
The DigiWorld Yearbook Africa, which is now available in a fully digital format, will be enhanced throughout the year with additional insights from our experts and consultants, and of course the discussions from our think-tank.
Orange, Eutelsat and the Euromed University of Fes have been especially valuable partners this year, supporting our desire to continue to delve deeper in our analysis of digital economy trends in Africa, and in identifying the new innovation and value-creation models that are emerging there. We offer them our heartfelt thanks.
It is thanks to their invaluable assistance that we are able to offer up this observatory, and so make a landmark contribution to better understanding the issues and challenges of Africa’s digital revolution.
We hope you enjoy the Yearbook.