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The digital industrial revolution and Africa

The world has gone through a series of industrial revolutions. From the spinning jenny, the power loom, the spinning mule, the water frame and the sewing machine- inventions by man have changed the human way of life by simplifying tasks that the hand would not endure to attempt. The coming of the internet, artificial intelligence, 3D technology, apps and social media amongst a myriad of inventions has revolutionized how we connect with each other. The speed and impact of new technology is prevalent and the business minded people have built fortunes from this great tide. Telecommunications have changed the way we work but, how can Africa capitalize on the emergence of this revolution and create wealth?

Data, big data and big profits:

Any business in Africa can unlock the value in data. The use of real time data is a competitive advantage that large firms like Walmart are using to improve their offerings to the consumer. Netflix is another business model that is flourishing on the use of big data. By simply capturing a user’s viewing preference, Netflix provides bespoke entertainment to its subscribers. African startups that have access to the preference data of their consumers can use it to provide the right balance of services. With a lean budget, striking the correct equilibrium between what the consumer needs and what the business can provide is profitable than producing an odd mixture of services that the consumer does not need.

Navigating through digitalization:

The African digital economy is well established. When juxtaposed with other continents, the African digital economy is rising in tandem with the interconnectivity in the continent. The use of smartphones, tablets and computers to do business is undermining conventional notions about how business must be done. Businesses all over the world have reimagined the traditional boundaries and value proposition in their various industries. Taxi hailing is an example of orthodox practices that have been digitized through the use of apps like Taxify and Uber. The continent already has businesses that can be modeled to fit in the digital economy with greater financial rewards for entrepreneurs.

Customer experience:

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon said improved customer experience is the key distinguishing factor that made his business a success. By coupling convenience with technology, many African businesses can provide a distinct customer experience. The African customers have evolved with the market trends, most prefer shopping online. African businesses can avail their products and services online, capture the digital savvy customers and grow exponentially.

Streaming platforms, a podium for African entertainment:

Never has the time been so ripe for African entertainers to put themselves in contact with their fans as it is now. Traditionally, we waited for television and radio to dish out motion pictures and music respectively.  The use of digital platforms to deliver artistic content means that talented entertainers do not need to experience bureaucracy and broadcasting deals tainted with corruption.  The merging of the creative and digital economy can produce a business platform with colossal monetary rewards for entertainers who have been notoriously duped by managers for years.  In foresight, the African story will reach its zenith. Upcoming content producers and custodians of our stories should ride comfortably on the wave of the digital economy.

E-Learning and knowledge enhancement:

As a people, our education has in many instances been used to deliver distorted information. Some facts that were presented as falsehoods were uncovered through the coming of information and technology. Lamentations to decolonize the African education can be fulfilled by using digital learning systems that this industrial revolution has brought. A partnership of African educators and technocrats will indubitably create business opportunities while solving our century long problems of being taught questionable theories. Academic exclusion, a plague that haunts most Africans should be annihilated if we take advantage of the digital revolution.

Looking through the lens of future tense:

What technology will sum up to in Africa depends on how we tap the opportunities that our continent presents us. The digital revolution could be the panacea to close the income gap between Africa and the rest of the world.  Africa does not need a miniature Silicon Valley to benefit from the digital economy. Problems that we are grappling can be solved, one technological solution at a time. The revolution is happening at a breakneck speed but African entrepreneurs can afford to snatch millions and alleviate poverty.

 By Rita Kufandarerwa