Igniting a digital ecosystem for business across Africa
How do you promote technology for young businesses in Africa to create inclusive and sustainable economies? Here is how.
Africa holds immense potential for economic growth and development. Its young population is a critical asset for creating inclusive and sustainable economies across the continent; and digital technology is one way to unlock that potential.
Building a digital tech ecosystem for businesses in Africa involves a multi-faceted approach with the collaboration of various stakeholders, including the government, development partners, the private sector, investors, and entrepreneurs.
As a tech entrepreneur in Africa, I have witnessed and engaged in different phases of digital transformation that shape how people live, interact and transact in markets across Africa.
The significant advantages in adopting a digital economy in African markets include easier business transactions, democratizing access to talent, finance and markets, attracting investment, and job creation.My work at Ennovate Ventures has focused on creating decent employment opportunities for youth in Tanzania and other East African countries.
We have implemented a series of programmes promoting digital entrepreneurship, such as the Ennovate Tech Venture Building or Digify Tech Programmes, in partnership with the International Trade Centre’s Fast Track Tech Project.
Through the Digify Tech initiative, we have created over 1,200 direct jobs and 5000+ indirect jobs in the past three years and have trained 1,257 number of digital freelancers on UI/UX, digital marketing, content creation and more.
But despite our success, core challenges exist: Africa needs to step up in developing tech-friendly policies, improving digital infrastructure, growing talent, addressing funding gaps and trust issues to speed up the adoption of digital solutions.
During LDC5 in Doha, the private sector, government agencies, development partners and young leaders from Africa discussed how youth can play a leading role in pioneering digital development.
Together with the International Trade Centre, we shared success stories in building digital entrepreneurship in communities through skills training, digital advocacy forums, running “gig work”-focused platforms and education.
Here are the interventions that I believe can enhance youth’s capacity and provide the environment in which digital entrepreneurship can thrive:
- Infrastructure: The first step in building a digital tech ecosystem for businesses in Africa is to create infrastructure that provides reliable internet connectivity, access to affordable devices and adequate power supply.
- Digital education: Another way to create demand for “gig work” is to educate business owners on the benefits of technology and provide training on various tools.
- Funding: Governments and private investors can provide crucial funding and support to promising start-ups in the tech industry.
- Regulation: Governments should establish clear, supportive policies and regulations that promote innovation while protecting intellectual property through tax incentives, patent protections, and research and development.
Development agencies can also play a critical role in building digital jobs for the future.
Their interventions should:
- Focus on building digital skills for young people.
- Work with Enterprise Support Organizations to encourage youth entrepreneurship and digital acceleration.
- Promote access to finance.
- Collaborate with the private sector for better digital infrastructure, for example through subsidizing internet connectivity, opening digital labs and offering software solutions.
- Support policy reforms for a conducive digital business environment.
The strategic collaboration among all partners needs to start at inception and follow through to implementation. Only then can we advance Africa’s digital economy and support entrepreneurship among youth.