The West Cape Strategy Group has been advocating for a concrete Policy direction for the flourishing technology and innovations sector in Africa. Alan Akakpo, Project Director at West Cape takes his turn to highlight how an African Tech Policy can help African Startups tackle the top 3 digital priorities of the continent.
African startups can lead the way in taming what experts refer to as the change monster – the inability of various sectors of society to adapt to emerging transformative technologies. African innovations will only be driven by a policy agenda capable of addressing the continent’s top most digital priorities.
Mainstreaming technology into the educational system: the long-term goal
Digital literacy has to be purposefully integrated into the academic curricula because Africa’s leapfrogging to the fourth industrial revolution will not be possible with the conventional pen and pencil approach. Some countries like Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Rwanda are adopting practical approaches to build the human capital that will meet the demand of knowledge-economies. But others are spending citizens’ taxes on transitional strategies that will bring about everything except tectonic shifts in the economic landscape. Benchmarking apps, digital tools and frameworks can be developed by African startups. It will go a long way in pulling forward those African countries that are lagging behind. Mainstreaming technology into the system also reduces the cost of access to educational infrastructure while improving the quality of educational contents.
Technology as an infrastructure: the medium-term panacea
This is a resolute stand we have quickly taken at West Cape SG. To me, this is the topmost digital policy priority for the continent. Africa requires bold experimentation and tech-based investments into broadband networks, electronic manufacturing projects and acquisition of tangible tech megatrends and gadgets. This is the how we can boost national and regional tech capacities that will translate into the exponential development of innovation hubs and the offering of top class services. Here, advocacy and Public Private Partnerships (PPP) are the most effective tools.
Digital jobs: the short term confidence builder
We agree that digital economy has to be captured in the continental framework and flexible regional strategies have to designed and implemented rapidly. It is not the case yet. Hypothetically, the Governments are not knowledgeable about the urge and the strategies to put in place. It is nonetheless important that African Startups take the lead in sharing information about digital job opportunities.
It is estimated that the work of professions like financial analysts, doctors, journalists, accountants may be partly or completely automated by 2015. In Africa, businesses do not really know what to make of such research findings as there is very little insight generated on future job prospects and the impact of transformative technologies on our industries. African startups should take collective actions to come out with more commercial form of research, generate and document practical knowledge about the needed technological drivers of growth and job creation on the continent.
For instance, the 419 epidemic – a type of scam – has been hitting some African countries so hard that internet users may have developed serious risk aversion for African digital products. 419 can be rebranded through a positive agenda and a comprehensive labor substitution strategy that will concur to shaping a better digital ecosystem for the continent.
What we are doing
West Cape SG is committed to ensuring the development of technology infrastructure in Africa through the Africa Tech Policy project (Learn more about the Project here)
To know more about the Africa Tech Policy, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ATP.