April 20, 2021 sophie

A new era in Africa: the digital transformation

It is widely recognized that in several countries in Africa digital transformation is causing important economic growth. We are experiencing a new era in Africa, based on technological innovations, social media growth and digital spend increase.

The rise of digital media

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – based on the blurring of boundaries between biological, digital and physical environments – caused the rise of digital media through the web and mobile.

Although the digitization and penetration of the Internet in the African continent are still further behind than the other continents, African’s population seems to have embraced the digital transformation more rapidly European’s one. Here’s an example that can help us better understand this trend.

As we can see from the graph, African’s population prefers using digital devices over TV stands significantly more than European’s one. The percentage is formed by the interviewed subjects who declared spending at least 25% of their time on digital devices reading or watching news.

The chart shows that the percentage of Africans preferring digital devices over traditional media is higher than the European one. This result confirms the existence of a new era in Africa: the digital transformation.

Generation Y and the new social media boom

The youngest generation, which is known as Generation Y or Millennials (1981-1996), is leading the social media growth. A new young middle class was born from successful investments in digital platforms and social media. Young entrepreneurs are enriching the continent with life-changing digital innovations. Social media networks, such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter are having an important role within this digital transformation.

In the past decade, the African continent has experienced a real social media boom. More and more people started using their mobile phones, laptops and tablets to get in contact with the world.

Social media platforms have been used for many purposes, including the political and economic field. Just think that already in 2011 social media were considered the main sources of organization of the protests in Tunisia which subsequently resulted in the Arab Spring.

The adapted infrastructure permitted a wider and stronger network connection, with more and more people getting access to the Internet. These channels of information are now being used on a daily basis by Generation Y. Social media platforms are even considered as the primary source for news by most of them.

Technological innovations

On the one hand, the African continent has been moved from late arrival to technological and digital progress. This, in fact, made it possible to avoid all the mistakes that Americans and Europeans had already made before. For this reason, the creation of applications and the use of technologies is less expensive in terms of time and money for an African rather than for a European.

Thanks to the rapid digital transformation caused by technological innovations it is now possible to buy goods and services online. This led to the availability of wider and more creative digital offers. Better mobile coverage also played an important role in the wide and rapid spread of internet connection throughout the continent.

Massive increase of digital spend

As technological innovations continue their rise, the same thing happens to public spending on the digital field. Advertising spending on the Internet has been constantly growing in the past years and it’s expected to keep growing. In a couple of years it may be that the money spent on TV advertising will be lower than the one spent on the Internet. For example,in South Africa, the Internet is considered the second largest medium in the country. Internet Advertising itself is expected to account for one fourth of the total Advertising market in 2023. Within Internet Advertising, Social Media Ad is the largest and more profitable segment.

Entrepreneurs from all over the continent are investing in creating apps for any digital service. That’s because the digital growth in Africa is still running behind compared to other continents. This means that there are good opportunities to make a good profit out of digital innovations of any kind.

Another good consequence brought by the digital transformation is the creation of new job opportunities. This represents an unprecedented growth opportunity for the African continent. As we said at the beginning of the article, we entered a new era in Africa. Within this context, the African Union set a new goal to reach by 2030: to digitally connect each government, business and individual inside the continent.

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