The next generation of Africans are experiencing very exciting times as across the continent the, government and businesses are embracing digital technology to grow and widen prosperity, inclusion and to influence business innovation, ensuring the continent can survive and thrive in the new digital age.
With approximately 20% of the population aged between 15-24, Africa becomes the continent with the world’s youngest population.
However, most significantly Africa is at the start of a fundamental trend as it is the only region globally where its youth population has not yet reached its peak. The continent’s young population is set to grow by 42% by 2030 and by 2055 this age group will have more than doubled on 2015 figures.
These figures make Africa one of the most potentially thriving economies in the world if the next generation takes advantage and harness the opportunities that digital technology offers them.
Indeed, by 2020 the digital economy is estimated to account for over 26% of global GDP and digitalisation is expected to bring an additional $300 billion to Africa by 2026, offering Africa a massive opportunity to be a real part of the new digital age and profoundly change how the population of Africa lives and works.
However, the next generation of Africans have a lot to overcome first as unlike the next generation of most nations across the globe they have not grown up in a digital world.
Only 40.3% of young people aged 15-24 use the Internet in Africa, which is quite below the international average and the cost of data remains relatively high, currently excluding millions of Africans from the global digital world.
However, things are rapidly changing, and the good news is given the opportunity, the next generation across Africa lead early adoption, as although the average Internet penetration throughout the continent is around 21%, for 15 to 24 year olds it is around 40% and the likelihood that this figure will rise rapidly as affordable high-speed access becomes more available.
So, how can digital technology inspire a new generation of Africans?
Access to education
Even the most basic levels of numeracy and literacy can change the course of a child’s entire life & many African governments are using digital technology to create inclusive growth and reduce inequality through education. In many cases, they are being supported by businesses such as the world’s leading B2B market website Alibaba and Facebook.
The Kenyan government, for example, are leading the way with their Digital Learning Programme (DLP) which has already seen 70,000 tablets distributed to public primary schools throughout the country.
Easier ways to pay for things
According to the latest research, Africa is becoming the global leader in mobile money with over 100 million people having mobile money accounts. However, there still remains many people all over Africa who do not have access to a bank account.
However, as FinTech develops further throughout the continent there are growing levels of inclusiveness and according to a study by the Pew Research Center, three out of ten African cell phone owners now say they use their phone to make and receive payments and begin businesses through e-commerce.
Access to deliveries and public services by drone
Once the primary use of the military for combat operations drones are being used for civilian projects around the world especially as they help to bypass distance, road and mail problems.
Although parcel delivery by drones is restricted in the USA and Europe due to aviation problems there are no such barriers yet in Africa. In certain parts such as Rwanda, the government is welcoming drone deliveries especially as they allow access to healthcare and help with crisis prevention by surveillance and early detection of potential epidemics and then track the spread to help target care and contain the outbreak.
Prevention of fraud and corruption
Digital technology is helping to inspire a new generation of Africans by strengthening trust and combating corruption through comprehensive and accurate record keeping.
Blockchains are creating transparent, verifiable and auditable tamper-proof records of every transaction and information exchange in a continent wherein proper documentation of important deals, agreements, etc. is not practiced well. In order to digitalize the Rwanda Land Registry, Rwanda turns out to be the first nation to implement blockchain records.
Access to energy
Africa has more than 600 million people who aren’t connected to the national grid. However, lower cost solar cells now bring sustainable power generation to homes and SMEs in remote communities, in a way that national grids have struggled to previously do. This has resulted in increased mobile connectivity, better and cheaper lighting, improved security and given more children extra study time. Plus, many people are using mobile payment services to pay off the charges for their solar panels, which in turn gives them a credit history, which can be used to gain access to finance.
There is no doubting that digital technology can and will inspire the next generation of Africans, after all, it’s already started and whilst for so many years Africa has had to play catch up with the rest of the world, it now has the opportunity for the next generation to become a real part of the global economy.