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Could Technology Transform Africa?

By Ideas Lab Staff January 11, 2013

World Policy Journal devotes its Winter edition to investigating the question of Africa's development.

Mobile technology is spreading across Africa, and with it, the glimmer of possibility that development is not far behind. World Policy Journal asked global experts how innovative technology can help transform the continent.

Elron B. Awase, managing director of Tesla Energy Solutions in Namibia, says advances in software and telecommunications have “changed our entire business model”, creating virtual offices and mobile units rather than large and expensive conventional office space.

Philip Parker, the INSEAD Chair Professor of Management Science says the mobile revolution can get information to African farmers who suffer a lack of content on weather and soil conditions.

Kaakpema Yelpaala, a Ghanaian-American entrepreneur, believes Africa’s transformation will come through private business rather than donor dollars. He says Africa’s growing middle class is pushing for greater healthcare and technology which in turn will stimulate innovation, a trend he already sees in Nigeria and South Africa.

The trend for African economies seems to be improving. The growing middle class in countries like South Africa is beginning to place greater pressure on other social institutions to support more lower level classes moving up and spending more, particularly in education.

The sense of opportunity has at least prompted the Turkish prime minister to presently tour Africa with Turkish business leaders, considering construction and agricultural ventures in countries such as Gabon, Niger and Senegal, according to one report.

And the Canadian government has been working with the African Union to monitor development of mining, oil and gas on the continent.