Africa’s ICT in the next 12 months

As we wind up the year 2013 and look forward to 2014 we can only hope that better things lay in wait for us here in Africa and more so in our ICT development. Nevertheless, it is not always wise to leave things in the hands of fate and “how things will take us” perception and thus we have a few predictions for the ICT sector in the coming year hoping that other sectors follow suit…

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Here we go:

Prediction 1:  Strong GDP growth plus high ICT spend and investment will still make Africa an attractive technology region in 2014 but users are more sophisticated and demanding and suppliers need to be more focused and relevant in the year ahead.

What is been said here is there are still many investment and growth runaways in Africa to show case your ICT muscles, suppliers need to give us some “wow!” and “OMG” moments.

Clients express a preference for providers with solid track records and continued local presence. Service providers will have to display solid long-term strategies and commitment to African markets in order to gain confidence and increased market share in 2014 and beyond.

Prediction 2:   – “Keyboard ready” IT Skills in high demand but short supply: academia and commerce meet minds in 2014

I am certain that you my reader might have come across a list of the “best-paying” or “high demand” degrees…if you haven’t let me give you one – ICT knowledge and skills!

In 2014 commercial enterprises, government and academic institutions will work together to produce “keyboard-ready” graduates and young-professionals. African CIOs believe that IT staffing shortage will result in increased dependency on IT service companies (60.00 percent), delayed projects (47.69 percent), and decreased adoption of new and innovative technologies (41.54 percent) (source: IDC’s 2013 African CIO Summit).

Keeping in mind that the ability to drive innovation internally in an efficient and timely manner has become a key factor of success for companies operating in the increasingly competitive African markets, IDC believes that African companies will increasingly include addressing the IT skills challenge as a part of their growth strategy.

Prediction 3: Always something new from Africa:  innovation is the name of the game

Back home (Kenya), we have sung the m-pesa song for long enough even a new born is a registered user! Now it’s time to get something else to sing about.

IDC global research indicates that by 2020, 80 percent of the industry’s growth and innovation will be driven by 3rd platform technologies, such as mobility, cloud, social business and big data & analytics. Interestingly, African companies are adopting these newer technologies at a rapid pace, which gives them the right tools to come up with new and innovative business models, services or processes.

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The rest of the predictions are self explanatory read on to see what will happen…

Prediction 4: Government Focus on development of sustainable ICT sectors shifts into high gear and 2014 will see governments across the region re-examine or initiate policies regarding ICT sector development as a driver for economic growth.

Governments across the region will promote the creation and development of domestic high tech sectors that will stimulate economic development, provide employment and drive regional growth and investment.  Traditionally, technology startups in Africa have faced a host of significant challenges to get themselves up-and-running, ranging from limited availability of venture financing, an immature regulatory environment, poor access to regional and global markets, and a shortage of ICT skills among staff.

However, national governments, in cooperation with international developmental agencies, academia, and ICT vendors, in countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa, and Nigeria, signal that there will be significant changes to this present-day reality.

Prediction 5: Hustle is the bustle in African ICT – in the coming year business models based on mobility, Internet and cloud will quickly grow but local constraints will cause this to be in fits and starts and regional pockets.

The key premise of IDC’s worldwide ICT predictions is that the most important events in 2014 will continue to cluster around what IDC calls the ―3rd Platform for IT growth and innovation, built on mobile devices, cloud services, social technologies and Big Data analytics. Mobile technologies in particular are seeing rapid adoption, with mobile enterprise applications a leading priority for investment in apps, tools & technology, in Africa and particularly in South Africa. Source: IDC’s 2013 African CIO Summit

Prediction 6:  Undersea Bandwidth is done – now for the terrestrial network –  ICT infrastructure development across the continent accelerates in 2014 as collaboration between private and public improves, demand for access grows and competition heats up.  Alternative technologies including satellite and radio come to the fore in a new guise and the regulatory environment gets focused on spectrum allocation.

IDC expects the focus of terrestrial fiber rollouts in Africa to change in 2014 – FTTx will become an emerging reality in the region

The arrival of undersea cables over the past 5 years has increased bandwidth, lowered the cost of internet and consequently increased internet penetration in Africa.

Convergence is one outcome of the increased bandwidth. The arrival of submarine cables, the accompanying terrestrial fiber expansions, and decreases in the cost of smartphones have prompted telecom operators to focus on boosting data revenues.

Prediction 7: African Content creation ignites the local digital media industry – 2014 will see the African digital Media sector grow as demand from locally produced content accelerates.    IDC expects 2014 to be the year of awakening for the African digital media industry driven by strong demand for content. The strong growth in mobile data usage and Smart phones as well as advancement in communications infrastructure acts as the catalysts to this trend. The number of mobile connections in the three major Sub Saharan countries, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, is expected to grow 28.2 percent in 2014 to reach 55.8 million.

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Prediction 8:  Governance and Compliance drive adoption of data analytics in Banking, O&G, and Telco and Government sectors.

In 2014 governments, banks, telcos and the Energy sector will adopt data analytics to improve efficiency, regulate effectively, reduce corruption and comply internationally. Governance and complying with regulations is one among the major challenges CIOs in Africa face as indicated by 40 percent of the CIOs in IDC’s Africa CIO Summit survey. In 2013, South Africa passed the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Bill which is expected to have a significant impact on the manner in which organizations process personal information, significantly affecting banking, government and telecom sectors.

While similar initiatives are already underway in Nigeria (Personal Information and Data Protection Bill) and Kenya (Data Protection Bill 2013, The Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill, 2013), the increasing GRC requirements coupled to growing reliance on ICT systems and processes are expected to result in other countries in the region to follow suit.

Prediction 9: Citizen Focused Services accelerate African government ICT investment – 2014 will see governments take advantage of mobile, data centre and Internet based platforms to speed delivery of services to citizens and between departments while improving transparency and governance.  Government entities will prioritize ICT spending on various electronic service delivery initiatives that “situate the citizen at the center”. This will likely involve the expansion of existing service channels such as physical service centers, call centers, or web portals for self-service. Alongside these, IDC also expects a greater push towards mobile enablement of government services to take place.

Prediction 10:  Security concerns grow as mobile devices, data and access methods proliferate. Africa joins the world in 2014 as cybercrime makes its presence felt and forces public and private institutions to collaborate to face the threat.

Data protection is becoming more important across Africa with new laws having been passed in South Africa, and under consideration in Kenya and Tanzania. Ghana has already passed legislation in this regard. Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, and other countries are also considering data protection legislation in the near future.

An increase in security breaches will require security vendors, enterprises, and governments to work together to combat cybercrime. It will become increasingly important to join forces and establish partnerships in order to combat cybercriminals more effectively. For instance, South Africa’s National Cyber Security Advisory Council includes academic, public and private sector stakeholders.

Prediction 11:  Crowdsourcing on the rise: many government mobile services will be created by in-country online communities 2014 – 2014 will see significant increases in community creation of mobile and internet based applications and services as ways are found to quickly bring required services to market.

Accordingly, IDC predicts that 2014 will see a significant increase in community-led creation of government-related mobile applications. The low marginal cost of crowdsourcing will make this market- driven mechanism a much more efficient way to quickly bring required such applications to market.

Within the African continent, Kenya is likely to be a hotbed for this trend. The country already has a legacy of citizen involvement in the development of various government applications.

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There you have them, Africa’s 2014 ICT predictions!

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