SA, Africa laden with tech opportunities

Johannesburg, 07 Mar 2012
Read time 2min 30sec

Tech entrepreneurs should capitalise on the vast investment opportunities that lie in SA and the African continent.

So said Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst, in a keynote address at yesterday's Cisco CxO Forum, hosted in partnership with ITWeb, in Bryanston.

According to Silke, the world is going through global power shifts that have seen emerging markets become centres of both economic growth and geo-political decision-making.

Thanks to the rise of a robust middle class on the African continent, Silke believes that, by 2030, Africa's economy will be larger than China's. “At present, Africa's gross national income is more than India's, while 12 of the richest African nations' gross national income is more than China's,” he said.

The rise of the African urban consumer, Silke explained, will also result in a higher demand for tech commodities on the continent. “About 28 million Africans will have discretionary income by 2020, while the continent's top 18 cities will have the spending power of $1.3 trillion.”

He urged entrepreneurs to focus their investments on technology, as citizens are demanding more of it. He singled out broadband speeds, like 4G networks, as a critical investment area.

Revealing the continent's developments on the mobile front, Silke pointed out that, this year, the number of African people with access to mobile devices will surpass those with access to electricity.

Africa has 139 million Internet users, according to the Internet World Statistics, he revealed, adding that, in 2000, it was a meagre 45 million. “Out of these 139 million users, 37 million have Facebook accounts,” he said.

Silke also predicted a huge uptick in demand for IT consumer goods in SA over the coming years, saying 70% of South Africans experience upward income migration every year.

“South Africa's black middle class is now at 10 million and the number of upper-income black households is now growing at more than 20% per annum. About 600 000 households will move off the bottom rung income category over the next two years. The incomes of black South Africans have increased by 235% since 1996.

He also revealed that the 453 000 new jobs created in SA in the fourth quarter of 2011 was the highest year-on-year growth observed by Statistics SA in the formal sector since 2009.

Commenting on the local Internet standings, Silke noted that 39% of urban South Africans and 27% of rural users are now browsing the Internet using their mobile phones.

“At least seven million South Africans now have Internet access on their phones. Nigeria has the most Internet users in Africa with 44 million users; Egypt is in second place with 20 million; Morocco third with 13 million; and SA is fourth with seven million,” he pointed out.

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