ICT set to shape Africa's economic landscape in 2015
With public cloud in emerging African countries set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of up to 84% over the coming five years, the year 2015 heralds the beginning of a new era for ICT adoption across the continent. That's according to International Data Corporation's newly released predictions for the year ahead, with the global advisory services firm also expecting ICT's influence on economic development and social progress throughout Africa to be particularly pronounced over the coming 12 months.
"Sub-Saharan Africa is finally realising its potential for economic growth, and now boasts six of the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world," says Mark Walker, IDC's regional director for Africa. "And ICT is playing a key role in not only supporting this economic boom, but also shaping its future direction. The latest ICT trends are set to drive strong GDP growth across the continent, modernising and optimising every sector of the economy and facilitating closer intra-Africa trade. Against this backdrop, those governments with relevant, effective national ICT policies will begin to dominate the economic landscape."
Indeed, governments are increasingly using ICT as an enabler of service delivery, with egovernment and mgovernment initiatives high on the agenda for addressing the challenges presented by rapid urbanisation. Haphazard urban expansion serves as an obstacle to economic growth, so IDC expects more governments to pursue an integrated approach to urban development, with ICT playing an important role in ensuring good urban governance through smart grids in utilities, water supply monitoring, safety and security, and video surveillance.
The impact of integrated, relevant, and applied national ICT policies will benefit the region as a whole, with IDC expecting to see closer cooperation between nations in 2015 as a result of smart ICT initiatives. "Effective regional integration will help breach the barriers that undermine the daily operations of ordinary producers and traders of both goods and services," continues Walker. "This includes payments systems, financial inclusion, and cross-border payments, and the increased implementation of such ICT-enabled financial transactions in 2015 will create a platform for the next stage of domestic and regional socioeconomic development across Africa."
The commercial landscape in 2015 will be characterised by the emergence of new markets, products, and clients as large multinationals tap into the African growth story and smaller local organisations expand into new geographies through enhanced intra-Africa trade. And the growing acceptance of cloud as a credible delivery model for IT services and software will underpin much of this transformation, revolutionising the way IT is bought and used.
"Cloud, enterprise mobility, big data, and social technologies are new product sets that can offer significant advantages to African organisations looking to leapfrog to advanced technologies in order to address pertinent issues in their markets," says Walker. "And given the blurring of industry boundaries in the region's more mature markets, 2015 will offer significant opportunities for providers and end-user organisations to address the evolving requirements of markets adjacent to those they are servicing now."
IDC's top 10 ICT predictions for Africa in 2015 are outlined in full below:
1. ICT investments that address market realities will fuel GDP growth in key African countries.
2. Governments with relevant, effective national ICT policies will begin to dominate the economic landscape.
3. The battle for the SMB market will begin in earnest in more developed African markets.
4. Security concerns will remain as mobile devices, data, and access methods proliferate.
5. External socioeconomic agendas will boost ICT usage, but will face strong resistance without due localisation.
6. A new era of African IT procurement will get underway, with new clients, new products, and new markets.
7. Technology will help breach intra-Africa trade barriers by removing obstacles, increasing efficiency, and encouraging transparency.
8. Digital engagements that integrate mobility benefits with those offered by cloud, big data, and social networking will be the key to capturing market share in Africa.
9. Bifurcation will characterise mobility initiatives as smartphones outpace feature phones.
10. A new cloud model will emerge, with the technology discussion falling away in favour of the business discussion.