ICT could boost Africa's economic growth - CNBC Africa

ICT could boost Africa's economic growth


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Young people gathered around laptop in school yard. PHOTO: Getty Images

“Ushahidi has done a lot for the visibility of an idea that came from a network of Kenyans and for the technology story to include a story from Kenya and from Africa has been really good. Not only for visibility in the continent but I think also visibility in other countries where the software is now being used in over 159 other countries,” Juliana Rotich, CEO Ushahidi in East Africa told CNBC Africa at World Economic Forum in Davos.

Ushahidi, is a non-tech company that specialises in developing free and open source software for information collection, visualisation and interactive mapping.

Despite Kenya’s success story in technology connectivity, according to Rotich, it wasn’t always like this as when Ushahidi started in 2000, there was no fibre optic connectivity in the East African country.

“At that time, internet penetration was about three per cent. Right now, with mobile broadband, we are looking at about 70 per cent penetration, so although part of it is the technological improvement and connectivity,” said Rotich.


On the other hand, as Nigeria’s story is getting more and more important within the vision of Africa’s future, the country can no longer ignore the significance of technology and with plenty of room to explode, ICT could become a major source of economic growth in the country.

Omobola Johnson, Minister of ICT in Nigeria told CNBC Africa, “What Nigeria is hoping to do is to replicate the success of Kenya. We are working very hard to provide infrastructure, internet penetration probably in the low thirties, and we need to get it higher up into the seventies so that more Nigerians are using it”.

“As we always quote you know, every 10 per cent increase in broadband delivers 1.3 per cent increase in GDP and you can see that because businesses are being created, businesses that didn’t exist before are being created, Ushahidi is one good example of that, but we have that in Nigeria as well. People that didn’t have jobs have developed a particular product or service, delivered over the internet and they started making money,” said Johnson.