In the next five years, the technology sector expects that the next wave of innovation will promote products and services that increase employment opportunities for Africans.
The curent wave of technological innovation predominantly encouraged many on the continent to be financially included as a result of better mobile and internet connectivity and applications that increased access to banking services.
“In the same way as people have started to adopt mobile banking, now they will also adopt new ways of education, healthcare, ways that they will generate income, where they will find jobs, day jobs or permanent jobs – all of those things are starting to shift,” said Wim van der Beek, Partner at Goodwell Investments.
Van der Beek reckons a lot of the innovations will become more relevant for the people in Africa’s majority markets, the lower income segments, that now have access to communication tools and mobile payments but with that the devices and innovations have not yet changed the way they live or how they receive an income and spend it.
“That is going to change in the next five years significantly because of all sorts of applications that are becoming available through the use of modern technologies which are becoming much more affordable,” said Van der Beek.
He adds: “I think Africa is at a unique point in time, it’s able to grab the opportunities more than any continent because of the rapid growth of digital connections and because of its youth.”
Youth being the young population age of Africa he explains, meaning that generation is more likely to be technologically savvy than other continents.
Van der Beek uses the example of solar energy, which is enabled by mobile connectivity and mobile payments as one of the innovative ways people are looking to solve societal issues.
Considering the size of Africa and its wealth potential, it is still not receiving the attention it deserves says van der Beek, and this is a result of the continent still being off the radar of larger international organisations.
There are 98 innovation and technology hubs across Africa says van der Beek, an enormous number but even though these entrepreneurs come up with new high quality ideas, as long as there is a funding gap these innovators will fail.
“Funding is the biggest problem, the gap is huge – there is insufficient funding for innovation in Africa,” said van der Beek.
He speaks on another issue, the pioneer gap, where people that have a good concept and find capital to execute it but then struggle to find support when it comes to taking it to the next phase.
“Only when a company is really very successful, profitable and working in a lot of countries, then funders will have no problem investing in it but from that early seed stage to that later growth stage – there is a huge funding gap and that is what we are trying to fill with our firm Goodwill Investments,” said van der Beek.