BrandArena: Forum Forbes Africa 2015 - The Digital Revolution at the heart of debates

Friday 24 July 2015

Forum Forbes Africa 2015 - The Digital Revolution at the heart of debates

The digital revolution is decidedly under way in Africa. With over 700 million mobile users – more than the US and Europe combined – a skyrocketing Internet connection rate and web-based income already accounting for 3.7% of African GDP – more than triple that of developed countries – the Internet is rapidly weaving its web across the entire continent.

Youth is driving the digital revolution in Africa

“Dream large, don’t remember - the future is made of innovation. Dream great.” This is how Shimon Peres, former President of the State of Israel, ended his inspirational speech. More than half of the African population is under 20 years old, compared with only 28 percent of China’s population, accounting for 53 percent of income in the urban centers McKinsey surveyed for its ‘The Rise Of The African Consumer’ report. The digital revolution is above all a social phenomenon.The change is both driven by young people’s hunger for connectivity and use of social media’s broad reach to draw attention to African trends, and gives them the chance to boost their own prospects using information and communications technology (ICT).

The digital revolution brings its challenges

Africa counts approximately 60,000 consumers per offline retail outlet, far more than, for example, the USA’s roughly 400 per offline retail outlet. Jumia, Africa’s leading online shopping destination and a pure play retailer, swiftly arrived at the following conclusions: first, that people in Africa have the same, if not greater, expectations of service as customers in the United States or Europe; second, that when African consumers come online, they do so in all channels simultaneously; and finally, that because of a lack of trust in online payment, the majority of business in Africa is still cash-on-delivery based. Jérémy Hodara, co-CEO Africa Internet Group, added: “We embrace this complexity because it’s representative of the way people consume. The key is to adapt, not impose, a pre-established model”.

From the old economy to the sharing digital area

Yesterday all the attendees agreed on one thing: the Internet is revolutionising and adding value to every sector, from agriculture to manufacture. President John Dramani Mahama is convinced that we can do a lot with the new technology. This digital revolution is throwing up new challenges and lots of opportunities, which have the potential to be a major driver of trade and development on a global scale. Technology progress improves agriculture and its productivity by giving access to an essential pool of data and information.

The digital revolution gives young entrepreneurs a chance

The digital revolution is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs to start online businesses easily and efficiently. Africa Internet Group, with its ecosystem of 10 companies active in more than 30 countries in Africa and catering for about 2 million customers confirms that people are ready for e-commerce and buy online every single day. Still, most businesses fail within their first five years of existence. Inadequate startup capital and proper training are two of the biggest reasons for that failure. Kaymu, no.1 online shopping community in emerging markets, aims to help nurture and grow the future of the African e-commerce market, empowering the new generation of young entrepreneurs.

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