Dawn of a new day for Africa: building a modern digital economy

BrandPost By Colin Hu, President of Enterprise & Cloud, Huawei Northern Africa
Oct 18, 20236 mins
Critical InfrastructureDigital Transformation

Africa is reshaping itself as a new economic powerhouse by harnessing the power of digital transformation.

Businessman touch growth graph and progress of business and analyzing financial and investment data ,business planning and strategy on city background.
Credit: Shutterstock

Africa is undergoing a remarkable transformation, rebuilding the foundations of its economy with new value-creating digital infrastructure.

The World Bank has been coordinating a “Digital Economy Initiative for Africa” which aims to ensure that every individual, business, and government in Africa is digitally enabled by 2030.

These efforts are clearly working. Africa’s digital economy and tech ecosystem is experiencing exponential growth. A report from non-profit Endeavor predicts that the market size of Africa’s digital economy could reach $712 billion by 2050, fuelled by the nation’s young population, rising smartphone adoption, and increasing internet penetration.

Africa’s digital economy, already valued at $115 billion, is still in a nascent phase, with only 33% of the population using the internet. However, Endeavor’s analysis shows rapid growth.  Africa’s GDP is expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4%, comparing favourably to Europe and Latin America’s 1.7%. The population is simultaneously becoming much more prosperous, with consumer spending growing at 9.4% CAGR.

African developers are creating more open-source repositories on the Github software engineering marketplace than any other continent globally, and investment in African start-ups is growing twice as fast as other global markets.

Another statistic demonstrates the scale of change: according to the United Nations, Africa is the fastest urbanising continent in the world, forecast to hit 60% by 2050.

This statistic underpins a tremendous demand for infrastructure needed to supercharge economic growth.

Africa has the natural advantage that largely, it is not saddled with expensive legacy IT systems. Rather, it has a “green field” IT landscape open to taking advantage of the very latest technological advancements and directly adopting innovations such as mobile payments, green energy, and global online commerce.

Africa is set to shift from a role of passive participant working for others to active leadership, creating more value and sharing a greater part of the benefits in the digital revolution.

The technology and people enabling Africa’s transformation

At Huawei, we strongly support Africa’s digitalization. We have a comprehensive strategy to help the continent unleash its digital potential, with three major programs of work:

New Infrastructure: this involves Huawei building a comprehensive, high-speed, and reliable network with a future-oriented cloud platform boasting immense computing power and based around sustainable energy.

New Model: Huawei champions the digital development and prosperity of each industry, encouraging and support ecosystem partners to innovate and start businesses on digital platforms. This initiative will drive economic growth and job creation in Africa.

New Talent & Ecosystem: Huawei’s approach to building a sustainable and digitally competent workforce in the continent includes education, equipping students with the latest technologies, programs aimed at upskilling the youth and support the burgeoning digital startups in Africa.

A bright sky: powering rural Cameroon with solar energy

Digital infrastructure transformation is rapidly benefiting Africa. Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) Holding, the area’s largest community real estate developer and a major proponent of smart cities, has deployed one of the world’s most advanced internet infrastructures using Huawei’s Fibre To The Office (FTTO) solution.

Huawei has provided the community with highly reliable devices and simplified operation and management, enabling smart features such as lighting, irrigation systems, and waste management.

Meanwhile, Rural Cameroon had adopted the Huawei Microgrid Solar Solution, successfully powering the region sustainably, where traditional electrification has been slow.

This initiative has brought light and reliable power to more than 40,000 households in over 350 townships, pushing the boundaries of inclusivity and environmental sustainability.

These tangible changes demonstrate the transformative potential of new infrastructure and models, turning Huawei’s vision into a reality.

Empowering African economies through innovation

Huawei’s vision is not limited to providing infrastructure; we have a major focus on helping Africa’s companies transform their business processes to take advantage of the latest efficient technologies.

Huawei’s support of Algeria’s oilfields production is one example: we helped Sonatrach, an Algerian oil company, to implement a digital transformation that solved problems it was having with inefficient legacy IT systems, resource silos, and information blockades.

Huawei provided our Cloud Stack (HCS) and innovative service platforms combined with big data services.

Huawei’s partnership with Côte d’Ivoire also significantly improved education through the deployment of our All-Scenario Intelligent Campus Solution which improved access to quality education and opened a window to the world for every child.

Huawei’s digital vision for Africa

Huawei is nurturing a thriving digital ecosystem that resonates with Africa’s unique needs. For example, our mobile money system has been deployed in more than 20 countries, including Ethiopia and Congo-Kinshasa. This has democratised access to digital financial services, enabling over 400 million users in emerging markets to be included in the digital economy. This single system accounts for approximately 30% of registered mobile payment accounts in emerging markets.

Ethiopia Telecom has also transformed itself into a fully-fledged digital service provider by implementing a national digital transformation cloud platform. Over 34 million people are on the platform, allowing them to participate in an economy where technology and innovation take center stage.

From little things big things grow: investing in education

Huawei recognises that people are equally important to technology in building a vibrant digital economy.

We believe that the continent’s future lies in its younger generation, so we are offering programs aimed at upskilling young people with digital skills needed to excel and advance in a digital global economy.

Huawei is also providing extensive support to digital startups in Africa, including policy, facility, and funding support, aimed at creating a conducive environment for these startups to innovate, grow, and contribute to the continent’s digital transformation.

Overall, Huawei is committed to fostering a digital talent pool and a thriving tech ecosystem in Africa, which we believe will help build a strong digital future for the continent.

The future for digital Africa is clear and extremely promising. Huawei stands ready to provide our technology and resources to support this transition. Huawei shall always be persistent, open to collaborate, and pursuing excellence to help the Africa Continent create more value and share more benefits to win in the next decades.

Click here for more information about Huawei’s intelligent solutions.

About Colin Hu

Colin Hu is the President of Enterprise & Cloud of Huawei Northern Africa.  Mr. Hu has a strong technical background and more than 12 years of experience in senior management, leading information and communication technology (ICT), and digital transformation of the industry and its ecosystem.