Futures of Technology in Africa, local entrepreneurs lead the way

I jumped at the opportunity to make a small contribution to the ‘Futures of Technology in Africa’ publication put together by Jasper Grosskurth of the STT. I have to say I was immediately captured by the project and specifically Jasper’s approach to the subject. Finally someone was willing to do away with a lot of the established frameworks and tell the story from the perspective of the entrepreneur instead. In my view this approach goes a lot further in capturing the dynamic energy you can find anywhere across the continent. More importantly the publication goes beyond the econonomic data and puts together a collection of real stories. I think this excerpt gives a nice impression of what you can expect from this body of work, one of hopefully many more to come…

The demographic, economic and political trends are well documented and contain many signals for an upbeat 21st century in Africa. But reports and spreadsheets offer just a glimpse of the changes in the streets of Nairobi or Lagos. They capture little of the hunger for information, the ambition for personal improvement, the changes in lifestyles and attitudes, the globalization of African minds and the social impacts of an increasingly connected Africa. In my conversations in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana, people emphasized again and again how much their life, their city, their country had changed over the past decade. For many, far-away friends are now a phone call or a mouse click away.

Unprecedented educational and business opportunities are evolving. Changes in lifestyles, music and slang languages are accelerating. Impatience to catch up with the rest of the world is widespread. A young generation, for which Ghanaian economist George Ayittey coined the term ‘Cheetah generation’, is emerging among urban educated youths. They are entrepreneurial, vocal and dislike corruption. Previously, the most intelligent youths aimed for jobs in government or with international NGOs, as these employers secured a decent and reliable income. Today, employment in the private sector and entrepreneurship are highly regarded and seen as a way to become rich by being productive. The opportunities for those with access to information, higher education and relevant skills are endless and their number is increasing.

These changes are reflected in the mirror windows of the business districts’ office buildings. They can be seen in coffee shops, where young urban professionals work at their laptops; they can be seen on Facebook, where millions of Africans network; they can be seen in the increasing number of African blogs and discussion forums. And these changes are increasingly recognized by the members of the Diaspora, many of whom are returning home to build their countries or to benefit from the opportunities. Technology supports many of these developments and Africa’s 21st century will be a century of technology-driven change. This book is dedicated to that force.

Want to check out this publication?

You can read my article, ‘Rise of the African Entrepreneur’ which builds off of my own ethnographic studies done in Kampala, Uganda in 2009.


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About zia505

The world is changing right before my eyes. Sometimes I don't know how I will ever keep up. There are so many ideas floating around on this internet. If only I had the means to collect them....

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