Digitalisation is a buzz word that seems to be making the rounds lately. Everyone is focused on smart cities and automation and while some African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria are taking a lead in digitalisation (take mobile banking for example) there is still a long way to go especially if we look at our infrastructure, geographic disparity and in some areas, the lack of basic priorities such as housing and healthcare.
The question then becomes how do we change this and how do we make digitalisation a reality for everyone?
For digitalisation to be a fully interactive aspect of economic growth, connectivity needs to be at its core. Think of it this way, connectivity is more than just accessing a website, it is the gate-way for innovators and creators to work together, to code, to build purpose-built apps, connect with business contacts and entrepreneurs, connect their potential customers, learn, utilise social media for exposure for example - ultimately, giving the continent an opportunity to compete in the digital age.
Due to lack of affordable connectivity and Wi-Fi these possibilities aren’t an option for many individuals. In fact, many young African innovators are finding themselves stuck in a creative or innovative rut due to their inability to research and implement their ideas – which do not bode well for the continent’s economic growth. What is required is for Government and businesses alike to collaborate and develop standard policies that allow for broadband and fibre infrastructure to be laid with all newly built infrastructure from business parks to RDP housing –bringing connectivity to the people. And while this may be costly at the start, if utilised correctly the connectivity can be monetised for the betterment of the city as a whole.
In fact, when leveraged properly, connectivity can provide a more cost saving and efficient lifestyle for citizens. Take for example; if people living in the townships had accesses to connectivity and Wi-Fi, they would be able to save money if they could go online and complete their CVs and submit them as opposed travelling to the city centre and standing in long queues to do the same thing. Additionally, a lot more domestic workers would be able to make use of social media to share their work experience and employment status to get jobs and continue providing for their families. Creating a positive eco-system that not only benefits individuals, but communities at large.
These are just a few examples of how connectivity and Wi-Fi can simplify life in a digital age. The African continent is a developing one and as such, there is a strong need to focus more on investing in information communication technology (ICT) and socio-economic development, while still effectively managing budgets and scarce natural resource, to ensure it is able to continue to develop and digitalisation is able to come to the fore. We still have many challenges that are making the development of digitalisation difficult, but we are working towards getting the foundational elements right – and Wi-Fi’s role is as prominent as ever!