The world is increasingly becoming online; in the sense that many things you needed to do physically can now be done remotely and online. Africa, as a continent, is probably in the infancy stages of advanced high-speed internet penetration. Already, a major paradigm shift has been witnessed in the way people socialize, do business, and government conducts its affairs.
Government services have come close to the citizens. People can now apply for their driving license, business permits, file their tax returns and other government services. The digitized online process of public services has also reduced the level of corruption perpetrated by government employees meant to serve the people. As citizens pay for and access services online, there is reduced chances of a public servant to ask for a bribe first to serve the citizens.
Additionally, businesses have found new, faster, and cheaper avenues to market and sell their commodities. You only need to take a look at the number of online malls coming up like Jumia, Killimall, and Konga among others to see that. It is now easier for businesses to put up ads on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google services than it were in the traditional mainstream media. Customer relationship management has also become easier, cheaper, and quicker via the internet.
Governments are now finding it harder to spine mismanaged and embezzlement public funds into a propaganda believable by its constituents. Especially when there are videos and pictures of hard evidence already trending on Twitter. It is tough to spin a propaganda to diffuse hard facts that now come to limelight and exposed to lots of people on social media.
Of course, politicians are a resilient creature, always striving to survive. And in that spirit is quite common for public office holders to hire social media manager to do the PR-stunts for them. It is said that the President of Nigeria has more social media manager of payroll than he does have economic advisors.
For businesses, the internet is opening new avenue and battlefields where the previously dominant players found the playing ground even with new rules in play. For instance, traditional media houses were the mains sources of news and information, but nowadays blogs and social media is giving them a run for their money.
With technology and the internet, playing fields has been changed. You either streamline yourself in line with the changes, or close shop and watch newcomer (often filled with young blood) take over your market.
A report by Google shows that by 2020 there will be as many as 500 million internet users across Africa. This figure is just 40% of Africa’s 1.3 billion plus population. This stats represents a new emerging market for offshore tech giants that want to cash in, just as much as home-grown ICT companies want to cash in.
The two foreign versus home-grown ICT stakeholders are now positioning themselves to capitalize on this growing market. As far as foreign companies go, you only need to take a look at the visit by CEOs and Founders of big tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook and other who keep making visits to Africa.
Mark Zuckerberg was recently in Kenya and Nigeria, the same goes for Satya Nadella and Eric Schmidt. The stage is set for a battle between home-grown ICT companies and these offshore stakeholders that come with a huge financial might.
Home-grown ICT companies will need to work extra harder (make stellar maneuvers) to compete with the offshore companies. Alternatively, they could opt for a buy-out where the foreign companies acquire their company, and they get to do their business but as employees of these foreign multinational.
For instance, many mobile service carriers across Africa are already getting worried by the planned roll out of free and faster internet connection by these foreign companies. Facebook and Google plan to provide free internet connection to people across Africa from drones and hot air balloons.
The bottom line is; whether you are a government, a government official, business or an individual. The internet is changing what you used to know, and opening a new playing field with new rules. To survive, you either shape up or close down.