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UK eyes Africa for technology conquests

africa telecoms antenna dish

Millions across the continent are shaking in fear, not in anticipation of a technology-orientated wave of colonialism, but in anticipation of UK Prime Minister Theresa May dancing in celebration.

Following an announcement from the Department for International Trade which outlined future trade relationships between the UK and various African nations, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is weighing in on the African expansion. New partnerships in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria will include dedicated teams to boost innovation in technology and research, an accelerator programme to help grow African start-ups, and entrepreneurship schemes.

“Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya’s technology sectors are growing rapidly and generating a significant part of their economic output. This means huge opportunities for UK businesses and for future partnerships,” said Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright. “New ideas, game-changing research and cutting-edge science are good news for our African partners and good news for the UK’s world-leading scientists, technologists and researchers who are representing the country on a global stage.”

As part of the new relationship, UK entrepreneurs will work alongside business men and women in Africa to develop new ideas in next generation technologies. Aside from charitably sharing their own expertise, the engagements will open up new opportunities in largely untapped markets. While African nations are playing catch-up, technology is making a more significant impact on society, with the sector accounting for 10% and 11% of the Nigerian and Kenyan economies respectively.

“Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.2% in 2018 and to a further 3.5% in 2019, according to the latest 2018 World Bank report,” said Julian David, CEO of techUK. “Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa represent a significant part of that growth with technology increasingly underpinning these numbers. The decision to set up Innovation Partnerships and extend the tech hub network to these African nations shows the Government clearly recognises this opportunity.”

Aside from creating new revenue opportunities, UK tech enthusiasts also might learn a thing or two when it comes to mobile money. While digital payments are a comparatively new craze in the UK, there are much more established markets across Africa. Today more than half Kenya’s daily GDP goes through mobile money, with mobile-phone based money transfer service MPesa one of the most popular.

The news might be worth rejoicing about, but we are all hoping our PM is excited enough to break out her own version of ‘dancing’.

 


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