By Sean Riley
It’s no secret that Africa suffers from incredibly high levels of economic inequality, with South Africa taking the top spot on a global level. In terms of wealth inequality, seven in ten of the world’s most unequal countries are located in Africa.
Moreover, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly, World Bank Country Director for Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, and South Africa points out that despite many African countries “undertaking some of the most redistributive spendings in the world, particularly on education and health, inequality remains extremely high”. This suggests that in order for the continent’s population to thrive economically in the future, it must also address digital inequality.
While many articles have been written about the continent’s ability to ‘leapfrog’ stages of economic development, through the likes of cellular technology, for instance, this isn’t universally true. Even though cities in some of Africa’s biggest markets embrace 5G, access still remains a major barrier for many.
If Africa is to reach its full potential and secure the economic future that so many believe it is capable of, it is imperative that digital inequality is addressed immediately.
Promising growth, but still room for improvement
There is, however, promising growth especially when it comes to internet access. According to Statista, Nigeria is set to add 35 million new users by 2026. In Ghana, World Bank figures show that 58% of the population is now online, with the number of new internet users also increasing by 6% between 2020 and 2021.
Yet, there is still significant room for additional growth. Focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa, upwards of 800 million people are not yet connected to mobile internet. A comparatively small proportion of those people (270 million) are not connected because they do not have the required coverage. However, of greater concern are the 520 million people across the region who could theoretically access the mobile internet but still don’t. This comes down to a number of interconnected reasons, including cost, lack of skills, education, age, and location.
As connectivity becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, those numbers should organically decrease, presenting some economic benefits on its own, but it won’t be enough to ensure that Africa reaches its full potential.
After all, 50% of the Global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is already digitalised, a percentage that is expected to only increase in the coming years. However, unless the right skills are developed to complement increasing connectivity, and enable the continent to effectively compete in the global digital arena, Africa risks becoming a net consumer in that economy, as organisations and entrepreneurs who fall into the other 50% will benefit.
Wide-scale skills development is needed
In order for Africa to truly reach its digital economic potential, it also needs to address the unequal spread of digital skills across the continent. This is true both for those entering the job market and those looking to become entrepreneurs, for which it is important to remember that a broad range of skills will be increasingly required. Furthermore, those able to develop software, or build and repair digital infrastructure will of course remain sought after, but those who can effectively market businesses to growing online consumers will also be of high importance. According to a study by The International Finance Corporation, 230 million jobs across the continent will in fact require a level of digital skills by 2030, Included in that number are HR, marketing, sales, and operations roles.
Newly online consumers represent a lucrative target audience for businesses around the globe. As such, they are largely targeted via major social platforms including Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify. Thus, it is also imperative for businesses across Africa to understand how to effectively reach their audience organically and through platform advertisements. This is something we at Ad Dynamo and the wider Aleph Group fundamentally understand, which is why we want to be part of the solution. This is why we recently launched our Digital Ad Expert educational programme in Nigeria and Ghana. The free online programme aims to educate, certify, and connect thousands of people across Africa with the necessary digital skills to succeed in a rapidly digitalising economy.
While some people in these markets have the resources needed to build up these skills on their own, we believe it’s critical to narrow the gap and reduce inequality as much as possible.
Now is the time
Thus, it is time to truly bridge the divide, and close the gaps evident across the African continent, so we can ensure its digital future. Fortunately, there is a growing number of prospects opening up to people in Africa, and with the help of solutions such as those provided by Digital Ad Expert, the opportunity to discover the world of digital marketing, and the potential it holds for you, or your business is unparalleled.
Sean Riley is the CEO of Ad Dynamo by Aleph
Twitter Introduces Location Spotlight, Others to Benefit Professionals, Businesses
By Adedapo Adesanya
Twitter has launched Location Spotlight globally, a tool designed to help professionals customize and strengthen their business presence and showcase their products to customers directly on the social media platform.
According to a release made available to Business Post, Twitter said, “Professionals – whether they are creators, nonprofits, developers, small business owners, or big brands – come to Twitter every day to drive results that can move their business forward.
“For the past year, we’ve been developing a collection of foundational, free-to-use products that give this community the tools they need to customize and strengthen their business presence and showcase their products to customers directly on Twitter.
“Today, we’re hitting an exciting milestone in this journey: we’re making the Location Spotlight available to all professionals on Twitter. This is the first spotlight for professionals to become globally available.”
As a tool, Location Spotlight allows professionals with physical business locations to display their business address, hours of operation, and additional contact information so that customers can reach them via phone, text, email, or Twitter Direct Message.
The company noted that, “As we scale the Location Spotlight, we’re also giving it an extra boost that can help professionals drive their customers further down the path to purchase.
“Using Google Maps Platform, this spotlight now gives professionals the option to add a map of their business location. Customers can then click on the map for directions to navigate there.”
Alongside Location Spotlight, Twitter also announced other professional products and resources it plans to introduce this year. These include – Professional Home, Profile Spotlights, and Taking Care of Business series, among others.
On Professional Home, Twitter said, “For the first time, professionals will be able to access a homepage to track performance, discover product offerings, tap into additional resources and drive performance. Professional Home will become available to all professionals globally in the coming weeks with additional updates and iterations to come throughout the year.”
For Profile Spotlights, the company announced that “We plan to test and launch a few additional profile spotlights this year to better serve our broader audience of professionals. Ultimately, these spotlights will enable professionals to encourage potential customers to take the actions they care about most when discovering their account on Twitter. Stay tuned for more information as we begin piloting these spotlights!”
Starting this month, Twitter said it will be offering a monthly, live online workshop series created by Twitter Flight School called “Taking Care of Business.” The series is designed to help professionals who are just getting started with Twitter gain a better understanding of the newest products and offerings available to Professionals on the platform or simply need a refresher on how to leverage Twitter to grow their business.
The workshops will cover how to set up Professional Account; how to activate an appropriate spotlight for businesses and how to tweet confidently and engage with your audience.
It also announced #TweetLikeAPro On-Demand Courses on Twitter Flight School.
“In addition to the live webinars, in August, we’ll be rolling out 10 a la carte courses on Twitter Flight School that will cover several topics that are top of mind for professionals on how to leverage Twitter to drive customers to buy. Our #TweetLikeAPro coursework will be designed specifically for small to medium businesses and will cover topics like how to Up Your Tweet Game, Creating a Community of Engaged Followers and Keeping it Simple: The 4 Cs of Content Strategy.”
“We are proud of the foundation we’ve laid with the initial suite of products we’ve unveiled to date and we’re excited to continue introducing new ways to help professionals achieve business success on Twitter,” it announced.
Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Jumps to 44.5% as NCC Reviews Short Code Services
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria’s broadband usage has continued to rise, moving up by 3.6 points from 40.9 per cent in February 2022 to 44.5 per cent in July 2022.
This was disclosed in a statement released on Thursday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), through its Director of Public Affairs, Mr Reuben Muoka, a figure considered hopeful for achieving the national broadband penetration target of 70 per cent in 2025.
The statement quoted the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the NCC, Mr Umar Danbatta, as making the revelation at the beginning of a three-day public inquiry on five telecommunication regulations and guidelines which began in Abuja yesterday.
“With the technological advancements anticipated in the coming years, it is expected that there will be a proliferation of devices in the industry. It is, therefore, essential for the Commission to ensure that the right regulatory frameworks can accommodate such eventualities,” he said.
The agency’s boss said the public inquiry, which covered five areas of existing regulations, is aimed at achieving operational efficiency and operational excellence.
He listed the regulatory instruments under review at the public inquiry to include Type Approval Regulations, Guidelines on Short Code Operation in Nigeria, Guidelines on Technical Specifications for the Deployment of Communications Infrastructure, Guidelines on Advertisements and Promotions, as well as Consumer Code of Practice Regulations.
He said the focus areas were already articulated in some important documents guiding the operations of the Commission, which include the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (NNBP) 2020 – 2025, the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) 2020 – 2030, NCC’s Strategic Management Plan (SMP) 2020-2024, and its Strategic Vision Implementation Plan (SVIP) 2021–2025, which are being implemented towards achieving its mandate.
While stating that these strides are the results of the commission’s regulatory efficiency and focused implementation of policies and strategies of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Mr Danbatta said the public inquiry is in tandem with the NCC’s strategy of consulting stakeholders in all its regulatory interventions.
The EVC further stated that the amendment of these regulatory instruments was to reflect current realities, one of which is the anticipated deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) technology, and management of shortcodes in Nigeria, including the Toll-Free Emergency Code 112.
Earlier, Head, Telecoms Laws and Regulations at NCC, Mrs Helen Obi, had stated that public inquiry allows the agency to incorporate the comments and suggestions of industry stakeholders, in the development of its regulatory instruments.
She said the process ensures that the NCC’s regulatory instruments are in line with the current realities in the industry as it had done with some regulatory frameworks and guidelines in 2021.
Tech Companies Making a Difference in Africa
Africa has long been touted as the continent with the most growth potential when it comes to tech and innovation. Many African countries are building their own equivalents of Silicon Valley and tech companies from all across the world have been setting up offices and launching themselves into markets across the continent. And in addition to growing their customer bases, these companies are also committing to making affecting change in Africa. Here’s how.
They are Investing in communities and equipping people to become entrepreneurs
Last year Airbnb announced a three-year commitment to South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy. The commitment focuses on infrastructure, training and investment and builds on Airbnb’s 2017 $1 million commitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects, and the Africa Academy, which has trained more than 300 Hosts.
As part of this commitment, Airbnb announced its partnership with the University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality to expand the Airbnb Academy programme to at least 1000 students over the next three years.
They are assisting in developing quality journalists and newsrooms
Over the years, Google, perhaps the biggest tech giant in the world, has been doing its fair share for small businesses, content creators and business owners across Africa. And just recently the company announced that five South African recipients have been selected as part of Google’s News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge.
The GNI Innovation Challenge is aimed at helping the journalism industry thrive in the digital era. Their projects are among 34 chosen from 17 countries, to receive a share of $3.2 million in funding.
The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their work in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI Innovation Challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.
Companies are nurturing talent from a young age
“At Huawei South Africa, we have long been committed to cultivating ICT talent and discovering new ways to harness technological innovation to advance sustainability,” says Vanashree Govender, Media and Communications Manager for Huawei South Africa. “Last year, we launched our Tech4Good Global Competition as part of our Seeds for the Future talent development programme, which exposes learners to courses on the latest technologies like 5G, Cloud, AI and IoT.
The Tech4Good competition gets students to think about how to use technology to address social and environmental issues. Through this programme, participants boost their creativity, hone their entrepreneurship skills, and develop a sense of social responsibility. This is a fun team effort, with coaching by Huawei experts and world-renowned social impact leaders”.
Huawei also runs a Tech4All program globally in which Huawei works with partners to create real change through connecting the unconnected, empowering underserved communities and protecting the planet. In South Africa, Huawei’s DigiSchool project in partnership with operator rain and educational non-profit organisation Click Foundation has connected over 100 urban and rural primary schools to the internet using 5G technology.
They are building the right skills through access to digital media education
Today, there are local entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as fashion, healthcare, and decor who have proven that with more equal access to the digital marketing ecosystem, it’s possible to expand regionally and internationally.
In order for that to happen at scale, they also need the requisite skills to market themselves online in the markets they want to reach. At the very least, those entrepreneurs should have easy access to people with those skills. It’s important to note here, that these aren’t just fundamental digital marketing skills, but ones that relate to the specifics of marketing on the world’s leading digital advertising platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify where people across the globe spend most of their time online. With the right types of messages, these platforms are the most effective places to reach new customers across a broad range of markets.
“This is something that we’re passionate about, and recently, Ad Dynamo by Aleph launched a free Digital Ad Expert programme for young people in Nigeria and Ghana, which aims to educate, certify and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitising economy. While it’s entirely possible that someone with the right degree of determination and curiosity could develop those skills on their own, it’s critical that more and more resources are accessible to build them up at scale,” says Elyse Estrada, Global Chief Marketing Office, Aleph Group.
This is crucial to ensuring that markets such as Ghana and Nigeria aren’t just growth targets for international companies, but incubators for a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of competing on a global level themselves.
They are creating access for everyone
MFS Africa, the continent’s largest omnichannel payment gateway, believes in a “borderless world” to which everyone has access. Their comprehensive digital networks link 320 million mobile wallets, enabling cross-border payments remittance firms, financial service providers, and worldwide merchants.
MFS Africa CEO and founder, Dare Okoudjo, believes that interoperability is crucial in allowing customers of different mobile financial services providers to interact with each other. This can be done by making direct payments from the mobile money account of one provider to the mobile money account of another provider.
To do this, MFS Africa acquired Global Technology Partners (GTP) recently, broadening its bank and fintech base and supplying tokenisation in the mobile money space by connecting with established card ecosystems like Visa and Mastercard. The ultimate objective is to give millions of mobile money users on the continent access to the global digital economy and new possibilities. For its partners, these new capabilities enable scalability, security, and new markets and consumers as technology innovation continue to penetrate and reshape societies.
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