Digital developments are happening at such a remarkable pace in Africa that it is sometimes difficult to keep up. Sena Kpodo reports from Accra, one of the continent's most advanced tech centres, on African tech's potential for impact at the base of the socio-economic pyramid.
In January, Ghana became the fifth country and the fourth in Africa to receive access to the Internet.org application. The app is a Facebook-led initiative that aims to bring affordable mobile Internet services to areas of the world where data costs can be prohibitive to sections of the population. Users can access data-light versions of a select number of websites at no data cost. The Ghanaian version of the app initially launched with 17 available services including Facebook, Wikipedia, GhanaWeb, Ebola Information, SuperSport, Jobberman and BabyCenter & MAMA.
Facebook has also recently launched a specific Africa division to serve the now 100 million active users on the continent--80% of whom access the social network via mobile phone. Africa's digital transformation has rapidly moved up the global agenda, shifting the way in which the continent sees and is seen, hears and is heard of, and speaks and is spoken about.
Ghana is one of the continent's leaders in technological adaptation and entrepreneurship. Things are moving fast on the country's tech scene, and global recognition and investment is arriving. In 2013, Ghanaian start-up Dropifi, an online tool that helps businesses manage customer feedback, became the first company from Africa to join the 500 Startups programme in California's Silicon Valley--the tech world's Mecca.
An essential ingredient to Ghana's emerging success on the global tech scene is the ecosystem that allows entrepreneurs and tech workers to learn from each other. One nexus point bringing innovators together is HubAccra.
The tech hub was founded in 2013 when the Unreasonable Institute, an American entrepreneurship facilitator, brought 11 high-impact entrepreneurs to Ghana. William Senyo, a Ghanaian entrepreneur and CEO of SliceBiz, a micro-investment platform for early-stage African companies, wanted to impress the visitors. He explains, "We had to show Accra's ecosystem in a way that would get them interested." In three days, Senyo and his fellow co-founders rented space and were ready to host.
Once the guests left, the hub remained. It differentiated itself by not just being a place for "techies" but a space for innovators...