Digital technology growth in Africa presents opportunities –

The rapid take-up of digital technologies across Africa presents Irish companies with real opportunities, a conference in Dublin heard today.“There is a great opportunity for Irish, European and global companies to participate in Africa’s search for growth and digital transformation,” Paul Cleal of the PwC UK Africa Business Group said.

“This includes business opportunities not only technology companies, but also financial services providers, payment providers, food companies, infrastructure and pharmaceutical operations as well as research and development companies.”

He was speaking at the PwC Irish Africa Forum.

The conference coincided with the release of a survey of 301 top African chief executives, which showed technology investment topped their list of priorities.

PWC said broadband access was not only modifying all sectors of the African economy, but triggering a radical transformation of the entire society.

“With the penetration of smartphones being still relatively low, the digital revolution has just started.”

In many African countries the development of money transactions through mobile is disrupting the banking industry. The M-Pesa system in Kenya allows 18 million people – out of a population of 25 million over the age of 15 – to pay their taxi fares, electricity or restaurant bills, to transfer money to relatives or to withdraw cash at local kiosks with their mobile phones.

Mr Cleal continued: “Implementing new technologies is one of the top investment priorities for African CEOs and many organisations will look for help from providers around the world.”

“We are seeing more use of technological innovation to address the many challenges and opportunities faced in Africa. Technology enables agility and growth and helps companies to manage and address risks and also impacts talent development and retention.”

Ronan MacNioclais, PwC Irish Partner for business with Africa, concluded: “With African now boasting seven out of the ten fastest growing global economies and impressive figures including its 1 billion population – the youngest in the world – it is easy to see why investors worldwide now look towards Africa as the future.