Innovation in Africa: Trends in adoption

Creating, delivering and capturing new value for, to and from customers is what innovation is all about. But, are indigenous african businesses aggressively creating and delivering enough value in relation to the estimated growth of the consumer markets in the continent?

Africa has a population of over 1billion people  and a rapidly expanding and strong consumer base. Recent analysis has shown that the growing class of tech-savvy population are extremely welcoming to the the emerging technologies. Over 70% of Kenya’s population use mobile-money solutions. Even cutting-edge tech solutions have experienced some success among the population.  Bitpesa, East Arica’s answer to Bitcoin technology (recently raised $1.1million for expansion) provides an alternative to the process of remittances – with annual remittances in the region being over $1.2billion and plagued by high transaction costs. Statistics in mobile markets in Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and other african countries reveal the high adoption rates among consumers of the latest in smart mobile applications.

But, most of the indigenous african businesses are probably yet to take full advantage of the rate of tech adoption of the population. One may divide adoption in two folds: adoption by consumers and adoption by incumbent indigenous businesses.

An IBM report in 2014 shed some light on the current adoption rate of key emerging technologies by african businesses. The emerging technologies considered were mobile, cloud, social and analytics and it revealed that 87% of industry leaders across 29 industries in Africa believe that these technologies are critical but there is still a huge adoption gap of 34%. Only 53% are rapidly adopting these technologies.

While African startups are definitely riding on the new wave of growth in the continent, the bigger businesses are lagging far behind in creating and capturing the needed value that innovation entails. If this trend is anything to go by, then it may be safe to say that the first victims of innovation disruption may well be the incumbent legacy businesses in the continent.

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