Africa is witnessing an information technology (IT) or digital revolution that is transforming traditional ways of business and service delivery. IT is becoming a leading enabler in the new economy and through content and distribution it is bringing about efficiency, productivity and employment in Africa.
It is transforming social service delivery in health, education, culture and environmental management.
Web and internet-based exchange of information is fast changing the African landscape and revolutionising trade, business, communication, research, networking and other aspects of daily life. Yet a gulf is emerging between developed and developing countries with regards to access and use of IT thus creating a new development gap through the so-called digital divide.
In Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, local language content is key to bringing new users online, as many are not comfortable reading in English or French. Also the majority of international and locally developed content is hosted outside the country, typically overseas. This results in slow Internet speeds and higher access costs.
In response African countries like The Gambia seek to transform the digital divide into a digital opportunity and put in place strategies to promote the use of IT to boost efficiencies, productivity and service delivery in all sectors of the Gambian economy.
African businesses and companies realises the liberating potential of the new information technology for improving working procedures and profitability.
Africa leads the world in mobile adoption, which continues to offer the biggest cross-sectoral economic opportunities. Mobile payment networks, pioneered in East Africa, opened the wired, global economy to poor, unbanked city and rural dwellers.
To illustrate: Ethiopia set up a telephone hotline allowing small farmers immediate access to advice from agronomists, with over 3 million calls done in the first six months of the pilot programme.
Mobile is the area where Africa has pushed beyond the boundaries in the developed world, and African tech incubators are pushing to innovate.