Technology to Compensate for Africa’s Lack of Manufacturing
In many parts of the world advanced robotics and 3D printers are seen as a threat to manufacturing jobs. Yet in most of Africa manufacturing has never taken off, contributing just 5% of the continent’s jobs, compared with 15-18% in other developing regions, so robots will not kill many jobs. Instead, they offer the opportunity to create new ones by helping African firms overcome bottlenecks in production and by lowering barriers to making and selling things to the world. Without the rapid advances recently seen in digital design and manufacturing, the AHRLAC would never have taken flight.
Yet there are many aspects of technology where Africa is not moving fast enough. In 2016 it bought only 400 industrial robots or less than 0.2% of the world’s total. The lion’s share, 86%, went to Asia. One reason why Africa buys so few is that its labour costs are low and finance is difficult to come by. Besides, it does not export a lot of manufactured goods. That is a problem because it runs huge trade deficits with the rest of the world and needs to export more than just raw materials to provide jobs for the millions of youngsters leaving school every year. It also matters because African firms that export tend to grow faster and raise their productivity more quickly than those that do not, says Dirk Willem te Velde of the Overseas Development Institute in London. Africa’s weak infrastructure and inefficient ports have put many potential exporters off investing there. However, Andela, a high-tech firm, demonstrates how pure brainpower can be exported from a snazzy office block in Lagos to sophisticated customers halfway round the world without going near an overcrowded port or broken railway line.
How the taxman slows the spread of technology in Africa
Technology is not a panacea, of course. Drones may be able to fly over trackless forests to deliver life-saving medical supplies to remote clinics. But they are no substitute for proper roads; people cannot commute to work hanging from an aerial drone, nor can heavy goods move to market that way. Smartphones may help activists monitor elections, but they cannot, by themselves, stop autocrats from rigging them.
Some technology may even pose a threat to Africa. Automation and industrial robots are taking away factory jobs in the rich world. Some economists fret that they will make it harder for Africa to grow the way Asian countries once did, by luring peasants out of fields and into factories. But others think that 3D printing and robotics may instead reduce the importance of scale in manufacturing, encouraging African firms to make things.
Overall, technology will probably make Africans wealthier, healthier and better educated by dramatically lowering the costs of development. Take power as an example. Getting electricity to the two-thirds of Africans without it in the old way—by building generating stations and an electricity grid—would cost some $63bn a year (compared with just $8bn being spent now) and still take until 2030. But the falling costs of solar cells and batteries, and innovative business models mean that millions of Africans are now able to bypass the grid and get electricity from rooftop installations for a few dollars a week.
Read more about this here-> https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21731206-if-you-want-less-something-tax-it
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Konnect Africa Brings Wi-Fi to Rural African Communities
The Eutelsat-owned satellite broadband service provider konnect Africa unveiled SmartWIFI, a new hotspot service, as part of its ongoing commitment to bring digital opportunities to Africans.
This new service leverages Konnect Africa’s powerful, reliable satellite broadband network to enable sales outlets (retailers, hospitalities, gas stations, etc.) as well as healthcare centres or schools to become a connectivity point and digital gateway to opportunity for the surrounding population. Users will be able to access the internet from a distance of several hundred metres around the hotspot. Access can be extended to several kilometres through off-the-shelf Wi-Fi repeaters.
Users can access the SmartWIFI service through vouchers or mobile payment schemes. In addition, SmartWIFI comes with a unique local data storage system, enabling users in remote areas to access smart digital content free of data charges, including online courses and education programmes, sports and entertainment. Mobile and computer applications will also be available to help support daily business activities.
SmartWIFI will be available in all countries covered by Konnect Africa’s satellite broadband service. The new hotspot service will be deployed in partnership with local Internet service providers and telecom operators in strategic areas across Sub-Saharan Africa.