Through the phenomenal rate of urbanization, Africa has a growing population of very young, ambitious, often well-educated, globally minded people who are increasingly moving into middle-income brackets.
Internet users have increased, while the telecommunications sector has seen the number of cell phone users on the continent grow from 11 million in 2000 to almost 400 million today. Undersea data cables are currently being laid at an unprecedented rate, providing exponential bandwidth growth which will drive communications and internet access, particularly through mobile devices.
The banking industry is expanding with growing income levels, increased urbanization and imperatives of financial inclusion.
The ICT sector has driven up to 40% of economic growth in East Africa in the past 10 years. Most of that growth has been in large companies; the next phase can be led by SMEs, as long as the necessary and targeted policy interventions are made:
- Develop a fully connected SME network
- Fill the skills gap in advanced business and technical knowledge
- Provide start-up and early stage funding for companies
- Enable job creation for knowledge workers,
- Upgrade the business environment
These policy interventions can address the system-wide challenges that ICT-related SMEs in East Africa face, and allow SMEs to create more of the quality jobs East Africa needs a very key component to EGI in its operations.