TECHNOLOGY – Taking advantage of the tech revolution

As access to mobile and digital technologies expands, might financial and agricultural needs be better served?

Chapter Contents:

In East Africa, access to mobile and digital technology is set to expand, which will deliver economic benefits while potentially opening up a digital divide

  • East African governments seem committed to investing in the infrastructure needed to deliver on their promises of widespread mobile and digital access, although the risk of groups being left behind is considerable.
  • Private sector innovation and foreign investment are helping to drive down costs and overcome the challenge of providing access to new technologies.

With venture capital pouring into FinTech in East Africa, the digitalisation of financial services looks set to continue apace

  • Mobile and digital services like M-Pesa now dominate their offline competitors and are driving the financial inclusion of the previously unbanked.
  • As platform firms gather more and more transaction data, they are beginning to build robust credit histories for their customers and facilitate longer-term investments.
  • FinTech in Africa is thriving, with start-ups in the sector securing $284.6 million in venture capital in 2018 — a 760% rise on the year before.

Digital technology in agriculture (AgTech) has the potential to dramatically increase the amount and quality of information farmers use to make decisions, while generating significant efficiencies in food supply chains

  • By analysing digital images taken by drones and data collected by internet-enabled farming equipment, firms can now provide smallholders with tailored advice at low cost.
  • Digital platforms are enabling farmers to rent expensive machinery, reliably reach urban markets and receive credit on flexible terms.

Frontier technologies are developing in Africa and investment in tech start-ups and hubs is taking off

  • Technologies including 3D printing, drones and blockchain are being showcased in East Africa and have the potential to productively reshape manufacturing and agricultural supply chains.
  • In 2018, venture capital investment in Africa quadrupled in comparison to the previous year, with the number of tech hubs in cities across the continent expanding rapidly.