Africa is no longer the 'Dark Continent' in matters technology. This revolution is not only felt, but commonly seen across much of Africa. While there are many countries that are embracing technology in all sectors, young innovators in Africa have proved that it doesn’t fully rely on technology hand-outs exclusively from the West.
At some point in the 1980’s, when computers were a thing to marvel about in Africa, today over fifty percent (50%) of the population owns or has access to a computer. Laptops and desktop versions no longer attract a crowd of curious onlookers. Nowadays, South Africa's Ubuntu Linux is the free operating system that’s readily available to many users. This innovation has made life easier for internet users whereas people can simply download it for free. Ubuntu is a Southern African word that means humanity to all and true to its meaning; the Ubuntu operating system has helped humanity further connect to the world.
Mobile/electronic money transfer has changed the lives of many where people no longer need to rely on bank accounts. With money transfers being safer than ever before, there is lesser risk unlike the early days of online banking. Kenya, for example, has a tailor-made money transfer system called M-Pesa. All you need is a mobile phone to transfer money. Indeed the cashless bug has bit Africa, and there is no looking back. Mobile banking is taking over, and land based banks are becoming less crowded as a result. Now you can even access your bank account with your cell phones while in bed. Infrastructure is still another development that getting underway in Africa. People in the past preferred to keep their money under their mattresses as opposed to traveling halfway across the country to access a bank. People now laugh about stashing cash in a mattress banks thanks to mobile banking where you can withdraw money from your account right through your phone. You can even pay for goods in the supermarket or get your car refueled using your phone.
E-Iearning has been adopted in nearly every university in Africa. People can acquire certificates in the comfort of their homes. Africa's education sector has always been more than shaky, however it’s through online technology being the key to improvement in this vital sector. As information is power, any nation that has limited access to information is bound to stagnate. The world has become a global village thanks to the internet, and Africa has quickly embraced this technology. Much like the African tradition of an entire village raising a child, the internet acts much of the same way on a larger scale. Although internet connectivity is still in its’ infancy, notable progress has been growing by leaps and bounds.
Smartphones and iPads are now as low as $30, an affordable price for an average person from Africa. A study in 2011 revealed that at least thirty five percent (35%) of people in Africa have internet connection. This is mainly due to newly laid submarine internet cables having found their way into the African continent. What this means is that local internet service providers are now able to provide fast and reliable internet to homes, schools, and offices. Most recently- Kampala, Uganda boasts more than 700 kilometers of fiber-optic internet cable thanks to Google. Now people in the most remote regions can get connected with the world.
Africa is now substituting their carbon products over to other Eco-friendly sources of power. People are slowly embracing the concept of solar electricity as the defining alternate sources of power. Finally we are now seeing Electric-powered trains making their way into Africa. In South Africa, they even have magnetic (Maglev) trains, and Morocco's own high speed line is under construction. As far as solar technology goes, a young innovator in Kenya even developed a solar powered refrigerator in 2009. Electricity is not so affordable for the people living in remote areas. In most African homes in this region where electricity is unavailable, you will often find solar panels on roofs.
Africa has also struggled in the health sector, but a recent program that links the health sector with the mobile technology has saved many lives as a result. The GSMA mHealth has brought a light at the end of the health tunnel for those who otherwise might perish. The pilot project is taking place in eleven African countries overall. Maternal and child health has improved tremendously as well. With health care devices like the GlucoTel and the PressureTel, both of which are Bluetooth enabled. They measure and track vital signs and automatically transfer the data to the connected smartphone or iPad user. The relevant information on treatments are generated immediately which gives medical staff an advantage more than ever before.
The technology industry has had its share of setbacks. Lack of resources in Africa are a major hindrance for developing widespread products moreover. Lack of government support in some countries has further pulled technology backward. And even worse, most governments lack commitment to tech advancements because they feel it’s not a priority. Politicians in these countries also believe the internet and social media is a threat to their security. While this has some truth to it, the benefits outweigh the risks. As the future becomes a reality for many who hear what the tech world is bringing to Africa, many despite corrupt government members will embrace this new technology faster than it can be suppressed.