Opinions & Guest Posts

Digital Growth in Africa: The Role of Business Leaders

Like in other parts of the world, digital growth in Africa is more dependent on the private sector than on governments. Business leaders have a pivotal role to play in this development. While governments have a role to play where digital growth is concerned, it is private businesses that have the flexibility to drive growth in this sector in Africa. There are examples in Africa where the African businesses have taken the lead and revolutionized the way business is done on digital platforms.

Digital Revolution in Africa

While Africa is doing better in this fourth industrial revolution than in the industrial revolutions that happened before, it still lags behind in as far as growth of the digital economy is concerned. The level of uptake in the rest of the world rests at 43%, which is far higher than Africa’s percentage of 21%. The following are ways in which business leaders in Africa can be a driving force in the Growth of the digital revolution in the world.

i. Break from Tradition

One of the most important casualties of the digital revolution is the past. The use of digital devices to conduct business has led to a situation whereby traditional hierarchies, titles and skill sets do not count for much. The ability to effectively use technology means that as long as an individual understands fundamental principles of something, they only need to understand the use of technology to excel in the area.

As a result of this African business leaders need not emphasize the need for papers at the expense of skills. The need to break from tradition applies across the board even in other matters such as the procedures and processes put in place to make things work. By reducing insistence on the traditional way of doing things, business leaders will be aiding the digital growth.

ii. Be Inclusive

In Africa, there is a wide gap separating the rich from the poor. The digital revolution increases the possibility of this gap becoming more and more pronounced. While it is not the responsibility of the private sector to ensure equity, it is certainly in the interest of the sector to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from this revolution. This is because it increases the pool from which businesses may seek talent. It also increases the number of their customers with whom they can work to reduce the cost of doing businesses.

Currently, the portion of Africans doing online business is a paltry 3%. If this percentage increased, it would significantly reduce the cost of doing business which would in return increase profits for African businesses by reducing overheads and increasing the number of customers due to increased affordability.

Business leaders can help with inclusivity by increasing access to devices through promotions and linkages. They can also give incentives to people to use digital platforms for shopping by offering discounts to those who use digital platforms and other similar incentives.

iii. Mentor New African Innovators

There are many African young people with great ideas on how the digital revolution can be advanced in the continent. Ultimately, when these innovations have gotten a foothold on the continent, they are better adapted for use by Africans because they are made with Africa and the African business environment in mind. African business leaders can adopt young innovators and mentor them on how to grow their digital businesses. A business leader may focus attention on innovators whose technology helps promote their kind of business. If for instance, the financier is in the retail industry, it would be in their interest to pay for the app and in so doing, they would be advancing the digital revolution in the continent.

iv. Lobby for Democratization of Information

Many progressive African governments seek the advice of business leaders concerning economic growth. The business leaders involved by governments this way are in a good stead to advise government officials to make information available to the citizens. Information is the lifeblood of the four industrial revolutions. With information, the people are able to use the digital devices to advance their social and economic objectives. This ends up making the digital revolution more attractive to the populace.


The digital revolution has seen a blurring of the lines between man and machine. The boundaries between nations have also been blurred by this revolution making Africa an integral part of the world. Africans are now more able to connect with people in all other parts of the world and engage on matters of mutual interest. It is also now much easier for African businesses to break into the international markets. It is for this among other reasons that African business leaders should help promote digitization.

This article was written by Kagai Macharia. Kagai is the Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Legibra Solutions, a creative studio dedicated to design, development, branding, printing and outsourcing of infrastructure. 

Facebook Comments

[TechTrends Podcast] Liquid's CSO on the company's contribution to digital transformation in Africa

TechTrends Media Editorial

We cover Technology and Business trends in Kenya and across Africa. Send tips to editor@techtrendske.co.ke

Have anything to add to this article? Leave us a comment below

Back to top button