Businesses and people all over the world need technological advances to improve the quality of life, the economy, and the growth of their industries.
In Africa, the internet economy has the potential to grow to $180 billion by 2025, or – 5.2% of the continent’s GDP. While digital transformation remains one of the continent’s foremost drivers of economic growth. Africa’s fintech sector, for example, has the potential to produce answers to many problems that Africans face, whether it be the continent’s low savings rate or the improvement of financial inclusion.
Business leaders from across the continent write on key trends for 2023 across fintech, digital communications, energy, and more.
Fintech in Africa is set to grow
“As both connectivity and devices (predominantly smartphones) have become cheaper and more prevalent in recent years, a growing number of African consumers have come to expect the same kind of experiences as their peers around the world do. Aided by the COVID-19 pandemic, this confluence of affordability and ubiquity helped fuel significant growth in areas such as e-commerce and online entertainment” notes upnup’s Head of Strategy and Marketing, Justin Asher.
“These factors have also allowed hundreds of entrepreneurs to address critical financial roadblocks in a number of areas including mobile money and digital banking, lending, savings, investment and crowdfunding, and cryptocurrency. And the proliferation of fintechs in Africa is set to grow,” says Asher.
According to a report by McKinsey and Company, fintech revenues could grow by eight times, eventually reaching $30 billion by 2025. The report, entitled Fintech in Africa: The end of the beginning, notes that fintech on the continent has grown at an unprecedented rate. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of tech startups in Africa tripled to around 5,200 companies, with just under half of these being fintech. “This is particularly exciting in an age where customers value solutions that allow them to transact across borders, and provide best-in-class solutions to Africa’s unique challenges,” says Rashi Gupta, Chief Operating Officer at MFS Africa, a leading digital payments hub in Africa. The organisation’s full-service digital payments network connects over 400 million mobile money wallets and over 200 million bank accounts across Africa, and over 200,000 agents in Nigeria, to enable cross-platform and cross-border payments for remittance companies, mobile network operators, banks, non-bank financial institutions, and global merchants.
In uncertain times, digital communication remains critical
After two world-changing years, 2022 was supposed to represent a return to normal for most businesses. However, geopolitical uncertainty, inflation, and the looming threat of recession mean that few businesses (apart, perhaps, from the oil companies seeing record profits) feel entirely comfortable about their short to medium-term growth prospects.
“Within this environment of uncertainty, digital engagement remains critical. But just as the global business environment has again shifted, so have the factors driving the importance of digital communication. Throughout much of 2020 and 2021, it was the only way for businesses to engage with their customers, especially when lockdowns were at their peaks. This year, it will continue to be more about meeting customers where they are, no matter where in the world they might be. This shift is only further underscored by the fact that the global online audience is set to be almost as big as the global TV audience in 2023.” comments Brent Haumann, Managing Director of digital communications firm, Tilte
Infrastructure development that supports the growth of digital engagement for both the public and the private sector will certainly go a long way, giving business owners more comfort around growth prospects.
Climate technology in the demand for alternative energy
The increased reliance on renewable energy resources has driven considerable technological advancement, says Matthew Cruise, Head of Business Intelligence and Public Relations for Hohm Energy. “The massive demand for alternative energy supply is driving change within this sector and companies that are able to manage supply and demand are thriving.”
Hohm Energy will this year introduce AI-driven technology to enhance roof mapping for solar installation. “Technological advances not only make it easier for more people to access power options such as solar, but it also makes these more affordable. Given the red-tape delays in getting government’s renewable energy projects off the ground, technology and funding that makes solar power more accessible are becoming increasingly sought after and we expect a massive growth in climate technology this year. Banks are already coming to the party by providing asset-backed finance through Nedbank MFC, or home loan further advances for solar installations.”
Impact games to achieve business and social goals
2023 is going to be another tough year, where the world could likely formally enter a global recession. And as some believe, these types of global events do well to filter out businesses with more frivolous offerings in favour of those with real value-add. The tide goes out and one no longer has the luxury of innovation for innovation’s sake.
“Specifically in the world of marketing, you need to pursue real avenues for growth, and those are going to come from Africa. This is the first real sign that over the next two decades, Africa is going to represent the next real growth opportunities. The mature markets are formally in decline so let’s actively discuss how Africa represents the future market. IIf this is your future audience (in Africa) and if you no longer have time for fluff, you’re going to have to find innovation that works at scale and that drives real business results.” says Sea Monster, CEO Glenn Gillis
“We believe that if we don’t stop following the hype cycle about technology, we are doomed. Last year it was the Metaverse. This year it’s all about AI tools and ChatGPT – a sophisticated AI text generator that works by predicting what the next word in a sentence is most likely to be. Having been trained with a colossal resource of texts, it can mimic various styles of writing. All of these things are incredible, but how are you actually showing value in your company and not just doing innovation for its own sake?” continues Gillis
“We believe that impact games offer a way for brands to achieve both business and social goals by delivering immediate short-term business results, driving practical innovation at scale and addressing SDG goals in a way that is meaningful as well as authentic.” explains Gillis.