Vision For Africa

My Vision For Africa Embracing Technology As A Catalyst For Growth On The Continent

I have journeyed through Africa, meeting with hundreds of employees, customers and partners. My key takeaway from my travels was that there is tremendous optimism and talented people who are ready to help Africa grow and thrive. My vision is to help improve access to quality education for all; drive economic growth; create jobs and improve the ease of doing business for entrepreneurs using future technologies. There is a lot that needs to happen for Africa to realise this vision. Companies are going to need to partner with the various governments to help drive the change and prepare our citizens for this technologically advanced era. 

My vision for the African continent and its people is focused on these pillars: 

Improving access to quality education

Having access to a quality education has helped me to get to where I am today, so I am very passionate about education. In Africa, 43% of the population is currently aged below 15, the highest percentage in the world. By 2035 the number of sub-Saharan Africans reaching working age of 15-64 will exceed the rest of the world combined, adding 12 million to the labour force every year (World Bank: Human Capital Project, 2018). It’s an eye-opening statistic, particularly when you learn that 97.54 million children of school going age are in fact not in school. More concerning is that four million sub-Saharan girls will never attend school compared to two million boys. Given that Africa is the region with the highest rate of return on education — each year of schooling raises learning by 11 % for males and 14% for females — those are definitely statistics we need to change. 

Vision For Africa

For underserved and marginalized groups, people with disabilities, refugees, and those not in school, technology can be a great equalizer, helping to bridge the digital divide and connect people and communities to greater learning opportunities. The problem is that a lack of basic technological infrastructure puts developing countries at risk of experiencing new technological, economic and social divides. If public-private partnerships can be created to address this issue, then technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to improve the standard of education across Africa. Our vision is to empower teachers, improve learning outcomes and help to equip learners across the continent with the business and technology skills they need to succeed. Already, AI assistants are helping teachers with more administrative tasks enabling them to free up time to focus on helping individual learners who need more guidance. AI is assisting learners to improve their weak points by identifying stronger and weaker skillsets when they complete online exercises. The AI backbone learns to push more questions that will help to improve the learner’s weaker knowledge areas thereby improving their overall knowledge base and results come test time.

Utilising technology for entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, but new technologies are making daily life for entrepreneurs easier, and are presenting new and exciting opportunities. It is more important than ever to produce school-leavers and graduates who have greater STEM skills, and the capability to understand how to navigate and operate successfully in the new world of work. 

Across Africa, entrepreneurs are embracing technology to answer some of the continents most pressing needs, such as access to life-saving medical care; improving financial inclusion – particularly in rural areas and improving standards of education.

Many women who become entrepreneurs out of economic necessity do not intend or have the skills to build large and successful companies. Their decision to start a business instead of seeking wage work is influenced by important constraints such as differences in skills, capital, networks, time and family formation, occupational opportunities, and safety. In order to uplift young female entrepreneurs, we need to ensure that they have access to a good STEM-based education and the tools necessary to capture opportunities. 

I am proud to be part of an organisation that is actively working towards uplifting women across the continent. The agreement that HP Inc and UN Women signed in 2019 during the UN General Assembly, will help to advance education, entrepreneurship and digital learning for women and girls in five priority countries: Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Morocco. HP firmly believes we have a role to play, and have already entered into a number of partnerships with organisations such as Girl Rising, whose aim is to ensure that girls around the world are educated and empowered so they can reach their full potential.

In South Africa, we collaborated with institutions such as the Ekurhuleni West TVET College in Katlehong, and its Centre of Entrepreneurship Rapid Incubator, and opened an HP LIFE Centre — a more formal, technology-enabled hub to facilitate learning, collaboration and entrepreneurship in a physical, face-to-face setting. We also expanded into Africa with HP LIFE opening in Nigeria, where more than 5,000 new users joined the program in 2018. I would like to see us partnering with more African schools who would receive HP Learning Studios, to support thousands of students across the Continent.

Technology as a vehicle for economic growth

The World Bank believes that Africa is pivotal to the future of global development and plans to invest $25bn in Africa’s digital transformation over the next decade. Many studies show that the adoption of new technologies can result in greater productivity, greater competitiveness and profitability, which in turn facilitates the creation of more, and better jobs. The result of a stronger agricultural, business, tourism and manufacturing sector is a reduction in poverty, and economic growth, not just for the individual country, but the continent as a whole. 

Tech hubs are springing up across the continent, in countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, and Tunisia among others. In fact, the latest collaborative effort by Briter Bridges and the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator programme, identifies 618 active tech hubs across the continent, an increase of 40 percent from the year before. 

Still the continent’s general lack of infrastructure, capabilities, skills and awareness prove to be barriers to digitalization and growth. Public-private partnerships can help to boost digital literacy from school-going age to those already in the workforce. ICT skills can be integrated into business management training, and school curriculums, so that adoption of automation and other technologies are seen as less of a threat and less of a challenge. 

New technologies have the potential to enable farmers to increase yields, select new crops, conserve natural resources, and better understand and adapt to climate change. By ensuring that new technologies are more easily accessible for start-ups and entrepreneurs, mentoring them, more farmers will be able to play an increasing role in boosting the local and national economies.  

Giving back

The digital era is constantly requiring new skillsets and opening new roles that hadn’t been thought of ten, or twenty years ago. By preparing youth and upskilling the existing workforce, we can increase the positive impact that technology can have on the continent.

I am hugely proud to work for a company that shares the same values as me, and I am convinced, more than ever, that HP can make a difference in peoples’ lives across the continent. I am committed to giving back to Africa by sharing what I have learnt from my experiences, and I know I can leverage on existing great initiatives and people, many of whom I met over the past eight months.

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