Digital and technology adoption across the continent is growing and with it is a proliferation of apps and fintech products to improve lives. However, countries across the continent continue to see a shortage of technology skills among professionals and a lack of understanding among consumers about how the latest technologies work.
Add to that public education around apps and internet privacy and businesses have their work cut out for them. In this article, business leaders discuss the importance of education and training of employees and the public, and why this will go a long way to benefit us all.
Allow children to embrace AI and ML
Heloise Greeff, Investor on the social trading platform eToro, believes that there is a pressing need for children to embrace AI and machine learning, since these are tools that affect many things in our daily lives today. She explains, “Parents should encourage their children to play around with technology and to become involved in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) subjects. Education in the sciences and technology should start at an early age through outreach programmes at school. And, when a child shows an interest, mentorship and sponsorship are critical to helping with career progression.”
Open up opportunities and drive equality
Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager at Technology, believes that technology training for new and existing employees can drive equality in business operations.
“Technology can open up opportunities for people who previously wouldn’t have had access to them. Provided they have connectivity (admittedly, this is still far from a given) and a capable device, someone from a low-income family can access almost all the same online resources and information as someone from a wealthier family.”
“Technology can act as an equality driver for businesses,” adds Bourne. “Using low-code tools, for example, even small businesses can create the kind of consumer-facing and internal applications that would’ve previously required enterprise-scale budgets to build. These businesses can access increasingly sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) tools to help build customer loyalty and revenue.”
Educate on digital security
“A lack of understanding around how digital security systems work from a data safety perspective makes customers hold back on taking full advantage of digital advances,” says Keletso Mpisane, Head of digitally-based car insurer MiWay Blink.
“This is mainly due to fear of fraud and having their data in a cloud they do not have control over. As a business, educating the market about the safety aspect of using technology is important in demystifying the often miscalculated fears people have around cyber safety, and it improves the perception of your technology in the market. As rapidly as technology is developing and evolving, so are data security systems, and, as a service provider, educating customers around the safety aspects of your technology should be an important aspect of your marketing strategy,” she says.
Allow technology to address financial roadblocks
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 have.
“This greater usage has 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. All of these areas could, however, be broadly viewed as falling under financial inclusion,” comments Tony Mallam, MD at fintech firm, upnup.
Around 65% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa are unbanked. Providing those people with the same kind of services and convenience as customers of even the most digitally-advanced banks is critical to the continent’s growth and future prosperity.
Engage new technologies
“There can be little doubt that there is an unstoppable trend towards greater interactivity driven by technology. At the same time though, the world seems to be filled with ‘the latest thing’: the Metaverse, ChatGPT… Underpinning all of these technologies is the human experience – human motivations and human desires to be connected to one another, to brands and the world,” says Glenn Gillis, CEO of Seamonster SA.
“Although we might never truly understand these latest technologies, there is a need to engage with them and to learn with them to advance the way that we, as a society, live alongside them. Implementing consistent and intentional education around these new technologies is therefore crucial,” he ends.
Businesses that embrace technologies and promote education and training around them will transform their industry practices for the better and set themselves up for success in the future. And those that disengage with change and adopt a reliance on traditional ways of doing things might just be left behind.