Tech companies making a difference in Africa
Africa has long been touted as the continent with the most growth potential when it comes to tech and innovation. Many African countries are building their own equivalents of Silicon Valley and tech companies from all across the world have been setting up offices and launching themselves into markets across the continent. And in addition to growing their customer bases, these companies are also committing to making affecting change in Africa.Here’s how.
They are Investing in communities and equipping people to become entrepreneurs
Last year Airbnb announced a three-year commitment to South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur, and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy. The commitment focuses on infrastructure, training and investment and builds on Airbnb’s 2017 USD $1 million commitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects, and the Africa Academy, which has trained more than 300 Hosts.
As part of this commitment, Airbnb announced its partnership with the University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality to expand the Airbnb Academy programme to at least 1000 students over the next three years.
They are assisting in developing quality journalists and newsrooms
Over the years, Google, perhaps the biggest tech giant in the world, has been doing its fair share for small businesses, content creators and business owners across Africa. And just recently the company announced that five South African recipients have been selected as part of Google’s News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge. The GNI Innovation Challenge is aimed at helping the journalism industry thrive in the digital era. Their projects are among 34 chosen from 17 countries, to receive a share of $3.2 million in funding.The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their work in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI Innovation Challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.
Companies are nurturing talent from a young age
“At Huawei South Africa, we have long been committed to cultivating ICT talent and discovering new ways to harness technological innovation to advance sustainability,”says Vanashree Govender, Media and Communications Manager for Huawei South Africa. “Last year, we launched our Tech4Good Global Competition as part of our Seeds for the Future talent development programme, which exposes learners to courses on the latest technologies like 5G, Cloud, AI and IoT. The Tech4Good competition gets students to think about how to use technology to address social and environmental issues. Through this programme, participants boost their creativity, hone their entrepreneurship skills, and develop a sense of social responsibility. This is a fun team effort, with coaching by Huawei experts and world-renowned social impact leaders”.
Huawei also runs a Tech4All program globally in which Huawei works with partners to create real change through connecting the unconnected, empowering underserved communities and protecting the planet. In South Africa, Huawei’s DigiSchool project in partnership with operator rain and educational non-profit organisation Click Foundation, has connected over 100 urban and rural primary schools to the internet using 5G technology.
They are building the right skills through access to digital media education
Today, there are local entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as fashion, healthcare, and decor who have proven that with more equal access to the digital marketing ecosystem, it’s possible to expand regionally and internationally.
In order for that to happen at scale, they also need the requisite skills to market themselves online in the markets they want to reach. At the very least, those entrepreneurs should have easy access to people with those skills. It’s important to note here, that these aren’t just fundamental digital marketing skills, but ones that relate to the specifics of marketing on the world’s leading digital advertising platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify where people across the globe spend most of their time online. With the right types of messages, these platforms are the most effective places to reach new customers across a broad range of markets.
“This is something that we’re passionate about, and recently, Ad Dynamo by Aleph launched a free Digital Ad Expert programme for young people in Nigeria and Ghana, which aims to educate, certify and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitising economy. While it’s entirely possible that someone with the right degree of determination and curiosity could develop those skills on their own, it’s critical that more and more resources are accessible to build them up at scale,” says Elyse Estrada, Global Chief Marketing Office, Aleph Group.
This is crucial to ensuring that markets such as Ghana and Nigeria aren’t just growth targets for international companies, but incubators for a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of competing on a global level themselves.
They are creating access for everyone
MFS Africa, the continent’s largest omnichannel payment gateway, believes in a “borderless world” in which everyone has access. Their comprehensive digital networks link 320 million mobile wallets, enabling cross-border payments remittance firms, financial service providers, and worldwide merchants.
MFS Africa CEO and Founder, Dare Okoudjo believes that interoperability is crucial in allowing customers of different mobile financial services providers to interact with each other. This can be done by making direct payments from the mobile money account of one provider to the mobile money account of another provider.
To do this, MFS Africa acquired Global Technology Partners (GTP) recently, broadening its bank and fintech base and supplying tokenisation in the mobile money space by connecting with established card ecosystems like Visa and Mastercard. The ultimate objective is to give millions of mobile money users on the continent access to the global digital economy and new possibilities. For its partners, these new capabilities enable scalability, security, and new markets and consumers as technology innovation continues to penetrate and reshape societies.
They are making healthcare education accessible and fun
The idea of using games for positive outcomes is hardly new. We’ve long known that play improves the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing of children and young people (we’re also increasingly comfortable that the same is true for all adults). It’s hardly surprising then that educational games quickly followed the rise of the personal computer.
“We’ve come a long way since those early days of basic maths and literacy games. Today, organisations can build bespoke games aimed at producing positive outcomes in a number of healthcare fields, including physical, mental, and financial health,” says Amy Duncan, Client Service Manager, Sea Monster.
It’s also increasingly easy to blend real-world rewards with the completion of gameplay mechanics. Duncan explains, “One of our own projects, for example, was developed to help address COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation by having players engage with information and animation in a safe space- learning along the way. Ultimately, we wanted people to be as informed as possible about the virus and (hopefully) get vaccinated. We knew that if there was only a reward for going through all the gameplay mechanics and getting vaccinated, at least some of the target audience would be turned off. So, we simply made the rewards different. Those who got the vaccine were able to enter a competition to win a restaurant voucher, for example, while the unvaccinated users’ equivalent was a voucher of the same value, but for a meal to be enjoyed at home.”