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Nigeria Lags Behind Harnessing Technology Potential While Other African Countries Show Promise

africa technologyAfrica’s innovative prowess may not attract significant global attention, but when discussions arise regarding the continent’s willingness to harness the potential inherent in information technology, it certainly cannot be overlooked.

The continent now has a number of countries listed in the top 100 nations exploiting technological solutions to promote socio-economic development. Mauritius, Africa’s most developed financial hub, leads the pack. It ranked 45 in the 2015 Networked Readiness Index (NRI) compiled by the World Economic Forum. Mauritius is the only country to make the top 50. Seychelles (74), South Africa (75), Rwanda (83), Kenya (86), and Cape Verde (87) are the only other entrants to the top 100 list.

Ironically Nigeria, despite overtaking South Africa last year to become Africa’s largest economy, failed to feature in the top 100. It has a rank of 119 out of 143 countries.

Africa still has work to do in getting its countries to enjoy the dividends of a connected community. Sub-Saharan Africa only produced six countries in the top 100 tech adopters. Europe, however, had 37 representatives (the most by any continent), while the Americas and Asia contributed 19 and 24 respectively.

Despite these shortcomings, a few sectors have blossomed with the infusion of technological solutions. One of those is the financial sector. Cashless economies are springing up while mobile money transfer platforms, which are targeted at ‘banking the unbanked’, are now a common feature. A prime example is the revolutionary money transfer service M-Pesa. Brought to Africa by Vodafone in 2007, M-Pesa has made Kenya home to one of the most renowned financial solutions of the 21st century, solving one of the most critical issues that has long plagued Africa’s financial sector—moving money.

Kenya, as seen in many sub-Saharan African nations, is predominantly made up of rural settlements. This scenario often limits the spread of traditional banking services, thereby hindering family members in urban settlements or in the diaspora from sending money home cheaply. But M-Pesa has helped address this challenge within East Africa, registering more than 17 million accounts in Kenya alone. It has also been adopted by countries in Europe and Asia.

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