News / Africa

    Africa Attracting Technology Firms

    The 10-inch model of Samsung Electronics Company's new Galaxy Tab 3 series tablet computer. Such devices are growing in popularity in Africa.
    The 10-inch model of Samsung Electronics Company's new Galaxy Tab 3 series tablet computer. Such devices are growing in popularity in Africa.

    Multimedia

    Audio
    • Listen to De Capua report on tech companies in Africa

    Joe DeCapua
    Africa is not only a growing market for hi-tech products, but may soon be a base for a lot more hi-tech companies. The continent is expected to see growing competition to meet the needs of its rising young and middle class populations.


    DHL calls itself the “logistics company for the world,” providing transportation via rail, road, sea and air. And Company officials see Africa as a place where its business can boom. For that to happen, though, more international companies will need to invest in the continent and base their operations there.

    DHL’s Sumesh Rahavendra sees that happening. That’s one of the findings from a recent global technological conference sponsored by his company.

    “There’s quite a bit of evidence to that in terms of global companies starting to set up base in Africa. If you look at the likes of SAP or IBM or Hisense, which is the Chinese company, all of them are setting base in Africa and looking at how specifically they can cater to the Africa market while being in Africa, as against getting to the African market while being in Europe or the Middle East.”

    Rahavendra is the company’s head of marketing for sub-Saharan Africa.

    “Specifically talking about emerging markets, you know, while Asia Pacific is still a fairly robust and stable growing electronics segment, we believe that there is a lot of potential in Africa. Africa could really be the next frontier for technology growth,” he said.

    For technology companies to base operations in Africa is simply a matter of good logistics.

    “As an example,” he said, “if you were a technology giant that had a distribution hub in the Middle East – and if you wanted to ship into African countries – you’d have to ship probably from the Middle East all the way down to South Africa and then consolidate and distribute from South Africa into the various African countries. That’s just one example, but that’s just how your cost of doing business increases if you don’t already have an existing base in Africa.”

    A company has to be in the market, he said, to understand what the customer wants and needs.

    “I travel a fair bit around Africa and so does the rest of our team and you can see the technology boom literally across every country in Africa. As an example, people who never had access to a desktop PC are now playing around with tablets – are now playing around with smart phones. And it just goes to show the level and speed of adoption has been significant as more middle class and upper middle class consumers in Africa get access to technology.”

    Rahavendra described the continent’s one billion people as virtually an untapped market for many products.

    “The purchasing power and the income disparity [are] quite different to that of the Asian countries, but it still represents a huge population simply because a majority of people are young people. And with a young population that’s going to adopt technology and commodities in the future, it represents a significant potential for any international company coming to Africa,” he said.

    A recent report entitled The Rise and Rise of Africa’s Middle Class says more than 60 percent of the continent’s population is under 25 years old. The report says this means there is a “guaranteed customer base for years to come.” 

    And what’s good for companies, Rahavendra said, is good for DHL.

    “As more and more companies are coming into Africa and setting up their distribution hubs here -- setting up plants to manufacture here – that represents a business opportunity for us to move more products across Africa. Look, DHL has been in Africa for over 35 years and we’re present in every single country across Africa, which means to a large extent really nobody knows Africa better than we do. And when companies come here they are going to look at who are the established players, who can help me with logistics,” he said.

    Rahavendra said there is potential in every African country for growth, but some are more ready than others.

    “One of the reasons why it’s hard to do business in African countries is just infrastructure and logistics. Because the cost of actually getting your product to its final place inflates it significantly because there are so much infrastructural challenges that isn’t getting you there. Second example is there are a fair bit of issues with political climate in some African countries. That needs to be made more conducive for business. The good news is signs all indicate towards a positive story going forward next five to ten years.”

    DHL saID Africa is now the world’s second largest mobile technology market by connections after Asia, but the fastest growing mobile market in the world.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora