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.


  • 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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs