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

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid