China's digitalised environment could offer inspiration for Africa's future

20 March 2019 Consultancy.africa

As China leverages its large and digitally connected population to become a hub for digital services across the globe, the country could potentially become a source of inspiration for the African continent in terms of innovative use of technology, according to global professional services firm Deloitte.

New analysis from the Big Four accounting and advisory firm on the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) scenario across the globe has revealed that China is rapidly emerging as a centre for data connectivity. By the end of this year, the country will expectedly have 1.2 billion 4G subscribers.

In addition to being an interesting phenomena for digital businesses across the globe, the scenario also has particularly strong implications for Africa, according to Deloitte. By 2021, Africa is expected to have as many as 1 billion internet connections, placing it amongst the largest data markets in the world.

China's digitalised environment could offer inspiration for Africa's future

“China is no longer that place you get cheap tech products from; it’s a country that’s increasingly innovating in a number of critical areas that leaders here in Africa, both in the private and public sector, can look to for inspiration as they seek to solve local problems and unlock new opportunities for their citizens,” Mark joseph, Leader for TMT at Deloitte South Africa.

Some of the areas that Joseph points out where China has been innovatively leveraging its new data connectivity include the rapidly expanding mobile payments sector, online shopping and transportation. Fintech has already become a catchy concept across Africa, and the new technology is expected to fuel further growth.

As China has moved towards innovation, a number of international players have become interested in investing in the newly connected digital market. Africa is soon become similarly connected, and a number of firms are looking to inculcate a sense of innovation amongst the business environment on the continent.

“This is tremendously encouraging for us here in Africa. It shows we can start moving now to capitalise on these exciting trends, adapting and optimising our models as internet connectivity becomes faster and more widespread, enabling new technologies and unlocking significant new opportunities,” said Joseph.

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Market trends that are emerging in a post-digital African economy

15 April 2019 Consultancy.africa

The discourse is now moving to a post-digital world, where the differentiating factor among a sea of digitalised firms will become the capacity to deliver personalised services based on individual customer needs – among other things – according to a new report from global management consultancy Accenture.

Businesses in Africa have been navigating a period of rapid digitalisation recently. The continent is set to have as many as 1 billion internet connections over the next two years, which means that the population is set to be wired in. The business environment has been looking to capitalise on this digital market.

While the bigger firms have been quick to adopt digital technology within their operations, smaller businesses were initially weary due to the high costs involved in digital transformation. Nevertheless, a number of these firms are realising the value of digital integration, and Accenture is looking towards the next step.

As per a new report from the firm, most businesses are on their way to digitalisation, which is restoring a certain uniformity to the market. In this context, digitalisation is no longer the differentiating factor. Businesses must now focus on developing mechanisms for customer relationships, among other enhancements.

Market trends that are emerging in a post-digital African economy

The technology that will take centre stage in the new scenario includes distributed ledger technology, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing (DARQ). Such technologies allow firms to “reimagine entire industries”, as per the firm’s analysis, and nearly 90% of firms are already experimenting with such technology.

Another key trend that is emerging in the post-digital world is the need for cyber security. According to Accenture, cyber security is no longer an individual effort from companies, but must be a collaborative effort across all stakeholders in any given sector that has digitally integrated.

“Ecosystem-driven business connections increase companies’ exposure to risks. Leaders recognise that just as they collaborate with entire ecosystems to deliver best- in-class products, services, and experiences, security must join that e­ffort as well,” says the firm.

“Technology is creating a world of intensely customised and on demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organisations to find and capture those opportunities as they come,” adds the firm, urging that meeting customer needs is now more about speed than about service.