In their pursuit of digital transformation, Africa’s private sector is developing at a fast pace. The public sector must keep up to meet the demands for streamlined, efficient, and user-friendly services. By prioritizing citizen experience, government agencies can optimize the use of public funds and invest in digital solutions, industry leaders told Business Monthly during the GITEX Africa conference, which was held in Marrakech, Morocco from May 31 to June 2nd.
AI in business
With robust infrastructure and innovative projects in the continent, opportunities for digital transformation are significant, Senior Vice-President for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (CEEMETA) at Dell Technologies, Mohammed Amin, told Business Monthly.
“There is a lot being done around strengthening and diversifying the economy through advanced technology infrastructure, skills development, and innovation,” Amin said, counting that AI can be a major contributor in sectors like healthcare and manufacturing.
Businesses in Africa are encountering both challenges and opportunities in the digital landscape. With the rapid acceleration of the digital age, companies must swiftly adapt to changing consumer expectations and market environments. However, failing to embrace this change can put businesses at risk of losing competitiveness and relevance. Amin emphasized that failure rates can be as high as 70%. The reason is that the transformation requires collaboration across the entire organization and may call for fundamental changes to business models and processes.
The issue of African youth migrating to developed countries poses a significant challenge for Africa, according to Amin. It results in a significant skills gap in the region. To tackle this challenge, Dell has implemented managed services and residencies, as explained by Amin.
It’s clear that embracing new technologies presents a chance for groundbreaking innovation and gaining a competitive advantage in business. Making a seamless transition to these technologies is crucial for businesses to prosper and expand. This is why it’s important to have regulations that are flexible enough to enable businesses to scale up while minimizing costs and maximizing productivity. With many businesses currently struggling to stay profitable, this need has become more vital than ever.
Amin also asserted that by adopting AI, firms will be able to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions by analysing the data its generates. “By adopting secure and agile technologies for computing, storage, networking, and data management, businesses can effectively harness and leverage their data,” he added.
While challenges exist, the digital landscape in Africa also presents numerous opportunities for businesses to drive innovation, growth, and success, said Amin.
The General Manager of Lenovo for Levant, Egypt, North Africa, Africa, and the Middle East, Rony Mezeraani, shares the belief that the digital transition in Africa will continue to progress despite the current global challenges that are impacting the region’s economies.
“Egypt has managed to attract big foreign investments over the past few years; especially in the tech sector, and we are among them with over 30% in market share and a future expansion plan in the local market,” Mezeraani told Business Monthly.
African and Egyptian private sector leaders should offer their management expertise and cutting-edge solutions to support government efforts in accelerating digital transformation. Mezeraani suggested that businesses should provide such support to boost public services in the country. “We have previously worked on digitizing healthcare and education sectors in Egypt, and we are committed to furthering these efforts,” Mezeraani added.
The Chief Strategy Officer and Ambassador of Huawei ICT, Chakib Achour, has expressed Huawei’s vision for Africa as “unleashing digital” through three key pillars, the first is enhancing digital infrastructure, such as connectivity, storage, data security, and data center for cloud computing, big data, and AI.
“We cannot do that without touching upon clean energy. We also provide solutions that use solar power for the continent’s green transition,” he said.
According to Achour, Huawei’s second pillar for Africa’s digitization involves supporting the ecosystems of startups through a new model. He emphasized the importance of this in developing digital transformation throughout the continent.
Achour identifies the third pillar as the expansion of new values, namely attaining digital governance. He said Huawei has created solutions for several African and Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. This particular aspect involves enhancing the quality of life for citizens and promoting the digital economy across various industries such as transportation, oil and gas, logistics, mining, and manufacturing. These efforts are expected to have a positive impact on the traditional economy as well.
He further elaborated on the partnerships established with every country they operate in, including direct collaboration with the Egyptian government. They have also launched an ambitious project called “ICTP” and the Spark program, aimed at promoting the growth of start-ups in the region. This program has already been launched successfully in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.
Building a strong digital infrastructure, nurturing talent, and ensuring connectivity for all individuals across Africa can place the continent on the global digital map. He also believes that the Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) model is the ideal way for the private sector to aid African countries in their digital transition process, as governments cannot handle everything alone.