The pace of technological advancement in Africa is increasing. A shift from the Dark Continent to the shining modern landscape is becoming evident. It’s brimming with possibility.
Strong foreign investment, a driven (cheaper) workforce crying out for employment or making their own, relative political stability, a market primed for tech uptake, and increased globalisation are elements impelling Africa forward into the next generation. Recent stats point out that no part of the planet is urbanising faster than sub-Saharan Africa. The continent’s population of approximately 1.1 billion is expected to double by 2050. More than 80% of that growth will occur in African cities.
Several countries already enjoy the benefits of advancing technology. Chief among these is South Africa; the Western Cape in particular has seen stronger initiatives toward becoming ‘smart’, including the provincial government last year launching 50 free public Wi-Fi hotspots in partnership with Neotel in Cape Town (these have subsequently increased). The topic of high data prices has been well-documented. Service providers should remember that cheaper connectivity essentially means greater connectivity: with all inhabitants being able to harness the power of the Internet and The Internet of Things. A more connected city—a fast city—works for its people.
In this, our Fast Cities edition, we look at some of the continent’s top urban centres that are innovating to ensure Africa doesn’t lag behind the rest of the planet. Technological advancements will enable better approaches to solving the continent’s many challenges and, ultimately, progress.
On another note, our cover feature goes behind the scenes at YouTube and CEO Susan Wojcicki’s plans to out maneuver TV, satisfy home-grown creators, placate advertisers and entertain its billion-plus viewers—with the help of A-listers such as comedian Kevin Hart, talk-show star Ellen DeGeneres and singer Katy Perry, among others. It’s big and it’s here to stay. And it’s simply about adapting.
So, read on and become part of the conversations. Above all, live and learn.