Africa is well known to be an underdeveloped country. With some of the highest infant mortality rates and some of the poorest countries, Africa has a long way to reach a place with the United States, Europe, and Asia. This, of course, is not representative of the entire country. Many cities have grown and are just as developed as other parts of the world such as Cape Town, South Africa or Accra, Ghana. These cities have seen exceptional growth due to technological advancement. In fact, technology has been a great factor in growth in exports in Africa.
One way in which technology has created growth is through cell phones. Costs of communication have decreased and are boosting incomes. A study done by GSMA found that every 10% increase in phone penetration in poor countries, that areas productivity improves by almost 4%. The Economist explains it simply as farmers use cellphones to check market prices before selling. Market traders can accept payments in mobile money. These types of uses have helped growth in Africa.
A study from MIT found that having access to mobile money services lifted 2% of Kenyans out of poverty in 6 years. A large number of Africans, about 75%, were without phone and internet access. Without communication, it would be hard to provide or obtain information for third-party websites. This creates what is called the Lemons Problem. This is when one person who buys lemons is at a disadvantage when they do not have the same information as the other party. This creates asymmetric information which causes many problems for economies.
The Introduction of the Internet
On the same vein as phones, the implementation of the internet has had profound effects in Africa. Since 2016, internet rates are becoming cheaper for consumers to use. This type of communication can help solve issues of the Lemon Problem by allowing Africa to third-party websites to help transactions. Firms such as Google are installing cables in cities such as Accra to lower the cost of data. Other ideas are to beam satellite internet down to stations then distribute them across household as cheap wifi. These can drastically reduce costs and allow for more internet usage in Africa. With this, cities that did not have access will have the opportunity to connect to a more global market. This kind of technological progress can increase exports in the country.
Africa’s Access to the Global Market
The ability to access the global market can increase exports in Africa significantly. Consider a small company in Kenya. This company sells minerals such as gold and platinum. Before the internet, they were only able to sell locally. With the internet, they can go through the International Trade Administration and send minerals. Once the ITA approves them, the buyer in, let’s say Dubai, can purchase these minerals. These have just increased the business for the company. This type of revenue can spur growth in Kenya as it trickles down to suppliers, job rates, and government expenditure in the form of taxes.
Internet and other online technologies have given the opportunity for exports in financial investments. This allows for markets to develop such as stock exchanges and corporate bond markets that create room for large investments in local companies. This also grants foreign investments into African companies or vice versa. This is a direct impact on the community as it allows for companies to grow into different sectors. The ability to create a dynamic financial market can have a profound impact on growth in Africa.
With these types of technological advancements, Africa can see growth and increased exports. This, in turn, can create even more growth and the ability to build complex economies and financial systems. Like mentioned in the beginning, not all of Africa is behind. Because a large majority of the country is impoverished and technologically deficient, there is a wide range to grow. Technology in the form of cellphones and internet has already had a large effect. The World Bank states that one of the greatest forms of growth for Africa will be to adopt new technology. As the country orients itself with the new technology, so will its economy.