Technology to Compensate for Africa’s Lack of Manufacturing

In many parts of the world advanced robotics and 3D printers are seen as a threat to manufacturing jobs. Yet in most of Africa manufacturing has never taken off, contributing just 5% of the continent’s jobs, compared with 15-18% in other developing regions, so robots will not kill many jobs. Instead, they offer the opportunity to create new ones by helping African firms overcome bottlenecks in production and by lowering barriers to making and selling things to the world. Without the rapid advances recently seen in digital design and manufacturing, the AHRLAC would never have taken flight.

Yet there are many aspects of technology where Africa is not moving fast enough. In 2016 it bought only 400 industrial robots or less than 0.2% of the world’s total. The lion’s share, 86%, went to Asia. One reason why Africa buys so few is that its labour costs are low and finance is difficult to come by. Besides, it does not export a lot of manufactured goods. That is a problem because it runs huge trade deficits with the rest of the world and needs to export more than just raw materials to provide jobs for the millions of youngsters leaving school every year. It also matters because African firms that export tend to grow faster and raise their productivity more quickly than those that do not, says Dirk Willem te Velde of the Overseas Development Institute in London. Africa’s weak infrastructure and inefficient ports have put many potential exporters off investing there. However, Andela, a high-tech firm, demonstrates how pure brainpower can be exported from a snazzy office block in Lagos to sophisticated customers halfway round the world without going near an overcrowded port or broken railway line.

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How the taxman slows the spread of technology in Africa

Technology is not a panacea, of course. Drones may be able to fly over trackless forests to deliver life-saving medical supplies to remote clinics. But they are no substitute for proper roads; people cannot commute to work hanging from an aerial drone, nor can heavy goods move to market that way. Smartphones may help activists monitor elections, but they cannot, by themselves, stop autocrats from rigging them.

Some technology may even pose a threat to Africa. Automation and industrial robots are taking away factory jobs in the rich world. Some economists fret that they will make it harder for Africa to grow the way Asian countries once did, by luring peasants out of fields and into factories. But others think that 3D printing and robotics may instead reduce the importance of scale in manufacturing, encouraging African firms to make things.

Overall, technology will probably make Africans wealthier, healthier and better educated by dramatically lowering the costs of development. Take power as an example. Getting electricity to the two-thirds of Africans without it in the old way—by building generating stations and an electricity grid—would cost some $63bn a year (compared with just $8bn being spent now) and still take until 2030. But the falling costs of solar cells and batteries, and innovative business models mean that millions of Africans are now able to bypass the grid and get electricity from rooftop installations for a few dollars a week.

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How Trade- Lance’s *252# USSD code is truly a lifestyle

At cost 3900Ugshs I get to buy airtime for my Vodafone Mifi using Trada-Lance’s *252# USSD lifestyle service.

I discovered this service when my Vodafone Unlimited Fair Usage Policy data got finished and had no cash to buy airtime nor a mobile money withdraw kiosk in sight. When I connect the data providers where I can load from through Direct Message conversation, I was introduced to *252#. I bought Vodafone airtime from them directly to my MiFi number and used the Vodafone App to buy the data I needed.

The USSD connects directly to your mobile money wallet either for MTN, Airtel or even Africell and deducts form them to pay for service you want to be credited.  And when there is an issue with the transaction, their customer care people are on standby to help and advise accordingly.

Trade-Lance Ltd, an ICT firm that provides solutions to telecommunication companies and financial institution with over 10 years of experience in IT service delivery and support, powers *252# that offers instant and unlimited access to all Financial services, Goods and Services, School fees payments, Airtime and Internet bundles, Event tickets utility payments and other.  Click here for more about their services

Konnect Africa Brings Wi-Fi to Rural African Communities

The Eutelsat-owned satellite broadband service provider konnect Africa unveiled SmartWIFI, a new hotspot service, as part of its ongoing commitment to bring digital opportunities to Africans.

This new service leverages Konnect Africa’s powerful, reliable satellite broadband network to enable sales outlets (retailers, hospitalities, gas stations, etc.) as well as healthcare centres or schools to become a connectivity point and digital gateway to opportunity for the surrounding population. Users will be able to access the internet from a distance of several hundred metres around the hotspot. Access can be extended to several kilometres through off-the-shelf Wi-Fi repeaters.

Users can access the SmartWIFI service through vouchers or mobile payment schemes. In addition, SmartWIFI comes with a unique local data storage system, enabling users in remote areas to access smart digital content free of data charges, including online courses and education programmes, sports and entertainment. Mobile and computer applications will also be available to help support daily business activities.

SmartWIFI will be available in all countries covered by Konnect Africa’s satellite broadband service. The new hotspot service will be deployed in partnership with local Internet service providers and telecom operators in strategic areas across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Patricia Kahill

Patricia Kahill is a multipotentialite Christian entrepreneur, Content Marketing Coach and founder of the Content Marketing agency, Kahill Insights that helps business owners create engaging and interactive content items for digital platforms with a focus on returning a desired outcome. Patricia was the producer of SlamDunk Basketball Talk a show on House of Talent online TV, a former fellow at Harvest Institute for leadership and now an assessor there, and an alumnus of the YELP class of 2017. A member of the BNI Integrity chapter and African Women Entrepreneur Cooperative. She is driven by passion and curiosity, been taking every opportunity that has been given to her with an ambition of stamping her footprint on the world.

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