What Would a True Digital Renaissance in Africa Look Like?

How do we build a renaissance in Africa? This is a question that thinkers like Patrick Awuah, the Ghanaian former IBM millionaire-turned-educationist, and Fred Swaniker, the founder and CEO of the African Leadership Academy, are trying to answer. It is one that I think about often too, especially in the context of sparking economic opportunities, specifically for our burgeoning youth population. I wonder: Does the answer already lie in our hands, thanks to mobile phones and Internet connectivity?

Mobile technology in Africa has leapfrogged development faster and in even more innovative ways than I have witnessed in high-income nations. In most parts of Africa, technologies like M-Pesa or Mobile Money banking systems and payment are almost the norm; the need for tranditional banking and pole-to-pole electrical wire connectivity belongs in the past. Even in Bangalore—India’s “Silicon Valley”—where I’m currently based, mobile technology and innovations have not taken off in the way that their IT services have. Africa still leads the way in the mobile technology revolution, if you will.