The great attraction, possibilities, trend spotting, relevance, opportunities global recognition and economic growth that GITEX brings with it to Dubai and the Middle East is one to be admired and desired. As GITEX Technology week (October 20-24) in Dubai draws near with top technology brands like Google, Qualcomm, Fujitsu, Accenture, Cisco, SAP, Lincoln, Palo Alto Networks, Siemens and a host of others ready to exhibit their products and services at this global Technology Market place -the biggest in the Middle East, Africa and the South Asia (MEASA),as my organisation prepares to be at GITEX, I also began to think of the tremendous opportunities this technology focused week provides for technology businesses in the emerging markets and the overall economy of Dubai. This thought has certainly arisen the need for Africa to have such Technology week within the African nations.
GITEX no doubt offers the Middle East global recognition and relevance, provides their large, medium and small-scale tech businesses a large technology market to showcase their innovations, attract foreign investments and boost the overall economy of the region. This is exactly the kind of technology market that Africa whose Technology Innovations are earnestly seeking global prominences needs. (Africa focus is a major feature at GITEX 2013 where African Technology innovations will be showcased).All the innovations in mobile and other areas coming out of Africa needs a market, a structured trade show can offer such platform for the continent.
With the increasing desire for innovation in Africa and at the policy level seeing the African Union identifying the need for Africa to leap-frog her development through Science Technology and Innovation, It is quite clear that this is just the time to focus more specifically to this wind of innovations growing around Africa and provide a common marketplace for innovators and Tech entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services. This calls for more genuine efforts at continental integration which will grow Africa’s overall economy and global relevance. It is perhaps the time for us to have a structured and organized technology market for the continent in other to deepen economic development in Africa, enhance relationship between the nations and benefit from being an emerging market.
For this to be realized, It certainly means that advancement in Science, Technology, Engineering and innovation; Creation of regional markets; and the emergence of entrepreneurial Leaders dedicated to the continents economic development are three opportunities that can make Africa grow and sustain itself and should be looked into with focused energy. This research done by Prof. Calestous Juma of Harvard University and his team as documented in his book: The New Harvest points this out and also the need for the existing Regional Economic Communities in Africa (RECs) to offer a common market place to promote regional economic integration and become a platform to promote technnovation in Africa.
It further states that such continental trade integration has been seen to impact on the overall GDP of Africa. For example a move by the southern and Eastern Africa trade integration is estimated to have a GDP of US$740 billion. This in addition will foster growth of the overall economic state of the countries that make up Africa, help build strong technology market for made- in Africa Tech products and services. This will make Africa more relevant and attract investment in Technology ecosystem. As a result of this Africa will then have a strong technology entrepreneurship system that will foster better interaction between government, the technology industry, academia and the society at large. It will certainly close up the digital divide and emancipate Africa from the digital colony. This is one major task for the Africa Union and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as getting the African leaders to support technology innovation in the continent is a major problem that has hindered the growth of development in Africa. The recommendations offered in that book if well implemented are practical steps that can make Africa sustain itself in the future.
As experts have said that the strengthening and further development of the existing Africa Economic Community with the Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks can help create this common Market for Technology and Innovation in Africa, it becomes important that we begin to look at how this has been achieved in other continents of the world.
I think the academic institutions in Africa have a big role to play in all of these. They should lead the technology innovation with research and development; collaborate with other successful institutions around the world and proffer solutions with innovative products and services.
I believe creating such common technology market for Africa in Africa can is achievable just like the African Cup of Nations brings out the Soccer talents in Africa, it is time to replicate that in Technology and Innovation.