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Africa’s opportunity to create a dynamic tech ecosystem

Conrad Steyn and Kavitha Prag support clients during business transformation, with broad experience in enterprise resource planning in Africa. With this experience, they highlight the continent’s opportunity to be at the forefront of technology innovation. The authors unpack the sixth trend in the Tech Trends 2024, ‘Core workout: From technical debt to technical wellness’, in the context of Africa.

The trend reflects on the continent’s propensity to leapfrog traditional legacy technologies – as we have seen happen across various industries, including the financial and agriculture sectors. This section of the report looks at the ‘now’, ‘new’ and ‘next’ considerations. By applying these digital transformation steps to an Africa perspective, the continent can overcome an ageing technology ecosystem if action is taken now.

At present, Africa stands out for its unique technological trajectory, characterised by a tendency to leapfrog older technologies. Unlike other continents burdened by extensive investments in traditional legacy systems, many countries in Africa have embraced a more agile approach. This has led to an unconventional technology landscape where certain regions have not heavily invested in outdated technologies, creating an environment conducive to innovation and rapid adoption of the latest solutions. There does however remain countries that do not have significant legacy system investments and hence Africa is not a homogenous environment.

If Africa is to successfully achieve this goal the continent must work as one continent to proactively review its technology ecosystems, where proactive assessments are vital for optimising the limited existing infrastructure and identifying strategic points for development. African countries, unencumbered by extensive technical debt, can conduct thorough evaluations that consider the latest technologies. This phase involves not just identifying issues but strategically planning for the incorporation of cutting-edge solutions, setting the stage for a resilient and adaptable technology core.

Looking ahead, the concept of the ‘Core Healing Itself’ in Africa becomes synonymous with the continent's potential for technological leapfrogging. African nations, unburdened by extensive investments in legacy systems, have the unique opportunity to pioneer advancements. By starting new businesses with the latest technologies, Africa can bypass the constraints faced by other continents tethered to outdated infrastructures. The vision is one of creating a technology core that not only addresses existing challenges but is inherently agile, capable of continuous improvement, and positioned to leapfrog over technological constraints faced by other regions. South Africa, for example, who is dominated by large players will need to aggressively act to keep up with more nimble countries.

Transitioning through aging innovations, core health check-ups, and core self-healing underscores the continent's unique advantage of not being weighed down by extensive investments in traditional legacy technologies. This positions Africa at the forefront of technological innovation, presenting an opportunity to leapfrog over outdated systems and set the stage for a dynamic, forward-looking tech ecosystem.

Businesses that want to lead in the future need to forgo piecemeal approaches to technical debt in favor of a new holistic frame of technical wellness. Read our Global insights.

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