Africa has been a great innovator in the world of technology often making use of existing technology to solve problems that are unique to the continent. In 2018 we will see Africa take charge of its developments in technology and science amongst other innovations. Here are some of the trends we look forward to:
1. A solution for land registry
The issue of land is one of major talking points in many African countries because of the complicated history. It is very difficult for many countries to track land ownership and documentation of this ownership. Sometimes historical records can be tampered with making it very challenging to deal with the land issue. In 2018, we will see Blockchain used as a method of recording data. This will create a digital ledger of transactions, agreements, contracts – anything that needs to be independently recorded and verified. This ledger would be difficult to be altered as it will be stored in a cloud and distributed across many different computers around the world. Cybersecurity Company WISeKey is already using Blockchain technology for land registry in Rwanda so it’s only a matter of time before other countries follow suit.
2. Cyber security becomes a priority
This week French newspaper Le Monde revealed that China was using the computers in the new African Union building’s IT division to spy on its continental neighbours. The African Union, a coalition of 55 countries established in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was reportedly a victim of state-sponsored espionage. China was able to do this because it had financed and built the building as a gift to the AU complete with Chinese computer servers. The AU moved quickly to remedy the situation by purchasing its own computer servers and encrypting its data and communications but the data leak already happened from 2012 to 2017. We will see more of this trend coming from African countries because of the major security breaches that have already happened.
3. Mobile Money becomes streamlined
The success of mobile money in Africa is undeniable. A lot of African countries operate within a cash economy and we’ve already seen the trend of sending money over the phone as a safer alternative to cash. In 2018, we will see major changes from mobile financial services which already include credit, insurance, and cross-border remittances. The major change is creating systems that work across the continent. Services like Flutterwave made waves in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya allowing people to process payments across Africa using their local currencies. The service allows people to also send money from the USA to a mobile money wallet with small charges that it shares with the banks. CNN reported that this service had already processed more than $1.2bn in payments across 10 million transactions in 2017.
4. Drones that deliver
Although drone technology is still restricted in places like the USA and UK. There is still a major drive to commercialise drones as a delivery service. Countries like Rwanda are already welcoming this trend with logistics company Zipline running drones which can deliver small packages like blood, vaccines and anti-venom to remote areas. The world’s first drone port opened in Rwanda in October 2016 and Zipline announced it was going to expand to Tanzania. If this trend becomes mainstream, we will see a larger response time to emergency services in African countries, especially in rural areas.
5. Solar power can solve Africa’s electricity problem
Renewable energy is the name of the game changer for many African households. Solar power has already proven to be a great source of energy in countries like South Africa and this trend could impact many live across the continent. Last year Abengoa, a Spanish renewable energy company, announced the completion of its concentrated solar power (CSP) plant. The project supplies clean electricity to 95 000 South African households. It was completed on time giving a million people in the Northern Cape power and simultaneously giving Eskom and national government’s excuses the middle finger.