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  • Writer's pictureEnyenaweh Research

Technology adoption in Africa

Reflecting on several articles on technology adoption, sufficient evidence exists on the critical role of technology on regional and national futures across the world. This impact is perhaps most felt in developing countries, where technology adoption is helping to increase efficiencies, open up new markets, support and promote entrepreneurship and improve youth employment.

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What is Technology Adoption?

Technology is the means by which human societies interact directly with and adapt to the environment (Moss 2001) and can also be said to be the application of science to real-world problems, especially in Africa. Technology adoption can be said to be a process by which technology is selected for use by an individual, organization or country in order to participate in a rapidly changing world where it has become central to life. The literature on technology adoption is currently moving in three directions. These include:

1) Innovative econometric and modeling methodologies to understand adoption decisions,

2) Examinations of the process of learning and social networks in adoption decisions and

3) micro-level studies based on local data collection intended to shed light on adoption decisions in particular contexts for policy purposes.

New opportunities have arisen that make it possible for low-income economies to leapfrog other countries by adopting technologies that are suitable to their specific circumstances. Those countries that embrace and invest in technology will be able to sustain growth and be competitive regionally and internationally moving forward. An example is Africa who has been able to take advantage of it.

What has it meant for Africa?

In the last decade, Africa saw rapid growth in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, resulting in major transformation of African business operations and processes. The ICT sector has helped to reduce the cost of communication, increase market information, formalize capital, increase productivity, and facilitate capital accumulation in Africa. Therefore, it is now easier to do business in the region. The most striking advances in ICT have been in the use of mobile phone technology. Africa is now touted as the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market, as the number of mobile phone subscriptions increased from 16 million in 2000 to half a billion by 2010. One of the areas where technology has had a significant impact on the lives of the poor is in mobile banking. Innovations have made it possible for millions of poor Africans to have access to financial services through their mobile phones.

Also in Africa, agriculture continues to offer the leading source of employment and to contribute large fractions of national income. In many of its countries, however, agricultural productivity is extremely low. Clearly, increasing agricultural productivity is critical to economic growth and development. One way to increase agricultural productivity is through the introduction of improved agricultural technologies and management systems. National research programs exist in most countries, and working with a network of international centers operating under the auspices of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), these research institutions have worked to develop new agricultural technologies and management practices. All these can be said to be positive impacts of technology adoption.

Pointing out the negative and positive effects in Africa, it can be said that with the adoption of technology will negatively influence the distribution of wealth and income in the countries. For instance: the adoption of technology will reduce the need for human labor therefore increasing poverty in very low income countries such as Nigeria. Albeit, technology adoption have the potential to drive entrepreneurship and increased youth employment across the continent. The potential of technology to increase youth employment in African countries was also validated by findings in one of our recent studies conducted in collaboration with ONE and Centre for Global Development (CGD), Washington D.C. Learn more about the study in this link

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