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Tech can address Africa’s inequality

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Sunday, Nov 19th

Sub-Saharan Africa: no short cut to digital knowledge economy

Sub-Saharan Africa: no short cut to digital knowledge economy

Despite increasing digital connectivity and high hopes for democratised information, Sub-Saharan Africa is showing little progress in becoming a digital knowledge economy, and there is a significantly low level of digital content creation from the region.

This is according to a research published by the academic journal of information technologies & international development titled Engagement in the knowledge economy, regional patterns of content creation with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa.

The research investigates the patterns of knowledge creation in the region, and examines three metrics including: spatial distributions of academic articles, collaborative software development, and Internet domain registrations.

According to findings, low-income countries, many of them located in Sub-Saharan Africa, have, for the most part, not yet transformed into digital knowledge economies.

"There is no single factor standing in the way of Africa becoming a knowledge economy. It is a combination of socio-economic factors such as education, employment, income, and infrastructure," says Steven Ambrose, CEO of Strategy Worx

"The above create the environment to facilitate a knowledge economy, once a sufficient percentage of the population have a sufficiently high level of the above, the knowledge economy will develop. The only way Africa can become a digital knowledge economy is through massive investment in basic services and infrastructure, as well as economic growth," says Ambrose.

"There is no short cut. The process can be accelerated by utilising resources from outside of Africa and the benefits are important to the development of Africa, but it will take decades to close the gap with the developed world," he adds.

Digital content creation

The report shows North America and Europe together account for over half of Sub-Saharan Africa content creation in all three dependent variables: 66.4% of academic articles, 78.5% of collaborative coding, and 76.8% of domain registrations.

Academic articles are spread slightly more evenly across the continents of Asia, Middle East/North Africa (MENA), and Oceania, while digital content creation is concentrated in developed countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa contributes the smallest share of content to all three categories, providing only 1.1% of academic articles, 0.5% of collaborative coding and 0.7% of domain registrations.

Ambrose adds, "Sub-Saharan Africa's pack of digital content creation both in the academic and the commercial space reflects the low level of digital maturity and digital pervasiveness. The risk is a greater digital divide with the rest of the world."

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