What will it take for Africa to drive US$5-trillion digital economy?

Africa's digital
opportunity

Continent's progress
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Saturday, Nov 16th

Mobile, Africa's gateway to cloud

Mobile, Africa’s gateway to cloud

Colin Timmis, South Africa Head of Accounting for New Zealand-based software company Xero, says mobile devices are Africa's gateway to cloud adoption, owing to a massive mobile penetration.

Timmis told ITWeb Africa that cloud adoption on the continent is generally on the rise - albeit slowly, and is positioned to enable small businesses.

"Africa's mobile penetration rate is massive if we look at the curves online, there is exponential growth. So what type of technologies would you use on mobile? Ninety percent of the time it's going to be cloud-based technologies."

According to Timmis, Africa's slow adoption of cloud is due mainly to the need for awareness and education.

"People need to take time for a little bit of business management skills and business coaching, in order for them to teach people that they need to work on a business, not in a business. There's a bit of outside information that's required there."

Timmis also said the slow adoption is because of limited internet access, which he believes should be a basic constitutional right.

"If we look at all the problems the continent is facing, particularly with cloud adoption, solving them starts with providing connectivity and essentially access to information.

"In SA, there have been campaigns including a free Wi-Fi initiative in the city of Pretoria, that's what we need; we need that in under-developed areas ... internet must be a basic right all areas. In terms of cloud and general adoption, I think SA has better infrastructure, and probably a few might have better, including Botswana but SA has good IT infrastructure."

At the Xero Roadshow 2018 this week, the company released a report How technology is reshaping South Africa's small business economy which stated that SA's cloud adoption is also on the rise, however, most SMEs are still clinging to old technologies.

The research found that 44% of businesses in SA use new technologies like the cloud, and they report significant benefits (70%). Almost half (48%) said to have claimed back more than ten hours per week, a further 52% also assert that cloud technology has saved them money.

Gary Turner, Managing Director at Xero for EMEA warned SMEs that they will be swept away if they don't move with the current. "Without adopting the right technologies, businesses simply won't prosper. Cloud technology is one such digital competency that has huge potential to improve business output."

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