Much has been said of the potential that the African continent holds, with one of the world’s youngest populations existing here, as well as an embracing of mobile technologies being contributing factors to that optimism. The internet economy is also viewed as a potentially exciting avenue for the African continent.

This according to the recent e-Conomy Africa 2020 report (PDF) compiled by Google and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which estimates that the continent’s internet economy would have grown to $180 billion by 2025.

This would account for 5.2 percent of Africa’s total GDP if it comes to fruition, with the pair also noting that by 2050, the internet economy could be as much as $710 billion.

The report explains that this recent rise and consequent prediction results from increased access to faster and better quality internet connectivity, a rapidly expanding urban population, a growing tech talent pool and a vibrant startup ecosystem.

Regarding the latter, Africa is host to an estimated 700 000 developers currently, with venture capital funding for startups having increased year-on-year for the past five years. In 2019, a record $2.02 billion in equity funding was raised, according to Partech Ventures Africa, adding credence to the claims.

“The digital economy can and should change the course of Africa’s history. This is an opportune moment to tap into the power of the continent’s tech startups for much-needed solutions to increase access to education, healthcare, and finance, and ensure a more resilient recovery, making Africa a world leader in digital innovation and beyond,” enthuses Stephanie von Friedeburg, interim MD, EVP and COO of IFC.

She adds that digital startups in Africa are driving innovation in fast-growing sectors, including fintech, healthtech, media and entertainment, ecommerce, emobility, and elogistics, contributing to what the IFC terms as Africa’s growing internet gross domestic product (iGDP).

As such, it is those digital startups that need to be supported and nurtured in the coming years, if the continent is indeed to reach the prediction, or potentially surpass it.

“Google and IFC have created this report to highlight the role the digital startup sector is playing and other factors driving the continent’s growth, in order to showcase and support the opportunities the continent presents,” adds Google Africa director, Nitin Gajria.

To make this prediction a reality, Gajira says that investments in infrastructure, consumption of digital services, public and private investment, and new government policies and regulations will play an important role in supporting Africa’s digital growth.

The report also notes that investment in digital skills will need to increase in order to help drive technology usage and continue to grow the continent’s talent pool, which is an aspect that has been highlighted several times locally as it pertains to 4IR.

Hopefully the above happens, as we no longer wish to be referred to as the dark continent.

Those interested n reading the report in full, can do so here.

[Image – Photo by Leon Seibert on Unsplash]
When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.