East Africa is known as the birthplace of fintech. With companies such as M-PESA, the region has revolutionised mobile banking and digital transfers for the entire continent and even the world. From this it is clear to see that the region has great initiative, creativity and passion for technological development. But what exactly is next for tech in East Africa and which trends should we be keeping an eye on?
Increased adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies
Despite reports that Eastern Africa is the least optimistic region in the world about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, both are expected to play a significant role in East Africa in 2023. AI and machine learning have huge potential to revolutionise the healthcare, agricultural, and disaster risk management sectors of the region. In healthcare, an improvement of medical diagnoses and treatment options is expected. In the agricultural sector, crop yields and food security are expected to improve. AI-powered irrigation systems can optimise water usage, leading to more efficient practices. The impact that AI and machine learning can have upon East Africa is not one to be ignored. In 2023 we need to see governments and policymakers addressing the distrust that the region feels to ensure that benefits of AI and machine learning can be fully realised and implemented.
Expansion of digital payments across the region
Although mobile money is widespread across East Africa following the boom of fintech, the majority of payments are still made using cash. As we enter the New Year, however, things are expected to change. With more and more East Africans gaining access to mobile phones and the internet, there has been a surge in the use of digital financial services. Now, mobile money transfers are able to take place with ease in countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Further, revenues within the domestic digital payment market are expected to grow by around 20% per year over the next few years which raises. How long before we see a cashless society across East Africa?
Connecting the region with 5G
The global demand that we are seeing for faster internet is not lost in East Africa. Seychelles, Mauritius and Kenya are some of the countries across Africa who are acquiring 5G spectrum licenses from their respective governments. 5G will increase the economy and connect the region in a way never seen before. Though issues with affordability and infrastructure remain, the growing demand for 5G is the very catalyst East Africa may need to accelerate their digital transformation - and 2023 is the year we will begin to see this change.
AgTech is changing East Africa’s economy
Food production is critical in East Africa; where over 80% of exports depend on agriculture. With global food demand expected to increase to 98% by 2050, opportunities within agriculture are only getting stronger. Agricultural technology is crucial to East Africa’s development, with Kenya already establishing itself as a leader in the AgTech space. Through the use of ag-marketplaces which connect farmers with sellers, and data-connected agriculture collecting geo-spatial data to create customised farmer profiles, AgTech is helping the agricultural community to be its most efficient, sustainable and powerful as we begin 2023.
Tackling cybersecurity threats
As technology and connectivity increase across the region, so does the risk of cyber-attacks. On average, 3 in every 10 East African business have fallen victim to cyber-attacks. Facilitating proper training and guidance, as well as the correct software, is essential for the region to continue to thrive within the tech space. The New Year brings new hope that malware will be nowhere to be found!