Africa Is Starting to Look Like the Tech Industry's Next China
Technology companies have found a lot to love about Africa. The continent is home to fast-growing economies with underdeveloped infrastructure begging for a high-tech makeover.
Some of the biggest global tech companies will soon invest as much there as in China, everybody's other favorite growth story.
Jim Hagemann Snabe, SAP's co-chief executive officer, said yesterday that his company's spending in Africa could soon catch up with China. In 2011, the German company, the largest maker of business-management software, announced plans to invest more than $2 billion in China by 2015. Now, there's a "boom in business" in Africa that could make the continent SAP's "main driver" of growth, as my colleague Chris Spillane reported from Johannesburg.
International Business Machines is also betting big on Africa. IBM expects revenue from Africa to surpass $1 billion by 2015, Bloomberg's Sarah Frier reported in February. Microsoft is also expanding its presence in Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa's economy is expected to grow 5.6 percent this year and 6.1 percent in 2014, while the global economy is expected to grow just 4 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. Tech companies are eager to help fill in the gaps of Africa's lack of sophisticated computing and telecommunications infrastructure.
South Africa and Egypt already have pretty good Internet connectivity, but other countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco lag way behind, presenting big opportunities.
Apple, IBM and other tech giants have been pouring billions of dollars into China recently, helping to drive rapid economic expansion and lift millions of people out of poverty. Now, it could be Africa's turn.