At a recent Technology Salon, we were discussing the countries that have the best environment for ICT innovation that will accelerate economic and social development. Quickly we listed the following four countries:
- Kenya has the potent mix of multiple fiber optic cables connecting to aggressive ISPs and mobile operators operating in a relatively open and transparent regulatory environment with strong government support for telecommunications competition.
- Ghana has a similar enabling environment, if a somewhat smaller population and therefore market size.
- Nigeria is the largest market but doesn’t quite have the same level of openness and transparency, though it is working hard to compete with Ghana and Kenya.
- Tanzania is aspiring to join this elite group with many of the right steps and investments that should pay off soon.
After these four, there was a collective pause, as the next country to be a hotbed of ICT innovation is not so clear. A few countries were mentioned and then quickly discarded, among them Angola. This surprised me, as I thought it a contender. Yet others pointed out that besides the oil economy, not much else is happening there. Then two countries emerged specifically because they didn’t have an ICT ecosystem:
- South Sudan is the newest country in Africa and by all accounts, it’s a green field – there isn’t any ICT there so it’s a fully open market.
- Liberia is another green field, with even better political and national security.
Let’s not stop there. If you were to make a list of the top 5 countries for ICT4D in Africa, which would be on your list? Which would not? And why?