Technology Salon

Washington DC

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a discussion at the intersection of technology and development

The Top 5 Countries for ICT4D in Africa are Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and…?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Ghana has a similar enabling environment, if a somewhat smaller population and therefore market size.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Liberia is another green field, with even better political and national security.

Where else?

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?

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