The world has never been so closely linked – or as digital – as it is today.
But what does this digital world look like in the African context? Irrevocably, Africa is ripe for transformation but if Africa is to compete in the digital age without playing catch-up, we need to shift our traditional thinking.
Competing against each other is counter-productive. The collaboration between government, business (local and international), labor and academia has the ability to change mindsets, implement policy and create an environment for knowledge sharing and execution.
Hence, with such an explanation that too has answered some of your questions about the drive behind the Digital Africa Initiative which we are going to discuss here at length after having interviewed Mr Mutumwa Mawere, the brains behind such an initiative.
Before going further into our discussion that we had with the business mogul Mr Mutumwa Mawere about this Digital Africa Initiative, first of all, for the sake of those who may want to know about him a little bit more.
Mutumwa Mawere is a business actor whose business interests were extra-judicially taken over in 2004 by the government of Zimbabwe using a law that hitherto did not exist. The enterprises that were affected by a draconian decree promulgated by the then President Mugabe numbered about 26 companies involved in mining, manufacturing and agro industries, telecommunications, financial services (banking and insurance), publishing, investment holdings, transport and logistics, and international trading, among others.
Alright, now that we both know who Mutumwa Mawere really is, will get to answer some of your questions surrounding this extraordinary Digital Africa Initiative that we believe you and I should be a part of, since everything now is going digital.
Therefore, with these shifts it is possible and highly likely that digitization will happen quite rapidly in Africa and bring about developmental changes on the continent.
One need only look at the impact of cellphone technology and smart phones in Africa to see how innovation can leapfrog older technologies at an almost breathtaking speed. It’s not wrong if you don’t want to learn new things. However, if your thoughts and mindset cannot catch up with time, you will be eliminated. Let me jog your memories – Nokia
During the press conference to announce NOKIA being acquired by Microsoft, Nokia CEO ended his speech saying this “we didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow, we lost”. Upon saying that, all his management team, himself included, teared sadly. Nokia has been a respectable company. They didn’t do anything wrong in their business, however, the world changed too fast. Their opponents were too powerful. They missed out on learning, they missed out on changing, and thus they lost the opportunity at hand to make it big. Not only did they miss the opportunity to earn big money, they lost their chance of survival. The message of this story is, if you don’t change, you shall be removed from the competition.
When was the Digital African Initiative established? Who are the founders?
The Digital Africa Initiative was founded in March 2018, and the promoter of the initiative is Mr. Tapiwa Matthew Mutisi, a digital and business blogger based in Zimbabwe.
Could you tell the readers what this initiative is all about – i.e who are your target audience and what do you aim to achieve?
It is about building a platform to connect, equip and inspire digital transformation in Africa. This platform will convert connections into a community in which knowledge, insights, experiences and idea can be shared about how best to create an inclusive digital ecosystem. The target is the community of digital citizens in Africa who are predominantly fragmented although living in the same geographical space. We want to build a digitally border-less Africa. This involves building an inventory of actors in the supply value chain focusing not just on the supply side but also the demand side including security issues and regulatory matters.
What does Africa need to achieve the promise of digital transformation?
Africa is already digitally included in the global system. The digital footprint is already self-evident and the density of mobile phone solutions is now well-known as is the penetration. The digital solutions are now part of commerce and general way of life. The continent is not homogeneous as there are countries that are fairly advanced on the value stream and others that are crawling. The first agenda item is to identify all the human actors in the chain. The second item is to build a network or galaxy of these actors. Then we will be able to invest in what kind of laws are required at the national and supranational levels. The threats of digital transformation and the need to create safety solutions cannot be overstated.
What do you think is holding back digital transformation in Africa?
The key challenges are the human capital and the physical capital required to build a dynamic and user-friendly digital ecosystem. In a narrow business and commercial context, digital transformation can be thought of as “going paperless” in both the state and non-state environments. More broadly, digital transformation in Africa has the power to enable organisational activities, processes, competencies and models to be transformed. Despite this, there are numerous challenges for digital transformation in Africa. In particular, business culture, practices, legacy-centric mindsets and technology have the potential to stand in the way.
How much have you invested in this digital africa initiative?
I have invested about R3 million to build a media platform including an internet radio station to accelerate the awareness and raising the flag of the digital profession in the continent. The platform is already in use promoting digital literacy.
Being well-known for having a background in the mining sector. Are you branching out into IT?
I have been in IT for a long time. I am the Chairman of a company called MiSEC Advisory Services (PTY) Limited, a diversified IT security company, and the Chairman of the 1873 FM Radio www.the1873fm.com.
Anything else you want to share with us….
We believe that we need to ignite and inspire people to think and act ICT.
In a nutshell, the key for Africa is now to adopt an innovative mindset and focus on skills development to ensure that digital transformation opportunities can be filled – and led – by Africans. It will also mean that now, more than ever before, Africa must become a creator, and not just a consumer, of technology. And the Digital Africa Initiative is already leading the way, setting the example for inclusive transformation that benefits all. The platform will convert connections into a community in which knowledge, insights, experiences and idea can be shared about how best to create an inclusive digital ecosystem. We can build an #AfricanTechnologicalWakanda. Are you interested in being part of the Digital Africa initiative? If so, the new initiative is free to join by simply contacting the 1873 FM radio, www.1873fm.com, Digital Africa Initiative Facebook page or Tapiwa Mutisi