News > Blog

3 New Ways Tech Innovation is Coming to Africa

Jamie Carracher, Sr. Manager, Web Content, Consumer Technology Association

Africa may be home to the next great wave of global economic growth and innovation.
With a GDP of around $2.83 trillion (including portions of the Middle East), Africa’s economic might is small compared to developed nations like the United States. However, favorable commodity prices, improved life expectancy, stabilizing governments and a strong trading partner in China are setting the region up for future success.
Technology companies have taken notice and are moving into the region. We wrote recently about’s efforts to bring Internet access to developing regions like Africa (the organization recently shared plans for experimenting with solar-power drones). Here are three more ways the science and technology industries are exploring the continent.
In March, Philips, a CEA member, announced plans to open a research and innovation hub in Nairobi, Kenya. The Philips Innovation Hub will collaborate with local universities and other local organizations to tackle challenges like providing affordable healthcare.
Philips has already begun work developing and testing tools to combat pneumonia and using solar power and LED technology to provide lighting.
“We want to tap into the city’s vibrant R&D eco-system and contribute to the process of co-creating new solutions, new business models and meaningful partnerships to provide innovations that make an impact,” said JJ van Dongen, Senior Vice President & CEO Philips Africa.
Rwanda is now home to SocialEDU, a pilot initiative from Facebook, which will provide students there with free access to a social learning experience. The social networking company is working with edX to integrate free education data with a mobile app that connects to Facebook.
Nokia, a CEA member, will provide affordable smarthphones, while Ericsson, also a CEA member, will provide support in reducing demand for bandwidth.
Students who participate in SocialEDU will free receive data plans and the ability to consume educational content from universities like Harvard, MIT and ETH Zurich.

In South Africa, DuPont has opened a regional technology center, which will focus on helping Africa’s farmers tackle pests, disease and climate volatility. DuPont has already opened similar centers in Brazil, India and China.
The company plans to invest $5.8 million in the center by 2017. Their research will focus on the science of crop production and will include Africa’s first private insectary.
"We believe this technology center will be a catalyst for innovation and collaboration to help feed a growing population in Africa and around the world,” DuPont Chair and Chief Executive Officer Ellen Kullman was quoted as saying.
Want to learn more about how the world uses technology? Check out CEA’s international research