What the Tech Landscape Will Look Like in 2019 An in-depth analysis of what digitisation will bring to the African continent in the near future

by Andy MacDonald, Vice President, Global Service Provider Business, Cisco, Middle East & Africa

Over the past 50 years, Internet technology has rapidly and profoundly changed the way people work, live, play and learn.

The power of the Internet is allowing African citizens to do more things, from more places, faster and better. Computers, mobile devices, homes, cars, clothes, businesses and even cities are all being connected to the global network.

Today’s pace of technology change is akin to a vortex, relentlessly sweeping everything into its spiral path, demanding digitization. The force of this change is too strong to ignore, and anything that fails to adapt, such as outdated business models, will break apart and fall away. Digital disruption is a trend happening in all industries and at a pace that is both appealing and challenging for business leaders.

Today, 15 billion things are connected, moving to 50 billion by 2020 and 500 billion in another decade. Nearly three years ago, we calculated this represented a $19.0 trillion value opportunity from 2013 to 2022. Currently, the African IT market is at a turning point. The networked connection of people, process, data and things – the Internet of Things (IoT) – has the potential to further accelerate Africa’s pace of change.

We now see the opportunity expanding even faster than expected, with every country, city and business becoming digital. The consumer sector is driving significant IoE value — it’s not just about B2B any more. According to the Economist, 95% of Fortune 1000 companies expect to undertake an IoT project by 2017. Digitization can transform asset utilization, employee productivity, supply chain efficiency, and improve customer experiences and more.

Two notable trends are emerging as digitization begins to sweep through every industry:
· People-Centricity: Two thirds of the Value at Stake is about making people more productive (P2P, P2M connections) — up from 56% in early 2013. Digitization is about liberating the potential of knowledge workers, not replacing people with technology
· Cyber Security: which represents a $1.8 trillion opportunity, with 52% derived from protecting the loss of intellectual property.

Mobility on the Rise in Africa:

One particular driver of digitisation is the immense growth of mobile in Africa. According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast, in just four years you can expect to see the number of mobile devices skyrocket, non-PC devices reign supreme, and online video to do a complete takeover of television. Heads up—maybe it’s time to start carving out some space for those extra devices in your 2019 home-of-the-future. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) will post the world’s-fastest mobile data traffic growth rate from 2013-2018, according to a the Cisco® Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2013 to 2018 which reports that mobile data traffic in the region will increase 14-fold by 2018.

Across MEA, mobile data traffic growth is being driven by the world’s fastest uptake of Internet Protocol version 6 (Ipv6) -capable smartphones and tablets, with a CAGR of 35 percent, rising from 133 million in 2013 to almost 598 million in 2018. In the region, smart wearable devices like watches, glasses, and fitness trackers are also slated to post strong growth from 700,000 in 2013 to 8 million in 2018.

As our personal and business lives become increasingly mobile, MEA is really coming to the fore as early, widespread adopters of the latest smartphone and wearable technology. Driven by one of the most tech-receptive and youthful populations on the planet, this is a region that is now extremely well-placed to lead technological innovation in all aspects of daily life and business, leveraging the emerging power of the ‘Internet of Things’ and faster mobile data networks.

Mobile data traffic growth around the world is driven by four trends: mobile users growing from 4.1 billion in 2013 to 4.9 billion in 2018, mobile Internet connections growing from 7 billion in 2013 to 10 billion in 2018, mobile video growing from 59 percent of mobile data traffic in 2013 to 69 percent in 2018, and mobile speeds nearly doubling from 1.4 Mbps in 2013 to 2.5 Mbps in 2018.

Global machine-to-machine connections, which use wired and Wi-Fi systems to communicate with devices, will grow from 5 percent of mobile-connected devices and 1 percent of mobile data traffic in 2013, to 20 percent of mobile-connected devices and 6 percent of mobile data traffic in 2018. By the end of 2014, the number of global mobile-connected devices will be more than the number of people in the world, and by 2018 there will be more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices and nearly 1.4 mobile devices per capita, according to the report.

On all of these mobile-connected devices, people are also increasingly watching mobile video, with global traffic growing 14-fold from 2013 to 2018, and will represent 69 percent of total mobile traffic in 2018. Declining in mobile traffic from 2013 to 2018 will be web and data applications (28 to 17 percent), streaming audio (14 to 11 percent), and file sharing (four to three percent).

Security is Key to Digitisation in Africa:

But with greater mobility, comes greater responsibility. Digital technologies are vulnerable to an explosion of cyber-attacks and high level data breaches, which are becoming increasingly targeted. Data breaches have the potential to negatively impact on brand value and customer trust. Findings from a recent Cisco Security Report reveal that globally, cyber-attackers continue to innovate as they slip into networks undetected. An example of a key driver in security breaches is the reality that most apps developed are not secure by design, as many developers use open source components, which result in vulnerabilities. Additionally BYOD technologies such as smart phones carry vast amounts of data, which could be stolen should the device be misplaced or lost, putting the company at risk.

To secure the next wave of the Internet – an end to end security approach needs to be as pervasive as the Internet of Everything itself. Physical and cybersecurity solutions need to work intelligently together and protect the networks, devices, applications and data that make up the Internet of Everything. Cybersecurity solutions need to protect not just networks and devices, but also critical applications and data. Identity-based user and device authentication is critical to securing applications and data across mobile and cloud deployments.

Cisco will use the opportunity to discuss the opportunities and challenges of digitisation in Africa during AfricaCom 2015. Scheduled to take place between the 17th and 19th November at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, AfricaCom promises to draw over 10,000 delegates within the technology space. Experts at the 2015 AfricaCom Conference will unpack the various threats and viable solutions to cyber-attacks in a hyper-connected world.

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