The information technology industry has been a huge growth engine for the U.S. economy since the 1990s. Its growth rate over the last 20 years has exceeded the national average, and created more than 1.5 million jobs.
Whether Africa’s expanding IT sector will be able to stimulate similar growth will depend greatly on Africans themselves, according to one industry insider.
“What value are you bringing to the table, that is the question you should always be asking yourself,” said Lukonga Lindunda, a Mandela Washington Fellow who is an information technology entrepreneur in Lusaka, Zambia.
“What value do you have that you feel Google can invest [in], not just give you free money,” is another question that Lindunda posed to his audience of young Africans as a member of a Washington panel discussion about Internet access and availability.
If Africans want to leap into the online global marketplace of goods, commerce and ideas, Lindunda said African Internet users must demonstrate that they are desirable customers who provide business expansion opportunities for huge IT companies.
Lindunda is part of the team that started the IT innovation hub BongoHive. He and his partners started with just about nothing in 2011. Now they’ve helped link like-minded people across the continent, using social networks to connect about 100 hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship.
BongoHive pioneers are “out-of-the-box thinkers” who want to apply their own innovation and creativity to achieve sustainable progress in business, education, health and other fields.
Watch Lukongo’s Full Comments Here:
Mozilla-Uganda is another nonprofit organization working to expand Internet accessibility and literacy in Africa. Mozilla is a global nonprofit organization that views the Web as a public resource to be shared. They brought together volunteers in Uganda who are bringing greater Web access to Ugandan users.
“These volunteers have localized the Firefox browser to local languages and brought that technology to the community around them,” said Leah Gilliam, who represented Mozilla on the panel.
Mozilla is all about “making is learning.” They created the Webmaker tool to help people learn about Web development to pass it on and teach those skills to an ever-broader network of people. Listen to what Mozilla says about the Maker Party:
Listen or watch clips from the rest of this panel here to learn more, and share your thoughts about Internet innovation and expansion in Africa at #YALICHAT: