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The age of the digital economy in Africa

Matthew Lee, Regional Manager for SUSE Africa
Matthew Lee, Regional Manager for SUSE Africa

By Matthew Lee, Regional Manager for SUSE Africa

DESPITE challenges surrounding infrastructure development and reliability of connectivity, Africa is embracing digital as a platform for employment and growth and open source has a role to play in this.

The term digital has become a catch-all when it comes to business. On the one hand, it refers to the connectedness of people and having access to data irrespective of location and device. On the other, it reflects the increasing economic opportunities this provide people and organisations. Thanks, in part to the arrival of undersea cables, the continent has seen a shift in how it embraces digital. Today, this [digital] offers a more cost-effective way of doing business not only on local and continental levels but international ones as well.

An important part of this shift has been the realisation that data is critical in its ability to aid the decision-making process. In recent years, the spotlight has been placed on big data and the real-time analysis of it so businesses are able to adapt their strategies more effectively to cater for changing customer requirements.

Such has been the impact of this move to a digitally-led way of operations, that there is incredible demand for graduates that have a combination of data science and business skills. The new digital economy is one that requires these significantly different skills and more open ways of approaching business. Unfortunately, the traditional (and often legacy) approach around data and digital solutions no longer hold relevance.

Decision-makers have to embrace more open ways to meet the demands of the digital economy. The shift has already happened from a solutions perspective with many proprietary vendors adapting open source principles in how solutions are developed. This gives the business the flexibility it needs to generate tailored offerings that unlock the value of digital.

One only needs to look at the impact that mobile has had on driving the Africa digital revolution over the past decade. Whether it is a smartphone or tablet, mobility solutions underpin the economic opportunities created by digital. So not only are solutions more open as a function to work on a myriad of devices, but the cloud has become the veritable glue tying digital offerings together.

Much like the operating system used to be the most vital element of computing, the cloud has overtaken it to provide users with the ability to collaborate, share content, and access important data using their mobile devices. Today, it is not so much a case of whether you prefer operating system X or Y, but rather that the underpinning cloud solution is able to work on either.

Again, the role that open source plays in this cannot be discounted. It gives the customisability required to develop cross-platform solutions. Ultimately, the digital economy will be powered by those organisations who are able to make the most out of their data. With the cloud and open source providing additional ammunition for this, it is expected to be a significant period of growth for the continent in the months and years to come.

 SUSE is a leading provider of enterprise Linux solutions to increase agility, reduce cost and manage complexity in dynamic environments, enabling organisations to confidently deliver computing services across physical, virtual and cloud environments. SUSE solutions empower thousands of organisations worldwide.

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