Africa needs more innovation hubs to support growth

Johannesburg - By 2050 African countries will have the youngest populations in the world. Africa will also have to deal with the second largest continental population in the world. Innovation and business support in this climate will be crucial, analysts say.

Speaking at the Epicor Customer Summit, Arthur Goldstuck said that the African challenges should be seen as opportunities and not challenges. 

“Africa is poised to become the bread basket of the world, and African innovators and entrepreneurs have a good understanding of the bottom of the pyramid consumer,” Goldstuck said. 

He added that exporting was critical to the growth of Africa, with mobile money, incubation hubs and entrepreneurship as well as crowdsourcing becoming crucial players of growth on the continent.

READ: 3 innovations that could drive energy revolution in Africa 

Closer to home, numerous organisations and government departments are harnessing the potential of grassroots inventors, with initiatives such as the Grassroots Innovation programme by the department of Science and Technology, Centre for Scientific Research and Industrial Research and the Technology Localisation Implementation Unit, acting as one such hub. 

The Grassroots Innovation programme is currently incubating innovators who have developed new technologies, such as a Computer Numeric Control machine that 3D prints and a cost-effective motorised bicycle that could usher in a new era of rural travel. 

Goldstuck said that through innovations, industry has been rapidly transforming and will continue to do through further advances. 

“The agriculture sector, for example, will now see smart farms, where farmers can monitor their land with a drone, and sensors in cows will be able to measure the health of livestock and send the farmer an SMS notification,” Goldstuck said. 

READ: Govt in huge push to boost innovative ideas from citizens

“This is already happening and could (be) the future of Africa. Africa has a bright future and is alive with possibility,” he added. 

Goldstuck said that the digital divide between Africa and more developed economies used to be a significant obstacle that needed to be overcome for the continent to be competitive on the international stage. 

“This is no longer the case, with many examples of how African countries are using mobile payment solutions and other services being mirrored in the global marketplace,” said Goldstuck.

For Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry specific software to promote business growth, these technology and business growth trends are reflected in the latest version of its next-generation enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, Epicor ERP.

“These are exciting times for our customers in Africa that are leading the charge in embracing innovative new ways of doing business while still fundamentally focusing on people-centric manufacturing processes,” said Sabby Gill, executive vice president, international at Epicor Software.

READ: The real impact of innovation is in the lived experience of people

“In many respects, the continent is showing the world what can be done when combining world-class technology with people who have embraced the digital environment and empowering themselves with the skills needed for this connected age,” he added.

With this the support for business and innovation was critical according to Epicor International EVP, Sabby Gill, who said a focus of the company was to provide the support infrastructure to South Africa’s small and medium business community. 

“As a company we need to provide a very tailored solution to businesses which is well focused,” Gill told Fin24. 

On Thursday Epicor inked a partnership agreement with epic ERP as a master reseller, focusing on developing the market for Epicor in southern Africa.

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