By Rahul Dowlath, 1 comments
South Africa is currently leading the African continent into the Internet age, with the new Seacom cable connecting the country (and subsequently, the continent) to Asia and Europe. It's ultra-high speed Internet, and as time goes on, we predict prices to come down drastically.
Couple that with the success in our own "social media" technology (MXit, anyone?) and we can easily say that this country is on the road to developing our tech industry.
South Africa can be considered the "gateway" into the African continent, a market that many Silicon Valley startups have expressed interest in expanding into — the large marketshare to be gained, coupled with the "ethical goodness" that would spin-off from their ventures is sure to build brand image, at the least.
By investing in the emerging technological sector in this country, these startups will inevitably gain a foothold into other African countries, as they beta-test their products in an already tech-savvy environment such as South Africa, at the same time learning more about how to do business in a foreign land such as this.
I strongly believe that the time for only the major tech companies that started in and around Silicon Valley (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo) to permeate international markets successfully, is slowly coming to a close, as there certainly is opportunity for the smaller Web 2.0 startups to start branching out into newer markets, learning more about world business through their interactions with foreign investments, and ultimately growing the world economy. At the same time, they will be given more room to innovate, something that I feel is sorely needed in the dense cloud of startups that have suddenly sprung into existance in America.
Africa presents the opportunity for these technological startups to explore the fields of clean energy, cost-efficient communications and social media, fields that are starting to define what Silicon Valley does today. It's no longer only about the microchip: it's about expanding technology to bring the world closer.
Silicon Valley, the time to invest in South Africa is now. And with the FIFA World Cup just around the corner, the timing couldn't be better.