Zimbabwean tech entrepreneur, Strive Masiyiwa, is connecting the entire African continent with fiber networks and data centers, to prepare the continent for the 4th industrial revolution

Strive Masiyiwa

Liquid Telecom is currently connecting the entire African continent with fibre networks and data centers. By building these networks, the company intends to benefit both businesses and the average man in the streets. The fibre optics cable linking Cape Town to Cairo was completed last year and it became Africa’s largest fiber network. The company has also recently finished the cable linking Daresalaam-Lubumbashi-Kinshasa-Luanda Port-Moanda Port (DRC Atlantic Ocean). They are currently working on the cable linking Sudan, Nigeria and Cameroon.

About liquid telecom

Liquid Telecom was founded in 1997 by Zimbabwean tech entrepreneur, Strive Masiyiwa. Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs and businesses of all sizes get their supply of fibre optic, satellite and international carrier services from the company. Moreover, it provides data storage and communication solutions to businesses as well as payment solutions to financial institutions. The company is the leading provider of independent data, voice and IP services, in east, central and southern Africa.

It is time for African governments to allow the African private sector to lead infrastructural development in the continent.

Strive Masiyiwa is proof that African entrepreneurs can fill in the infrastructure deficits facing the continent if giving the opportunity. Since independence, the continent has struggled to fill the infrastructure gaps which runs to about $200 billion yearly.

Poor transport and erratic electricity supply continue to be the major infrastructure problems haunting the continent. If African governments are truly serious about building the infrastructure of the continent, then it is time for them to make way for African entrepreneurs to handle the problem. I have consistently argued that it is the African entrepreneurs who will develop the continent (as demonstrated here and here).

African governments need to provide the right policies and enabling business environment and the African entrepreneurs will take the initiative. Entrepreneurs such as Strive Masiyiwa, Aliko Dangote and others have the ability to solve the infrastructure issues facing the continent.

African governments need to create more Masiyiwas and Dangotes

These great Africans have built multibillion-dollars African companies providing employment for thousands of Africans as well as paying billions in taxes. Hence, African governments need to create more of these men in various sectors of the economy to lift the continent out of poverty. The following steps will help in achieving this goal.

Firstly, African governments need to understand that it is African entrepreneurs who will develop the continent. Borrowing funds which will then be paid to foreign contractors to build infrastructure will not develop the continent. This is a major reason why there are maintenance problems in Africa. If the companies building the infrastructure are foreign then how will the countries maintain the infrastructure built by these foreign companies?

Secondly, all foreign companies involved in infrastructure projects in the continent must collaborate with local African companies to work on these projects. This will enable the transfer of skills and technology to the local companies.

Thirdly, they should study the policies employed by China, Korea and other Asian countries which enabled these countries to emerge from the grips of poverty. The most important policies to study are the educational policies that enabled Asian entrepreneurs to emerge and create various multibillion-dollar companies such as Toyota, Samsung, Sony, Huawei, among others. These educational policies if implemented in the African continent will also result in the emergence of multibillion-dollar African firms.

Finally, the governments must have the political will and be ready to embrace change. To change the poverty narrative of Africa requires massive changes and it is doubtful if most of these African leaders are willing to embrace these changes. Most African countries have good policies but only a tiny percentage of these are implemented effectively. Hence, Africa needs bold leaders who are willing to embrace change as demonstrated by Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame who is currently bringing massive business and technology advancement in his country.

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Rwanda is the first African country with an electronic government procurement system (e-GP) and it has improved transparency and reduced corruption.

Rwanda has become the first African country to establish an electronic government procurement system (e-GP). This e-GP system has several benefits such as improving transparency and efficiency and reducing corruption. Officials from the government traveled to Korea to study how the Korean electronic procurement system worked. This followed the passing of the 2007 procurement law. A feasibility study was done conducted with the help o the world bank to implement the system. Rwanda decided to name the system UMUCYO which means transparency in the local language. The government rolled out UMUCYO nationwide in July 2017. Currently, the only government institutions not sing UMUCYO are schools, district hospitals, and health centers. It is planned to be extended to them in 2019/2020.

What is UMUCYO

UMUCYO facilitates the interactions of government to business services (G2B) through automation of the public procurement process. The online system enables the government to buy goods and services. This, in turn, aids the government to deliver efficient public procurement through standardization of electronic documents, supplier registration, goods and services information.

UMUCYO is a one-stop-shop for Rwandan procuring entities that enable them to negotiate improved contract terms as well as monetary and quality benefits.

Furthermore, less marketing efforts are required from suppliers because of increased access to markets provided by the platform. Similarly, the system ensures order accuracy as well as efficient quotation mechanisms.

Benefits of UMUCYO

The system has saved time and reduced costs for both public officials and contractors because the need for in-person visits as well as printing costs has been eliminated by the system.

Moreover, procurement management by government institutions have been greatly improved. Additionally, corruption and fraud have been drastically reduced as there is no in-person contact with bidders. Similarly, complaints are lodged and responded to via the E-procurement system handling it in a transparent manner.

In a nutshell, as described by the director-general of Rwanda public procurement authority, UMUCYO saves transaction time and at the same time enabling transparency, competition, fairness and providing value for money.

e-procurement to fight corruption in other Africa countries

Corruption has continue to plague almost all African countries. The corruption plague is even more prominent in government institutions especially in the area of procurement. The majority of government funds are embezzled in shady procurement deals.

If other African countries adopt an E-procurement system, corruption will be drastically reduced within a few short years. This is because it enables transparency in deals as well as resolving complaints. It will also enable competition and consequently enable quality work to be done. E-procurement is the most sustainable way of fighting corruption in Africa in the long-term.

Rwanda the “Wakanda” of Africa

Rwanda is currently serving as a model on how a country should be efficiently run. The government is pro-technology and innovation. This is made possible by providing a conducive environment for doing business. It is now easier to start and run a business in Rwanda than in most developed nations.

As a result of these reforms, tech start-ups, world-class universities and industries are locating to the country. Even though the country is land-locked, it recently inaugurated a dry-port to serve as a transport port hub in central Africa.

Rwanda is leading and showing the way for other African countries. The question is are other African countries ready to learn from Rwanda?

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