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Ethiopia’s silicon savannah – a tech power house in the making or a pipe dream?

Posted by Chris King on 9th July 2013

In the international tech, telecom and electronics PR world we’re very aware of the rise of the African continent and the huge market potential there for our clients from all manner of different tech industries.

To date the media focus is very much on the more developed areas including South Africa, Nigeria and the North African economies like Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. Therefore I was fascinated to read this article on the BBC website’s ‘Technology of Business’ section about the struggles of ‘Iceaddis‘ a small hub of technology entrepreneurs in Ethiopia.

Back in the 1980s when I was a child Ethiopia really was the epitome of poor with its horrendous famines the driving force behind humanitarian appeals like Live Aid. It’s mind blowing to see how far the country has come since then. Nowadays Ethiopia has become something of a model of rising Africa with its economy showing average 10% annual growth since 2004.

However, with a very “security conscious” government approach to new technology and services, less than 1% of Ethiopia’s 85m citizens connected to the internet, just 17% mobile penetration and a ranking of almost last in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, it’s not the easiest of environments for small technology start-ups to grow.

Everybody loves an underdog though and the fact that this hidden tech community has even been brought together at all is really exciting and inspirational.

Unlike many other tech hubs in Africa, Iceaddis claims that it isn’t just about apps – it’s also about innovation in design, construction, and products.

Will it succeed? I don’t know, and clearly the odds are stacked against it, but I certainly hope so.

If it can get access to outside support, resources, knowledge and investment who knows, maybe we’ll see the rise of an international tech brand from Ethiopia in my life time…. something inconceivable back in 1984.

Photo credit: j_iglar

Chris King

Chris’s extensive experience of agency PR, ‘can-do’ attitude and track record for achieving outstanding results time after time make him a firm favourite amongst clients. His natural teaching skills make him an expert mentor and respected MD.