The Subtext - asking questions about Africa's digital economy

the Subtext promises to provide answers to the questions no one is asking about Africa’s digital economy

The propagation of Africa as an emerging digital landscape has led to increased attention on new businesses in this industry. The growth of multinational digital corporations around the world has enabled the age of information technology currently allowing Africa to leapfrog past several stages of development stalled by colonialism and poor economic conditions. However, we have come to find that some markets across the continent (including Nigeria’s) are still not prepared for the accelerated rate of innovation in the digital economy.

When these outcomes are analysed, the conclusion as Osarumen Osawuyi points out, is often that Silicon Valley solutions can’t work in the emerging markets. This may or may not be the case, but according to Osawuyi, there is very little information that shows an understanding of why. The stories on the emerging brands in the digital space have been gradually documented over the years but there’s a lack of much-needed commentary on what their success or failures mean. Because of this lack of context, we miss the trends, what the fall of specific companies mean for the industry and/or why we as individuals living within the ecosystem should care.

Osarumen Osawuyi’s proposed solution is ‘the Subtext’. As a tech journalist and researcher, he has witnessed the results of this lack of commentary and expert perspective firsthand. In an interview with The Native, Osawuyi said that the Subtext is his response to the information gap he found in Africa’s technology industry. The trend analysis, he said, is particularly important now because Africa’s technology industry is “getting more important”. the Subtext provides what a platform where an industry expert like himself, can give “Sometimes witty, often thoughtful” analysis perspective on trends and shifts in Africa’s digital economy.

Using the smartphone market as an example, the Subtext illustrates the kinds of happenings Osamuyi says could be avoidable in the introductory publication, “the Manifesto”. The decline in Africa’s smartphone user growth was affirmed in the first quarter of 2018, but Osamuyi emphasizes that anyone “paying attention would have picked up on this trend a while ago”, he backs this with a graph that shows the market’s movement from 2010-2016.

Osawuyi will publish “two or more” essays similar to “The Manifesto” twice a week. Like this one, they will analyse and clarify past and present market trends, providing perspective for everyone; from entrepreneurs to economic historians to students working on school projects.

 

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