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Africa Attracting Hi-Tech Companies

2013-9-8
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Africa has become a growing market for high technology products, and it may soon be a base for a lot more hi-tech companies. Experts are predicting growing competition on the continent as it tends to meet the needs of its young and middle class populations.

DHL calls itself the "logistics company for the world," it provides transportation by train, road, sea and air. The company sees Africa as a place where its business can expand. But for that to happen, more international companies will need to invest in the continent and set up operations there.

Sumesh Rahavendra of DHL sees that happening.

"There's quite a bit of evidence to that in terms of global companies starting to set up base in Africa. If you look at the likes of SAP or IBM or Hisense, which is the Chinese company, all of them are setting base in Africa and looking at how specifically they can cater to the Africa market while being in Africa, as against getting to the African market while being in Europe or the Middle East."

Sumesh Rahavendra is the company's head of marketing for African countries south of the Saharan desert. He says the area offers a lot of possibility, and in his words, could be the next frontier for technology growth.

"I travel a fair bit around Africa and so does the rest of our team and you can see the technology boom literally across every country in Africa. People who never had access to a desktop PC are now playing around with tablets – are now playing around with smart phones. The level and speed of adoption has been significant as more middle class and upper middle class consumers in Africa get access to technology."

He describes the continent's one billion people as a largely untouched market for many products.

"The majority of people are young people. And with a young population that's going to adopt technology and commodities in the future, it represents a significant potential for any international company coming to Africa."

DHL has been operating in Africa for more than 35 years. And Mr Rahavendra notes as more and more companies set up operations on the continent, business for DHL increases. He says, there are possibilities for growth in every African country, although some appear more ready than others.

"One of the reasons why it's hard to do business in African countries is just infrastructure and logistics. Because the cost of actually getting your product to its final place inflates it significantly because there are so much infrastructural challenges that isn't getting you there. Second example is there are a fair bit of issues with political climate in some African countries. The good news is signs all indicate towards a positive story going forward next five to ten years."

DHL says Africa is now the world's second largest mobile technology market by connections after Asia, and it is the fastest growing mobile market in the world.

And that's the Technology Report from VOA Learning English. I'm June Simms.