The rising significance of know-how in Africa is obvious from the primary FT-Statista rating of the continent’s quickest rising corporations: the sector is second solely to monetary companies for the variety of companies listed.
Of the 75 corporations ranked, 12 per cent are within the know-how sector, simply behind monetary companies, on 13 per cent, and forward of historically robust enterprise areas reminiscent of valuable metals, on 9 per cent, and agricultural commodities, on 8 per cent.
Africa’s digital drive was already underneath manner earlier than coronavirus emerged in late 2019 and the rating captures this, because it lists corporations by compound annual progress price (CAGR) between 2017 and 2020. But it additionally captures the beginning of the pandemic, and the accelerated digitisation that it caused.
In the south of the continent, the shift to digital is epitomised by the success of corporations reminiscent of Entelect, an enterprise software program and app supplier that gives “end-to-end technology services” to companies.
It was based in 2001 out of the Electrical Engineering School at Wits University in Johannesburg by Charles Pritchard, a lecturer there. From its headquarters within the metropolis, the corporate has grown to serve shoppers all over the world, with workplaces within the Netherlands, the UK, New Zealand and Australia.
Entelect is thirty first within the rating with a CAGR of 35.5 per cent and revenues of $52mn in 2020.
In the previous 5 to 10 years, its workers have seen a shift in the best way companies, and significantly giant organisations, view know-how supply. For many corporations, know-how is not solely an enabler of enterprise processes however can also be the product itself.
According to Shashi Hansjee, Entelect’s chief govt, digital know-how can create each issues and alternatives. “This means the way we structure teams, projects and budgets needs to change to be competitive in this way of thinking, as the market, and so requirements, continue to change,” he says.
“A high-functioning tech capability [requires] motivated and capable problem solvers and specialists in technology disciplines, along with engaged stakeholders from business and product areas. Great products and systems come from great teams, not only from great ideas.”
Hansjee provides that the transfer in direction of digital servicing and operations accelerated through the pandemic, which has resulted in a major improve in demand for know-how companies.
“Nearly all organisations now require a digital way of interacting with customers, which they may not have needed two years ago,” he says. “Competition in spaces such as ecommerce has ballooned, along with the interest in leveraging enterprise data for analytics, reporting and product development.”
Like different companies, Entelect additionally needed to modify to the fast transition
to a work-from-home atmosphere through the pandemic, whereas each sustaining its assist tradition for employees — particularly new recruits — and remaining engaged with prospects.
Nigeria’s Kawai Technologies is one other firm that has benefited from the drive to digital in Africa. The assist companies enterprise, which was based in 2007, is eighth within the FT-Statista rating, with a CAGR of 85.2 per cent.
Kawai began out offering bespoke software program options, says co-founder Akinbo Akin-Olugbade, however discovered that it had extra to supply.
“Very quickly, we realised that it made sense to focus on the core skill sets available . . . internally, which revolved around planning, flexibility, and understanding the local nuances of doing business in Nigeria,” says Akin-Olugbade, who skilled as an engineer and beforehand labored in enterprise capital and as director of operations for a fertiliser firm.
In current years, Kawai’s initiatives have included offering an all-Nigerian engineering crew for a Turkish firm that arrange within the nation’s south-west, and creating a global order administration system for a Nigerian oil and fuel enterprise.
Technology has remained central to Kawai’s method all through its progress and the corporate prides itself on its capability for innovation.
Today, it focuses strongly on provide chain administration, masking all the pieces from supplies to manufacturing oversight, transport, and the logistics of supply.
“We built upon the experience we had and pretty quickly started deploying some novel solutions, which of course led to more orders, and then we had a fully fledged business,” Akin-Olugbade says.
This yr’s Africa’s Fastest-Growing Companies is the primary Africa corporations rating report. The rankings are compiled with knowledge produced by the FT’s analysis associate Statista. A complete of 75 corporations had been ranked within the inaugural version.