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How can agile method help Africa in its ongoing digital transformation?

I’m one of those people that like knowing a little, about a lot of things, – at least at a basic level of understanding. I value constructive conversations and try not to shy away from topics which I’m not so well versed about but try to pay even more attention in such instances. As Alvin Toffler was quoted saying, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” So, whatever your stand is regarding the above topic, I hope that this article will help you in articulating a pertinent opinion/stance pertaining how the agile method / principle can help Africa in its ongoing digital transformation.

The idea is not to provide you with exhaustively overwhelming information which you will probably not remember. But rather to provide you with just enough information for you to go and do the exhaustive searching yourself. I think it would be beneficial to start with some basic definitions, Wiki definitions:

Agile: “…relating to or denoting a method of project management, used especially for software development, that is characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.” “agile methods replace high-level design with frequent redesign”

Digital transformation:  the change associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.

Digitalization (the conversion of analog information into digital form), digitalization (the process) and the digital transformation (the effect) therefore accelerate and illuminate the already existing and ongoing horizontal and global processes of change in society.

The transformation stage means that digital usages inherently enable new types of innovation and creativity in a particular domain, rather than simply enhance and support traditional methods

Ok, now that we have a bit of an understanding regarding agile and digital transformation, let’s look at it in the context Africa. What is the current state, at what momentum are the changes happening and how can the agile method help? To answer the first and second questions I went back to uncle Google and stumbled on the African Digitalization Maturity Report 2017 by Siemens and things just got real. Like it’s far more complex than I imagined but still very interesting and I really encourage you to read this report. This report is very comprehensive, the insights gathered and the approach they used is qualitative. The data though is only from 4 African countries but I think it still gives an idea of the relative state of digital maturity in Africa.

They analyzed Macroeconomics indicators which included Infrastructure, Digital literacy, Environment and Economic maturity. Microeconomics indicators which included Core operations, culture of innovation and product & customer engagement. Lastly Digital industry indicators which included Energy, Manufacturing and Transport (Road & Rail). As you can see my friends, there are a lot of factors to consider and keeping this short and sweet is not so easy. But let me wrap it up quick with the key insights and recommendations Siemens provided and let’s see if Agile can help.

With all the research that was conducted it was all narrowed down to seven key insights which all resonate with my spirit but I am only going to elaborate on the theme of the first one : *Africa is not a country*. Understanding this simple fact cements the need for creating an African lens for implementing digitalization in Africa. The uniqueness of each country which shapes the challenges and opportunities in that country should be leveraged in order to adopt and/or advance digital maturity.

The digital maturity in Africa is extremely diverse and looking at the above definition of agile, it’s methodologies could really help as it’s not a one size fit all methodology but it allows for frequent redesign and adaption of plans. Agile encourages collaboration and integration which I think is very necessary to get things moving. All stakeholders from all the countries in the continent just need to have a daily sprint and get the ball rolling. I hope you enjoyed the read and again I encourage you to go and do your own research, read the articles cited. I promise you there is so much more that will just get you pumped about the potential of our beautiful continent and hopefully call you to action in some sector, to be that disruptive person to change status quo.


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