Last week, President Barack Obama hosted fifty leaders from the African continent. The United States is recognizing Africa as an emerging market. According to an article in The Economist, Africa’s population will double by 2050 and it will be a young population.
This young population is also taking advantage of mobile technology where, for example, farmers are applying mobile telephone technology to connect them to weather and crop information that can hopefully lead to increased profits.
President Obama is correct in his assessment that the American economy is based on ideas and innovation and that ideas and innovation depend on development of human capital. The African economy is going to need ideas and information in order to create knowledge that can be applied to problem solving, product creation, and service delivery.
Part of the reason why I was excited by Time Warner’s Howie Hodges’ presentation at the Congressional Black Caucus Leadership Institute conference a couple weeks ago was the result of him mentioning virtual data rooms. Virtual data rooms or VDRs are replacing the physical data rooms that law firms and investment banks use to share and access information involving merger and acquisitions or bankruptcy proceedings.
According to Inc.com, the virtual data room industry market, which was valued at $628 million in 2012, is expected to balloon to $1.2 trillion in 2017. VDRs operate on the edge of the Internet and as repositories of digitized information, I see them playing an increasing role in global markets especially as trade between America and African countries increase.
An edge provider industry expected to grow this quickly should not be at risk of becoming collateral damage from Title II or common carrier regulation. As these providers receive increasing requests to provide more services, they will have to respond not only to demand but to increasing competition. They will have to be nimble. They can’t run the risk of being forced to buy access services out of tariffs or wait for the FCC or a state regulator to approve new services or facilities because an advocacy group believes that strategic partnerships are taboo.
Africa’s emerging markets and their adoption of mobile broadband technologies for their agricultural and financial transaction markets signal the need for America to service the Continent’s needs for innovation and knowledge that only the American knowledge economy can provide.