Technological aptitude is often used as a barometer to gauge the development of a country. However, the gap between developing nations' and advanced nations' internet usage is rapidly narrowing. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, more than half of adults in the surveyed emerging and developing economies use the internet, while a third of them own and use a smartphone.

As a result, we're seeing a massive paradigm shift -- one in which tech opportunities abound in the developing world. I have just gotten back from trips in Africa and Asia and these are some of the companies are ones I am excited to watch.

1. Meltwater

In 2008, Jørn Lyseggen, CEO of media intelligence company Meltwater, founded the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana. The nonprofit is designed to train and mentor budding African tech entrepreneurs through an intensive one-year program. At the end of the coursework, each student pitches a business idea. The strongest proposals receive funding.

MEST has since expanded to Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Côte d'Ivoire. It also organizes the African Technology Summit, an annual conference that brings together some of the top people in African tech.

2. Ingenu

Internet of Things networking company Ingenu is expanding its exclusive Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) network to the petroleum-rich regions of Nigeria to monitor its key oil and gas assets. The work began in the Niger Delta and Lagos, Nigeria's largest city. Ingenu hopes to finish the IoT network rollout by the end of 2017, which will allow for IoT connectivity across the country's 920,000 square kilometers.

Ingenu's RPMA network outshines the low-power, wide-area (LPWA) network that previously existed in Nigeria, boasting stronger range coverage, secure transmissions, improved network capacity, and cost savings. So far, the RPMA network has saved Shell Nigeria more than $1 million in infrastructure development costs.

3. FaceTagr

Within the past five years, more than 250,000 children have gone missing in India. Various factors make it difficult for families to find their loved ones. To combat this worrying epidemic, a Chennai IT developer named Vijay Gnanadesikan developed a closed application called FaceTagr. The app uses facial recognition technology to identify missing people. FaceTagr has amassed a photo database of nearly 300,000 missing children and has already identified and returned more than a hundred.

4. Safaricom and M-PESA

Safaricom, Kenya's largest mobile service provider, launched its money transfer service M-PESA in 2007. It quickly morphed from a loan repayment application to a medium used by more than two-thirds of Kenya's adult population. Many Kenyans send money to their relatives in rural areas. In the past, this process was costly and time-consuming, but M-PESA allows for much cheaper, faster transfers. M-PESA currently handles 25 percent of the country's GNP, and the service is taking off in other countries such as Tanzania, Afghanistan, and India.

5. Huawei

One of the companies helping drive this paradigm shift in the developing world and one of the largest tech companies in the world that many have never heard of is Huawei. They have partnered with most of the global phone carriers to offer a solid and aggressively priced top phone product. In the last five years, they have become the number three manufacturer of smartphones in the world. Huawei is also leading the development of 5G, which will change how we look at mobile communication especially in the developing world. They are also

Developing countries are the new land of possibility for technology corporations. These five companies match cultural needs with technological advancements to serve and empower local communities.

Published on: Sep 11, 2017
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