A year that was: What trended in tech

By , People Daily Digital
Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 00:00 | 4 mins read

A lot more changed last year due to the on and off waves of Covid-19 infections.

In 2020, tech experts spent most of their time finding solutions to withstand the deadly pandemic and 2021 was the breakthrough year where most of these innovations have started functioning. 

Last year was remarkable for the tech world as there was massive launch of gadgets, companies rebrand, unveiling of new tech applications, shopping and banking trends, and enhancement of cybersecurity. 

Meta took the globe by storm after it rebranded from Facebook. The unforeseen move spurred discussions about the American-based conglomerate company that owns Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp Messenger platforms.

Meta introduced us to the term metaverse— a set of digital spaces, including immersive 3D experiences, that are all interconnected so you can easily move between them. 

Remote operations

In Meta’s ‘2021 Africa Year in Review’, Kezia Anim-Addo, Director for Communications, Sub-Saharan Africa, says last year, they witnessed an abundance of talent, growth and resilience from across Africa, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic.

Last year, Meta rolled out Facebook Marketplace to 37 countries and territories across Sub-Saharan Africa, and launched the Digital Literacy Trainings, focused on online safety, privacy, news, media literacy and digital citizenship, across eight countries training over 65,000 people.  

“Facebook introduced for the first time, their thoughts on the future. Their aim is to reimagine what you can do, where you can be and who you can be with. 

Their focus is on the metaverse, a shared virtual environment where you can do and be whatever you want to be,” says Elphas Onamu, a tech expert from Techweez.

Likewise, Google was not left behind as they did various notable blast offs  including boosting children safety online to enrich product experiences that users aged below 18 have online.

The company also unveiled Taskmate, the app aiming at simplifying the crowdsourcing of tasks from organisations.

People will get paid to complete tasks from the companies that post small, simple tasks that can be accomplished on a smartphone including the translating of sentences into their language. 

Onamu adds that 2021 has been a special year where he has learned a lot and would now not need to leave the house anymore. 

“With the pandemic needing us to stay out of constant contact with others, we realised we could do ‘everything’ from the comfort of our homes.

From working, studying, exercising, visiting museums, to taking trips around the world, the possibilities of what we can do from our own rooms are endless and being an introvert, I don’t really mind this,” he says. 

Also  celebrated in the past year is  the growth of short video content, with Youtube launching the Youtube Shorts in Kenya, a platform for creating short catchy videos using mobile phones. 

“The growth of short video content has to be one of the largest trends of the year.

Before 2019, I only regarded YouTube as my go-to for everything educational, relaxing, sporty, techy or funny.

However, more often than not, people are turning to short video content platforms such as TikTok and Instagram for their pleasure,” Onamu says.

Gadgetwise, 2021 has been a remarkable year as many gizmos have been unveiled in the market.

The cutting-edge tech in the smartphone world has been the launch of Samsung’s latest folding-screen phone Z-Fold 3 tablet-phone hybrid and Z Flip 3 flip-phone.

For Onamu, the Apple MacBook Air M1 has been the most incredible gadget launched last year. 

Start-up funding

“The latest addition to Apple laptops, computers and iPads is their super-powerful M1 chip that is changing the entire game.

It’s literally turning their most basic laptop into an editing/gaming powerhouse that we didn’t think possible.

And they are not done. They released the M1 Max and M1 Pro and those are even more powerful. This means that the future of tech might change forever,” he says.

Arnold Karanja, a data protection and privacy compliance lawyer, says that as  Kenya is one of the top countries in tech innovation, it is easy for foreign investors to fund local startups. 

“The recent report by the Afrikan Heroes ranks Kenya 76th in the world and fifth in Africa in innovation.

Kenya’s strengths are in the area of market sophistication where it ranks 54th in the world and third in Africa, behind South Africa and Mauritius; and knowledge and technology outputs, where it is ranked 65th in the world.

These have boosted the confidence of the major foreign companies to fund the Kenyan startups,” he says. 

Local tech startups also benefited from the accelerator programmes to raise funds last year.

Meta announced the winners of the 2021 Facebook Community Accelerator Programme, featuring 13 community leaders from Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, who will receive training, mentorship and up to Sh5 million in funds to invest in their community.

Similarly, two Kenyan startups, Angaza Elimu and Ndovu are among the 15 Africa-based businesses that graduated in the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa Programme. 

Mavuno Link from Kenya, who developed an app designed to address food security by connecting farmers, distributors such as drivers, and buyers or consumers appeared as finalists of the International Business Machines Corporation 2021 Call For Code Challenge. 

Karanja concludes that Covid-19 has played a big part in tech as we have seen big improvements in the operations of online shopping and restaurants offering online deliveries services. 

“Response has been so quick as there have been major improvements in online shopping.

Conference calling applications have also been improved making it easy for people to continue working from home.

Moreover, restaurants have stepped up to offer better products and services as the online food delivery apps like Glovo and Ubereats have set them some standards,” he asserts.