The rise of the printing industry in Africa: trends to watch

By Eiji Ota, Business Unit Director at Canon Central and North Africa

The printing industry, much like any other industry, has gone through continuous evolution and transformation. New trends are progressively affecting the landscape of global businesses, leaving no industry off the hook, with digital disruption being on the upswing ushering in the rise of digital technologies such as IoT, AI and more. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has propelled a wave of digital disruption like never before, forcing industries at large to adopt these trends into their ways of working with the printing industry being no exception.

The Business Research Company’s “2022 Printing Global Market Report” states that the global print market size is expected to grow from $311.53 billion in 2021 to $322.43 billion in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5%. The printing market is expected to grow to $350.2 billion in 2026 at a CAGR of 2.1%. Whereas, the African print market is expected to cross the value of US$ 235.3 million by the end of 2031.  These strong numbers suggest that the printing industry globally as well as in Africa is opening doors to embracing new trends and technologies.

The digital printing boom

The African continent has seen an uptick in the use of digital inkjet printers, given its faster printing rate as compared to the traditional printers. The beauty of digital printing lies in the fact that it requires no manual setup, which makes it an extremely efficient and fast process. This is particularly beneficial for low-volume projects as compared to offset printing, which is why there is such a great demand for these printers in the market. There is also plenty of scope to introduce customisation without any real turnaround time, making digital printing a popular choice, given the fast paced world we live in.

The inkjet print market is currently worth $80.4 billion, which is likely to reach $118.2 billion in 2025, according to the latest Smithers’ report.

The colour printing revolution

The massive shift from black and white to colour printing paved the way for growth in the demand of laser and inkjet printers in Africa. With an estimated 2 000 commercial printing companies operating in Africa, majority of which are small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), this demand is predicted to intensify even further, which will contribute to an even higher growth across the continent.

The significance of security

Cybersecurity has emerged as one of the top priorities for businesses, as industries continue to grapple with the aftereffects of the pandemic. Print Service Providers (PSPs) will need to prioritise on print security in the coming years, given the fact that they deal with multiple stakeholders for print projects. Hybrid work is here to stay, which has introduced new challenges when it comes to security. Hackers are increasingly adopting innovative ways of cyberattacks, making the data of organisations more vulnerable.

The threat of regulatory fines and the subsequent loss of business can potentially cause significant loss coupled with reputational damage of a business. The efficient and secure management of data and information is vital to the health of any enterprise. Similar to any device connected to your network, your printers could be endangering your information security if not implemented and managed carefully.

Going green

The wave of sustainability has taken most if not all industries by storm – and for the right reasons. Businesses are placing emphasis on reducing their environmental impact as well as increasing their scores on the sustainability index. Current trends indicate that there will be an increased demand for products that can offer high functionality and low environmental impact. The recycling of printing products such as ink cartridges will play a big role in reducing the impact on the environment and local communities in the future.

Cloud and connectivity

As digital disruption continues to intensify, we are witnessing an upswing of cloud computing, where applications and products are no longer hosted on desktops or laptops and instead, users can directly access such services from the cloud. Consequentially, according to Process Fusion and Quocirca’s “The Cloud Print Services Market Landscape, 2021”, cloud printing is emerging as one of the hottest trends in the industry, with 67% of organisations expected to increase their use of cloud print management, and a further 5% planning to move to cloud printing completely.

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed business priorities and ways of working around the globe. People now prefer to work in the cloud due to its benefits such as flexibility, the potential to increase productivity and efficiency and delivering real cost benefits. Providing cloud-managed print services is no longer an add-on but a prerequisite.

Printing services that are convenient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly, whilst delivering a great quality output will pave the way for future trends in the printing industry across Africa.

Image credit: Adolfo Félix / Unsplash