As part of the ABF, we were given the opportunity to attend a conference of our choosing on the continent. I’m interested in technology in Africa so the conference I picked was AfricaCom, the largest Africa-focused tech event in the world! It was held in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa, and as expected it was amazing! I had an opportunity to learn more about telecommunications in Africa as well as tech entrepreneurship and the growing media industry on the continent. 

It was a huge conference of 10,000+ attendees representing global organizations like Ericsson, Google and Facebook, as well as a large number of African companies and small start-ups. There were three main themes that continued coming up in the different sessions I attended - the need for innovation and adjustment of traditional business models, the growing opportunities in media, and the benefits of social impact. 

Traditional telcos in Africa and around the world are seeing revenues from their voice business decrease as more of their customers turn to data. This presents the need to adjust their business models to meet customer demand while maintaining a profitable business, and one such way is by focusing on additional services like digital media. There are also increasing opportunities in fintech, as services like Safaricom’s M-Pesa continue to grow in popularity, and reach people who have been left unbanked by traditional banking models. Cryptocurrencies are also gaining more interest as some traditional currencies have proven volatile in recent years. One of the coolest topics was around the wide range of applications in the space of Internet of Things (IoT), especially in the discussion on smart cities (buildings, transport, home, health, education, agriculture).

An area of specific interest for me was around social impact and the way tech entrepreneurs have shown commitment and creativity in solving social issues. Hackathons, coding trainings, and community wifi networks were just some of the initiatives discussed which have made an impact.

I am thankful for the opportunity to attend AfricaCom and I left feeling excited about the potential for transformative tech in Africa.

Header image: Session led by UN Habitiat