Sentech Africa Tech Week 2022 made its fourth consecutive appearance this year, providing a platform where 5,000 attendees came together – in person and virtually – to learn, be inspired, and meet those in the industry who are making a remarkable impact on solving Africa’s unique challenges.
Held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on August 31st and September 1st, various panel discussions were held sharing insights across topics such as the Internet of Things, broadband connectivity, cloud services and blockchain technology – to name a few.
The CEO of Topco Media, Ralf Fletcher, believes that Africa is facing unique challenges that can only be solved by Africans. He shared that Africa Tech Week saw an explosion of excitement about current products and services that are being deployed at an accelerated pace in Africa. These include drones assisting police in safety and security, as well as leading robotics applications being deployed to legacy manufacturers. The eyes of the world are on Africa, and our companies certainly stack up amongst the very best and most innovative in the world.
Africans are embracing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data, IoT and cryptocurrency to lead innovation and digital transformation. This is making Africa more prosperous and resilient.
Poverty is a major issue that affects everyone. However, with all the progress made in the advancement of technologies, we can use this to tackle this issue. Bobby Brown, broadcaster, journalist, thought leader and tech enthusiast posed this question during a Fireside Chat on Day One.
Statistics SA reports that 54% of South African households don’t have access to the internet, which poses a major challenge. This lack of access, especially in rural communities, means that many people can’t participate in the digital economy and earn a living. Another issue that was highlighted by the panel was that many students and learners can’t access valuable resources online, as the internet only extends to administrative offices in schools and institutions.
According to Dumisa Ngwenya, Head of Research and Innovation at Sentech, there is still a big rural versus urban divide in South Africa. He adds that a big percentage of Africa is rural, and that we can no longer turn a blind eye. It is therefore imperative that we, as a collective, plan accordingly to illuminate any gaps.
Shireen Powell, CEO at Project Isizwe comments that the internet has created massive opportunities. If we just look at the sort of jobs that have originated just by being connected. Just imagine if we all had access to the technology and infrastructure and how it will be able to alleviate poverty.
Collaboration is key to success in Africa, and should be an integral part of every organization’s DNA. The ‘Investing in Africa’s Silicon Valley’ panel discussion explored the mergers and acquisition space and how investing in Africa’s tech startups and businesses can accelerate opportunities for the world’s youngest population and fastest growing economy. It was highlighted that all involved in the ecosystem should pull together on the strengths of the different centres of excellence.
In Cape Town, the unofficial technology hub of South Africa, there is a need for knowledge sharing among key players in order to scale businesses and improve access to markets. Cross-border collaborations are important for the economy to benefit, as seen through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Establishing an integrated approach for innovation is critical for economic growth.
The panel further discussed that for Africa to achieve a ‘Silicon Valley’ status, the continent must adopt an enabling legislation. This can be done by focusing on inclusivity and diversity. We need to build up the skills, the talent pool, and build up entrepreneurs. We also need more stakeholder participation which can be achieved through various platforms and networking.
One way to focus on inclusivity and diversity is to ensure that legislation is in place that allows for all people, regardless of background or circumstance, to have an opportunity to participate in the tech industry. Additionally, it is important to provide resources and support for entrepreneurs. By building up a pool of skilled workers and entrepreneurs, Africa can create an environment where innovation thrives and businesses can grow. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to have active engagement from all stakeholders. This can be done through various platforms and networking opportunities.
Web3 represents a paradigm shift in how we think about money and financial institutions. With the rise of blockchain technology, we are seeing a move away from traditional systems and towards new, innovative ways of conducting business. One example of this is the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are linked to real-world assets. This represents a major change in how we view ownership and participation in the digital world.
As an example, Momint has a YouTube channel that shares educational videos. They started to make money from the number of views, but this wasn’t part of their business model. So, they have now tokenised the channel and anyone who now owns a token can make some money from every view.
With blockchain technology being the underpinning component of Web3, Ian Putter, the Head of the Blockchain COE at Standard Bank Group says that “Blockchain is a paradigm shift. It represents value being transferred over the internet and facilitates the removal of hurdles and barriers of entry for smaller enterprises so others can’t govern control. It puts the control back in the hands of the community to facilitate truth and trust.” This makes it easier for content creators to monetise their content, without having to rely on third-party platforms like YouTube or Facebook.
This just goes to show that Web3 presents many opportunities for businesses, new and old. It presents an opportunity where people are not merely products or beneficiaries of technology-powered business models, but are builders and owners of digitally unique assets.
Africa Tech Week Award Winners and Runner-ups Announced:
● Africa Tech: CEO Award
Analytics Advertising – Talifhani Mamafha (Runner-up)
DataProphet – Frans Cronje (Winner)
● Africa Tech: Leader of the Year Award (Small-Med Business)
Lokal – Reshigan Govender (Runner-up)
IT Varsity – Bilal Kathrada (Winner)
● Africa Tech: Leader of the Year Award (Large Business)
Turner & Townsend – Wendy Cerutti (Runner-up)
Vodacom – Nkululeko Thangelane (Winner)
● Africa Tech: Women in Tech Award
Job Crystal – Sasha Knott (Runner-up)
LexisNexis – Videsha Proothveerajh (Winner)
● Africa Tech: Fintech Award
Eclectics International (Runner-up)
● Africa Tech: AI Technology Award
Aspire Solutions (Runner-up)
● Africa Tech: Digital Transformation Award
Turner & Townsend (Winner)
● Technology Innovation of The Year Award
Informed Decisions (Runner-up)
● Africa Tech: Technology Company of The Year
● Africa Tech: Best Technology Start-Up
Kena Health (Runner-up)