Resilience, recovery, relevance: how Africa is accelerating digital transformation for socio-economic impact

Resilience, recovery, relevance: how Africa is accelerating digital transformation for socio-economic impact

At an unprecedented ‘physical’ event in the pandemic era, business leaders and policymakers identified key levers for digital impact in Africa.

With the theme Accelerating National ICT Agendas , the 18th annual edition of the Innovation Africa Digital Summit (IADS) 2021 was recently held in Addis Ababa. Organised by Extensia, this premier conference in Ethiopia was one of the only major international ICT events held ‘physically’ in Africa this year.

With due safety measures and protocols in place, the conference drew 284 attendees from 25 countries, including 15 African countries. The lineup of 55 speakers shared authoritative insights across 20 sessions, with keynotes, panels, and solutions showcases.

As conference chair, here are my key takeaways on the main themes of the packed two-day event. See also my earlier conference coverage of IADS in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014, as well as the Youth Engagement Summit .

The session topics were in four thematic clusters: technology (eg. 5G, future-proofing networks), business models (eg. on-demand SaaS, PaaS), user experience (eg. relevance, desirability), and policy (eg. investment attractiveness, ecosystem partnerships). Panel: Africa Rising Digital infrastructure

The panel provocatively titled Africa Rising highlighted the progress Africa has made in ICT diffusion and adoption, while also acknowledging the real challenges ahead.

Dawit Bekele, Regional Vice President – Africa, Internet Society contrasted the 0.5 percent of telephone penetration in Sub-Saharan Africa in the year 2000, with 46 percent mobile penetration in 2020.

Africa’s gap with Europe in Internet penetration has narrowed from 20 times in 2005 to 2.2 times in 2020, according to cited data. Venture capital grew from around $200 million in 2015 to $2 billion in 2019.

Bekele indicated that Africa’s youth dividend and connectivity levels are sufficient to sustain digital innovation, which can be scaled up even more with a better legal and regulatory environment.

Pravin Udho, Managing Sales Director, Intelsat, explained how space-based satellite networks will play a major role in the 5G ecosystem in Africa. The company already serves seven of the world’s top 10 mobile network operators.

He cited data which forecasts that by the end of 2026, Sub-Saharan Africa will have around 70 million 5G subscriptions. In Africa, 5G networks have been officially deployed in a range of countries, including Madagascar, South Africa, and Kenya. Tests and plans are under way in other countries such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.5G use cases range from enhanced mobile broadband to machine-type communications. […]

Stay in the Know!

Sign up for the latest news and information on African Companies and Economy.

By signing up, you agree to receive MoneyInAfrica offers, promotions and other commercial messages. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply