Unlike other conferences I’ve been to, there was a refreshing level of debate between panellists which facilitated getting to the crux of a number of issues.
Here are some key aspects:
1. Will Africa take a different development sequence?
Europe/ US/ Asia developed through ‘industrialisation’ i.e. building factories. Africa is developing in the time of mass connectivity and so will digitalisation side step this pattern?
Yes: many more opportunities to cheaply connect globally, especially regarding the gig economy
No: some things require “old fashioned” value creation i.e. you can’t smelt minerals with solar power alone
2. What is AI’s role in Africa’s development?
More than just an internet connection, Artificial Intelligence and robotics are developments that take jobs ordinarily fulfilled by humans.
The paradox: “AI may take jobs, but there are no jobs to take in Africa”
“M-Pesa was 10 years’ ago. What’s happened since then? What’s next?!”
Her answer: Kenya needs to embrace blockchain technology
4. China’s role in Africa
On the whole China felt underrepresented from the conference. The country has a deep presence on the continent which may seem strange given the infancy of domestic markets.
Crux of the relationship: China is de-localising manufacturing of low value processes as they focus on AI
On the whole it was a thought-provoking day with considerate people discussing the development of the region. If you’re interested in other events, take a look here.
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Since touching down back in Kenya in late August there have been some developments on the work front.
After a year or so of doing freelance consulting, and nurturing different business ideas it got to the stage where I fancied shaking things up and actually cracking on with some of the opportunities I’d been telling everyone that I was seeing.
As you might have seen, I have a bit of thing about business in East Africa.
Since deciding to relocate to the region last year in order to set up a business I’ve found myself learning as much about the region as possible, and taken enjoyment in distilling the many complex moving parts into a narrative which I can comprehend and communicate.
On a recent trip back to London, I looked at how I could share this with others.
Today I’m flying back to the UK for a month to catch up with friends, family and some clients I’ve been working with.
The date on the plane ticket is a year to the day from when I took a flight in the opposite direction and touched down in East Africa for the first time and so it therefore feels like an apt time to reflect on the last 12 months, and take stock of what’s been going on.
I’ve spent the last few days living in a village in Western Kenya.
It’s been an excellent experience that’s not only opened up what’s happening in another part of the country, but also reminded me of some concepts I’ve been reading about recently.