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.
This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.
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.
This is just a quick post updating on how I’ve recently been justifying why it’s perfectly acceptable taking two hours over lunch, with a bit of insight into the Kenyan culture of “doing business with who you know”.
This is the first of a series of posts detailing the trends and common threads that I’ve learnt through interviewing a wide range of businesses operating in East Africa.
The East Africa Business Podcast is the weekly podcast that I’ve been running for the last six months. Right now we’re on episode 29 with plenty more to come, and so if you’re interested in hearing new episodes and checking out the archive, then hit Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
The first major sector that we’re going to look at is Food.