From the first mobile roll-out in Africa to the present day, Africa’s communications revolution has taken 36 years and, arguably, this is just the end of the beginning. The author of Africa 2.0 - Inside a Continent's Communications Revolution, Russell Southwood will moderate a session with industry veterans who played key roles in this historic journey to tease out what it can tell us about what will happen over the next ten years.
Mobile data & infrastructure: how roll-out barriers were negotiated and what work remains
Mobile money the transformer: how these services came to be born and the future of this 'magic sauce'
Digital life: how Africans have taken to using the internet and why the best is yet to come
- Innovation & start-ups: what lit the fuse for African start-ups and how they will change how business is done in Africa?
Small, medium & micro enterprises are Africa’s economic backbone. The sector’s scale is breath-taking: SMMEs comprise 90% of the private sector, employ >80% of the workforce, and number >44 million. The fact that its power remains ‘potential’ is indicative of a sector which remains acutely underserved.
This session explores how placing Africa’s SMMEs at the centre of the digital revolution and equipping them with the tools to thrive will unlock economic development across sector, region, and demographic.
Digital gap: SMMEs are often late digital adopters, rarely by choice. How can improved access to communities, markets, financial services, and data tackle investment and infrastructure gaps?
- Government: unpacking why policy and regulation must be the first steps in creating enabling lending frameworks and nurturing ecosystems for the continent’s nascent enterprises
There’s a race going on to build Africa’s cloud infrastructure. Public cloud providers and global hyperscalers invest in what remains a lucrative but under-developed sector. This session explores how players are balancing investment and service innovation demands with legacy infrastructure challenges - to deliver affordable, industry-agnostic software that serves enterprise, across sectors.
Service evolution: how can cloud-based solutions and APIs be leveraged to facilitate digital automation of manual tasks, reduce infrastructure costs, and enable software deployment
- Innovation intersects: cloud service functionality and efficiency are inexorably linked to connectivity - how can cloud, edge computing & 5G combine to power African enterprise?
The virtues of 5G connectivity - faster speeds, lower latency, & greater network capacity - are well documented and much discussed in boardrooms and headlines across the continent. But, beyond the hype, what are the realistic enterprise and consumer applications in the near-term?
This session unpacks technological application across industry vertical, how providers can leverage 5G to address the continent’s bandwidth challenge, and the hurdles Africa must address to deliver widespread rollout.
Connected Society: affordable, reliable 5G networks will be a critical tech-enabler, driving uptake of wearable IoT, smart devices, smartphone adoption & home fixed wireless access
- Cost: unpacking one of the most pertinent obstacles to roll-out and unpacking the argument that 5G could eventually be a cheaper way to deliver voice and connectivity
No global region has added more internet users in the last 10 years than Africa. While this progress towards a connected continent has rightly been lauded, there’s more to the story. A pattern of increasingly oppressive, exclusive controls have raised questions on what environment internet users, new and old, are using for work and play. This session will explore the pervasiveness and impact of internet taxes, hacks & data leaks, social media bans, and shutdowns on internet access.
Connecting off-grid communities to the internet is a complex operation, requiring the balance of a multitude of deployment considerations, all of which relate to one key factor: cost. Traditional access networks rarely align with the specific needs of underserved areas and a new approach - one that moves away from connecting underserved areas as ‘islands’ - is required.
We’ll explore how innovations in strategy, power and investment are making building and operating networks more viable, and ultimately driving improved capacity, coverage, and affordability.
Patchwork: industry collaboration to build complementary networks that leverage the individual strengths of fibre, satellite, backhaul, and terrestrial to deliver constant, affordable internet
- Tech evo: exploring how innovations on networks-as-a-service, renewable energy, remote management & edge grids, and infrastructure sharing are redefining connectivity models
Each of the hundreds of millions of newly connected African smartphones, laptops, tablets, smart home devices, and IoT sensors coming online each year require a unique IP address to communicate across the internet. What's the big deal? Well, the tech currently hosting these devices, IPv4, has run out of space.
Addressing the shortage of available IP addresses is critical to internet growth and continued progress towards leveraging inclusive, efficient 4IRs. IPv6, the next-gen IP address standard has already been developed, tested, and rolled out across the continent, and can support many trillions of new devices.
This session explores a route to wider, more urgent IPv6 rollout in Africa, and why tech innovation alone is not enough to drive migration from IPv4 – education, partnership & regulation are also critical.
Adoption hurdles: addressing poor resource allocation, incompatible infrastructure, and weak regulation – and leveraging innovations such as dual-stacking cato accelerate IPv6 roll-out
- Application: implications for a continent stuck on IPv4 for crucial sectors – telecoms, smart cities, data centres, & industrial IoT – alongside learnings from countries, South Africa & Nigeria, leading IPv6 deployment
A cost of ≤2% av. monthly income per 1GB is a globally accepted target for internet data. Africans, on average, pay 3.3% - with a small minority, incl. Cameroon & Namibia, paying below 2%. This session will unpack why affordable internet isn't some lofty dream, but a very achievable goal for Africa.
Key Factors: what are the critical factors determining internet data costs in 2022, and how can public and private sectors partner to remove barriers to affordable connectivity for all?
- Progress: compared with global scores, Africa saw the greatest affordability index gains, with Malawi, The DRC, Sudan & Ethiopia as stand out improvers. How has this been achieved?
With the world reconvening again for COP27, countries are pushing towards more ecofriendly policies to face the challenge that climate change poses globally. One big question for the continent of Africa is how governments can help address the climate disaster without furthering hindering basic needs for its population.
- Powering industrialization: How to leverage development finance institution funding to accelerate investment in private sector resources.
- Leading in the green economy: How can Africa get ahead of the curve and collaborate across countries to build financially viable power projects?
- Green transition: Exploring the development of the African-European Partnership established in 2020 and how the EU’s 150 billion can be used to help build policy around tackling climate change.
The ICT sector has traditionally been a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions as data centers, for example, contribute to 2% of global GHG. The sector therefore also has a real potential to play a part in combating climate change and taking steps to reduce energy consumption and operate more sustainably.
- Green Target: What are simple steps that ICT providers can take to lower their carbon emissions? Exploring how innovation in infrastructure building across data centers can lower energy use by up to 90%.
- Innovative Tech: What impact can smart electricity grids and smart cities have in lowering Africa's carbon emissions?
Across the continent, telcos and enterprises are launching sustainability strategies to address their role in tackling challenges faced in communities they operate in. These include issues of financial inclusion and technological skills gap as well as responding to the impact of climate change on the continent.
- Effecting change: How are these companies collaborating with local governments and communities to understand what needs to be done and set targets around long term sustainability?
- Affordability: Africa’s energy prices are higher than ever and still not affordable to the majority of Africans. How can 4IR technologies provide the opportunities to enable more equal distribution of energy at an affordable price?
Although Sub-Saharan countries (excluding South Africa) are only responsible for 0.55% of the carbon emissions, 7 of the top 10 most vulnerable countries to climate change are in Africa. This session will explore how the continent can leverage its breadth of resources to become a leader in renewable energy production and reduce its vulnerability to the effects of climate change.
- Scaling production: Using Africa’s natural resources to scale production of renewable energy systems. What are some of the barriers stopping the investment in renewable energy production across the continent and how can they be addressed?
- AfCFTA: How intra African trade can empower countries to benefits from the power of their natural resources.
The world’s largest philanthropic donors have a long history of activity in Africa. In recent years, philanthropy has been matched by ‘impact investing’ which aims to combine the benefits of positive impact with financial return.
Africa has a great opportunity to leapfrog into climate technology leadership: cargo drones, robotics, agriculture and renewable energy are all areas where Africa has the potential for world-leading innovation.
Progressive policy is the foundation for any country seeking to embrace the 4IR and create a digital economy. The role of regulation is just as vital in ensuring laws are equitable and pragmatic. Furthermore, rising cybercrime, ransomware, and digital identity theft pose significant threats: in 2021, cybercrime reduced GDPs across Africa by 10%, resulting in a $4 billion loss. This trend is affecting trust in the digital space. This session looks at how West African regulators and policy makers are advancing the region’s digital transformation and data governance frameworks, while exploring the process of creating and implementing fit-for-purpose tech policy.
West African countries are striving to create a digital economy to foster new drivers of economic and social transformation, innovation, governance, and regional integration. Progress on this score is critically dependent on infrastructure. A need to bridge the infrastructure gaps and making telco services affordable is a preoccupation for many players.
If there was ever a time to watch progress in West Africa, it would be now. The region can leapfrog technological trends and with the rapid scaling of digital technologies there are big opportunities awaiting to be exploited. As a result, new business models are emerging, partnerships forming, innovation is scaling, and time is now to harness these trends to create more opportunities.
Digital payments have become a preferred mode of payments in many parts of the world, and the West African region is no exception. In fact, the growth of digital payment in this region is higher than most of the other regions. In this session, we will explore the digital payment and mobile finance in the West African region – It’s opportunities, advantages, challenges, and all-important ‘good to know’.
In the past five years, West Africa’s tech scene has witnessed a boom, with a dramatic increase in innovators and tech entrepreneurs – aka ‘tech-preneurs’ – using technology to provide simple and accessible solutions to everyday problems. From payment services to apps helping people grow their savings and making it easier for Africans to partake in the global scramble for cryptocurrency, West Africa’s tech scene is livelier than ever. Join this session to hear from leading startups in the region who are rising to new heights in the global-tech industry and redefining it from the inside out.
Elevating Founders is a programme for promising business-ready Seed/Series A startups to pitch to investors, exhibit to buyers and network at the world’s largest tech festivals.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063, the framework for creating Africa’s global future powerhouse, sets out cybersecurity as one of the key initiatives critical to its success. Although some progress has been made, there is a lack of regional wide policies on cybersecurity creating opportunities for cybercriminals to infiltrate systems.
- Legislation: As of February 2022, 33 countries have passed legislation around cybersecurity out of 54 African countries. How successful are the policies implemented so far and what are the restrictions for the rest of the continent?
- Cross-sector Collaboration: How do regional stakeholders need to work together to respond to the increase of cyber-attacks across the continent? Should there be a Pan-African cybersecurity framework? How effective is the AU Cybersecurity Expert Group provide guidance to these governments to ratify policies?
Within the last few years, Ghana is one of the countries across the continent that has taken steps to invest in the development of a cybersecurity structure. Not only has the country ratified several international treaties such as the Convention on Cybercrime, the AU Convention on Cybersecurity & data protection but has been rated as a leader in the continent by the ITU with a cybersecurity index development rate at around 87%.
- Cybersecurity best practises: Although Ghana is seen as a champion in the region on cybersecurity, cybercrime is still very much prevalent across Ghana. What more can the government and private sector do to tackle credit card fraud and internet users that continue to be victims of cybercrime?
- Planning Ahead: Ghana has been praised for its progress in building successful cybersecurity frameworks but what are some of the key malware attacks taking place and what vulnerabilities should business be aware of to ensure their security is futureproof?
Ransomware cybercrimes are increasing at a rapid rate across Africa and have transformed from small operations to conducting nuisance attacks. With increased smartphone penetration, cybercriminals target vulnerable, unsecure devices to install malware. A report by Interpol revealed that in 2020 alone, over 60% of companies in Africa were affected by ransomware.
- Targeting financial hubs: Exploring the evolution of malware attacks and how banks are being targeted with more sophisticated cyberattacks enabling full control of computers.
- Data protection: What are some of the precaution measures companies and individuals can take against ransomware attacks? How effective is the installation of Air Gaps for protection of your data? What other precautions can companies take to help prevent cyber extortion?
Web 3.0 presents an incredible opportunity for companies with the metaverse becoming a reality and providing opportunities to do business, interact socially or take part in commercial activities through a virtual setting. These opportunities also come with increased security threats that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
- Social engineering: the majority of cyberattacks are trough social engineering as users are still adapting to new technologies. How common is cryptocurrency wallet cloning in the metaverse and how are cybercriminals using seed ENS domains to carry out cyberattacks?
- Smart contracts: How can cybercriminals exploit smart contracts and how effective are malicious smart contracts created by hackers?
South Africa is reported to have the 3rd highest number of cybercrimes and one of the challenges the country faces in combatting it is the shortage of cybersecurity skills. Companies are struggling to hire people with the capabilities to not only manage the attacks but equip the organisation with a proficient security system to future-proof the security of their business.
- Education over technology: In order for technology to efficiently be managed and run cybersecurity programmes, the right skills are needed to understand the interoperability of the solution and be able to implement it.
- South Africa as a case study: The South African government implemented a formal education qualification for graduate and post graduate degrees to address the cybersecurity skill gaps. How effective has this been at meeting some of the skills shortages in its early stages?