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A series of online events looking at the key trends driving Africa's tech and innovation systems

Upcoming Symposium: Connecting the Next Billion | 13 April & 15 April


Africa Tech Festival, the continent’s largest tech event, and Connecting Africa, the media brand dedicated to Africa’s digital transformation, are partnering to bring you a series of online events which will take an in-depth look at the key trends driving the continent’s tech and innovation ecosystems.

Connecting Africa editor Paula Gilbert will be joined by leading analysts and industry insiders, who will share their telecoms and enterprise market forecasts for 2021, with a focus on topics such as Connecting the Next Billion. The Symposium series has been designed to work around your busy schedule, allowing to to access detailed information on relevant topics, while minimising time away from work commitments.

Download the 2021 Brochure

Download the brochure to find out more about the 2020 attendee demographics, topics for 2020 and more.

Symposium Host: Paula Gilbert | Connecting Africa

Paula Gilbert joined Connecting Africa as Editor in June 2019. The South Africa-based journalist previously worked as a TV producer and reporter for business television channels Bloomberg TV Africa and CNBC Africa and started her career in radio news. She has been reporting on key developments in Africa's telecoms and ICT sectors for most of her journalistic career and prior to joining Connecting Africa was the telecoms editor at online publication ITWeb.

What can you expect at our upcoming symposium - Connecting the Next Billion?

For the first symposium in Q1 2021 analysts and top industry insiders will share telecoms and enterprise market forecasts for 2021, with a special focus on connectivity in Africa.  

Expert keynote speakers will share insights on Africa's connectivity landscape, from the last-mile challenge and the role of satellite to issues like affordability, a lack of local content and the ever-present digital gender gap. We will also discuss big opportunity areas like local content creation, innovative connectivity options and the outlook for Africa's sleeping giant, Ethiopia. 

Africa’s last mile connectivity challenge
Africa’s last mile connectivity challenge

Millions of Africans still don’t have connectivity options. In fact, nearly half of the global adult population has never used the internet, and the majority of those live in Africa. When we drill down to the last mile, what are the connectivity challenges keeping not only the next billion but the last billion Africans offline?  

In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders provide a status check for exactly where we are when it comes to the region’s infrastructure challenge in 2021, and where we are going. 

  • Connectivity as a key: Unpacking the link between electrification and connectivity, particularly in poor and rural areas 

  • Infrastructure investment: which investment trends are shaping the sector, how is policy facilitating financial support for connectivity projects while governing the influence of private and international investment 

  • Affordability: Strategies to remove the barrier of high internet service costs, against the backdrop of proven benefits of connectivity for digital economies and GDP per capita growth 

  • Industry spotlight: Examining scope, status and last mile viability of the continent’s biggest private sector connectivity projects - Equiano, 2Africa, Project Taara 

Space 2.0 – The role of satellite in Africa’s connectivity matrix
Space 2.0 – The role of satellite in Africa’s connectivity matrix

Rural connectivity remains a major issue across Africa. Satellite has always been a way to provide broadband options to rural and remote areas otherwise unconnected because of terrestrial service unviability.  

So, what does the continent's satellite market look like in 2021 and what is changing? This digital symposium will provide a status check for where we are and what trends are evolving when it comes to satellite coverage across the continent. 

  • Status check: Examining current satellite connectivity coverage, affordability and challenges to wider adoption and looking towards near-term investment trends for the sector 

  • Value: Exploring the role of satellite in the wider broadband connectivity drive: serving rural areas unreachable by terrestrial transmission, telemetry and spatial planning 

  • Industry trends: Looking at the impact other strategies and trends – GEO vs MEO & LEO, NGSO satellite projects – against the backdrop of the OneWeb and Sky & Space project challenges 

Smartphone and data affordability as a key connectivity driver
Smartphone and data affordability as a key connectivity driver

Western nations talk about connectivity in a very different context to those in Africa. The reality is that connectivity remains fundamentally linked to affordability for Africans. So, the challenge is how we bring down the price of smartphones and the data needed to power them – to ensure Africans aren’t spending significant portions of their monthly income on connectivity. Experts in the sector will provide presentations and join the live panel discussion to discuss this question and many more.

  • Status check: The current state of smartphone coverage in Africa, tracking the migration to 3G, 4G and 5G, and extrapolating the impact of COVID and other near-future trends 
  • Connectivity: Understanding smartphones as a key connectivity provider and portal to digital services: mobile money, e-health, digital education & location-based services 

  • Industry initiatives: Exploring how new telco-led schemes are putting affordable smartphones and data in the hands of African consumers - Lipa Mdogo Mdogo (Safaricom-Google); T-Smart (KaiOS Tech-Telkom Kenya) 

  • Digital skills & literacy: Addressing the biggest barrier to connectivity for low- and middle- income Africans and exploring strategies for building a tech savvy workforce for the 4IR 

  • Regulatory impact: What regulatory interventions are happening on the continent to bring data prices down, in SA the CompCom forced operators to drop priced but is that happening elsewhere? Should regulators be getting involved in pricing or should it be competition based? Are interventions making any real impact 

Country deepdive – Ethiopia
Country deepdive – Ethiopia

Ethiopia – Africa's sleeping giant. With a population of over 110 million, the Horn of Africa nation has one of the world's fastest-growing economies, making it an appealing market in which to offer mobile and fixed-line services. The country is looking to liberalize its telecoms sector and, for the first time, allow privately-owned and foreign-owned telcos to operate. In this Connecting Africa online event, local analysts and industry stakeholders will discuss why Ethiopia is such an appealing market for operators and what to expect once the nation truly opens its doors.    

  • Business environment: What do new market entrants need to know about Ethiopia’s tech ecosystem? Policy & regulation, financial, telecoms, the start-up scene 

  • Ethio telecom: Examining the current status of ethio telecom’s part-privatisation plan - what is the current timeline for granting of licences? 

  • Growth impact: What kind of mobile growth can we expect once the market opens up?