Q: Looking at the next two years what are the biggest tech trends you anticipate?
FO: The biggest tech trends anticipated for the next two years on the continent are continued growth in broadband access and internet penetration and some early adoption of AI.
Q: What do you see as the main mission of the Leadership Council?
FO: The Leadership Council will provide insights and guidance on the latest developments in Tech around the Continent and ensure Africa Tech Festival remains relevant to the industry.
Q: What one piece of advice would you give to someone who has never attended Africa Tech Festival before?
FO: Single source of information and contact for what is happening and the companies making things happen in Tech across Africa.
Q: How is MainOne supporting the tech industry in West Africa?
FO: MainOne, an Equinix company is continuing to grow our service portfolio on the continent by investing in new data centres and deploying critical terrestrial fibre infrastructure.
Q: Building West Africa’s first privately owned undersea cable system is a pretty impressive achievement. What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
FO: It has taken identifying the opportunity back in 2008 to build out the digital infrastructure in our region, and following through on that mission by putting the building blocks in place – people, capital, processes, technology, go-to-market strategies and a focus on service to our customers.
Q: How has the tech start-up ecosystem evolved over the last few years?
FO: When we started the business, there was hardly a digital economy in our region because access to the Internet was sparse. Today, you have fintechs, E-Commerce, content providers, and all kinds of digitally-enabled businesses thriving in the region because access exists to deliver solutions and services online.
Q: What is needed to continue pushing the tech start-up scene across the continent?
FO: Governments need to support start-up companies and provide incentives to scale.
These companies are developing skills, providing jobs for our youth and paying taxes and addressing critical needs in our communities. So our governments need to see them as allies in addressing some of the gaps that government alone is unable to fulfil.
Q: In light of the recent Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) crisis, what precautions can businesses take in Africa? Is foreign investment perceived as more of a negative across the continent?
FO: I think SVB shows that businesses need to ensure their plans are sustainable and manage risk better. However, I do not believe the exposure to African tech companies from the SVB crisis is material.
I think given the immense need for capital to grow African entrepreneurship and the digital economy, any investment that is well structured, be it foreign or domestic is welcome.