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8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

Technology in Action

AgTech, HealthTech, eCommerce and beyond: tracking emerging technology disruption in Africa

The Tech in Action Stream will explore how technology has and will disrupt industries across the continent from sectors such as healthcare to agriculture which sustains 70% of Africa's livelihoods. The impact of IoT and edge computing to improve productivity and sustainability across the latter could be enormous.

About the topic

The Tech in Action Stream will explore how technology has and will disrupt industries across the continent from sectors such as healthcare to agriculture which sustains 70% of Africa's livelihoods. The impact of IoT and edge computing to improve productivity and sustainability across the latter could be enormous. For Healthcare, the impact of COVID-19 has boosted investment in technologies like AI to facilitate communication and create a more efficient process of diagnosis.

We will deep dive into what are some of the key emerging technologies with the biggest impact and understand some of the changes it is creating for lives across the continent. Our focus will shift from looking at innovations within the start-up scene, to how governments to the big players in the industries are adapting to the change.

Key sessions include:

What’s next for the booming Healthtech Sector in Africa?

  • Investment: Capital for health tech start-ups increased with start-ups raising over 90 million in funding from October 2020-May 2021, is this a pattern that will continue to grow, or will the sector continue to suffer from lack of investment?
  • Private sector: The changing healthcare landscape has led to a greater need for innovation in the sector. How will the role of the private sector change and how can it work with governments to encourage adoption of healthtech?
  • Policy: Clear and harmonised regulations is often cited as a barrier to growth, how can countries across the continent put in place effective policies to support innovation in the sector? Exploring Ugana’s National e-health policy as a case study.
  • Infrastructure: To what extent is infrastructure a key challenge for the adoption of e-health and what are countries doing to tackle it?

Translating Technological Innovation into Practical Change

  • Power of Data: Data is key to creating a more efficient and effective healthcare system, but data alone is not enough, it needs to be translated into easily digestible, practical workflows,
  • Training: Upskilling local healthcare workforce will be key to driving the use of technology across the healthcare systems, what are some of the barriers that will arise?
  • Accessibility:  There are currently still 4 billion people that lack access to basic healthcare services. AI is a useful tool to fill this gap because of its capability to provide diagnostics and administrative support. Since the start of the pandemic, how has AI increased accessibility to healthcare and how will it evolve?

Mobile Technologies are at the Forefront of Telehealth Innovation

Building the infrastructure for a climate resilient future

  • Desert to Power initiative: Deep dive into the newly validated regional roadmap of the Desert to Power Initiative, an AfDB programme which aims to provide clean energy to 250 million from 5 Sahel states which include Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad
  • Ethiopia: Exploring how Ethiopia is setting itself up to be the next clean energy as the government is set to invest $40B in the construction of renewable energy production infrastructure over the next 10 years
  • What’s next? Although clean energy projects are underway across the continent, analysis by IEA & IRENA estimate, annual investments in the power system must double by 2030 to achieve sustainable and reliable energy for all and would be amount to more ifthe continent wishes to move away from fossil fuels altogether

How tech Innovation can help cope with the effects of Climate Change

  • Context: African countries risk losing up to 15% of their GDP to climate change by 2030. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables form part of what will make industrialization in Africa a reality, over the next two decades.
  • AI: AI can be used in digital technologies for analysis of climate change data which can help African small island states better understand the impact of climate on key industries like fisheries, and to measure environmental impacts.

How Digital Transformation can help small scale farms unlock the potential of agritech (IFC and Microsoft Initiative)

The Power of Agritech in growing African food security or The Resilience of the African Agricultural Sector

  • Context:  According to a Brookings research report, food production needs to grow by 60% over the next couple of decades to meet the needs of the continent’s growing population. We will explore the extent to which Agritech can boost productivity and the barriers to meeting the future needs of the region.
  • Challenges: Agriculture and food security in Africa have suffered the challenges of low productivity, lack of knowledge and exposure to new farming techniques, and limited financial support
  • Emerging tech:  The use of AI to help farmers better manage disasters like droughts or precision irrigation applications for crop farmers, shows the potential of Agritech in Africa but which of these technologies show the most promise in addressing the key challenges faced by farmers?

How accessible is Agritech to farmers across Africa?

  • Barriers to youth engagement: Only 23 percent of youth engaged in agriculture are using any form of the innovations in Africa
  • Inspiring the next generation: Agritech can create opportunities for young people who might otherwise ignore agriculture while sustainably increasing productivity for smallholder farmers but what are the barriers to the adoption of technology in the industry?
  • Investment: How can new investments stimulate access to innovations that could encourage African youth to reconsider opportunities in the sector and where are thE-commerce 2.0: The shift in ecommerce from goods to essentialsy coming from?

E-commerce 2.0: The shift in ecommerce from goods to essentials

  • Context: In South Africa, where e-commerce sales were forecast to more than double in 2020,64 % of consumers made their first online grocery purchase and 53 percent bought goods from an online pharmacy for the first time.
  • COVID-19: Following the numerous lockdowns, consumers have become more accustomed to buying the basics of everyday life, how has this trend shaped e-commerce strategies, is there now a demand for faster, more efficient services across the continent?
  • Rural Market: One of the benefits of e-commerce is for rural communities that can access products which are unavailable to them locally, has there been the same shift towards the need for essentials such as food and medical supplies in these areas?

Empowering Women in Ecommerce could grow the market by billions

  • Context: Women vendors experienced a 7% drop while men experienced a 7% rise in average GMV during the pandemic, this session will explore some of the reasons why this disparity exists and what steps can be taken to reverse the trend.
  • E-commerce platforms: According to a report from the IFC & Jumia, women are more likely to own microenterprises and have lower individual sales. How can E-commerce platforms provide the support needed to help women entrepreneurs grow and thrive?
  • Growth opportunity: Encouraging equality could also benefit the African e-commerce market as it is estimated to grow $14.5 billion if the number of women selling on online platforms achieves parity with men, how will this incentivise both the private and public sectors to invest?