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8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

Digital Infrastructure Investment

Ensuring infrastructure investment remains at the top of Africa’s tech agenda, as the centrepiece of the continent’s digital transformation

The Digital Infrastructure Investment track at AfricaCom shines a light on those delivering on the promise of digital connectivity for all. We’ll explore the largest, most impactful infrastructure projects, market developments & investment opportunities, evolving strategy & partnership models, tech advances, and regulatory conditions in African Telecoms.

What's it about?

Uniting Africa’s infrastructure builders, service providers, and connectivity champions, Digital Infrastructure Investment shines a light on those delivering on the promise of digital connectivity for all. We’ll explore the largest, most impactful infrastructure projects, market developments & investment opportunities, evolving strategy & partnership models, tech advances, and regulatory conditions.

Africa’s infrastructure challenge is certainly not a new one, it’s remained perhaps the most significant hurdle on the continent for the last 25 years, but it’s an evolving story. Huge investments are being made right across traditional fibre, satellite, tower, and data centre sectors, driving progress and bringing millions more online. 

With improving connectivity, the increasing reach of ecommerce, and improving prospects for green tech in Africa, renewed focus is turning to the continent’s transport and electricity infrastructure - both of which must surely be considered basic necessities for a modern society. 

Key sessions include...

Africa Rewired - Building a new continental subsea backbone

  • Major players: The biggest on-continent projects delivering >100,000km of African undersea fibre cable and the opportunity for affordable, reliable high-speed internet 
  • Last mile: Bringing connectivity to homes and businesses inland requires thousands more kms of terrestrial cable. How will this be distributed to ensure communities beyond the coastal towns and cities benefit?

  • Partners: What’s the process for initiating and delivering such complex projects? How are cross-sector stakeholders brought together, and can these projects provide a blueprint for more collaborative future approaches?

  • Tech 2.0: The network capacity and internet speed boom will drive a new age of innovation and tech adoption, from cloud computing and AI to IoT and video streaming

The $100B Gap: New investment paradigms for age-old infrastructure challenges

  • Infra paradox: While there is an obvious need for funding and viable projects, and investors with the required capital exist in abundance, projects aren’t making it to completion - why?  

  • Private push: Recent years have seen an increased share of private sector funded infrastructure in Africa, how can governments create fertile environments for these projects, and what will it mean for factors like return on investment, and ownership?

  • Smarter strategy: International governments, investment/pension funds present a huge resource for closing Africa’s infrastructure gap, but 80% of projects fail at feasibility. We’ll explore how smarter strategy can help improve this  

  • Modern models: Innovative approaches to closing the gap: sovereign wealth funds, relocating government financing, and infrastructure sharing partnership

Retail Revolution - How eCommerce is revolutionising the way Africa shops

  • Why wait? In the past 10 years eCommerce has exploded around the world but uptake on the continent has been slow. Why?

  • Cash conundrum: Cash-on-delivery comprises ~90% of Africa’s eCommerce payments, reasons include poor connectivity, hardware penetration & interoperability,  the gig economy, 

  • Security: Unpacking how fraud, theft and other digital risks are genuine obstacles to wider uptake of eCommerce – what’s being done to protect Africa’s online shoppers?

  • Disruptive tech: Exploring how innovative tech like drones, 3D printing and AI are addressing legacy road, rail and mail infrastructure challenges

Creating cost-efficient connectivity networks with Open RAN

  • DisrupTech: Exploring how Open RAN can enhance continental connectivity through supply chain disruption and hardware sharing. Also facilitating 4G/5G uptake through the vendor diversification that comes with cheaper market entry

  • GreenTech: Understanding green tech in Africa and how the technology can reduce power consumption and drive infrastructure sharing to facilitate more sustainable energy models

  • Case studies: Looking at some of Africa’s planned and active market deployments, and the major players - Central African Republic, South Africa

Connected Continent? Not yet. Virtues of an African single market

  • Policy: A digital single market offers more attractive opportunities for domestic entrepreneurs and international investors than one country could achieve alone - what efforts are being made to create more formal ways of working together?

  • Challenges: Difficulties of working across a continent of 54 nations, each with unique policy, culture, finance, resources, what value can multi-national frameworks like the AfCFTA bring in the long term?

  • Interoperability: International trade is a central part of any functioning digital economy but how connected can a continent really be without efficient cross-border payment and trading?

Closing Africa’s electricity deficit to deliver energy for all

  • Power to the people: Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 600M people who lack electricity access, 70% of the global total. Fixing this demands a reframing of the issue to grow infrastructure spending beyond SSA’s 3.5% yearly average of GDP 

  • Solutions: Exploring routes to grow electrification - regional ‘power pools’ and partnerships, infrastructure sharing & innovative financing, green energy, energy-as-a-service

  • Learnings: <2% of North Africans live without reliable power; in India >100 million people were connected to electricity in a single year, 2018. We’ll explore learnings from how this was achieved, and can be again in SSA

  • Inaction risks: Alongside the obvious productivity handicap to economies, reliance on coal/wood stoves and diesel generators, inefficient healthcare & COVID-19 vaccine storage also present significant health risks from inaction