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he 26thWorld Economic Forum on Africa (WEF Africa) will take place in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, from 11th–13thMay. The annual gathering, which brings together leaders in business, civil society and government from across Africa and the globe, is an influential platform in shaping the continent’s business and policy landscape. This year’s theme is Connecting Africa’s Resources through Digital Transformation. Africa Business Radio
With innovation in technology redefining the spheres of business, government and citizens’ daily lives globally, Africa finds itself at a historic crossroads. Having effectively missed the industrial revolution, the continent has a unique opportunity to capitalize on the technology revolution and leapfrog other regions to position itself as a key player in the 21stcentury.
The potential for such leapfrogging has already been demonstrated. The mobile telecommunications revolution, which has swept the continent –there are now well over half a billion active connections on the continent –, caught much of the world by surprise. It has also allowed Africa to innovate in unique ways. Africa Business Radio
Kenya is the global leader in mobile money, and continued innovation is unlocking the potential application of mobile communication to everything from education and healthcare to governance and trade.
Access to international bandwidth is also undergoing a transformation. There were no fiber-optic cables connecting the continent in 2000, but now there are more than a dozen covering every region. While access remains limited, often confined to coastal urban centers where cables make landfall, investment into fiber networks across Africa is at an all-time high. While challenges remain, there is growing optimism about a technology revolution. Africa Business Radio
These trends have already transformed the lives of millions – from the basic ability to communicate, to service delivery by mobile device and civil society driven initiatives such as Kenya’s Ushahidi to hold governments to account.
They are also fuelling a tide of entrepreneurship among Africa’s young population, the majority of which is under 25 years old. From Accra to Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town and Addis Ababa, tech hubs are springing up, eager to catalyze investments into digital giants of the future. The Nigerian start-up, Andela, which seeks to train world-class developers across Africa, epitomizes this new generation of entrepreneurs.
With big money backing from US-based Spark Capital, which counts Twitter and Tumblr among some of its exits, it is a clear demonstration that Africa and cutting-edge technological innovation go hand in hand. Africa Business Radio