AfricaCom 2021 – Connecting The Next Billion

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The Who’s who of Africa’s connectivity champions unite to deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable, and sustainable digital connectivity- for all.

Africa’s population in 2021 is an estimated 1.384 billion (United Nations). By 2035, it is predicted to be more than 1.8 billion. Its population is, and will be, the youngest in the world (people under 30).  This presents governments with challenges in education, skills development, and job creation. Harnessing the power of technological innovation is a critical part of dealing with these issues effectively and providing a platform for economic growth. The Connecting the Next Billion track at this year’s virtual AfricaCom (part of the Africa Tech Festival) from 08-12 November 2021, is therefore, more important than ever.

Senior Event Director for the Virtual Africa Tech Festival, Tom Cuthell, commented on the essential role connectivity plays in the conversation at each successive AfricaCom event, saying: “Access to technology presents untold opportunities for socio-economic upliftment.  As event organisers, our role is to facilitate these crucial conversations, which is why Connecting the Next Billion has remained an agenda item for the past couple of years, and it will remain as such until more people are included in this digital conversation.”

Bringing together world class speakers, governments, MNOs and ISPs, global tech giants, rural and remote access solution providers, as well a digital inclusion expert, Connecting the Next Billion will explore why access, affordability, and applicability, remain the key challenges to connecting the continent. Discussions starting on day three include:

·         Bahvesh Mistry, Head of Project Taara, X, Alphabet’s Moonshot Factory presents Expanding access to fast, affordable broadband using beams of light and will share insights from Project Taara’s work, InnovaTech development, integration with Africa’s wider on-continent connectivity matrix and scalability to democratise access.

·         This is followed by a keynote address and a panel discussion on Africa’s evolving connectivity models in 2021 and beyond with Sylvie LaPerriera, Lead, Global Network Acquisition – Africa at GoogleMiriam Altman, Professor of Practice 4IR, National Planning Commission in the South African Presidency, Albert Lysko, Principal Researcher at The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and Temidayo Oniosun, Founder and Managing Director, Space in Africa.  The panel will unpack model matrix developments, explore the status of the biggest African projects, and discuss value-based policy championing super-fast affordable broadband.

A networking lunch break before delegates dive into a panel entitled: None Left Behind: Why connectivity remains the foundation of Africa’s digital economies. Fargani Tambeayuk, Head of Connectivity Policy at Facebook, Kalvin Bahia, Principal Economist at GSMA, Mercy Wanjou, Acting Director General, Communications Authority, Kenya, and Dorothy Stanley, Chair of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers will talk through bringing fibre to Africa’s off-grid communities, evolution of business models and explore case studies assessing impact and lessons learnt.

On day four, the track continues with Affordability Matters: African Connectivity is a Necessity, not a Luxury – Temidayo Oniosun, Founder and Managing director, Space in Africa, Alice Munyua, Director,  Africa Innovation, The Mozilla Foundation, Onica Makwakwa, Regional Coordinator Africa, Alliance for Affordable Internet and German Cufre, Global Manager for Telecom, Media and Technology Investments, International finance Corporation examine smartphone access, data pricing, accountability for non-compliant service providers and innovation during COVID 19.

In connecting the next billion, it’s important to understand why authentic African stories are a critical piece of the 4IR.  This panel tells the tale of tailored content that appeals to locals and the diaspora alike and has the ability to showcase Africa’s inherent talent, creativity and problem solving skills – now how to monetise it…perhaps understanding the phenomenal success that is Nigeria’s~$800M p/a Nollywood, will help.  Listen in on Wednesday at 14h30 to Nneamaka Nwadei, Broadcast JournalistNTA Lagos Network Centre; Boniswa Sidwaba Lead for Content Programming at TikTok; Olutomi Olutola Regional Connectivity and Digital Advisor – Bureau of Development, Democracy and Innovation atUSAID; Alex Okosi Managing Director – EMEA Emerging Markets, YouTube and Olivia M Ryan, Senior Account Executive at Atalanta.

Lastly on Wednesday, a fireside chat on Social Media in Africa: A coming-of-age story, which will explore the role of social media in social and state intersections, tech as a democratic tool, education and authentic inspiring content on real stories, successes and challenges from Africans.

On Thursday 11th November, an opening keynote discussion will centre on Shaping the Future of Africa & Leading Through Adversity.  Presented by accelerateHER, presenters include: Amolo Ng’weno, CEO, BFA Global; Odunayo Eweniyi Co-founder and COO of PiggyVest and Telia Urey, Businesswoman, Politician, Activist Liberia, Atalanta

To be part of the conversation shaping the future of Africa, register to attend the virtual AfricaTech Festival today.  It is currently FREE, and delegates can apply here. For a complete line-up see the website here:

MEDIA – for media accreditation, please use this link to register.

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