Who Will Power Africa’s Technology Revolution?

Africa is going to be the next economic powerhouse.Africa’s momentum, combined with the current digital era, suggests that Africa could leapfrog all other continents by solving many of our problems with technology. But on our current path, this prosperous future is elusive. Right now, we just do not have the technical manpower to support Africa’s technological revolution at scale.

Enter Africa4Tech

Africa4Tech is an organization aimed at convening African leaders in Education, Agriculture, Energy, and Health to solve Africa’s problems in each of these sectors, through technology.I attended the first edition of the Africa4Tech conference in Marrakech, Morocco, to represent Andela as a speaker and expert in TechEd. Each of the four industries (Education, Agriculture, Energy, and Health) had three workshops with specific problems to solve, and each attendee participated in a workshop. The end goal was to create three technology solutions in each of the four sectors for a total of twelve continent-shifting solutions to critical problems.I participated in a workshop on building an effective funding model for EdTech businesses. We built a prototype virtual accelerator called Nellie that provides a financial modeling AI, an advisory network, and a funding network. Users (EdTech entrepreneurs) can repeatedly tweak their business model based on feedback from the AI until it becomes a viable business model, and then they get access to an advisory network that supports them with a checklist that measures investor-readiness. At that point, they’d have access to Africa4Tech’s EdTech fund and other investors who piggyback off our business verification process. Cool eh!?

Dashboard from the Nellie AI prototype being presented by Nellie :)

In addition to the eleven other solutions of equal or greater complexity, there were “Young Innovators” from thirty-two countries who showcased their inventions to the community. Some of the solutions I recall are:

  • A 3D printer made from e-waste
  • A smart bag that charges your laptop with solar energy
  • A mobile app to support mothers raising their infants
  • A fish tank that grows food produce with the aqua-waste

Being the learning science practitioner that I am, at the end of every long day of speaking, workshopping, and interacting with the young innovators, I took time to reflect on my learnings and how I’m contributing with my work.Africa’s population is growing rapidly and is projected to be at 2.5 billion by 2050.Eventually, all these technology-enabled solutions would need to scale to serve the continent. But if we don’t have the technical manpower, then how can we possibly create a wide number of solutions, or scale them to reach billions?

Enter Andela

Andela extends engineering teams with world-class technical talent (i.e., software developers, DevOps engineers, etc), and aims to empower 100,000 technology leaders across Africa over the next 10 years. We deeply believe that though the digital revolution may have begun in Silicon Valley, its future will be written in Lagos, Nairobi, and cities across Africa.After the Africa4Tech conference, I’m going to add Marrakesh to that list. I’m truly inspired and energized by what I saw, who I met, and how much I learned there.I’m happy to continue participating in the global conversation of how we can usher in Africa’s digital economy era.

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