The inaugural edition of the Global Tech Africa (GTA) Conference concluded on November 19, 2023, running from November 17 at The Lekki Coliseum in Lagos, Nigeria. This four-day event emerged as a pivotal platform for the advancement of Africa’s digital economy, providing unparalleled insights into the potential and future of the continent’s tech ecosystem.
The conference kicked off with a private reception on November 16, 2023, hosted by Dr. Herbert Wigwe, the founder of the HOW Foundation and Wigwe University. The reception was a gathering of stakeholders and international partners, to set the stage, and kick off collaboration conversations.
On the 17th, the event began with a keynote speech by Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) of Nigeria, where he highlighted Nigeria’s ambition to become Africa’s tech capital. In his keynote address, he outlined the government’s commitment to partnering with various entities to create a platform, fostering networking and idea generation.
“The government is partnering with NGOs, organizations, foundations, and the international community to create this platform so that we can network and brainstorm ideas on how to enact policies that can enable the ecosystem and position Nigeria as a digital powerhouse in the global landscape,” he said.
Dr. Inya Lawal, Implementation Partner of the GTA Conference, emphasized the collaborative nature of the conference, highlighting its role as a catalyst for driving digital transformation across Africa. Stressing the interdependence of the public and private sectors, she emphasized the need for joint efforts to propel the tech industry forward, emphasizing it as a catalyst for initiating crucial conversations and united planning to steer Africa’s tech ecosystem toward sustainable growth. She stated:
Roundtable and panel sessions at the GTA Conference
The first day of the conference featured roundtable sessions and panels moderated by Dr Emmanuel Tarfa, Ms Bashira Hassan, and Mr Toye Oyewunmi. Topics included international frameworks for startups, the significance of data tracking in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem, and strategies to harness human resources for technological advancement. In line with the conference’s objectives, a rapid-fire session discussing the advancement of Nigeria’s digital economy and growth was one of the core highlights of the conference.
Present were Engr. Jennifer Adighije, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Entrepreneurship Development in Innovation and Digital Economy; Charles Odii, the Director PoliticalGeneral, of Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN); and the moderator, Kenise Hill, the Deputy and Economic Chief, U.S. Consulate General, Lagos.
International stakeholders, including the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), participated in discussions focused on digitizing Africa’s tech ecosystem. Tracy Okoro Isaac, CEO of Ventures Park, moderated the session, emphasizing the importance of partnerships. Markus Wauschkuhn, Coordinator at GIZ Nigeria, highlighted the significance of policies for foreign investors in nurturing the tech ecosystem.
Furthermore, the conference addressed the promising future of Nigeria’s health sector at the intersection of healthcare and technology. The impact of technology on the arts and culture scene was also explored through an exhibition by artist Alex Israel, showing how augmented and virtual realities have influenced his works, followed by an exhibition by the Goethe Institute titled, ‘‘Dreaming New Worlds.’’ The role of technology in accelerating the growth of music in Africa was discussed by Dr. Bada Akintunde-Johnson, Efe Omorogbe, and James Afuwape.
As the Global Tech Africa Conference was also focused on nurturing young talent, a spotlight was thrown on startup acceleration in tertiary institutions and improving student experience through tech, featuring young student founders such as Sola Owonikoko, who led the panel.
Mary Katambi, founder of iGee Closet from the Nigerian University of Technology and Management (NUTM), Damilola Mogaji, founder of Consonance from the Obafemi Awolowo University, John Alalade, founder of Uniconne, and Victor Afia, founder of Stickerkeen. These young founders discussed how innovation starts at the grassroots, as students will always find creative ways to solve their problems, and this leads to exceptional technological innovations—startups in their making.
The GTA Conference recognizes the pivotal role of diversity in fostering innovation. The empowerment of African women is essential for advancing their digital capabilities to the next level. The panel was led by Dr Olori Boye Ajayi, and it included Steffi Czerny, co-founder of the DLD Conference, and Julia Klockner, a member of the German Parliament.
As a key partner in this transformative event, DLD actively participated in crucial discussions that shaped the narrative around Africa’s burgeoning tech space. These discussions spanned from the challenges faced by women tech entrepreneurs in Africa to initiatives aimed at empowering women to harness technology in their businesses.
The GTA Conference also hosted a pitch session and seed funding for young tech founders, with Rukayat Kolawole emerging as the winner, securing a $20,000 “SAFE” investment in her startup, Regxta. The company provides quick and simple access to small businesses in rural areas with a specific target for internally displaced persons and refugees.
The success of the GTA Conference 2023 was made possible through collaboration with key partners, including the Future Map Foundation, NITDA Nigeria, the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos, Ascend Studios Foundation, Venture Garden Group, The HOW Foundation, Wigwe University, Trail, Business Sweden, RivExcel Health, and others.
These organizations recognize the immense potential of Africa’s digital economy and are committed to supporting its growth and development. The Global Tech Africa Conference 2023 served its role as a convention for influential tech stakeholders. It emerged as a testament to the vast prospects within Africa’s tech industry and an inspiration for young minds, reinforcing the belief that success in Africa’s tech space is not only achievable but guaranteed.
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