At Viva Technology 2018, Africa Was Given The Representation It Deserves

Taking its position as the ‘global rendezvous for startups and leaders’ seriously, more than 125 countries were represented at Viva Technology 2018. Over 100,000 attendees interacted with content from over 300 speakers, and over 1800 startups either exhibiting or pitching etc. But for me, what truly mattered was the amount of African representation that was included in the list of 125 countries. For its 3rd edition, Viva Technology dedicated a hub to African tech & innovation, with over 50 African startups present.

The world is definitely looking to Africa as the future, and why shouldn’t they! Considering Africa is the youngest continent (with a population over 1.2 billion and millions of mobile internet users), there is abundant supply – talented individuals looking for opportunities, natural resources, diverse cultures – and abundant demand and growth opportunities.

Therefore, taking into account Africa’s status as the future, African voices should be given bigger (and more?) platforms to discuss the challenges and issues we are addressing on the continent, as well as celebrate the successes/achievements we have made through our startups, business models and innovative products.

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That’s exactly what was achieved with Africa@tech at Viva Technology 2018. Some of the brightest minds from across the continent were given opportunities to share their progress, visions and startup ideas etc.

From Rwanda to Nigeria, Cameroon to Morocco, we were able to discuss our unifying factors as Africans and also our differences - after all, the African experience is not monolithic.

It’s very important that we get to speak for ourselves. As a Nigerian, I truly have no business speaking on behalf of Kenyans, Ivorians, South Africans and any others. Giving these nationalities room to discuss the nuances in their environments and how they are addressing them through technology is extremely impactful in changing the irritating – and to be quite frank – stupid perception of ‘Africa as a country’. It is also key to bringing further investment into our countries.

I had the privilege of being one of the speakers given the platform to discuss this and more, including what Konbini is planning to do in Africa, and what we have already achieved in Nigeria in less than 2 years – over 500k fans on social media, 10 million reach (a month), and over 13 million video views so far. We have collaborated with brands to tell compelling and truthful stories of young Nigerians making a change. We already have a growing African audience reading our English and French editions and we are keen to expand further into Central West Africa and the Maghreb region.

More importantly, our audience is the young African; under the age of 35, gender-balanced, digesting content via mobile and culturally and socially-inclined. This audience is embarking on a youthful wave in which technology has changed the way we tell African stories, and more often, we are seeing our stories going viral.

All in all, as French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Africans need solutions made in Africa” with African minds directly involved in the problem solving, and Africa@tech was a step in the right direction. As it says on the Viva Technology website “African entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, and public officials will come together to present an exciting vision of the future” and that’s exactly what happened. Now it’s time for everyone to continue making sure that vision is a continuous reality.

Thank you VivaTech! Until 2019!

By Damilola Odufuwa, published on 28/05/2018

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