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MEST Africa Hosts Fourth Annual Pan-African Tech Summit

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Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator MEST Africa, has concluded its fourth successful MEST Africa Summit, in partnership with Microsoft.

The event saw entrepreneurs, investors, ecosystem players and executives from across Africa and the globe meet to explore innovations and rising stars in the African tech ecosystem.

Panelists discussed topics ranging from data in the fintech space, to  the latest in agritech and healthcare, to ways we can cultivate a Pan-African tech ecosystem, and more. In addition to keynotes from MEST Founder Jorn Lyseggen, Microsoft’s Chris Lwanga and Lori’s Josh Sandler, key speakers this year included Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Philip Thigo, Andreata Muforo (Partner, TLcom), Bilha Ndirangu (CEO, Africa’s Talking),  Ngozi Dozie (Co-Founder, Carbon) as well as representatives from Google Launchpad, Safaricom, the African Development Bank and more.

This year’s Summit was held in partnership with Microsoft. Additional sponsors included Liquid Telecom, Africa’s Talking, Oracle, Intel, Lori Systems, Flutterwave, Stratlink, Ethiopian Airlines and a number of ecosystem partners.

The Summit was held at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi on Conference Day, and the Nairobi Garage, home of MEST Africa’s Nairobi Incubator, on Ecosystem Day – both buzzing atmospheres as more than 300 guests came together.

Back by popular demand, Conference Day began with The Great Debate, as representatives from key African markets argued in favour of their home nations regarding which is best to launch a business. The day culminated in the finals of the MEST Africa Challenge; an annual Pan-African pitch competition, and ended with a twist.

Rather than choosing one winner, the judges awarded $50,000 in equity investment from MEST and $25,000 in credit from Microsoft to each of three start-ups: Oze from Ghana, Snode Technologies from South Africa and WayaWaya from Kenya.

With discussions across a number of industries including AI and IoT, healthcare, cleantech and more, and an exclusive peek inside the MEST Africa Training Program and Incubator, the Summit saw an emergence of new thought leaders outlining the main opportunities and challenges for Africa’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Ecosystem Day on June 12th also saw the rollout of workshops designed for entrepreneurs and developers, led by sponsors, by Microsoft Azure, Liquid Telecom, Intel, Stratlink and MEST.

Aaron Fu, Managing Director at MEST Africa, mentioned, “It’s our fourth year running the Summit and it always serves as a reminder of what Africa can achieve with the right blend of talent and experience. Over the three days, it’s always amazing to observe how the relationships between attendees grow, and the fact that we are able to facilitate that is something we never take for granted.

We started this with the aim of creating a space for honest discussions on how the continent can continue to move forward and markets can come together – my personal hope is that we continue to see this grow and that more collaborations across markets take shape.”

MEST Africa has been training, supporting and investing in tech entrepreneurs on the continent for more than 10 years. Over 330 individual entrepreneurs have been trained at MEST, and nearly 60 tech companies have been launched via seed funding and mentorship. Five companies have exited, including Amplify Payments Ltd. (Amplify) who was recently acquired by leading Nigerian fintech player, One Finance Limited (OneFi), to further develop the payments ecosystem in Nigeria.

Since its 2008 launch in Accra, Ghana, MEST has been at the forefront of driving some of the continent’s most successful entrepreneurs – pushing them to scale, while achieving Pan-African and global reach and recognition. MEST has invested over $22M to date, with portfolio companies going on to receive follow-on funding.

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Ericsson to Showcase Music Connect at Mawazine Festival 2019

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Ericsson has announced its participation in the 18th edition of the Mawazine Festival, one of the world’s largest music events, taking place in Rabat, Morocco from June 21-29, 2019. Through a showcase of the future technology, Ericsson played Music Connect to exhibit how the future will look like with new innovations that are developed to create immersive experiences for audiences of such big events.

Music Connect enables musicians in different locations playing together in real time with harmony. It will enable more people to enjoy immersive performances than ever before.

The higher throughput connection and ultra-low latency enables musicians to practice and perform in real time and perfect synchronization, even when they are geographically apart. It will also allow musicians with disabilities to participate in musical events and receive or provide training without physically being present – transforming limitations into possibilities.

Music Connect highlights how connectivity can transform our interaction with arts, and the ways that 5G technology will revolutionize this industry – by providing a much more enhanced, enriching experience through connectivity across the globe.

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Titans of Tech Focuses on Local Content, Infrastructure Protection for Socio-Economic Growth

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Isa Pantanmi, NITDA DG
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THE 2019 edition of prestigious Titans of Tech Award will hold in Lagos, Friday, July 19, 2019 at the Oriental Hotels Victoria Island with a special Roundtable on the growing importance of digital infrastructure protection in the quest to further Socio-economic Growth.

 

Don Pedro Aganbi, managing consultant, Technology Africa, who made this known to newsmen in Lagos revealed that the theme of the Leadership Roundtable is “Cyber security, Local Content Development, Big Data & Infrastructure Protection – Catalyst for Economic Growth And National Development.”

 

According to Aganbi, “An industry data claimed that Nigeria might have ceded about 70 per cent of the country’s technology market to brands due to apathy for locally made products”. Local content according to him is defined as the amount of incremental value added or created in Nigeria through the utilisation of Nigerian human and material resources for the provision of goods and services in the ICT industry within acceptable quality and standards, to stimulate the development of indigenous capabilities.

 

Speaking further he said that the widespread deployment of digital and other communication infrastructure is creating an unprecedented increase in the volume of data. It is this deluge of digital data that is now popularly called ‘big data.”

 

He stated that “data is the lifeblood and an essential ingredient for accountability in the digital economy.”

 

Aganbi noted that as the economy got more connected the need to safeguard data, secure transactions and protect digital infrastructure grew exponentially.

 

He explained that more and more people agree that the connected economy is precipitated by the Internet and is rapidly changing the way we work, socialize, create and share information. Indeed, it is continuously changing the way we organize the flow of people, ideas, and things around the globe.

 

The infrastructure, he said, that makes this possible undoubtedly is a strategic economic growth driver; and a catalyst for socio economic development.

 

So naturally the protection of such infrastructure, particularly of rapidly growing digital infrastructure, is akin to ensuring the survival of the emerging digital society and sustaining economic growth, he revealed.

 

Aganbi made it known that several seasoned industry experts and leaders are expected to attend and participate in the seminal leadership round table session.

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AfDB Hosts Masterclass on Women’s Skills in Business Development

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The fourth Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA)/Entreprenarium masterclass began Monday in Pretoria, South Africa, aimed at improving women’s skills in business development and financial management.

40 business women, who came through an online application process, will attend the two-day masterclass, which will cover financial planning, lean start-up methodology and business model canvassing.

A mentoring and coaching session will help participants to broaden their skills. The masterclasses are jointly conducted by the African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) and Entreprenarium, a pan-African foundation that invests philanthropic capital in the training and financing of women and young entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the opening, African Development Bank Regional Director General, Kapil Kapoor, queried development agendas that discriminate 50% of the population on regulation, skills development, access to information. “We would like to put gender at forefront of our development agenda to cause a transformation that is inclusive. This is a forum where the Bank can do differently to bring about this transformation,” he said.

The training forms part of the Bank’s goal to support over a thousand women entrepreneurs in six African countries. Training has already occurred in the Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon and Kenya, and is under way in Tunisia. From the first three countries, applications for financing are being reviewed with a view to support the most promising projects.

Despite South Africa being the second largest economy in Africa, the nation has very high levels of unemployment (59% youth, 29.5% women), huge disparities in income and too many unskilled youth and women. Many youth and women face numerous challenges that include unaffordable bank fees for those on low incomes, a lack of trust in financial institutions, and informal borrowings.

Access to finance in South Africa remains a challenge, especially to black African women. Some of the major obstacles include inadequate financial literacy; the banking sector’s fear of their perceived risks of lending to women; economic empowerment targets that exclude women’s enterprises; and inadequate or inappropriate bank products.

Entreprenarium has been working with women entrepreneurs throughout Africa since 2004 and has trained over 2,000 entrepreneurs.

Speaking for Entreprenarium, Frédéric Ngirabacu, Chief Operating Officer said, “We developed this programme to support and empower resilient and innovative women entrepreneurs all across the African continent, because they have a right to the same opportunities as men to build their financial autonomy in a sustainable way.”

AFAWA is a powerful and creative new initiative that intends to mobilise over $3 billion of financing for women-empowered businesses in Africa to reduce women’s business vulnerability and liberate unused human potential for sustainable and equitable growth.

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