The most innovative minds on the continent shared panels and opinions on the future of Africa's technology
MEST, short for Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology, is a technology incubator and training program that empowers African entrepreneurs to build successful companies, with headquarters in Accra, Ghana. It was founded in 2008 and has grown into One of FastCompany’s Most Innovative Companies in Africa.
Meltwater founder, Jorn Lyseggen opened the event, sharing the experience of watching the growth of African tech since his first trip to the continent in 2007. He added that the event was to allow stakeholders interact and explore opportunities for collaboration.
He made way, as Mitchell Elegbe, founder and CEO of Interswitch delivered the keynote address on lessons he has learned with a brief history of the company. Among other things, he advised participants on business models, that they are unique to circumstances and will not work across the board.
The event moved on to panels, collections of the brightest and finest minds in Africa’s tech space. The first of them, moderated by SuperGeeks' CEO, Samuel Uduma, had Google’s Aniedi Udo-Obong; CEO of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Paraminder Vir; Managing Partner at I-Dev, Jason Spindler; Co-founder of Brave Venture Labs, Ibanga Umanah, as well as Uber’s General Manager for West Africa, Ebi Atawodi and Obi Ejimofo of Asoko Insight.
Comparing tech landscapes across regions, the panellists discussed collaboration, pan-african companies and talent, as Uber’s Ebi Atawodi remarked that it was important for everyone to see African countries as unique markets and companies should be interested in collaborating on a global level, not restricting themselves to the continent.
The next roll call had Kamar Abass of NTEL; Founder of MainOne, Funke Opeke; Suburban West Africa’s Suleiman Arzika, Chairperson of the Global Alliance for Affordable Internet, Omobola Johnson; and CEO of Kirusa, Inderpal Singh Mumick on a panel moderated by Ericsson’s Oluseye Soyode-Johnson.
All major stakeholders in telecommunications, they discussed building the infrastructure to support Africa’s ambitions, speaking on the prospects in providing broadband across Africa.
Next were leaders in Fintech; Andela alum and co-founder of Flutterwave, Iyin Aboyeji; Interpay’s Kojo Dougan; Paga’s Tayo Oviosu; CIO of Interswitch, Babafemi Ogungbamila; CEO of Simbapay, Nyasinga Onyancha and MFS Africa’s Dare Okoudjou sat on a panel helmed by Matt Flannery of Kiva and Branch. In response to questions on banking regulation and problems with access to financial data, Iyin Aboyeji noted that it was important to understand the limitations that banks suffer, and to provide the technology that they need to work optimally and in compliance.
The final panel discussed developments in agritech with panellists including Kachi Ekezie, Nasir Yammamma, Matija Zulj of Agrivi, CAVA’s Alexander Osikhena and Angel Adelaja, CEO of Fresh Direct.
Day one of the two-day event was rounded off with exhibitions by technology firms operating within the ecosystem.
As they work towards creating jobs and wealth in Africa through its technology and companies, MEST’s AFRITECH 2016 continues on December 07, 2016 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Lagos with a demo day.