7 February 2020

Quick Take – Africa Tech Summit 2020

This week sees Rwanda host the Africa Tech Summit, gathering together start-ups, SMEs, investors, governments and financial institutions to explore the latest industry trends and connect with stakeholders from across the continent. 

In this edition of the summit delegates will be exposed to Kigali’s burgeoning tech scene, which has been boosted in recent years by an increasingly business-friendly environment – Rwanda was listed 29th in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 rankings – and provision of more robust infrastructure such as 4G mobile technology. 

With technology already proving to be a major disruptor in established finance, transport, healthcare, agriculture and even government sectors, the summit provides a concrete opportunity for start-ups in these sectors to build practical skills and knowledge in the sideline workshops. Will one of these sessions spark the next big breakthrough in AI, fintech, food security or blockchain? Industry titans such as Microsoft and GE will certainly be hoping so. 

In Africa, as is the case globally, there is a danger that legislators and regulators do not keep pace with the speed of innovation and development. One such technological field grappling with this is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The MIT Technology Review claims that “the future of AI is in Africa”, indeed the opening two sessions of the Summit are dedicated to the topic, but it remains to be seen that the ethical and legal landscape is fit for purpose. 

The Africa Tech Summit moves on to London in May where the latest technological advances will be showcased at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). This is just the latest in the Exchange’s recent courting of African entrepreneurship; last year the LSE embarked on a tour of African cities to persuade companies to list in London. Tech firms make up around a fifth of all entries on their “Companies to Inspire Africa” listing, but beyond that there is a wave of innovators grappling to make their mark on the continent and on the world.  

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