The Transform Africa Summit took place on the week of 28th October to 1st November. This was the second time after six years since Kigali first hosted the summit.
The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) partnered with Government of Rwanda to host the continental summit in Rwanda.
The conference featured four events.
- The Transform Africa Summit and Forum
- Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Extravaganza
The summit, exhibition and awards took place at the prestigious Kigali Serena Hotel while the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation sessions took place at Des Mille Collines Hotel.
Transform Africa Summit and Forum
The summit’s theme was “Delivering the future today” which embodied the concept of having a SMART Africa. In attendance were 7 heads of state who discussed and adopted a Smart Africa Manifesto to leverage achievements in ICT to deliver Africa’s future by driving socioeconomic development across the continent.
The general feel was that ICT is an enabler in tackling and providing solutions to local issues.
Some examples from Rwanda:
Rwanda has a national optic fiber backbone. This has allowed transformation across the board from Agriculture, Health care, Government to every-day-life activities. Farmers have e-Soko, a platform that provides them with real-time commodity information on the major markets.
Entrepreneurs are able to register their business online and obtain their permits within 6 hours in a seamless and efficient process.
When citizen apply for passports, they get SMS notifications for picking them up when they’re ready. The passport processing takes less than 3 days! Lawsuits are also filed on-line.
The Africa Smart Manifesto will be implemented through an alliance with the African Development Bank, World Bank, ITU and the private sector.
Entrepreneurship Web 3.0S
The Athgo Entrepreneurship Web 3.0S program as part of the Transform Africa 2013 Summit was organized by Athgo International in partnership with the Government of Rwanda and the ITU. The program brought together 25 startups consisting of teams between the ages of 18 to 32 from 14 countries in Africa.
The program seeks to advance early-stage startup businesses through synthesized in-person direction and online collaboration and generate a knowledge base in four areas that strongly contribute to the success of growth driven startups:
1) Fine-tune ideas to generate genuine value for people,
2) Develop individual competencies and create a winning (skilled people),
3) Identify sustainable sources of capital, and
4) The Right motivation
At the end of the program startups pitched their fine-tuned business ideas and a panel assessed the startups based on the following four pillars of success:
- The business opportunity: the need or the problem that you are solving and the commercial viability of your solution as well as the business/revenue model
- Access to the market and to the necessary skills
- Current development and/or operational stage
- Growth or pivot plans
Solutions presented by the startups were targeting various local problems. The following startups were awarded grants (seed funding)
- Coming in first place was Hehe who bagged $7,500 US – Hehe Ltd which is a fully fledged software development company seeks to offer training for high school students to enable them excel in business or university.
- Second place was MobiCraft who bagged $5,000 US – MobiCraft offer a service that allows members of the Catholic church to receive daily devotion verses from the Vatican over SMS.
- In third place was FISHMATE who bagged $3,500 US – Fishmate is an on-line platform that connects fish farmers to their market.
At the end of the summit it was evident that ICT is being leveraged in Africa as an enabler – a problem solving tool.
IT professionals in Africa are asked to create local solutions for local problems.
It was also clear that the private sector is the driving seat in job creation and providing competitiveness.
For the entrepreneurs and those seeking to go into entrepreneurship: All problems are opportunities. You need a team and capital. Money isn’t the most important thing though. Lastly, execution is more important than the idea. Ideas are great but the execution is more important.