Time is now for Africa’s Silicon Valley - experts

How can Africa shape its own future in the era of digital transformation, and what should be fast-tracked for the continent to become the next Silicon Valley?

These are some of the questions that drive Gitex Africa, also described as the largest tech and start-up show in Africa.

The event, in its debut, attracted some 900 tech companies, government entities, start-ups and participants from more than 100 countries with over tens of thousands of attendees from all over the world.

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Held under the patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, GITEX Africa is affiliated with GITEX Global in Dubai, the world’s largest tech and start-up show, rated by global tech executives as the world’s best global tech event.

For Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos, Nigeria, State Governor, the acceleration of the African continent towards becoming the next Silicon Valley is a collective effort that requires the continued collaboration of governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society.

Silicon Valley, a city in California, United States, is a global hub for high technology and innovation.

According to Sanwo-Olu, Africa’s consumer spending is projected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025, and its workforce is expected to be the largest in the world by 2035, but the technology industry is and should play a crucial role in unlocking this potential.

He said his administration’s focus on fostering an enabling environment for startups and tech companies to flourish is yielding results, creating jobs, driving economic growth, and providing solutions to societal problems.

“I stand before you today not just as the Governor of Lagos State, a sub-sovereign state within Nigeria with a population of over 20 million people, but as an ardent believer in the vast and untapped potential that Africa holds within the realms of technology and digital innovation.

“As the Governor of Lagos State, a city that is at the forefront of this transformation, I am committed to supporting the growth of the tech industry in Africa.”

“These success stories have been made possible, in part, by the fund raised from companies, unicorns, and venture capital firms that have flooded the Lagos tech ecosystem in recent years. More importantly, these investments have been attracted to the market size and the enabling environment that Lagos is becoming on the African continent.” he added.

Not a mere aspiration

“The acceleration of Africa towards becoming the next Silicon Valley is not a mere aspiration; it is a reality unfolding before our eyes. It is a collective effort that requires the continued collaboration of governments, the private sector, academia, and civil society. It is a journey of transformation that sees Africa not just as a consumer of technology but as a creator, an innovator, and a leader in the digital age.”

“Undeniably, this infrastructure has significantly contributed to the flourishing startup economy within Lagos State.”

However, Sanwo-Olu pointed out, the momentum is not confined to Lagos or Nigeria alone.

From Nairobi’s Silicon Savannah to Cape Town’s Silicon Cape, and from Rwanda’s growing tech scene to Morocco’s digital development strides, the story is the same.

“Africa is rising, and technology is the wind beneath our wings.”

Flourishing fintech

Africa’s flourishing fintech sector meanwhile is estimated to reach revenues of $65 billion by 2030, growing at the world’s fastest rate at 13 times over the next seven years.

This presents a unique opportunity for the continent to leapfrog outdated stages of technological development and move straight to more advanced solutions that are being debated and scrutinized at GITEX Africa’s Fintech Summit.

“GITEX Africa is a unique opportunity to bring together the African ecosystem around a common goal: to accelerate digitalisation in Africa and position the continent as a key global player in the development of technological innovation,” said Aalya Ghouli, one of the speakers at the Fintech Summit.

“The number of participants and their backgrounds prove the current effervescence of the continent and its willingness of its states to position digital at the heart of their development strategy. GITEX Africa plays a major role to support this dynamic.”

Ghouli who is also Chief Executive at BNP Paribas, says the firm has been promoting for years now the financial inclusion and the digitalisation of financial services in Morocco and other African territories.

“It is natural to support such a forum and initiative.”

Khalid Elgibaly, President of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Mastercard, also said, “By promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders, GITEX Africa unlocks new opportunities and drives the digital transformation necessary to address the continent’s unique challenges while unlocking its vast potential.”

Source: New Times