Technology Dominates Africa CEO forum – Details

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At least 2000 Africa’s chief executive officers, five heads of state, investors, and media are in Kigali from Thursday to Friday for the African CEO Forum 2024 to find digital-based solutions to the continent’s problems.

In terms of attendance and participation, this year’s Africa CEO Forum is the largest since the program began in 2012, said Amir Ben Yahmed, CEO of Jeune Afrique Media Group. Jeune Afrique Media Group collaborated with the International Financial Corporation (IFC).

High unemployment, insecurity, low internet connectivity, foreign exchange crisis, and cross-border payment frictions have affected the growth of Africa and business leaders blame this on countries within the continent not listening to each other and embracing cutting-edge technology. There is a need for public and private sectors to come together to create home-grown services by removing barriers like border controls that restrict talents from moving freely and harmonising policies across governments, four of the CEOs said on the Day 1 of the conference.

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“A solid governance system and strong support for private sector investments have made Rwanda a role model for leadership and strategic investments. This is a remarkable performance and the essence of the ACF2024,” said Yahmed.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame does not believe that having solutions is enough for the countries in the continent. The willingness to execute is even more important and many leaders on the continent lack this.

“Anything that can be done in any part of the world can be done in Africa. Why can’t we start doing it already?” Kagame said.

The growing population of the continent is an opportunity for the global economy that African countries can use to their advantage. Today, almost 20% of the world’s population is from Africa and 25% will come from the continent by 2050, according to data cited by Kagame. Unfortunately, only a few countries are harnessing these potentials and utilizing them to transform their economy.

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While the continent’s problems will not be solved by merely adapting solutions made for developed markets there are learnings Africa needs to keep in mind. There are five forces changing the world today according to Tawfik Hammond, chief client officer, Boston Consulting Group. These include geopolitics, generative artificial intelligence (GenAI), green revolution, global debt, and generation alpha (GenAlpha).

“Born after 2010, GenAlpha will account for 50% of all Africans in five years forming a significant labour pool for the continent,” Hammond said.

Morocco is one of the few countries identified by the BCG that is investing in technology education to tap the creative ability of its young people. The country’s universities are some of the best on the continent in teaching artificial intelligence.

African countries should also look beyond being invited to the table by the biggest economies in the world and think about setting their tables, and their topics, and inviting the rest of the world to be part of it. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, chairman of Access Holdings said the rest of the world will continue to undermine the continent for as long as the leaders only look forward to being invited.

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“I think we should look at us having our tables. Considering our young population, we can set a table for that. The youth table for the future of the world is Africa,” Aig-Imoukhuede said.

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