Facing Africa’s future

At the end of two days of wide-ranging analysis of various issues facing Africa today, delegates of the World Economic Forum will gather for a final session aptly titled “Facing Africa’s Future”. In the course of chairing the discussion amongst a diverse panel of contributors, Chairman Eric Kacou (co-founder of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners in the USA) will seek to crystallize the way forward for Africa – at least as far as it has been articulated at the Forum.

His starting point is this:

Significant challenges to Africa’s resilience – widespread unemployment, unstable commodity prices and rising inequality – are counterpoised with the continent’s rich opportunities – youthful population, burgeoning infrastructure and rapid economic growth. How can fresh insights and innovations emerging from Africa’s transformative connectivity, consumer power and dynamic talent motivate us to deliver on Africa’s promise?

The power and promise of connectivity

The session speakers represent a wide range of interests and points of view. Unless you know their backgrounds, you could be forgiven for thinking that South Africans Rapelang Rabana and Anne Githuku-Shongwe (founders of ReKindle Learning and Afroes Transformational Games respectively) are there to represent the familiar sectors of education and sport.

Take a closer look and you’ll realise that, while this is not entirely untrue, they are actually cutting-edge proponents of the transformative power of digital media in education and entertainment. As such, no-one could speak better about the power and promise of connectivity than these two women.

Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana was the founding CEO of Yeigo Communications, a Cape Town-based company that conceived, designed and developed some of the world’s earliest mobile VoIP (voice-over-Internet-protocol) applications. In 2008, Yeigo partnered with the Swiss-headquartered Telfree Group, a pioneering next-generation telecoms operator, enabling it to provide the full range of telecommunications services.

Most recently, Rabana has founded a technology education company, ReKindle Learning, that seeks to use the power of mobile and internet technology to improve and complement learning for school-goers and corporate employees.

Anne Githuku-Shongwe

Anne Githuku-Shongwe’s company, Afroes, has been recognised as one of the most promising innovators in technology in Africa. Afroes creates uniquely African mobile applications and tools for social development agencies and corporate enterprises keen to spread educational and branded messages across the continent. Afroes’ mission is to instill hope in young Africans and to inspire their conversations and choices through branded digital media and socially responsible campaigns rooted in the African context.

One of Afroes’ games is Moraba, a mobile app built for UN women as part of the UniTE campaign to end violence against women and girls. To ensure the widest possible reach among young people, including those at the bottom of the pyramid, Afroes is leveraging the rapid growth of mobile technology in Africa to develop a series of mobile phone games and an SMS reporting platform that will form the interactive component of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund ‘Champion for Children’ campaign.

Given recent innovations in technology, do you think connectivity has the power to transform challenges into opportunities?

Watch this space for more insights into Africa’s future and promise…

David Okwara

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