We recently caught up with Olu Aruike, Event Director of IE Africa Club, and Ejike Izejiobi, Event Coordinator, who kindly provided us with highlights from their IE Africa Day 2017 event in Madrid.

The 25th of May of every year has been set aside by the African Union (AU) to celebrate ‘Africa Day’. And so, it was in that same spirit that the IE Africa Club decided to celebrate Africa’s ongoing digitization and the abundant opportunities therein at its 6th Africa Day conference aptly tagged Digital Africa: Transforming the Continent (click here for photos).

With the President of the IE Africa Club, Victor Muo, giving the opening remarks and welcoming everyone to the event, the Dean of IE Business School, Martin Boehm followed with The Dean’s Speech enumerating the school’s commitment to Africa and informing the gathering of the recent opening of the school’s office in Johannesburg, South Africa amongst other plans the school had for the continent.

This set the tone of things to come as the keynote speaker, Austin Okere (founder of CWG Plc) with his delivery of the topic ‘Fintech and the New Face of Banking’ showed that Africa had indeed not only embraced the new wave in the financial services sector but was charting a course for the rest of the world to follow in FinTech. While mentioning that this sector had been precisely set up for digital disruption, he narrated the case of a Nigerian bank that had amassed seven million clients in 23 years of existence, but with a newly deployed technology proposition, had gone on to add an extra six million clients within a year of deployment.

Further sharing his insights and experiences, he pointed the audience to ‘Austin’s Five Forces of Banking’ aptly named after the famed Professor Porter’s Five Forces. Pointing to the fact that money was going more digital now more than ever, the keynote speaker gave insights into the Blockchain model as well as the increased use of cryptocurrencies. Ending on a high, he indulged the audience to embrace FinTech as a much cheaper and convenient method of carrying out activities which had prior to now, seemed impossible.

Next to take the stage was Angela Gichaga, who spoke on Digital Africa: Achievements and Opportunities. She shared interesting insights into internet use in Africa and six high potential sectors that were key to Africa’s continued economic growth. Buttressing the keynote speaker’s point about Africa’s position in leading the FinTech charge, the statistic of Africa as the world’s fastest growing electronic payments market with attractive margins was met with concurrence by Austin Okere and indeed the audience. Further breaking down the six high potential growth areas for investment, including construction, financial services, food and agro-processing, healthcare, light manufacturing and wholesale/retail, the speaker mentioned the need to assess the iGDP and the internet readiness of each country to spur growth in these areas. Expatiating on the concept of iGDP, it was not foreseen by the audience when Senegal and Kenya were mentioned as the countries with the largest iGDPs on the continent, as well as Morocco leading the charge with the highest internet penetration.

Uber’s Alon Lits who currently serves as the General Manager for the Sub Saharan Africa region also joined in on the conference, albeit remotely. Highlighting Uber’s successes on the continent, he shed plenty of light into what plans Uber had going forward on the continent including the recent launch of UberEats and its success.

It was fitting that the digital content industry was ably represented by Tonje Bakang, who as the founder of Afrostream, drew on his experience to speak on Building an African Digital Content Industry. Whilst acknowledging the challenges within the industry, he also pointed out that the industry nay the continent had numerous opportunities and could easily tell its story via media like Afrostream. Sharing stories from his entrepreneurial journey, he mentioned that funding was a major challenge for entrepreneurs on the continent as a mindset adjustment needed to happen for this to cease. In this vein, he highlighted that a few entrepreneurs like himself were doing a few things to support worthy ideas by Africans to come to fruition. On the Afrostream journey, he reckoned that they were still expanding in terms of content and subscriber base.

The second female speaker of the day, and former MPesa engineer, Grace Kimani, then took the stage to speak on The Mobile Revolution in Kenya. From her angle as an industry insider, she could share the various successes recorded by digitizing Kenya’s financial services sector and challenges therein.

The Ambassador of Ghana to Spain, was on hand to share a goodwill message after the final speaker had concluded. She was quite elated that she had decided to spend her ‘Africa Day’ celebration at a gathering as she had witnessed which had opened her eyes and mind to the progress made by Africa and its people in digital innovation across the continent.

The event ended on that note with the club president duly thanking all and sundry, on behalf of the club, for making the event a success.

Guest post by Olu Aruike (Events Director, IE Africa Club) and Ejike Izejiobi (IE Africa Day Event Coordinator)