Digital Leadership in Africa

Last week I was part of a panel at an event at Barclays in London. The theme was ‘How the digital revolution is shaping Africa’. It was a great event organised by the Africa Forum at Barclays. The forum was set up to share more insights about Africa for people based in the UK. Barclays has been around for over 100 years in Africa, and are present in more than 19 African countries.

Speakers and panellists:

George Twumasi – Founder of the African Public Broadcasting Foundation and CEO at ABN Holdings LTD
Jan Willem van den Bos – Head of Telecoms at Dentons law firm
Kenneth Oyolla – Global Head of Marketing Activation, Mobile Phones at Microsoft
Sofie Sandell – Entrepreneur & Leader within the Digital and Social Media Space

There was a lot of passion put into the event and here are some of the points that were made: 

  • The World Wide Web has been around for over 25 years now, and the access to the internet is uneven. In developed countries the access is high, in developing countries it’s low.  Even though the internet penetration is high in the UK there are 6.4 million people in the UK (2011) who have never used the internet.
Internet statisitcs from the UN

Here is an overview of the countries with the highest and lowest internet penetration per 100 people.

For an overview of how many people have access to the internet globally please check out unstats.un.org/unsd/mdg/SeriesDetail.aspx?srid=605

  • The 8th Millenium Development Goal pushes for better global partnerships and better use of technology. If you would like to learn more about internet trends and current situation you must read this yearly report: Measuring the information society
  • The growth of the internet and digital media has been huge in Africa in the last decade and we can expect the African countries to leapfrog and catch up quickly.
  • The lack of a reliable infrastructure in Africa is stopping digital development. To make sustainable investments Africa need access to electricity 24/7. Now the access is not reliable in most counties and many households and businesses must have backup electricity generators.
  • Without access to the internet countries feel rejected from the rest of the world. How much shall the developed countries push the African countries to change? Can they demand change?
  • Do countries need democracy before they can get more investments?It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done to reach further and develop a better technical infrastructure in developing countries

    Action and better policies will help.

    Some final thoughts

Knowledge  + Education + Money = Power

No education and no knowledge sharing means standing still. No investments means one step back.

Where will Africa’s leaders bring their people?

And the  the BIG question: Who will lead the change?

'How the digital revolution is shaping Africa' at Barclays London Sofie Sandell 'How the digital revolution is shaping Africa' at Barclays London Sofie Sandell 2 'How the digital revolution is shaping Africa' at Barclays London Sofie Sandell 3

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