Digital revolution powers Africa’s economic transformation

24 Nov, 2023 - 00:11 0 Views
Digital revolution powers Africa’s economic transformation Alibaba founder, Jack Ma

eBusiness Weekly

Prosper Ndlovu in KIGALI, Rwanda

Despite facing global challenges, Africa’s entrepreneurial spirit, powered by the growing adoption of digital technologies, is blossoming – opening up more opportunities for young people while tackling societal challenges across the spectrum.

Alibaba Partnership executive and Jack Ma Foundation board member, Sun Lijun, said this yesterday while addressing delegates to the 2023 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Summit, which is underway in Kigali.

Now in its 5th edition, ABH is the brainchild of Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder, Jack Ma, whose inaugural visit to Africa in 2017, ignited his passion for the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit on the continent.

The initiative has a 10-year mission to support African entrepreneurs, empower the young generation to achieve their business aspirations, create job opportunities and propel talent development and economic progress.

“The fusion of digital technology with entrepreneurship has unlocked opportunities for young Africans to tackle societal challenges in education, healthcare, and economy,” said Lijun.

“Over the past five years, the entrepreneurial spirit powered by the digital economy has not just blossomed in China but also fiercely ignited across Africa.

“Despite facing global challenges in the last two years, our entrepreneurs have demonstrated unwavering resilience.”

Lijun, who is among the key speakers at the summit said it was inspiring to see established African businesses and budding entrepreneurs in different sectors deploying advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, big data, and blockchain to forge solutions that are groundbreaking and inventive.

“Taking agriculture for instance. Some entrepreneurs have harnessed data to develop efficient platforms for farmers, revolutionising how agricultural products are sold. Others have utilised technology to modernise African food processing industries,” he said.

“In education, innovative online virtual 3D labs have been established, enhancing the learning experience in science disciplines such as physics, chemistry, and biology. In healthcare, these visionaries have established tech-enabled diagnostic centres in communities, democratizing access to top-tier medical services.”

In line with climate change mitigation strategies, the summit also highlighted how, innovation in renewable energy is creating affordable fuel bricks, easing the financial burden of cooking and safeguarding the continent forests.

“These individuals, who leverage technology and innovation to transform lives and generate societal change, are undoubtedly Africa’s heroes,” said Lijun.

Now, in its fifth year, the ABH event stands as a pivotal milestone having witnessed participation by nearly 100 000 entrepreneurs from all 54 African nations since its commencement in 2019, and has engaged over 900 esteemed entrepreneurs and investors from Africa, such as Zimbabwean billionaire, Strive Masiyiwa, and beyond, as judges.

According to organisers, this year’s competition has attracted more attention than ever, bringing together Africa’s finest entrepreneurial minds, symbolising the continent’s immense innovative and entrepreneurial potential.

Over 27 000 participants from all 54 African nations joined, with women representing an all-time high of 34 percent.

The finalists’ projects spanned critical sectors like agriculture, education, energy, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, each shining a light on the innovative drive that propels societal advancement and reflects Africa’s dynamic entrepreneurial spirit.

The summit host, Rwanda, holds a special place in the heart of ABH after Jack Ma’s 2017 visit to the East African country inspired the creation of ABH and the country was also the first African host of Alibaba’s electronic world trade programme.

Last year, ABH established its African office in Rwanda and the country has been commended for creating a supportive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

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