The 2017 Africa Innovate Conference, organized by the MIT Sloan Africa Business Club was quite the resounding success; from the aptly timed humor in the addresses of the event’s various keynote speakers, to the hands-on workshop experiences that necessitated collaboration amongst the attendees of the conference, with an end to addressing realtime pressing matters that affect actual business organizations, the event fared remarkably well.
In his keynote speech, the CEO of Century Group, one Ken Atete, “married to one wife, with children from one wife” as he so emphatically insisted upon, stressed the value of ameliorating modernity as a conduit by which social change could potentially be instituted on the continent of Africa as a means by which to curb rampant systemic corruption and misappropriation of power by the political class in Africa.
Á la Atete, an attempt at subverting the decrepit structural bureaucracies that culture corruption gross negligence and impunity in the continent, would effectively be an attempt at making possible the reality of corrective, constructive reform; citing the Nigerian case study of how Uber, the technology-transportation company, has sapped vitality from the local transportation unions that were previously influential in swinging electoral votes, Atete alluded to the possibility of a reimagining of political contracts on the continent, absent a full-scale civil war; a bloodless revolution as it were.
Atete urged his audience consider the potential, in the un-abating pursuit for modernity, to effectively strip corrupt politics of the grip it holds on the African populous by emancipating the African individual from over dependence on political expediencies. In closing, Atete did advocate for the loosening of communal ties alongside a compensatory surge in individual economic independence, a note which left many thinking variously about what the campaign toward industrialization would mean for the fast fading sense of African individuality on the continent.
In line with the ambitions toward modernization, the Financial Innovation panelists at event postulated a good many ideas that would serve to actualize these very goals. The Associate Partner and Lagos office director of Dalberg, Nneka Eze, placed particular emphasis on the value of combating structural marginalization in the wealth circles of the African continent, placing a somewhat finer point on the need to stymie the exclusion and underrepresentation of women and other ostracized peoples, in wealth distribution on the continent.
In an effort to streamline the engagement process with the money economy for the average African individual, panelist Chris Bates, Chief Security Officer at Bitland spoke for the activities of his affiliate firm, formalizing titles and effectively putting the land back on the map for individuals connected to African properties, to be able to evaluate, trade in, and present as collateral to banking and non-banking financial institutions.
In much the same vein, Kate Hyder, Senior Associate Advisory Services at Root Capital, alluded to the consideration of basic purchase orders in the process of loan screening as collateral enough for the customers of her affiliate firm, a practice which she intimated was geared toward making the cost of doing business more attainable to the average African individual; all of which would effectively serve to improve the industrial standing of the continent as a whole, relative to the development of others.
For the “Vision Talk” segment of the conference, the audience was treated to what amounted to an electrifying sales pitch by South African D.J Sbusiso Leope co-founder of the first African owned energy drink brand, “Mofaya”. After sharing his life story which was punctuated by regaling takes of his previous professional successes and failures, Dj Sbu proceeded to encourage his audience to embrace their cultural nuances and to capitalize on the validity of their ethnicities in designing business endeavors and ultimately in inviting the world of potential consumers to take a chance on such.
In presenting his brand of energy drink, “Mofaya”, as “Pro-black but not anti-white”, Dj Sbu intimated the inherent possibility and indeed, novelty in packaging African individuality into the business practices of the continent if only to foster product differentiation. In what was quite the appropriate end to his address, Dj Sbu underscored the importance of legacy projects in African business that would transcend the myopia of personal wealth and launch the continent in a trajectory of cooperative industry for the sake of the African posterity.