Within the last 20 years, the world has changed rapidly. Our cars break for themselves, we can get the answers to our burning questions from SIRI, we meet our future husbands and wives via Tinder, and instead of chatting IRL, we text and email. In the Unites States, we’ve benefited from technology mostly in our social lives. In places like Africa, where the continent’s infrastructure as it relates to the health, education, finance and agricultural sectors is lacking, digitalization will be paramount for the advancement of society at large.
By 2025, Ethiopia is planning to become a middle class country. They plan on making this monumental shift by embracing technology in a way the country has never done before. In recognizing the impact that digitalization can have on society at large, Ethiopia has a plan in place to fully embrace technology for the betterment of the country’s inhabitance called the Second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII). The plan will map the demands for information and communication technology (ICT), not only in Ethiopia, but in other East African regions as well. The plan will also track the successes and failures of countries that are at the forefront of digitalization, and apply those findings when designing policies specific to the Ethiopian tech landscape.
Digital Ethiopia Conference: Showcasing Disruptors & More
In planning for this shift towards a digital age, the Digital Ethiopia Conference was born. The conference provides a space to answer and ask questions about digital advancements as they relate to both the public and private sectors. With the belief that the answers to these questions lie in minds of Ethiopia’s most-disruptive thinkers, the goal of the conference is to bring all those influencers into one room.
Over the course of five days, Ethiopia’s most specialized professionals, speakers, and attendees will share their innovative ideas, and their stories as they relate to digitalization. The hope is that by providing a space for these people to come together, the invitees and attendees will come up with solutions that cut across sectors, and impact the future of digital Ethiopia for good.
Sectors That Will Benefit The Most
The conference is divided into four sub-themes, including Finance & Economy, Agriculture, Health, and Education. While the conference recognizes the impact that digitalization will have on other areas of society, these particular buckets were chosen because it is believed that these themes will be effected by technology the most, particularly in Ethiopia. The sub-themes will be the driving force behind the conference content, speakers and panelists, presentations, info sessions and workshops. Each theme will address mega-trends as they relate to the different buckets, and will provide information about how these trends impact business and society.
Digital Finance & Economy
With the highest unbanked rates in the world, some regions of Africa have up to 80% of the population unbanked. This greatly impacts the costs of transactions, and in turn, negatively affects locally owned businesses and the more impoverished regions in the country. While the flow of finances still remains slow, mobile-based finance tools have already drastically lowered the cost of delivering financial services to businesses and society at large. Panels and workshops under this sub-theme will address a variety of mega trends in finance like fin-tech and mobile innovations. Finance experts will address solutions such as branchless banking, mobile microfinance, instant financial transactions, low-cost smart cards and weather indexed insurance premiums.
An agricultural transformation is a pillar of Ethiopia’s plan to digitalize. In understanding the goal of shifting from an agrarian society to a manufacturing-based society, this sub-theme will address a variety of policies, innovations and ICT tools as they relate to digital agriculture.
Analyzing information related to epidemic outbreaks, drug supply, diagnostic tools, rural health clinics, and gaps in health outcomes has quite literally saved the lives of millions around the world. In recognizing the importance of embracing the digital age as it applies to the health sector, this sub-theme will address topics like ICT health systems, m-health, e-health, innovative products and brands with the hopes of tackling the challenges Ethiopia faces when it comes to their health systems.
The future of technology lies within a countries youngest generation. Teaching digital literacy is not only important for creating agile thinkers, but also for assuring the sanctity of digitalization in the future. This sub-theme will discuss cost-effective solutions relating to education that can be made accessible through the private sector, academia, and the government. Panelists will explore the advancements in the education sector of surrounding countries to better create a model of success that Ethiopia can apply to their students as well.
This shift towards a digital society is not only important, it’s deteriminant to the success of the Ethiopian population. It’s time for disrupters in Africa to take the lead in transforming the continent into digital capital of the world. In doing so, we will see large improvements in a variety of public and private sectors, and these improvements will trickle down to society at large. Once the influential leaders in this space solve the issues effecting the population, the immense human capital of Africa will be unleashed.