Botho Emerging Markets Group, in partnership with the General Consulate of the Republic of Rwanda of Dubai, hosted “Africa’s Start Up Generation” at the Capital Club located in Dubai’s International Finance City (DIFC) on 17 July, 2019.
Inspired by the Rwandan government’s drive to establish the country as Africa’s premier hub for innovation and technology, the event welcomed investors, entrepreneurs, and dignitaries from the UAE and the African Union to catalyse investment in Africa’s ICT sector.
The dynamic panel featured the Honorable Claudette Irere, Rwanda’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of ICT and Innovation; Isaac Kwaku Fokuo, Botho Founder and Principal; Sanuj Kohli, Co-founder and CEO of the Leme Group, an electronics development firm with business interests throughout Africa and the UAE; and Aaron Munga, Co-Founder of Jump the Q, a high-growth tech company with a base in Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM).
Honorable Claudette Irere stressed Rwanda’s ambitions and sincerity in providing an ecosystem that was both supportive of, and beneficial for African startups, stating that “Rwanda has set up the ICT infrastructure needed to drive sustainable growth in technology. The highway has been laid out—now is the time to bring in the traffic.” The Permanent Secretary’s statement was echoed by Dr. Levi Uche Madueke, the African Union’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, who affirmed these sentiments noting, “The leaders of Africa are listening to our youth. We have heard you, and we are supporting you.” Both comments were met with great enthusiasm by panelists and guests.
Africa’s Sub Saharan region is expected to spend over $90 billion on ICT by 2021, while countries such as Ghana, Egypt, and South Africa continue to experience double-digit growth in their ICT sectors. For example, Ghana’s Eastern Corridor fibre optic project was completed in 2015 at a cost of $38 million and now spans almost 800 km and connects over 120 communities. Rwanda, where nearly 97% of the population has access to the 4G/LTE network buildout, is similarly supporting the digital economy by investing in new infrastructure and value-added mobile services. The government has also invested in technology and innovation hubs, in addition to successfully encouraging world class institutions to establish a local presence.
Rwanda’s “one laptop per child policy,” as well as its investment in the Kigali Innovation Fund and Kigali Innovation Center, has earned the country a global first ranking for its efforts to leverage ICT to accelerate social and economic transformation.
Over the past decade, the private sector has invested over $50 billion in Africa’s ICT. Meanwhile, governments have expanded access to broadband by installing undersea cables, tripling bandwidth, and helping to democratize access to the internet throughout their respective countries by adopting policy and regulatory frameworks that lower the cost of internet access, subsequently increasing the number of Africans with online access.
These efforts are bearing fruit: Kenya is now home to more than 300 start ups while firms such as Dell pledged over $20 million to invest in South Africa’s ICT sector. Panelist Sanuj Kohli believes that “The next billion dollar company will be from Africa, and it will be sooner than we think” while Aaron Munga added, “Africa is an opportunity, not a risk - and anything that succeeds globally, can succeed on the continent, as well.”
Botho’s Founder and Principal Isaac Kwaku Fokuo summed up the panelists’ sentiments by stating, “Technology and innovation are Africa’s future. They are what will propel us forward and level the playing field - beyond commodities and agriculture. The UAE is a global leader in knowledge and innovation - together let us learn, let us share, and let us excel.”
For more information on Rwanda’s tech sector or to explore partnership opportunities in the Gulf Region, please contact Ameera Tameem, Regional Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org