I had the pleasure of attending the recently concluded Afrobytes conference, which held in Paris, France. My primary reason for attending the event, asides being a speaker, was to learn and see how people perceive the African tech market.
I was amazed at what I saw and it gave me hope. Plus, I was energised to do more with my team as well as invest more in the market.
Afrobytes is an annual marketplace event where entrepreneurs, investors and key tech players come together to network and discuss doing business in Africa.
Interest in the African Market
For the first time, I saw a lot of people (entrepreneurs, experts, investors, educationists) genuinely looking to play in or enter the African market. These set of people are looking for information and data to augment their interest in the African space.
I had a chat with and listened to a few of the entrepreneurs in attendance. From the discussions, I discovered that one of their major challenges is lack of data for concrete decision making.
Majority of them are aware that there are about 200 million Nigerians and 1.2 billion Africans. But, there is no specific data to understand these people. What percentage own smartphones? What they do with their phones? etc. Language is another barrier for the French-speaking entrepreneurs.
"We still need strong exit stories" -- investors
As much as people are betting on the continent, Africa still needs a very strong exit story. We need to have a startup that goes IPO. As much as most of these investors are interested in Africa, it’s not their primary market so they are treading carefully.
Yay! Many people read Techpoint
Be the smartest in the room
I was excited to know some people at the event are readers of Techpoint. I was more excited when questions were directed at me during my sessions from people who read our platform.
The most exciting conversation I had was with Jean Zoe Obianga, an AI and Machine Learning consultant who talked about his work on Blockchain for Renewable Energy to solve Africa's power challenge. He explained how the solution is being used in Brazil already.
What needs to be improved on
I thoroughly enjoyed every second of the Afrobytes conference but I believe some of the conversations could have been better. Some speakers are not experts on the subject of discussion and practically have no domain knowledge of the African market space.