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Paris conference to discuss Africa’s digital economy

An international conference – Rencontres Africa 2016 (Meetings Africa 2016) – due to take place this month (22-23 September) in Paris, France, will discuss ways of pushing Africa’s digital sector make a significant impact on its economy, and therefore compete with the rest of the world.

Despite the winds of digital revolution blowing strongly on the continent, the internet’s contribution to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is said to have reached only about US$20 billion in recent years.

This week, political and business leaders, and experts will debate, among others, how best the continent’s digital sector can help create jobs, facilitate and diversify trade and business on the continent so that the average citizen can benefit.

Delegates from South Africa and Nigeria are also expected to attend. The continent’s two economic powerhouses have not taken advantage of the so-called digital explosion, with the sector contributing modestly to their GDP: 1.4% and 0.8%, respectively (McKinsey report).

This is far less than modest economies such as Senegal (3.3%), Kenya (2.9%) and Morocco (2.3%), the McKinsey report says, adding that the internet is projected to contribute about US$300 billion to Africa’s GDP by 2025.

Deemed by the organisers as the largest Africa’s business and economic event ever to be held in France, the summit will be attended by over 800 companies, marked by 3 000 business appointments over two days, 10 plenary sessions, and a dozen of workshops.

It is also a golden opportunity for Africa’s SME leaders to meet international funders, establish partnerships and sign business deals. An estimated 1 300 delegates from 28 countries, including 550 French nationals and 480 Africans, are expected to be present at this mega-event.

Cina Lawson, the Togolese minister of post and digital economy, is one of the event’s speakers, alongside Jeremy Hodara, the Africa Internet Group co-founder.

Topics set to be discussed include:
• Entrepreneurship, business training and innovation in Africa
• Role of women in business
• Digital economy, among others.

The conference is co-organised by the French ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Economy and Finance.

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