Africans asked to harness technology to transform the continent

Mrs Lucy Quist, Managing Director of Airtel Ghana, has challenged Africans to “harness technology to transform the development of the continent”.

She was speaking at the just ended 23rd Wharton Africa Business Forum, an annual conference and platform for business leaders across the world, to interact and share insights about their areas of expertise and to inspire the next generation of world business leaders.

A statement issued in Accra by Mr Richard Ahiagble, Head, Corporate Communications and copied to the Ghana News Agency noted that the event took place at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School Philadelphia attracting more than 600 participants.

The theme for the conference was: “My Africa, My Story.”

Mrs Quist said unlike other aspects of its development, Africa is on the move when it comes to technology.

It cited specific examples of how the telecoms industry has enabled real innovation to offer solutions to local problems enabling Africa to leap frog challenges of infrastructure and commerce through the use of technology.

“We know that a large percentage of Kenyan’s GDP is moved through mobile money platforms.”

Across the continent, telecommunication companies are teaming up with financial institutions to ensure majority of Africans are financially included through mobile money.

For instance whereas mobile penetration across Africa is about 60 per cent and 120 per cent in voice services in Ghana alone, banking penetration is only about 20 per cent across board.

“This creates enormous opportunities for banks and telecom companies to bridge the gap and ensure more people are empowered and included,” she said

Her presentation on the topic: “The Growth of the Telecommunications Industry in Africa,” presented the continent’s telecoms evolution as she has experienced it through her professional journey.

Mrs Quist highlighted the transformative power of technology, the growth of data and digital innovation on the continent with specific reference to Ghana, Kenya and Uganda as some of the vibrant technological hubs in Africa.

Making a strong business case for the viability of Africa’s telecommunications industry, she said: “Africa is set to remain one of the fastest growing continents in terms of mobile adoption and telecommunications in Africa with significant contribution to the GDP of African economies.

Africa’s growing middle class, rapid GDP growth, innovation in the digital space and increased demand for data is fuelling this growth”.

It said the statement said the MD’s participation in the forum was powered by Airtel’s Smartphone network via a live uninterrupted Hangout feed from Ghana to Wharton, which connected all 600 participants and shows a clear indication of the level of technological advancement.

It said followers of the Most Loved telecom brand were not left out of the interaction as Mrs Quist’s full presentation was streamed live via Airtel Ghana’s account on Periscope – a live video streaming app that enables live broadcasts to millions of people across the world.

“This is just one of the many clear examples to demonstrate that Africa and for that matter Ghana has come of age with regards to fully utilising technology to solve problems, to connect, engage and drive value,” the statement said.

It added that Airtel is at the forefront of change being the first operator to launch 3G services in Ghana.

This also validates Airtel’s position and leadership in digital innovation and use of technology to connect with and empower customers to realise their full potential, Mrs Quist said.

It said other speakers at the Wharton Africa Business Forum were Hans Kuiper, a Partner from the Boston Consulting Group who shared his deep insights on the growth of the telecommunications industry across Africa.

Other keynote speakers for the forum included Hakeem Belo-Osagie, Chairman of Etisalat, Nigeria; Anna Bossman, Director, Integrity and Anti-Corruption Division, African Development Bank Group; Colin Coleman, Managing Partner, Goldman Sachs, Sub-Saharan Africa; and, Mosunmola Abudu, Founder, EbonyLife TV.

As an industry professional, Mrs Quist has been passionately advocating the use of technology to accelerate Africa’s development.

She says technology would help drive reach and scale up as more Ghanaians and Africans strive to realise their potentials.