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 Digital technology set to help Africa

2015-11-05 00:00
MediaVision on behalf of USB-ED
FinTech Event.jpg 
From left to right: Frik Landman (CEO of USB-ED), Martijn Aslander (International speaker from The Netherlands), Dr Morne Mostert (Director IFR) and Graham Fehrsen (MD of CFO, Community for Finance Professionals in South Africa)

The growth in digital technology is set to help Africa to free itself from poverty and scarcity in years to come, while currently stricken by poverty with abundance of natural resources at the same time.

This followed from a recent FinTech Africa discussion hosted by USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the public company of Stellenbosch University, at its Bellville campus and attended by more than 100 guests.

They are a community for the FinTech ecosystem, and offer learning and networking platforms to accelerate and drive the development of FinTech in Africa. ​

USB-ED CEO, Frik Landman said that Africa has about 60% of the world's edible land and 42% of natural resources, yet at the same time it is the poorest continent in the world. While the Eastern Cape is the poorest province in South Africa, about two years ago only 8 African countries out of the 53 had a larger GDP than the province.

"One should think of the frustration that is created by African leaders not turning these resources in wealth for all. There are signs of this frustration all over Africa and in South Africa. Just think of the students at our universities at the moment."

It is with this in mind that USB-ED, with representation in 14 African countries, is looking to Africa with the aim to provide leaders with the necessary skills and leadership tools to "manage" themselves out of poverty.

As keynote speaker Martijn Aslander, an international speaker from the Netherlands, said digital skills is currently the most important thing to invest in. "The most valuable thing that business people have, is time and currently not enough of it is invested in digital skills."​

At the centre of this is the concept of "lifehacking", meaning to do more in less time with less stress and cost by making use simple digital tools. It is about harnessing networking opportunities in the information age in which change is growing faster while networks between people is getting bigger.

"This will affect big business and organisations and the way they work. They are too slow in taking up these opportunities and digital skills. In this way small companies are better, smarter, faster and more fun.

The growth of computer power will bring an end to big organisations as we know it today as all tools are available to everyone on the internet."

Digital technology will bring abundance in more everyday things. This will also be true in Africa. This is in contrast to scarcity, which currently is at the centre of any economy and how it is managed.

The information age brought with it the problem of information overload. People will have to learn how to filter information and for which digital skills are needed. In this information age attitude will be more important than expertise and effort.

"We are entering an age where people with the right attitude and focus on digital skills can 'disrupt' any field they want. There are no more barriers to entry to anything," Aslander said.

The closing address was presented by Dr Morne Mostert, Director of the Institute for Futures Research (IFR). He spoke about the importance of high quality thinking for long-range decision-making. He said, 'We cannot feel our way out of our problems; we can only think our way out. One thing we do know about the future, is that it is highly unlikely to resemble to past. Therefore futures thinking is critical to future success. IFR is the only institution that offers a qualification in Futures Studies on the African Continent."​

Other speakers included Nicole Anderson, CEO and founder of Fintech Circle innovate, Kobus Ehlers, co -founder of SnapScan, Perry Blacher, Global FinTech Advisor & Investor, Dave van Niekerk, CEO GetBucks and African Micro Finance Entrepreneur, Brett Magrath, Co-founder Zoona Patrick Schofield, founder of crowd funding platform Thundafund, Dr William Mapham, founder Vula Mobile and Benay Sager, COO Intelligent Debt Management Group
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