Next-generation innovation and disruption driving investment growth in Africa

•Africa’s rising digital economy unlocking new business and investment opportunities across the region

•Egypt, Morocco and Algeria key markets for investors

Africa’s technology innovation was highlighted as crucial to driving economic growth during the final day of the 5th ALN Africa Investment Conference held on 7-8 November 2018 at the Four Seasons Resort in Dubai.

African countries continue to drive innovation in areas like education, social networking, service delivery, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and fintech. With 314 active tech hubs across the continent, it is estimated that tech start-ups attracted $560 billion on venture capital investment in 2017 , ushering in a new era of innovation. Combined with its rapidly growing youth population – Africa is also expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth between 2015 and 2050 – discussions focused on the risks and opportunities for disruptive innovation and the key areas for investment.

During a session dedicated to disruptive solutions, panel moderator, Dominic Rebelo, Partner at Anjarwalla & Khanna, said, “Africa’s digital revolution offers an abundance of opportunity across a wide range of areas – from fintech, insurtech, blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) to renewable energy, agritech and professional services.”

This was further iterated during a session highlighting up-and-coming start-ups and showcasing next-generation innovation and creative problem-solving for Africa. During the showcase, Marvin Coleby, CEO and co-founder of Raise – a blockchain-based platform enabling people to create and manage digital shares and debt and organise their organisational finances with globally transferable securities – spoke about the importance of creating technological infrastructure for financing of all kinds of assets. He also mentioned the need to create investment software for digitized company assets to further support foreign and local investment to grow the digital economy and inter-continental trade.

He commented: “There is a need for regulatory standards for the digital economy to support this growth, and that’s why Raise co-founded the African Digital Asset Foundation (, in an effort to create standards for the digital economy with ambassadors from the African Union and African Development Bank.”

Experts and key figures from the North Africa region also came together to discuss opportunities, challenges, risks and rewards of investing and doing business in the Northern African region.

While Morocco only accounts for 20 percent of the North African population, it generates a large amount of GDP, especially in the sectors of education, healthcare and transport and logistics.

Egypt also came out as a key country for investment opportunities, especially for Middle East investors given the geographic proximity, similar cultures and the predominance of Arabic. Mohamed Khodeir, Partner, Al Tamimi, commented: “Egypt is a huge market and there is need for supply of goods and services, plus exports. Opportunities are quite wide in Egypt and collaboration happening with the rest of Africa opens up investment opportunities even further.”

The conference concluded with an animated panel session which examined the extent at which Africa continues to increase in attractiveness for foreign investors in both the private and public sectors. Panellists included Tariq Bin Hendi , Executive Vice President and Head of Wealth Products & Advisory, Emirates NBD, Anna Skubikowski Aguilera, Assistant General Counsel ,United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) and Nnamdi Kalu Ezera – Senior Counsel, US Department of Commerce.

Commenting on the success of the conference, Dr. Diarra, former Prime Minister of Mali and ALN Chairman, said, “It is great to see the high level of conversation and discussion taking place at this year’s Africa Investment Conference. Almost 400 high-level business men and women, dignitaries and government officials attended this year’s event, and this is testament to the considerable opportunities coming out of Africa.”

“It is with great pleasure that we close another successful conference by bringing together two continents and paving the way for fruitful partnerships and beneficial relationships,” he concluded.

The conference sponsors include AX1S, Emirates NBD, The Access Bank UK, Julius Bar, EFG Hermes, Qbera Capital and the Kenyatta International Convention Centre. Knowledge partners include the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Oxford Business Group, Dalberg Research, Strathmore University and The Brenthurst Foundation. Emirates Airlines is the Official Conference Airline. Four Seasons Dubai, Shangri-La Dubai and JW Marriott Marquis Dubai are the accommodation partners. Media sponsors include Banker Africa, IC Publications, Forbes Africa and The Business Year.

To find out more on the ALN Africa Investment Conference, please click here.


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