2022 Global Impact Summit, Africa

The first of our virtual summits in the 2022 Global Impact series featured speakers from across the African continent on health, climate, education and workforce.

Intelligence Unit

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October 7, 2022

The two-day virtual Africa Summit featured speakers from across the continent on health, climate, education and workforce.

After two incredible in-person events in New York and Mexico City, HolonIQ’s Global Impact Summits launched the first of three virtual events in the series, looking at the breadth and complexity of the African continent. Over two days, we heard from startups and established players, investors, researchers and experts working within and beyond the region.

Co-CEOs Maria Spies and Patrick Brothers took to the virtual stage with HolonIQ’s signature overview of the global impact economy from population growth, advanced technology, capital markets and the innovation economy. With Africa’s population growth predicted to overtake Asia in the second half of this century and over 2 billion more learners expected globally by 2050, there are both challenges and opportunities ahead. 

These challenges were taken up in sessions throughout the two-day Africa Summit. Many of the presentations and discussions highlighted the challenges of scaling innovation and impact across the diversity of countries that make up Africa, as well as the need for strong partnerships and a connected, multi-disciplinary ecosystem approach. Building capacity is a key focus in the region to support meaningful, sustainable scale, including teaching, tech skills, and broader community capacity building.

View any of the presentations from the virtual summit by registering for any of the Global Impact Summits and logging into the Global Connect platform, where you’ll find the Africa agenda and videos on-demand.

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Education in Africa: building capability, connecting with community, and partnering for sustainable scale.

As many of our speakers emphasised, Africa is not one market, but 54 different countries with diverse needs, systems and infrastructure. In this context, innovation from the ‘bottom up’ is critical, with locally-focussed and supported solutions. Speakers described the importance of meeting learners where they are, whether that means the right technology, or bridging the gap of the ‘last mile’ to reach rural and remote geographies. 

“Africa is a very heterogeneous continent. If we’re thinking about what enables edtech, the fundamentals are infrastructure, connectivity, mobile, hardware and software costs; all of these things are very different in a place like Nigeria versus a place like the DRC” 

(Kenza Bouhaj, GSV Ventures)

Jesse Soleil from Akili Network! shared how an apparently ‘dying technology (TV) is being used to reach learners in households where mobile and internet-based solutions are not affordable or viable, partnering with content creators such as Ubongo on localised learning content that makes a real difference to children whose school experience may involve being one of more than 100 students in a primary school class.

Speakers such as Emma Caddy from Tiny Totos also made the point about working with communities and building on systems that are already in place, but in need of support. Rather than rely on unsustainable sources of funding, many of the organisations we saw are building capacity to enable scale; they are also looking to systems and industries beyond their own, to support the broader skills and capabilities needed for longer term growth. 

In the Higher Education and workforce sectors, institutions like Honoris United Universities and IU Group are challenging traditional models, whilst Moringa School, Bridgia, and Decagon are making more meaningful connections between learning and work, ultimately increasing the employment skills and earning potential of Africa’s growing youth demographic.

Partnerships were key to delivering solutions across many of the organisations and speakers we heard from, and crucial to both delivering solutions at scale, and engaging effectively across the region. Group CEO of Honoris United Universities Jonathan Louw and CEO of IU Group Sven Schütt both shared their thoughts on how Higher Education needs to innovative and evolve for scale, supported by networks and deep partnerships to offer relevant education options.

Maria Spies took the summit audience through the Africa EdTech 50, HolonIQ's annual list of the most promising EdTech startups from the African continent.

Elyas Felfoul moderates a panel on ‘Scaling EdTech through Partnerships: Opportunities & Challenges’ with Khadija El-Bedweihy, Kenza Bouhaj, Alim Ladha and Asad Rahman
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Health track: mobile and telehealth, counterfeit meds and a revolution in African femtech.

Health-focussed sessions at the Summit highlighted some related themes, focussing on the need to reach people where they live and work, and extend beyond urban areas to more fragmented and remote markets where healthcare support is urgently needed, but seldom available. Speakers highlighted issues relating to access and reach where companies such as Zuri Health, TIBU Health and Tremendoc offer telehealth, mobile and home healthcare solutions, whilst CarePoint’s CEO Sangu Delle shared solutions for democratising access to healthcare via telemedicine and micro-clinics which do not rely on mobile connectivity and data to reach patients. 

“Sub-Saharan Africa bears the highest disease burden in the world, with slow and limited access to medical healthcare, expensive and inconvenient hospital trips for small or minor prescriptions, and unequal distribution of healthcare services. Most of the healthcare service providers are highly concentrated in urban cities, leaving out the people who live in the rural areas”

(Daisy Isiaho, Co-Founder, Zuri Health)

Whilst speakers were optimistic about the possibilities in such a vast region, it was clear that the growing population and complexities of scaling across African countries will require continued innovation, partnerships and above all increased funding to scale effectively.

During the day, HolonIQ’s VP, Health, Vernon Baxter, announced the Africa Health Tech 50 - the annual list of the most promising startups from across digital health, biotech, medtech and other areas where entrepreneurs are driving healthcare innovation.

“As of 2021 close to 70% of all funding in Africa went to Fin Techs, about 8% went to Health Techs, so the level of funding that Health Tech is receiving - even though it’s grown astronomically in 2020 - it’s still representing less than 10% of the entire funding that’s coming into Africa”

(Abisola Oladapo, CEO/Co-Founder, Agnes Health)

Global impact: connecting across systems

The sessions in the Africa summit demonstrated the truly connected nature of the impact economy across Africa and a need to more deeply understand the ecosystems each industry operates within, including education, government, public/private partnerships and broader social contexts. Against this backdrop, HolonIQ’s Co-CEO Patrick Brothers also announced the Africa Climate Tech 50, HolonIQ’s annual list of the most promising Climate Tech startups.

“A lot of times in western media we paint this picture of Africa of poverty, broken classrooms; that’s not the reality - there are some aspects of it but those are present in other contexts as well. At the same time there is an abundance of resources, including human capital, so really try and focus on those bright spots, on those shining lights, and support those. I don’t think they’ve been given enough credit, and it’s on us to really recognise it and start trusting and shifting more power there.”

(Shikha Goyal, Venture Partner, Imaginable Futures)

Follow 100 Days of Impact

The Africa Summit marked Days 14 and 15 of 100 Days of Impact and a global wave of ideas and inspiration for the future of impact. As each week unfolds, we’re sharing key themes and content from each summit, including speaker highlights, insights from leading organizations and the winners of our regional EdTech, HealthTech and ClimateTech 1000s.

Stay tuned here for a weekly wrap as we move from New York and Mexico City to Bengaluru, Singapore and Jakarta, with exclusive insights from our participation at COP27 before our final summits in London, Paris, Berlin, and Stockholm. Be part of the action by registering for any of the face to face or virtual summits around the world, and see for yourself how 100 Days of Impact unfolds with our 5,000-strong global community.

Whether you’re participating or spectating from afar, find out the latest with #HolonIQSummits and by following @HolonIQ wherever you get your socials.

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