Ghana’s first annual tech summit draws in world’s top innovators, investors

On July 19th and 20th, the first annual Ghana Tech Summit took place at the Accra International Conference Center, welcoming over 100 expert speakers. West Africa’s largest tech gathering, the event brought together venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, government officials, NGOs, and more.

The Ghana Tech Summit is an initiative that will be conducted over the next 12 years from the Global Startup Ecosystem, which conducts the largest online digital accelerator in emerging markets. The Summit aims to revitalize Ghana’s entrepreneurial economy and reposition it as a global case study of catalyzed innovation within an emerging market.

The event featured a packed schedule with 24 sessions and 6 workshops. The theme for day one was “Drivers of Global Startup Ecosystems in Emerging Markets” with day two focusing on “Disruptors of Startup Economies in Emerging Markets”.

MEST was honored to be represented by Partnerships Associate Mariam Iqbal and Class of 2014 alumna Linda Ansong on the Ghana – The Silicon Gateway of Africa and INfluencers of the Millennial Generation – Future Leaders of Ghana 30 Under 30 & Forbes 30 Under 30 sessions respectively.

Tech as an Economic Driver

Throughout the event, speakers highlighted the importance of the tech sector as an economic driver. Lola Kassim, Uber West Africa Head, emphasized the importance of the economic opportunities that tech companies like Uber can create. Not only do tech companies have the ability to impact those who they directly employ, but also those sectors where they have a trickle down effect. Uber, for example, has created job opportunities for the 6,000 active driver partners they have in West Africa. As a result of having more cars on the road, the ride sharing giant has also affected the transport ecosystem through a trickle down to valets, fuel stations, and more.

CEO of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications Kenneth Ashigbey also emphasized how technology can be used to drive progress in the country as well as financial inclusion: “Financial inclusion is critical for the development of our country.”

Producers Not Consumers

On Day Two, the event was graced with a talk by Ghana’s former Ambassador to France and Portugal and President of HACSA Johanna Odonkor Svanikier. She opened by addressing the generational gap in tech, which has led to an older generation who do not understand the power of tech and are still creating policy. This must be addressed via tech education and policies that must be adapted to promote the ICT sector.

She stated, “It is not enough to be consumers of tech; we must also be producers. If we don’t teach our children how to code today then they will only be consumers. The profits of tech will then not benefit Ghana.”

Through the creation of policies that promote a culture of technological innovation and entrepreneurship, Svanikier believes Ghana can see great progress and transformation. She also believes that technology is not at odds with traditional cultures.

She explained, “We can adapt tech as part of our culture. It can transform our continent in many ways.”

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