DIGITAL ETHIOPIA

June 28- July 02, 2017 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The world stands at a turning point: our current technological revolution is altering the way we live, work and relate to each other in ways that we’re not yet even sure of, and or understand. The revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country, with the depth and breadth of these changes affecting entire systems of not only production and management, but also governance. For any country, one thing is clear: the response to these changes has to be comprehensive and must involve all stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, to academia and civil society, to the everyday citizens themselves.

The new information and communication technologies present cross-cutting enablers and historic opportunities to address daunting global challenges. Harnessing these changes is a sure pathway to achieving sustained growth and a more equitable and prosperous future.

Why DIGITAL ETHIOPIA?

Ours is a country of incredible diversity and promise. We face many challenges, of course, but Ethiopia is committed to becoming a middle income country by 2025. The transformation blueprint to achieve this goal is laid out in our country’s Second Growth and Transformation plan (GTPII). Mastering this transformation we know requires the integration of new transformative technologies. Digitalization offers us the ability to address various issues in important economic and social aspects of life as it fundamentally creates access to information and data and engenders the opportunity for unprecedented growth. For example, improving access to healthcare, increasing financial inclusion and creating economic opportunity are all possible and deliverable outcomes of digitalization. Digitalization enables people to move mountains.

How do we imagine a digital Ethiopia? The transformation strategy that Ethiopia is enacting lies in mapping the demand for ICT and the present status of the ICT ecosystem both within the country and the region at large in East Africa. This transformation of our nation is not an endeavor we want to tackle alone, nor is it one in which should isolate ourselves within the region. We have the advantage as a developing country to learn from the experiences of countries at the forefront of digitization, while designing policies that meet our own needs and fit our own local contexts.

Digitalization offers critical entry points for businesses to invest, local companies to innovate, and surrounding countries to interact with us. The government plays a dual role in shaping these various interactions: as policy maker and rule maker to create the enabling environment, and as strategic investor in ICT applications and data in support of transformation of target sectors. Our vision and ability to harness ICT enabled change will determine the speed, effectiveness, and sustainability of transformation, and we are more than committed to see it through.

THE DIGITAL ETHIOPIA CONFERENCE

With surprising combination of guests, innovative solutions, sensational designs and passionate narratives, this conference will bring together highly specialized professionals with unique skillsets, as well as speakers and attendees with riveting innovation stories, business models and products that fuse diverse disciplines to make the world a better place.

Over a FIVE day period, this cast of characters will share different stories, and their own innovations and solutions, each of which, in its own way, points us toward our collective and often diverse “Digital Future”. They will showcase not only the current global trends in the digital space but how inherently intertwined and impactful digital innovations are in our lives in this digital era. The conference invitees and attendees are there to interact and redefine solutions to the questions posed above. We believe that if given the space to interact, together we will come up with solutions that cut across sectors and even impact things in a future we can’t even dream of yet.

The conference has been divided to highlight of four main sectors:

1. Finance/Economy, 2. Agriculture, 3.  Health,  4. Education 

Though digitalization can help in all aspects of a country’s socio-economic transformative process our conference focuses on these main sectors as we believe these stand to profit the most from digitalization and would impact greatly the development of a country. It is our belief moreover that this will happen synergistically as we know that one of the most important abilities of digitalization is to create cross-sectoral solutions.

The sub-themes will drive most of the conference content, and the engagement by both local and foreign companies. The sub-themes delve with more precision into current developments within Ethiopia and the global space and give the possibility for workshops, presentations, panels, and info jam sessions by participants and selected companies and speakers. These sub themes will be divided in a number of different formats across three days of the conference.

Panel discussions will mix and match attendees and speakers in creative and imaginative ways to cross-pollinate and crowdsource ideas and commitments. Sessions in each sub-theme will examine key technology mega-trends and provide insights into their impact on business and society. The development of the sub-themes will follow a cross pollinating inter-sector approach, examining how all of them are unique on their own, but inherently intertwined with each other. Speakers and presenters have been chosen from a wide array of background, disciplines and expertise.

CONFERENCE SUB-THEMES:

DIGITAL FINANCE/ECONOMY

Africa has one of the highest unbanked rates of the world, with some countries reaching up to 80% of population being unbanked. Transaction costs are pervasive and affect both businesses and the poor. While innovations like mobile-based financial tools have dramatically lowered the costs of delivering financial services, credit and financial flows still move at a very slow pace across whole economies, including Ethiopia’s.

A product gap exists between the financial services offered and those wanted by the majority of the population. Digitalization can create new services and products that people need to better manage their assets.

There are a number of mega trends in digital finance, from fin-tech to mobile-platform based innovations. These mega-trends include the way we interact with information and devices, the methods we use to search, spot and analyze data, and the means we use to respond to disruptive technologies. In this session, participants from varied realms of financial expertise will discuss solutions such as branchless banking and mobile microfinance, instant financial transactions, low-cost smart cards, and weather indexed insurance premiums.

DIGITAL AGRICULTURE

Ethiopia has committed itself to shifting its agrarian economy to one that is based on manufacturing. Through carefully designed policies, we expect these changes to be rapid and to require an extensive digitally-enabled transformation. A shift of the type we envision not only requires innovations in service provision, but also improving inputs, increasing productivity, and reducing loss. These innovations and ICT tools can transform both entire value chains , and the relationships across these value chains. Businesses stand to benefit and profit, and millions of farmers stand to raise their incomes, while the overall efficiency of the agricultural and food sector can be improved.

As agricultural transformation is the pillar of our country’s commitment to change, how agricultural digitalization can help Ethiopia will take the center stage in this session, but we will also highlight the role it plays in leap frogging the region at large, and the impact that it can have in the future for large swaths of our citizens as they shift into the modern digital age.

DIGITAL HEALTH

The health sector is a pioneer in digitalization, and is usually at the forefront of innovations. Both by innovating in products and services, digitalization in the health sector can literally save lives. Take for example how monitoring and surveilling patients data through new diagnostic tools with the consequent aim of improving care and identifying were gaps are in health outcomes can lead to the creation of a more efficient and responsive system that will ultimately result in better health outcomes for a population. Mapping epidemics of outbreaks, tracking drug supply,  the use of remote diagnostic tools; creating on-demand rural health clinics are all solutions that have been tried and tested in various countries around the world, and are a testament to how ICT in health systems can optimize the use of scarce resources.

Speakers, attendees, and companies will address varied topics in this portion of the conference: ICT enabled health systems, m-health, e-health, remote analysis and diagnosis, innovative products and brands and ultimately will discuss how the mechanism of digitalization can not only overcome health challenges, but also create the space and avenue for new jobs and new business.

DIGITAL EDUCATION

Creating digital literacy in early in life is critical to ensuring that our country can keep up with new trends as well as create them. With accelerated technological change, more skilled manpower, new channels of learning, and a continuously shifting educational culture, education systems increasingly require the ability to create agile problem solvers in an economy. Simply achieving literacy levels is not enough: digital literacy has become both an advantage and a requirement, and has a great impact on the economy. ICT tools and capabilities need to proliferate at all levels of education, while there need to be innovative approaches to content development.

Cost-effective sustainable solutions can only be supplied through partnerships between private sector, academia and government. In this session participants will delve into questions of how to create a compelling ICT environment that transforms educational systems. Ultimately our goal is to export digital services to neighboring countries, and leapfrog to become a model of success.

CONCLUSION

The goal of this conference is to reaffirm in part that Ethiopia is ready for a new digital age. In addition it will be a platform for companies, governmental actors, invited speakers, and attendees to come together and craft solutions for the new digital age. Ultimately this event will provoke thought about how all society is affected by the shifts in technology and the interaction between physical, digital, and social spheres.

 

“Mastering the digital transformation process is likely to be the defining core competency of the 21st century. ”

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