Innovation is better in Africa

 Keynote | Global 

Toby Shapshak writes and speaks about how innovation is better in Africa.
His TED Global talk on how Africa is solving real problems has had over 1,5-million views; and he has been featured in the New York Times.

Toby is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff magazine. He is a contributor to Forbes and writes a weekly column for the Financial Mail.
He believes Africa is a mobile-driven continent, about which he has written for CNN, The Guardian in London, Quartz and for Forbes. He is writing a book on innovation in Africa, looking at how the problems Africa is solving for itself will benefit the rest of the world.

He has spoken at numerous conferences about innovation in Africa, including TED Global in Edinburgh (2013) – which has nearly as many views as Richard Branson. Toby has spoken four times at the South by South West (SxSW) conference in Austin, Texas, on South Africa’s tech landscape (2011); on how mobile drives African innovation (2013): and how music is being consumed (2014); and how innovation is better in Africa (2017).

He has also spoken at Intel’s IDF conference in San Francisco, The Guardian’s Activate: Johannesburg on innovation out of necessity, Germany’s Zukunftskongress (Future Congress), Sweden’s The Conference, AfricaCom in Cape Town, TEDxGateway in Mumbai, the GSMA’s Mobile 360 in Kigali, Pivot East in Nairobi, and Tech4Africa in Joburg.

Toby was named in GQ’s top 30 men in media and the Mail & Guardian newspaper’s 300 influential young South Africans list; and has won the ICT Journalist of the Year. GQ said he “has become the most high-profile technology journalist in the country” while the M&G wrote: “Toby Shapshak is all things tech… he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech.”

As a news and political journalist, he ran Mail & Guardian newspaper’s website when it was the first news site in Africa, shadowed Nelson Mandela when he was president, and covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He has interviewed a range of tech industry luminaries, including Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.

Formerly a senior newspaper reporter covering everything from crime to politics, he has been writing about innovation, telecoms and the internet and the impact it has on our lives for more than 20 years, including the Sunday Times, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail, Daily Maverick, The Times, City Press, ThisDay, and The Weekender.

Keynote title: How innovation is better in Africa.

Africa’s unique problems have resulted in a unique brand of innovation out of necessity, often using mobile phones. Africa’s innovative spirit has produced mobile payment systems like M-Pesa (through which $162m a day or 50% of Kenya’s GDP is transacted) and other ground-breaking inventions. And, while solving these problems for itself, it will benefit the rest of the world.

Many of these great success stories have emerged because of the rapid uptake and innovative use of mobile, from mobile money (Africa has half of the world’s such services) to solar power like M-Kopa to Zipline drones delivering blood in Rwanda.

While the rest of the world is still grappling with how to transition to mobile payments and drone deliveries, Africa is already doing it. This talk explores what a business can learn from this innovative spirit in Africa, or, put another way, what Africa can teach you about innovation that business school can’t.
Africa is not just mobile-first, it is a mobile-only continent.

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