African Business Network, 5th Revitalise Business Series 2017
On 6th October 2017, African Business Network Event was hosted by Nigeria Magazine in partnership with Radix Legal & Consulting to celebrate African arts and culture, in commemoration of both the 40th anniversary of FESTAC ’77 and 30th anniversary of Black History Month in the UK.
The event took place at the Double Tree by Hilton, Victoria London and was attended by an audience of 150 people.
In his welcome address, Kede Aihie (Editor in Chief, Nigeria Magazine) told the guests, that Africa had come a long way since FESTAC 77, and that Africa’s rapidly changing socio –economic environment required Africans to tell their own story.
Tom Ilube (CEO, Crossword Cybersecurity Plc.) gave the keynote speech. Tom delivered an astonishingly passionate and positive speech about Africa’s growth and development by highlighting the wealth of natural and tap able resources to trigger development and wealth.
He reflected on how quickly the last 40 years had gone by and painted an exciting vision of what Nigeria could be, when we meet again in another 40 years’ time. He covered a range of topics from business and demographics to emerging technologies.
According to Tom, in this day and age we have Spotify, how far tech has come in the last 40 years, internet had not been invented, Google was not launched 20 years ago. Companies that will dominate the world in the next 40 years have not been created.
‘The path you go down depends on the choice you make, in fact the choice we make now, will determine optimistic or pessimistic goals. In 2050, 60 per cent of the African population will be under the age of 25, Lagos one city will have at least 35 million people. Our main resource, oil (fossil fuel) would have been banned. Norway has built up a trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund and plan to eliminate petrol cars for electric cars.
We have to start planning and go down the path of opportunity. Nollywood started in 1992, this is an industry that did not exist about 25 years ago, the lessons here is we can leverage exponential growth driven by technology to achieve being the 5th largest economy in the world.
Data and data science – Data is the new oil and expected to be the biggest source of revenue. Why are Google and Facebook so dominant? It’s because of the data they have. We should be absorbing data to analyse and make sharp and critical decisions. Every country in the world is looking for data scientists.
Revolution in energy – there really isn’t an energy problem as Africa has 40 per cent of the world’s energy derived from the sun and 1.2 per cent solar power created in the Sahara desert which can meet the world’s energy needs.
Morocco is taking advantage of solar. Four students from Ghana put four satellites into space. Type beautiful babies on Google and the first 100 babies are white babies, we should be in the room developing algorithms and not grumble, it takes one genius to make an impact, an example is Sir Bernard Lee, he invented the World Wide Web. Tom encouraged all stakeholders to redirect their energies to dynamics in digital skills, data and renewable energy sources in order to generate personal wealth and Africa’s progress in infrastructural development. Take action more than words, the task ahead is to look for the geniuses in Africa.
Carmen Breeveld (President, Women Entrepreneurs, Netherlands) spoke about her multi-national heritage and what was required to revitalise Africa, drawing example from her involvement in an agricultural project in Tanzania where women farmers were assisted in mechanised farming. Harvested crops were exported to Europe where the demand for organic products super ceded supply.
Profit margins were carefully diverted to the women whose improved lives benefitted the whole community through new opportunities and affordable education for their children. She told the audience that diaspora Africans should bring more investors to Africa, increase training & education for the local citizens, more ownership and more entrepreneurship, organize more trade missions to Africa from the UK/EU and increase innovation of the private sector. Carmen’s speech was truly inspirational, stimulating and encouraging in stepping into Africa to raise equitable standards in people’s livelihood.
Andrew Thomas (Partner Hutton and Williams), gave a visual presentation that highlighted recent purchases of contemporary African art for millions of pounds including those of Jean-Michel Basquiat for $110 million and Ben Enwonwu for over £300K. Andrew suggested that, may be parents should encourage our children to be artists giving the emerging and lucrative nature of African art. With Nigeria’s population projected to be over 400m in 2050, Andrew stated that just as there will be huge number of Einsteins, there will also be a lot of Picassos. He advised on the creation of high quality art with its high income generating power among certain circles. He also mentioned Nike Art Gallery in Lagos. Drawing from FESTAC ’77, Andrew an African Art Collector and lawyer, reflected that like Nollywood, there is a great deal of interest in African art. Due to their increasing popularity and demand, they are important for our society and they need to be protected and encouraged.
A poetry recitation by Munnya Usuwana the Poet and performance by Debaiya the African Drummer, stole the night in reminding the audience of Africa’s unspoiled, wholesome and age old entertainment.
Panel discussion chaired by Esosa Aihie (Editor Nigeria Magazine) and included Tom Ilube, Carmen Breeveld, Andrew Thomas and Elizabeth Uwaifo (Managing Partner, Radix Legal and Consulting). The panellists built on their initial speeches and presentation and shared their insight on topics ranging from the business of arts and culture, education, capacity building, science and technology, data, policy and regulatory frameworks. The session generated Q&A in the areas of technology, Brexit, modern and contemporary African arts; and stimulated business ideas and inspired participants in Africa’s growth and development. There were lots of networking opportunities with business leaders, professionals, creative industry experts, policy makers and more during the drinks reception which followed the panel discussion.
In a niche market dominated by Western connoisseurs, African arts were on display and available for sale.
The business pitching session after the drinks reception was passionate and engaging. Exhibitors and business owners: Michael Echekoba and Catherine Mwase spoke on contemporary African Arts; Joyce Elemson (UKAPES) spoke on education and the need to train teachers; Chidi Umeano (Codub Consulting) shared his experience on Asset and waste management; Jonathan Martin (AUXXILIA LTD) spoke on encouraging African innovation; Dayna Byfield spoke on financial education; and Chika King (KJ Cargos Services and Nigeria Magazine) spoke on logistics and media.
Elizabeth Uwaifo (Managing Partner, Radix Legal & Consulting Ltd) in her closing remarks, said she was happy to see her ‘African brothers and sisters’ welcome and embrace the various artists, exhibitors and display, hearing the poet talking about vision and us having a vision of where we want to be, is great. ‘Hearing the keynote speaker about where we want to go as a continent aiming for the skies, was the icing on the cake’.
The event was hugely successful, also received fantastic reviews from speakers and attendees.
Beverly Okoye (UK Trade & Investment (UKTI)) remarked that, ‘What I really liked about this event was there were a contrast, a little about Art, IT, Brexit, so that whole fusion of subjects has been very very enlightening, and has given everybody in the room an opportunity of how they can help business in Nigeria, she concluded by saying ‘it has been a fantastic event and I am looking forward to part 2’.