By Omoniyi Ibietan
Ever thought of the future of Africa and the role technology would play? What about the fact that Africa is as indispensable to the rest of the world, just as Africa also needs the rest of the world, albeit in a symbiosis purposed on mutualism rather than parasitic nor commensalistic. That much I gleaned from many works, including Kingsley Moghalu’s Emerging Africa: How the Global Economy’s ‘Last Frontier’ Can Prosper and Matter.
To prosper and matter, Africa must organise afresh, not by continuous flaunting of its astonishing past but by self-conscious action demonstrating its capabilities to re-enact the past as a torchbearer of civilisation, and in contexts pivoted on freedom and therefore humanistic, progressive, quantifiable, remarkable and sustainable.
Herein lies a patent promise of AfricaNXT, a conference and festival. Possibly one of the most organised congresses on the African continent, AfricaNXT is the largest gathering of innovators in Africa, attracting leading participation of the African Diasporan community.
By 2019, this conference was so well-attended it recorded over 20,000 in-person and virtual participants. The coverage was even superlative as it harvested hundreds of press mentions and garnered 557 million social media reach. It was riveting and phenomenal. The statistics of attendance and participation in 2020 also showed that 21 percent of attendees were delegates, 48 percent females, 69 percent entrepreneur or those considering starting a business, 39 percent were managerial level staff, those who had attended before constituted 71 percent, and 76 percent were persons aged 21 to 34. Suffice it to say, that, the diversity was remarkable.
More importantly, the conference presents an opportunity to explore culture in a more holistic manner, through shared experiences grounded in collaborative programming and unforgettable experiences organised through ordinary as well as “high-level conversations, one-of-a-kind moments and game-changing connections”.
Hitherto called SOCIAL MEDIA WEEK LAGOS, the re-christening is a bold statement that gives concrete, evocative focus to an African renaissance – a revival that is daring, optimistic and ‘doing’ rather than perpetually bemoaning the challenges of the Continent.
It stands to reason, that, AfricaNXT is reconstructive. And I am particularly gratified by the number and quality of the audience it has drawn successively; as well as by the emergent pattern, tempo and sophistication of coordination and participation. Now in its tenth year, the conference’s manner of planning is marked by rare diligence, dedication and effectiveness.
For instance, by September 2021, a mail had been sent out informing stakeholders of an Information Session, which was hosted on 26th October 2021, by Clubhouse (a novel brand of social networking, “where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real-time.”). Since then, there have been series of consultations and exchange of correspondence among thousands of stakeholders. Crystallising diverse interests of diverse stakeholders in a meaningful pattern is a credit to the management facility of the organisers.
It is also quite auspicious to have the overarching theme of the 2022 conference focus on, “Reimagining our Approach to Innovation, Renewing our Commitment to Africa’s Prosperity”. A theme that resonates with the circumstance of my employer, the Nigerian Communications Commission, who, in keeping with tradition immersed in conviction, will be participating as a programming partner and sponsor to discourse on “MOVING FORWARD STEADILY: SOCIO-ECONOMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF DEPLOYMENT OF 5G SERVICES”.
AfricaNXT 2022 holds in Lagos from February 27 to March 4.
The NCC’s key strategic objective is to leverage this rare assemblage to deepen engagement with the telecom consumers, innovators, businesses and the general public on the promises of 5G networks and its attendant or associated services. The strategy is to do this through illuminating, animated and electrifying conversations that will nudge citizens and businesses to look forward, very enthusiastically, to harnessing opportunities and promises of the innovative technology for Nigeria’s prosperity.
Besides GOVTALKAFRICA, the platform NCC is utilising to anchor its discussion, other fora that give the confab a defining character of conference and festival, include NXT://TECH, MEDIA SUMMIT AFRICA, WomenFW (Women FORWARD), LUNCHED AFRICA, PROSPR, MUSIC SUMMIT, CREATE NXT, DESTINATION NXT, NXT ART, NXT FILMS, A GREAT DAY IN GIDI, AFRIKA21 RADIO, LIT LAB, EATS.AFRICA, OFFLINE, and NXT MKT.
If Africa must prosper and matter to its people and the global community, it must reinvent itself and its diverse peoples recommit themselves to a new turn through programmatic and concrete actions that are clear, strategic, measurable, remarkable and sustainable. AfricaNXT represents this hope because, indeed, Africa is the future.
Dr. Ibietan is a public servant in Abuja