VC Funding, Nigeria Startup Bill and other Soundbites from 10th Digital Africa Conference

Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2022

I had the privil​​ege to speak at the 10th Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition, held in Abuja, June 28-30, 2022. 

Prof. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, declaring the conference open

I spoke on the subject of Nigerian tech startups and how the Nigeria Startup Bill (awaiting further work and eventual passage in the National Assembly) can further support these young Nigerian companies. I also spoke about the concept of venture capital (VC) from both global and local perspectives. 

Despite the Covid 19-induced global business disruptions and economic difficulties faced by most countries of the world in the past two years, international venture capitalists continued to hunger for new and existing tech startups.

Digital Africa 2022
Keynote address by Prof. Isa Pantami

Collectively they poured $643 billion in VC funding to these startups globally in 2021, a 92% year-on-year growth compared to $335 billion in 2020.

Ready access to the largest chunk of global VC funding is the principal factor for the continuing leadership and dominance of the global tech space by US companies today. They received $329 billion, 51% of the funds available globally in 2021. 

Less than $10 billion of this amount came to the 54 countries of Africa combined. There’s a tremendous room therefore for the growth of VC funds in Africa, the world’s second largest continent both in area and population; the region that has recorded the fastest growth rate in mobile subscription and internet usage in the past two decades; and a region whose youth population is increasingly comprised of digital natives. 

Panel discussion
Panel discussion at Digital Africa 2022

Based on the latest annual report for 2021 by Partech Ventures (a Paris-based VC company), Nigeria received $1.799 billion in VC funding for its tech startups, continuing its continental leadership in this critical area.

South Africa came 2nd with $832 million, with Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Ghana receiving $652 million, $571 million, $353 million and $167 million respectively in 2021.

Startups in Tanzania, Algeria, Mauritius and Tunisia received $46 million, $43 million, $38 million and $33 million respectively. 

The forthcoming Nigeria Venture Capital Summit, slated for November 10-11, 2022 in Abuja is aimed at helping the country to substantially step up its game in attracting even more VC funds for its growing number of tech and non-tech startups in 2023 and beyond. 

Evans Worem at Digital Africa 2022
Dr. Evans Woherem, Lead Convener, Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition, delivering a speech at the 2022 edition

Signed, Sealed and Delivered: The 10th Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition ends on exciting note

An event that is organized consistently on a fixed frequency (monthly, quarterly or annually) is ​​one of the most powerful tools that you can deploy to brand your company.

Digital Africa
Biodun Omoniyi, MD/CEO of Lagos-based VDT Communications Limited, speaking at the conference

This was my clear understanding when, back in May 2012, my company proposed to our client (Compumetrics Solutions Limited, chaired by Dr. Evans Woherem), to establish an annual tech show.

Dr. Woherem didn’t just embrace this proposal, he brought out his massive clout, as Nigeria’s most accomplished banking technology leader till date, to bear on the task of successfully birthing the event.

Dark Robots at Digital Africa conference 2022
Dark Robots at Digital Africa conference 2022

About 11 months down the road, the 1st Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition was held in April 2013 in Abuja, with Chief Oba Otudeko, Chairman of Airtel Africa, chairing the occasion; and Mrs. Omobola Johnson, the then Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, officially cutting the ribbon to declare the event open.   

Digital Africa
Dr. Woherem (2nd r) flanked by guests at the conference

The baby (an annual tech conference in Abuja, aimed at helping Nigeria and the rest of Africa to embrace tech far more passionately than ever before) was born on April 23-25, 2013! 

The 2nd Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2014 was held in Lagos. The event was moved to Lagos on purpose, so that it could be held, side by side, the World Electronics Forum (WEF) which Woherem and his friends from abroad brought to Nigeria that year.

Panel Session
Panel Session

WEF is the global body of the consumer electronics association of the leading tech countries of the world today: USA, China, Japan, Germany, India, UK, France, South Korea, etc. WEF is held annually, rotating from one host city to another. 

Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition returned to Abuja for its 3rd edition in 2015. From then onwards, the show has been held every year, without fail.

Pantami on tour of exhibition stands
Prof. Pantami on a tour of exhibition stands at Digital Africa 2022

Even with the Covid 19 pandemic, which brought several challenges and disruptions to economies worldwide, the 9th Digital Africa (DA) was held successfully in 2021, albeit in a virtual format.

Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), presented his keynote address from his desk at the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy in Abuja. Other speakers from Nigeria and abroad similarly hooked up virtually. 

Though this is a tribute to Evans Woherem, let me however mention Mr. Biodun Omoniyi, MD/CEO of Lagos-based VDT Communications Limited, who has attended all the 10 editions; and whose company has exhibited in all of them. I’ll do a separate post on this tomorrow.

Award presentation to Africa Data Centres
Dr. Krishnan Ranganath, Chief Technology Officer of Africa Data Centres, receiving award at the Digital Africa Conference and Exhibition 2022

At the closing ceremony of DA 2022, which had earlier been declared open by Isa Ibrahim Pantami, Nigeria’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Woherem’s joy was full. He couldn’t contain his excitement on this successful journey of the past 10 years. 

I myself was super excited to be on ground at Baze University, Abuja, during the closing ceremony yesterday.

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