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Digital solutions for Africa: The 2018 MIT Sloan Africa Innovate Conference convenes at the MIT Media Lab April 7

Africa. In many ways it has a long way to travel to compete as a peer in the contemporary global marketplace. But from another perspective, the population is highly motivated to find solutions to crippling problems and incentivized to reinvent those systems that are barriers to progress. The MIT Sloan Africa Innovate Conference is an annual touchstone for just how far Africa has come and where it goes next.

Ismail Ahmed, WorldRemit founder & CEO, one of the keynote speakers at the 2018
MIT Africa Innovate Conference.

“Digitization for Inclusive Growth” is the theme of the 2018 conference, which is organized by the MIT Africa Business Club and takes place at the MIT Media Lab on April 7. Workshops and panels will evaluate the lessons of the last decade of technological advancement and explore how to leverage digitization to ensure that Africa’s progress is as inclusive as possible.

The conference will feature a Solveathon led by the MIT Solve Center. Teams of entrepreneurs will develop and pitch solutions related to coastal communities, healthcare, education, and the future of work. In addition, panels will delve into the most intractable challenges that countries on the African continent still face—challenges that require strategic innovation on a grand scale. Those panels will include investigations into:

Power and energy
​​Nearly two-thirds of the region’s population live without electricity. Improving access to reliable and affordable energy is key to elevating many Africans out of poverty and improving their quality of life. This panel will examine the products and business models that are increasing power access across the continent.

Healthcare
Quality of life enhancements are a moot point when individuals do not have access to decent and reliable healthcare. This panel will look at how digitization can help to mitigate unreliable, inaccessible healthcare services and increase the availability of necessary data to improve the quality of care. ​

Investment in Growth
As the entrepreneurial community has grown, private equity and debt investment activities in Africa have increased significantly. This panel will examine the role of investors in catalyzing inclusive growth on the continent in terms of strategy, deal selection, and the investment value chain.

Urbanization and infrastructure
Recent studies suggest that by 2020, 70% of the continent will be living in and around a city. This panel investigates digital solutions that can help to ensure that the transition is sustainable, enabling shared urban prosperity.

Financial Inclusion
So many Africans have no access to financial services, but the digital revolution is changing that with a wide range of services available via mobile phone. This panel will probe how digitizing services like microfinance and insurance can provide wider access to financial resources.

Education and the Future of Work
The reality of work is rapidly changing. Digitization is making possible new avenues for work and learning, including online platforms. This panel will discuss the opportunities and the challenges in maximizing the talent pool across Africa.

Learn more about the conference and enroll.

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