The 2nd East African Business and Entrepreneurship Conference & Exhibition happened on the 14th and 16th November of 2017. The conference took place in Dar Es Salaam under the theme ‘Accelerating Industrialization, Innovation, and Investment in the EAC.A few of the issues deliberated upon at the conference was how ICT is accelerating growth in East Africa and whether East Africa is ready for e-commerce.
How is ICT shaping communication and business in the East African community? Mr. Emmanuel Cheburet, Senior Manager for Regulatory Economics & Public Policy at Safaricom, Kenya, explains that his organization has played an important role in lowering roaming charges within East Africa. It is now possible to make or receive phone calls from any EA country without hefty roaming charges. Implementing the low roaming charges in Rwanda and Tanzania still remain a challenge but this is gradually changing.
Mr Nicholas Nesbitt, Managing Director at IBM Central & East Africa, explained how the internet of things plays a major role in understanding the ICT landscape of East and Central Africa. One way to understand how ICT is reshaping EABC is by collecting and interpreting the lifecycle of data in the same platform. IBM has advanced software that can help give insights and meaning to the data collected across East-Central Africa. Mary Mwangi, CEO at Data Integration Ltd adds that if technology is delivered to the right people, it can accelerate e-commerce and help improve the lives of people. A coffee house like Java is able to track its productivity while drones are used to deliver medical supplies in rural Rwanda and Tanzania.
The e-commerce session discussed how e-commerce is boosting market growth and fine-tuning the structure of SMEs in East & Central Africa. Asked on whether East Africa is ecommerce ready, Ms. Mili Rughani, CEO of ZoomTanzania, affirms that e-commerce has existed in Africa since 2001. Her company, Zoom Tanzania, is a leading marketer of classified ads for businesses in Tanzania. Ms. Rughani believes that classified ads are a core part of the e-commerce structure. The online marketplace already exists, we only need to encourage buyers and sellers to go online and conveniently find what they want from wherever they are, she added.
Mr, Wambugu wa Gichohi, Consultant at World Ahead, explained the role of franchising in accelerating business growth in East-Central Africa. Franchising helps entrepreneurial establishments achieve success faster as they join a global network of ready consumers. Franchising helps in sharing innovative ideas, reduce costs of operation, and improve the quality of goods and services availed to the final consumer. The EA business community can directly benefit from franchising to boost imports and exports of goods or services.
Mr. Hussein Sayed, a chief officer for Mobile Financial Services, Tigo, Tanzania, paints a picture of how digital migration is inevitably becoming the norm in East Africa. Consumers want to expediently buy and sell online and also make money transactions directly from their smartphones or computers. Mr. Albany Juma, head of marketing at Jumia Travel, assured the audience that e-commerce will definitely grow to astronomical heights should the challenges of logistics and social constructs be tackled diligently.