The 7th edition of the Innovation Africa Digital Summit, organized by Extensia, took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on a momentous two-day summit. With the theme “Digital Africa,” the summit brought together a diverse range of local and international experts, stakeholders, and innovators to discuss and explore the transformative power of digital technologies in Africa.

The summit successfully partnered with local entities, including the Ethiopian Ministry of Innovation and Technology and Ethio-telecom, to foster collaboration and leverage the expertise of both the public and private sectors. This collaborative approach laid the foundation for meaningful discussions on crucial topics such as “From Telco to TechCo,” “Policies and Strategies for Digital Impact,” “Digital Ethiopia,” “Rural Community Access,” and “Regulating for Innovation.”

One of the highlights of the summit was the keynote address delivered by Ethiopia’s Innovation and Technology Minister, Belete Mola. Minister Mola emphasized the government’s commitment to liberalizing and opening up the telecom sector, which has yielded significant changes, including increased competition, innovation, and investment. These developments have created a robust digital ecosystem that is pivotal to the country’s ongoing digital transformation.

Minister Mola shared remarkable statistics, demonstrating the progress made in expanding access to mobile and internet services in Ethiopia. The number of mobile subscribers has reached an impressive 68 million, a considerable leap from the 32 million recorded in 2019. Similarly, internet access has surpassed 32 million, compared to 17 million just three years ago. This growth in connectivity has opened up new avenues for economic development, digital inclusion, and improved quality of life for Ethiopian citizens.

The minister also highlighted Ethiopia’s thriving digital payment ecosystem, which has experienced tremendous growth. Over the past nine months, digital payments facilitated transactions worth over 1.2 trillion Birr, representing a remarkable increase of 169 percent compared to the previous fiscal year. Such progress signifies the increasing adoption of digital financial services and the positive impact they have on the country’s economic landscape.

The summit concluded with a closing address delivered by H.E Huria Ale, the State Minister of the Ministry of Innovation and Technology, and Adrian Hall, the Chief Operating Officer of Extensia. Their remarks emphasized the importance of collaboration, innovation, and continued investment in digital technologies to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation.

The Innovation Africa Digital Summit 2023 attracted an impressive number of participants, with 324 delegates from various sectors and industries. The event featured a lineup of 40 speakers, including thought leaders, industry experts, and policymakers, who shared their insights and experiences in harnessing digital technologies for positive change. The summit comprised seven impactful keynotes, eight engaging panel discussions, three fireside chats, and a stimulating Shark Tank Startup Showcase.

Furthermore, the summit boasted a remarkable representation of 16 countries, highlighting the regional and international interest in Africa’s digital transformation journey.

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