A panel discussion at the Oxford Africa Conference 2017 with Ethel Delali Cofie, Olalekan Olude and moderated by Nicholas Friederici.

Africa is experiencing a boom in digital entrepreneurship. High hopes have been invested in the continent’s home-grown digital economies, which are envisioned to become engines of rapid socio-economic development and transformation.

Following the emergence of a few success stories of digital enterprises in the 2000s, the number of organizations engaging in high-value creative production has recently increased dramatically. Thousands of fledgling tech startups have been created both in the continent’s leading entrepreneurship ecosystems and in smaller markets. Many new actors, such as entrepreneurship philanthropists, digital skill training providers, specialized consultancies, and impact investors, have also entered the landscape. At the same time, it remains true that an entrepreneur seeking to start a venture in Africa faces fundamentally different conditions compared to an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, London, or Berlin. Evidently, investment capital is scarcer, infrastructures are weaker, and skilled knowledge workers command relatively high wages or are completely unavailable.

This panel will explore the state of the art of digital entrepreneurship in Africa. Our audience will hear from esteemed speakers, who have each built viable and growth-oriented digital companies on African soil. They will explain how they were able to break from the mode of subsistence entrepreneurship but also create ventures to solve unique local problems that are out of reach and out of sight for most foreign organizations.

About the speakers

  • Ethel Delali Cofie

    EDEL Technology Consulting

    Named one of the Top 5 Women impacting IT in Africa, Ethel Cofie is CEO and Founder of EDEL Technology Consulting an IT Consulting and Digital Products Company in West Africa and Europe who was recently named IT Consulting Firm of the year by the Telecoms and IT Industry. She is also Founder of Women in Tech Africa , Africa’s largest women in tech group with members in over 30 Africa countries and physical chapter in Ghana, Kenya, London and growing.

    She is Mandela Fellow for President Obama’s Young African Leaders initiative (YALI) and a High caliber IT  Professional  with a wealth of technical and commercial skills acquired across a wide range of demanding roles and  Over 12 years’ experience working in the UK ,Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone on projects for organizations like Bill and Melinda Gates Mobile Technology for Health project, , the Ford Foundation’s Election Monitoring project for Nigeria and as Head of Commercial Solutions for Vodafone conceptualizing, executing and working with teams to align Corporate strategy to IT strategy and to develop and manage creative  technology solutions.

    She has been featured in BBC and CNN for work in technology and women leadership

    She also sits on numerous boards of numerous companies in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa and has ambitions to grow EDEL Technology Consulting to the whole of Africa

  • Olalekan Olude

    Jobberman

    Olalekan Olude is the Group Chief Operating Officer of Jobberman, a company he co-founded. Today, Jobberman is the biggest job site in Sub-Saharan Africa by revenue, audience and customers.

    Jobberman currently delivers services across Consulting, Testing, Advertising and Outsourcing.

    He oversees and provides directions for the company’s operational and monetization initiatives. He was responsible for growing the revenues of Jobberman from zero to millions of dollars on an annual basis.

    Olalekan is also responsible for the monetization efforts of the group in new markets of Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Angola, and Zimbabwe. He helped to orchestrate the consolidation of the company into a holding company, One Africa Media, the largest digital classifieds company in Africa with a market capitalization of ~US$200m.

    Lekan has domain expertise in running and scaling organizations across geographies with focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He has over 7 years of Operational and Project Management experience.
    Before Jobberman, he worked with Goldman Sachs & Co, London as a Network Strategist with focus on Europe, Middle East and Africa

    Lekan is an alumnus of Obafemi Awolowo University, The Wharton School, and University of Pennsylvania, and has also participated in numerous courses at the Lagos Business School.

  • Nicholas Friederici

    Oxford Internet Institute

    Nicolas is a postdoctoral researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, working on the Geonet project. He studies how digital entrepreneurship works in environments that are far more challenging than Silicon Valley or London. His comparative grounded research covers African cities including Nairobi, Lagos, Accra, Kigali, and Harare. Nicolas is interested in the interplay of environmental factors with entrepreneurial motivations and capacities. Ultimately, this work addresses the question how and why digital entrepreneurship flourishes in some places but not in others.