Regulators, lobbyists, influencers: 10 trendsetters at the heart of the digital transition

In depth
This article is part of the dossier: Top 50 tech champions

By Julien Clémençot
Posted on Thursday, 28 April 2022 13:16, updated on Friday, 29 April 2022 15:53

Whether they are heads of regulatory authorities, lobbyists, incubator founders or influencers, they are working to accelerate digitalization on the continent.

This is part 4 of an 11-part series.

At the top of this list of trendsetters, we have elected to place the man who has long been the bête noire of telecom operators.

After years of waiting, in early April Central Bank of Nigeria governor Godwin Emefiele awarded a mobile money licence to MTN, the telecom market leader, letting his country take an important step towards financial inclusion. In 2021, Globacom and 9Mobile had already been granted this precious pass. Airtel, number two in the market, is awaiting its turn.

The liberalisation of the Ethiopian market, even if incomplete, was also one of the most important events of the past year. As the architect who saw to the end of the final African monopoly in this field, Ethiopian Communications Authority boss Balcha Reba has therefore taken second place in our selection.

He is followed by the Ivorian Lacina Koné (third), who strengthened the influence of Smart Africa, which has become a space for continental dialogue for the harmonisation of African policies, bringing together governments and private actors. His fight for the establishment of a shared digital identity system is an important step for the continent.

Startup Ambassadors

Respectively ranked fourth and fifth, Nigeria’s Bosun Tijani and Cameroon’s Rebecca Enonchong have become top startup ambassadors over the years. Founder of the CcHub, which is present in Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda, the former has just launched a new startup support program, called Seedr, in Botswana and Namibia.

As for the AppsTech boss, who also chairs the board of the Cameroonian incubator ActivSpaces, she remains one of the most popular voices of tech on Twitter, connecting equally well with both French and English speakers.

We have also included Anna Ekeledo (seventh), president of AfriLabs, which now federates 347 tech hubs in 52 countries on the continent.

The sixth position goes to Marc André Loko, director general of the Beninese Agency for Digital Development, to acknowledge the ambitious launch of public telecom operator Sbin, of which he was one of the main architects.

Civil society’s role

We did not want to forget the role played by civil society, and so have included the Ethiopian Damit Bekele (eighth), representative for Africa of the NGO Internet Society, which continues to work for the development of internet exchange points on the continent, and South African Onika Makwakwa (ninth), who has been fighting for reductions in the price of connecting to the internet.

Rooted in current events, our selection rounds off with Nigerian influencer, author, teacher and entrepreneur Chris Ani (10th), the most famous promoter of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies in his country. Which is a bit of a snub to Godwin Emefiele, who remains opposed to the use of cryptos – a position that contributes to the explosion of clandestine transactions.


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