How attending Viva Technology and CES inspired the launch of Congo Business Summit

How attending Viva Technology and CES inspired the launch of Congo Business Summit

Noel K. Tshiani is the managing director of Congo Business Summit, a flagship conference and expo planned for October 12-13, 2023, in Kinshasa. The summit is organised by Congo Business Network, an organisation that works with startups, corporations, and governments in the Democratic Republic of Congo and abroad. Driven by an unwavering commitment to innovation, he champions and propels the nation’s startup and tech ecosystems, passionately aware of their potential to revolutionise the country’s economic landscape.

In the ever-changing realm of technology and innovation, I have been privileged to witness the colossal gatherings at Viva Technology (VivaTech) and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). These experiences were not only informative, but transformative. They provided a bird’s eye view of the seismic shifts in the global technology ecosystem. From my four visits to VivaTech, beginning in May 2019, and my two trips to CES in January 2022 and earlier this year, I harvested rich insights and observations that planted the seeds for the upcoming Congo Business Summit.

A global technology playground

Both VivaTech and CES are like global carnivals for tech enthusiasts. Thousands of startups, established companies, investors, and journalists gather to showcase their latest innovations. Every nation with a technology story to tell makes sure it has a presence. The diversity of people attending these events is a testament to the universality of the role technology plays in our lives, whether in China, South Korea, France, Canada, or the United States. Each of these countries is eager to make its mark as a major technology titan, determined to shine a spotlight on startups and connect them with potential investors, business partners and journalists.

Real solutions for real challenges

One aspect that was particularly evident at CES was the focus on innovations that address real-world problems. Rather than chasing hypothetical scenarios, the technology on display offers solutions to real challenges that people face every day. This is innovation with a heart and a purpose.

Networking as the heartbeat of progress

Beyond the exhibitions and demonstrations, the myriad of networking and relationship-building side events stood out. The tech world thrives on collaboration, partnerships, and collective brainstorming, and these events are the perfect avenues to foster those connections.

Startups are the pioneers of Africa’s innovation engine

Drawing inspiration from these mammoth tech conclaves, I envisioned the creation of Congo Business Summit. But why the emphasis on startups, you might ask? Startups, in their essence, embody agility, resilience, and a fresh perspective. These startups are the unsung heroes, operating on shoestring budgets yet fortified with groundbreaking visions, unwavering determination, and a fervent passion that is hard to match. In contexts like Africa, where challenges are many but so are opportunities, startups can be the game-changers that will drive the next wave of innovation.

In sectors such as fintech, we have seen how startups in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have democratised financial access, granting many their first banking experiences. Edtech startups have broken educational barriers, ensuring that learning is not limited by geography. Agritech ventures promise food security and sustainable farming solutions, while medtech initiatives bring healthcare closer and make it more accessible.

Moreover, insurtech and regtech startups simplify complex processes, ensuring that people do not just have access to services, but understand them too. These startups are not just businesses; they are the pulse of innovation, often seeing potential where traditional corporations see challenges.

Innovation’s renaissance is upon us

In essence, Congo Business Summit is more than an event. It is a clarion call for Africa to recognise, support and amplify the startups that are working tirelessly to create a prosperous future. As we have seen in places like Europe and North America, technology and startups are not just about apps and gadgets; they are about improving lives, driving development, and setting the stage for a prosperous future for millions of men and women, whether in Paris, London, Montreal, New York, or San Francisco.

African nations, teeming with young, vibrant populations, have a unique opportunity. By nurturing startups and fostering innovation, we are not only building businesses, we are building a brighter future for an entire continent. The question is, are we ready to seize this opportunity to drive innovation in the heart of Africa at Congo Business Summit this October, when startups, investors, and government officials will meet at Pullman Kinshasa to discuss business?

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