The IRON List - September 12, 2017

1. Industry: AfTech

Steve Jobs: 21 years old when he co-founded Apple Computer. Mark Zuckerberg: 19 when he dropped out of Harvard and started Facebook. So why is there some doubt in Gabriel Opare, a 19-year-old Ghanaian developer and potential rival to Google?

In an interview published in Blavity, Opare speaks on the criticism he’s getting from tech industry leaders, claiming there’s no need for his product Mudclo - a video streaming website being compared to YouTube.

Several titans of industry we revere today experienced similar skepticism - see Snapchat. But is some of the flak directed at Opare a response to the threat African techies pose to those who usually monopolize the market? Here are some updates on changes to the field, and the innovators shaking up the competition:

“These inspirational projects are making a positive difference to people’s lives in their own communities and creating social change at a national level.” --Ventures Africa, “10 African ‘Tech for Good’ Startups to Watch in 2017.”

While it is still early to evaluate the impacts of this digitalization of farming systems in Africa, in terms of productivity and improvement of human welfare, there is already a promising trend: Technology is making farming exciting for young people.” --Harvard Business Review, “How Digital Technology Is Changing Farming in Africa.”

Gagliardone [said] that African companies welcome the Chinese "no questions asked" style of doing business.” --CNBC, “'China is everywhere' in Africa's rising technology industry.”

2. Research: Can Africa Learn to Fly?

“African [airline] carriers remained in the red,” according to a 2017 annual review published by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In comparison, North American rivals are soaring, and Latin-American and Middle Eastern companies are at least doing “better than break-even.”

The IATA estimates that “if only 12 of Africa’s economies liberalized their air space, fares would drop by up to 35%, $1.3bn would be added to GDP and the [airline] market would be set for growth” (African Business, August 2017). African business leaders and government officials also expressed their woes and aspirations for a reliable aviation industry in a BBC Africa Debate podcast.

3. Opportunities: Paid, Volunteer and Competitive

International contest hosted by the Richi Childhood Cancer Foundation

Freelance designer role at the Empathy Business in London

4. Networking:

The Africa investor (Ai) CEO Institutional Investment Summit is scheduled for September 18-19 and is focused on African sovereign wealth fund investing, capital markets and pension funds, among other themes.