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Africa Insights 2019 Innovation, Information and Acceleration

An overview of what is happening on the African continent.

It has become a relatively well-worn fact that over the past two decades the African economy has grown faster than the world economy by some two percent per annum. This translates into impressive headlines:

  • Africa has 400 companies with revenues of more than $1 billion and 700 companies with revenue of more than $500 million. 
  • The fastest growing economy in the world over this period is Ethiopia, having averaged more than nine percent per annum.
  • Jumia Technologies stands out as an African unicorn, with a market cap of $1 billion.

Along with fast economic growth, Africa is undergoing impressive urban growth. By 2030, it is expected that six of the world's 41 megacities will be African, including Cairo, Lagos, Kinshasa, Johannesburg, Luanda and Dar es Salaam. This puts an imperative on policymakers to establish competitive host cities for the newly urbanised. Smart cities are arguably a key arrow in the policymaker's quiver.

What is less well-known – or often little known and many times misunderstood – is the detail beneath these headlines.  Understanding the drivers, dividers, diversions, distractions and complexity that make up this continent, is key to building stronger businesses, implementing more effective policies and developing paths to prosperity for our companies and countries. 


  • Unicorns, Dragons, Lightning Birds and Lions (An Economic Overview of What's Happening on the Continent)
  • Africa 2035: Can a Focus on Key Strategies Accelerate Africa's Transformation to Prosperity? 
  • Smart Cities in the African Context: Inclusive Urban Economies  
  • Blackouts to Smart Grids: Driving the Energy Transition in Africa 
  • Mobile Tech: Bringing Financial Inclusion and Disruption to the Continent
  • Agriculture Transformation and Innovation

Speakers confirmed to date:

  • Professor Adrian Saville, director of the GIBS Centre for African Management and Markets (CAMM)
  • Marius Oosthuizen, GIBS faculty, director of the Future of Business Project (an initiative that uses strategic foresight methods to explore the future of South Africa, Africa and BRICS), and  author of The Future of Energy and Power Utilities in Africa (white paper)
  • Ronak Gopaldas, GIBS fellow, director at Signal Risk and Africa specialist
  • Brian Bosire, Founder, UjuziKilimo & Hydrologistics Africa (HydroIQ).  Brian is a Kenyan entrepreneur and innovator and was voted a UN young leader. His interests lie in building water & agriculture technologies in emerging markets. Brian has passion for emerging technologies in Big data, internet of things and AI & applying them to solve the biggest challenges in Africa focusing on Agriculture, Water & Sanitation with the goal of building resilient food and water systems to support the additional 2 billion people and create a sustainable livelihood for the current population.At the age of 19, Brian developed a technology that reads soil to inform thousands of smallholder farmers how to better utilize resources like fertilizer and water.

  • Débísí Àràbà, Ph.D, Director │ Africa Region, International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) Regional Office for Africa – Nairobi, Kenya 

  • Thireshen Govender, Principal Architect and Urban Designer at Urban Works

  • Dr Geci Karuri-Sebina, Associate:  South African Cities Network

  • Dr. Tijsbert Creemers-Chaturvedi, Managing Director and Partner Johannesburg, South Africa, BCG (Boston Consulting Group)

Please note that this is a half day conference.

Starts: 08:30

Ends: 13:00

Please click here for Programme Agenda.

Group discounts of 20% for bookings of 5 or more.

Companies wishing to sponsor this conference can contact Katie Kilpatrick on

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  • Abdullah Verachia is a sought-after global speaker, board and EXCO advisor and practice strategist. He has  served in senior executive and board roles, has crafted competitive strategies for leading companies and governments around the world, lectured at some of the top ranked business schools and built and run successful companies. Abdullah also serves on a number of boards. Abdullah fuses practice, education, insight, empathy, and experience into a beautiful tapestry that adds massive value at all levels. 

    He serves as the founder and CEO of The Strategists ( In this role he leads a team that assists companies and organizations craft competitive future strategies and build innovation functions. He has significant expertise in strategy, innovation, and disruption - facilitates several high-level strategy sessions and breakaways for companies and governments, as well as speak globally in this area. 

    Abdullah has led strategy, innovation, and consulting assignments in an array of sectors including banking, mining, finance, asset management, construction, insurance, legal, audit, FMCG, telecoms, retail and automotive. He and his team have consulted and guided over 200 global multinationals, listed and non-listed firms to build disruptive, ambidextrous organizations with a focus on building present and future success.  He has also built several disruptive and truly innovative companies.  

    He led the team that crafted the 2017 - 2030 Gauteng Economic Development Strategy with the Premier and Executive Council. He also led the 2017 Mauritius Competitiveness foresight strategy and has also played a role in assisting the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Council (PSEC) on Governance in South Africa. Abdullah also plays a lead role on the Oxford University and Gates Foundation program on South Africa in a Digital Age. 

    Having presented and consulted in over 60 cities globally he has been recognized as a leading speaker, disruptor, strategist and thought leader on competitiveness and the interplay between strategy and disruption, His experience makes him a sought-after global speaker in these areas. In December 2017, he received a standing ovation at the acclaimed TEDx Euston in London. Abdullah was also asked to be the keynote speaker at the 2018 World Speech Day. 

    Abdullah has presented around the world to leading listed firms, international organizations and governments including in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzen, Mumbai, Bangalore, Dubai Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Accra, Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris, London, and New York. He has been asked to present at some of the world's leading institutions including the School of Public and International Affairs at Colombia University in New York, TEDx Euston, the OECD Paris and Casa Asia in Madrid amongst others. 

    He is a regular media commentator for several publications including CNBC Africa, BBC, CCTV, CNN, SABC, Moneyweb, Business Day, SAFM, 702, Al Jazeera, New York Times, Financial Times, Reuters, and the Sunday Times. He authored the book Disruption Amplified: Reset, Rewire, Reimagine everything. He also co-authored a book on the commercial corridor between Africa and India as well as contributed to "The Book every business owner must read." 

    Verachia has a passion for education and serves as faculty at GIBS as well as program director for the Harvard Senior Executive Program on Africa. He has won several awards for excellence in teaching. He is also the recipient of the Harvard Business School Deans scholarship for leadership and innovation and was also selected for the Brightest Young Minds in South Africa

    Abdullah serves on several boards. Companies and organizations have found his unique blend of legal, business, emerging market, digital, strategy, innovation, academic and human capital experience to add incredible value to their organizations. He is globally sought after for his ability to advise and guide senior leaders and teams to build disruptive and ambidextrous organizations. 


    • PhD Innovation, Strategy (GIBS) - still in progress 
    • MIM-cum laude (MM) (WBS)  
    • LLB (UJ) 
    • GMP (Harvard Business School)
    • Strategy and Shared value (Harvard Business School)
    • EDP (Oxford University: Said Business School)
    • Executive Program in Broadcast technology (CU)



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