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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Recognises Africa’s Technology Potential


Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., arrives after a break during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. Republicans pressed Dorsey for what they said may be the "shadow-banning" of conservatives during the hearing. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In what will be seen by many as an endorsement of Africa’s technology potential, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that he plans to spend between three and six months living on the continent next year. He says this is because “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!)”.

It was reported that Dorsey, a billionaire who is also the head of payments app Square, made the announcement at the conclusion of a November visit to entrepreneurs and business people in South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria.

Discussing Africa’s technology potential

Thank you for the great conversation, energy, potato chips, and beer, @bakeandbrewadd! #Ethiopia

His trip included a meeting with bitcoin business owners in Ghana, who could play a part in his plans to integrate bitcoin use on both Twitter and Square.

In Nigeria he spent time with Dara Oladosu, a software developer who created a bot which aggregates comments on tweets, and with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, an entrepreneur and former managing director of the World Bank.

His Ethiopian leg included discussions with entrepreneurs who have developed a smart beehive, a nutrient-rich hydroplant system, various medical technologies, and a system capable of converting used water sachets into shoe polish. It is unclear who he met with in South Africa.

At the conclusion of his November visit, Dorsey tweeted that he was “sad to be leaving the continent … for now”. He added: “Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid-2020. Grateful I was able to experience a small part.”

Dorsey’s interest in the continent and its potential comes at a time of otherwise mixed fortunes for Africa. Leading economies such as South Africa and Nigeria are sluggish. Yet the World Bank reports that Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda are four of the fastest-growing economies on the planet.

Good tech growth

Finished my 3rd vipassana 10 day at Dhamma Pataka in South Africa. Continues to be the toughest and best thing I do for myself. Grateful for all those who enable me to make time for it. And thank you to Pataka for being so incredible.

Similarly, the African tech industry is experiencing good growth and emphasising Africa’s technology potential. According to GSMA, the trade association that represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide, “technology ecosystems across Africa have witnessed incredible growth over the past few years, mainly boosted by a torrent of venture funds, development finance, corporate involvement, as well as ever-growing, innovative communities”.

The organisation says there are now 618 active tech hubs across the entire continent, a 40% leap since the 2018 study, which counted 442 such hubs. Nigeria has the most (85), followed by South Africa (80), Egypt (56), Kenya (48) and Morocco (31). Lagos, Cairo, Cape Town, Nairobi and Johannesburg are listed as the main tech cities, with 20 to 40 hubs each.

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