Africa Business
Forum 2024:
Building Pathways
to Partnerships

21 May, 2024 in Tallinn, Estonia
at Radisson Collection Hotel

In the wake of global shifts towards digital societies and exponentially growing internet connectivity and mobile penetration, African economies present untapped potential for Estonian enterprises looking to expand their horizons and engage in meaningful partnerships driven by innovation and sustainable progress. Estonia continues to build on its reputation as a digital and entrepreneurial hub and recognises the immense opportunities that lie in partnering with Africa´s diverse and dynamic markets. 

The second annual Africa Business Forum in Tallinn presents a professional platform for initiating, nurturing and expanding business relations between Estonia and countries in Africa. It looks at the founding pillars and regulatory context of the digital societies and offers a deep dive into practical and result-oriented business partnerships in three main focus areas: digital societies, green technologies and the startup ecosystems. 

It explores the current trends, shared experiences and best practices from companies operating on the continent, and encourages practical partnership building between Estonian and African regulators, entrepreneurs and innovators.

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Come and spend a day of inspiration, practical learning and business networking with warm and welcoming Africa!

  • Learn about trends and developments of innovation context in Africa
  • Improve your understanding of the world´s biggest mobile-first economy and its vast business opportunities
  • Get inspired by successes and challenges of business partnerships and case studies of technology and green solutions adapted in the African markets
  • Build networks and foster direct connections with the Estonian and African entrepreneurs

Who are expected to attend?

The forum will bring together 300 entrepreneurs and innovators from Estonia and the African nations.

  • Estonian enterprises interested in exploring or expanding to the African markets
  • African startups and companies seeking international partnerships
  • Policymakers and government representatives from Estonia and the African nations seeking public and private sector collaboration
  • Investors, incubators and accelerators focusing on  digital innovation and green technologies
  • Experts and thought leaders in digital transformation and social innovation

The event is organised by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the European Union Programme „NextGenerationEU“.

Key topics

Digital Societies: What happens after connectivity?

African countries are recognised as high-growth markets, with rapidly expanding middle class and young, tech-savvy populations. Internet and mobile penetration are growing exponentially in Africa. The continent pioneers in mobile and other digital payment systems as well as smart solutions. Several African governments have launched initiatives aimed at fostering digital transformation across many economic sectors. The African nations are using ICT to move towards knowledge driven economies to increase their competitiveness in global markets. 

The recent surge of digital connectivity and the demographics of the continent present a fertile ground for building pillars of digital societies: from e-ID and digital public services to e-banking, trade and business. The potential to create a single digital market bringing the citizen closer to the government is significant. Delivering digital identity to all Africans will provide equal access to the digital transformation and ensures that all citizens are able to participate and benefit meaningfully in digital societies. 

We will look at the developments of digitalisation, possibilities of cross-border use of digital identities and the paths taken in building e-government services and business supportive solutions in Africa. We shall explore the role of government and the private sector and how they can work together in building a path to digital societies.

Green Technologies: How to build a sustainable business in Africa?

The pressing need for sustainable development in Africa has never been more apparent. As the continent grapples with environmental challenges such as climate change, deforestation and pollution, and strives for economic growth, the adoption of green technologies emerges as a pivotal solution. The transition to green technologies represents a transformative opportunity for African businesses to build a sustainable future. By embracing innovation, fostering collaboration, and navigating policy landscapes, businesses can play a central role in driving environmentally responsible practices while unlocking economic opportunities. The transition to green technologies represents a transformative opportunity for African businesses to build a sustainable future. 

We will look at green technology developments in various sectors and production systems in Africa and explore the ways on how to build business synergies and cleantech ecosystems that connect African nations with that of Estonia.

Startup Ecosystems: How to build bridges across the continents?

Africa´s mobile-first market has been a driving force behind many tech innovations. African startups raised $2 billion in equity funding in 2023 reflecting a maturing and resilient ecosystem. The traditional “big four” of Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and South Africa continue to lead the way as top investment destinations, but there is potential for new hubs to emerge across the continent. Fintech maintains its status as the most funded sector, but investor interest continues also in cleantech, mobility, and e-commerce with early signs of a boom in the emerging sectors of AI.

We will discuss Estonian and African startup ecosystems, their mutual growth and adaptation strategies. Panellists will share success stories, challenges and best practices specific to Estonian and African digital economies and discuss the imperative that lies ahead for founders, investors and policymakers alike.

Programme

The Programme is in the process of being finalised

09.00 – 09:30

Registration and coffee

09.30
09.35
09.45

Opening remarks by Daniel Erik Schaer, Estonian Ambassador at large for Africa
Welcome by Margus Tsahkna, Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Keynote from African VIP

10.00 – 11.00

Digital Societies: What happens after connectivity?

The first panel discusses the developments of digitalisation, possibilities of cross-border use of digital identities and the paths taken in building e-government services and business supportive solutions in Africa. It looks into the role of government and the private sector and how they can work together in the path to digital societies.

Speakers:

  • Sandra Särav
  • Lacina Koné
  • Justina Nnam Oha

Moderator: Ats Albre

11.00 – 11.15

Coffee Break

11.30 – 12.30

Green Technologies: How to build a sustainable business in Africa?

The second panel looks at green technology developments in various sectors and production systems in Africa and explores the ways on how to build business synergies and cleantech ecosystems that connect African nations with that of Estonia.

Speakers:

  • Ariane Labat
  • Robin Saluoks
  • Nonsikelelo Sheron Mpofu

Moderator: Kädi Ristkok

12.30 – 13.30

Lunch

13.30 – 14.30

Startup Ecosystems: How to build bridges across the continents?

The third panel discusses Estonian and African startup ecosystems, their mutual growth and adaptation strategies. Panellists will share success stories, challenges and best practices specific to Estonian and African digital economies, and discuss the imperatives that lie ahead for founders, investors and policymakers alike.

Speakers:

  • Caleb Maru
  • Aziza Enoubli
  • Chidi Afulezi
  • Caroline Wanjihia

Moderator: Hannah Swabey

14.30 – 15.00

Coffee Break

15.00 – 16.30

Breakout sessions for Digital Societies, Greentech, Startups and Edtech

These sessions enable participants to deliver pitches and tips, share knowledge and best practices.

16.30 – 17.30

Networking and Social program

Speakers

Margus Tsahkna

Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Margus Tsahkna assumed office as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia on 17 April 2023. Having started his career in local politics in 2002, Margus Tsahkna was a member of the 11th, 12th (2007-2015) and 13th (2017-2019) Riigikogu and has held several ministerial positions: Minister of Defence (2016-2017) and Minister of Social Protection (2015-2016). Tsahkna was head of the Pro Patria political party from 2015 to 2017, after which he left politics to work in the private sector in the field of war and disaster medicine. During his experience in the private sector, Tsahkna created the new political party E200, which successfully entered the Riigikogu after the general elections in March 2023. Margus Tsahkna has studied theology and religious studies, and international law.

Daniel Erik Schaer

Estonian Ambassador at large for Africa

Daniel Schaer has over 20 years of diplomatic experience. He has a passion for Africa having lived in Rwanda for 4 years and having visited over 35 African countries. In 2023, Daniel presented his letter of credential to President William Ruto in Kenya and President Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa to become Estonia’s first Ambassador in both countries. As Ambassador for Africa, Daniel is looking to build stronger economic and diplomatic relations between the continent and Estonia.

In 2022, Daniel led the innovative Estonian pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai. He has previously been Estonian Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. As Ambassador at large – Special Diplomatic Representative of the President of Estonia for Africa, Daniel helped run Estonia’s successful UN Security Council Campaign.

 Daniel is a graduate of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where he studied International Relations. He has a Master’s degree in European Studies from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.

Moderator of the day

Joel Karubiu

Export Adviser in Kenya, Enterprise Estonia

Joel Karubiu is a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience as an innovative and creative solutions provider with an edge in Business Development for major firms such as Kenya Network Information Centre (KeNIC), Marketing Society of Kenya (MSK), PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), British Airways World Cargo (BAWC) and Haco Industries limited.

He has been recognised for building strong brands using integrated marketing methodologies while being a key contributor to strategic business planning and developing long-term growth plans.

His agenda as Export Adviser is to enhance the trade relations between Estonia and Kenya and support Estonian companies’ venture into new markets.

He holds a B.S in International Business Administration (Management) and a Master’s in Business Administration (Strategic Marketing) from the United States International University (USIU). He also has diplomas in leadership and management from E-Cornell University and other certifications.

Joel is a Non-Executive Board Member of TransUnion Credit Reference Bureau (TU CRB), African Top-Level Domains (AFTLD), and Lenana School, a Member of the Institute of Directors (IOD- Kenya), Marketing Society of Kenya, Kenya Private Sector Alliance ( KEPSA) Executive Council Member Super Brands Kenya amongst other roles.

Joel’s social inputs are felt as a charter member of the Lions Club of Nairobi South and a marketing Committee Member at Lions Firsteye Hospital.

Musician of the day

DJ Yas Lo

DJ and master of turntables

Yasin better known as DJ Yas Lo, is a master of the turntables hailing from Tanzania and lighting up Estonia’s music scene with his uncanny ability to gauge the audience’s pulse. DJ Yas Lo boasts a diverse musical repertoire, spanning Afrobeats, Amapiano, RnB, Hip Hop and House Music, showcasing his versatility and innovative spirit in blending genres.

Beyond the decks, DJ Yas Lo is the visionary behind Afro Chill, a pioneering cultural initiative in Estonia that celebrates the rich tapestry of African and Caribbean cultures. Afro Chill’s mission is to forge a cultural bridge between Estonia and the dynamic cultures of Africa, fostering social unity, understanding, and inspiration through the arts. Emphasising diversity, inclusivity, and societal impact, Afro Chill is at the forefront of cultural education and development.

Digital Societies

Moderator

Ats Albre

President, ICT Association Estonia

Ats is CEO of Nortal Estonia and serves as President of the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL). He has more than a decade of experience in implementing state of the art eGovernment and eHealth solutions in Estonia, one of the most digitally advanced countries in the world. Most recently he has led Nortal Estonia’s growth and under his management, the company has been awarded with prestigious titles such as the most competitive large-scale company in Estonia 2022. As an experience from Africa, Nortal has operated across Africa for many years, making significant contributions such as developing a digital tax system for Botswana and saving the government of Nigeria billions with public finance management.

Speakers

Mr. Lacina Koné

Director General and          Chief Executive Officer
Smart Africa

Mr. Koné joined the Smart Africa Secretariat as Director General in March 2019 in a mission to define and advance Africa’s digital agenda. He has overseen the development of continental blueprints for Africa on Digital Identity, ICT Start-ups and Innovation Ecosystems, Smart Villages and Africa’s Smart Broadband 2025 Strategy in addition to advancing many other key continental initiatives. 

Mr. Koné has been recognized as 12th among the 50 personalities advancing Africa’s digital transformation in 2021 and placed third among the 10 Africa digital trendsetters according to the 2022 Jeune Afrique technology ranking.

Sandra Särav

Deputy Secretary General for Economy and Innovation,
Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

Sandra is a seasoned digital policy expert with a robust background in government and private sector roles. Leveraging experience from the Estonian Government and EU-level decision-making, she has served in public policy at Meta (Facebook) and led regulatory and sustainability efforts at Bolt, an Estonian tech unicorn. What brought her back to government was the sense of mission of building solutions for your own country. She is also a lecturer at TalTech, teaching legal framework of digital government and EU law.

Justina Nnam Oha

Founder, Digital Equity Africa

Justina is a seasoned tech leader with an aggregate of 17 years experience bringing a unique perspective to the tech landscape in Africa, especially in ecosystem building, gender and digital inclusion. Her company serves governments, international corporate organizations and Africa’s tech ecosystem.

She is former Country Director at the UK Nigeria Tech Hub under the British High Commission where she brokered a partnership with Google for Startups Africa to support women in technology and led investment readiness programs for female founders. With over a decade in senior leadership, she has served as VP for marketing and partnerships in Decagon, a global digital talent production and placement institute that serves the African and global tech ecosystem. She has also worked in Tizeti Inc, an infrastructure service company that delivers last mile internet access across Africa.

Justina holds a B.Sc. in Mass Communication and an MA in International Relations from the University of Northampton, UK and has spoken in numerous international stages such as the UK, Algiers, Kigali, Kenya, South Africa.

Green Technologies

Moderator

Kädi Ristkok

CEO, Cleantech Estonia

Kädi supports cleantech companies that are solving the most pressing environmental and climate issues while creating economic and societal value. Under her leadership, Cleantech Estonia is bringing together and giving a strong united voice to cleantech players, while also developing a global network for collaboration for cleantech players and their partners. She believes that Estonian and African cleantech players are complementary and the development of further collaboration ties will increase environmental and socioeconomic benefits for both.

Speakers

Ariane Labat

Head of Unit for Science, Technology, Innovation and Digitalisation
DG for International Partnerships of the European Commission

Before taking up her current position, Ms Labat was a Counsellor for climate action, environment and agriculture in the European Union Delegation to South Africa, after 4 years as Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation to the Kingdom of Eswatini. Before that, Ms Labat was cluster lead mitigation for the EU international negotiation team at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), working towards successful global climate action from Cancun to the Paris Agreement.

Ms Labat also had further previous assignments as an economist working to unlock sustainable and inclusive growth opportunities in Europe, Latin America and China.

James Mnyupe

Economic Advisor to the Namibian President

James Mnyupe is the Economic Adviser to the Namibian President and concurrently holds the portfolio of Namibia’s Green Hydrogen Commissioner. James contributes to the nation’s strategic planning process that aims to augment Namibia’s macroeconomic structure with the goal of diversifying Namibia’s exports and buttressing the economy’s ability to weather exogenous shocks. He has been instrumental unlocking concessionary blended financing capital, to enable the construction of strategic assets of regional importance, that provide a strong foundation for the upcoming wave of low carbon manufacturing in Namibia. 

Mr. Mnyupe holds an Executive Certificate in Economic Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is a CFA Charter holder, a Chartered Accountant and a Certified Financial Planner.

Nonsikelelo Sheron Mpofu

Material and Textile Researcher, Moi University Kenya

Nonsikelelo is a material and textile researcher with a keen interest in enhancing textile functionality through surface modification. Her current work focuses on circularity within the fashion industry, eco-innovation across the value chain and life cycle assessment of textiles and clothing.
With over 7 years of experience in textile research, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Textile Technology from the National University of Science and Technology, Zimbabwe and a Masters’ Degree in Textile Engineering from Moi University, Kenya. Nonsikelelo has been engaged in leadership roles by supporting female professionals in STEM in Kenya and Zimbabwe through the Organisation for Women in Science for the Developing World.
Her recent involvement in the Upmade project between Moi University and the Estonian Academy of Arts sets a great example of collaboration between Estonia and African countries to enhance the adoption of recycling and upcycling methods for more sustainability in the fashion industry.

Robin Saluoks

CEO & Founder of eAgronom

Robin founded eAgronom in 2016 and has grown it to be a leading regenerative agriculture platform in Europe and Africa. The company has over 1.7 million hectares of farmers in 15 different countries including Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Since the beginning of eAgronom, Robin’s main focus has been improving soil health to tackle climate warming and food security. eAgronom has 4 sustainability programs to bring different financial benefits to soil-friendly farmers – carbon credit income, value chain incentives, lower and sustainable loans.

Robin has been awarded with EU AmCham Young Entrepreneur of the Year title and was featured in Forbes 30 under 30. He comes from a farming family but studied computer science at the University of Tartu.

Startup Ecosystems

Moderator

Hannah Swabey

Global Expansion Consultant

Hannah is an Estonian-Canadian who has been working with mobility startups based out of Tallinn for the last 7 years. She studied a master’s in International Law at the University of Tartu and joined Bolt (formerly Taxify) when it was still just a small startup and was a part of their growth journey for close to 5 years. Moving through various roles spanning from in-house counsel to expansion management, she has always worked closely with African markets through supporting operations in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, South Africa, and Uganda. She has spent the past two years at Planet42 supporting their growth initiatives but is now working as an independent consultant for startups looking for support entering into new markets and also dreams of launching her own green mobility project in the future.

Speakers

Caroline Wanjihia

Regional Director Africa
Bolt

Caroline Wanjihia is the Regional Director Africa and International Markets (MENA, Asia and LATAM) for Ride Hailing Operations at Bolt. She joined Bolt in April 2023 and is responsible for initiating and steering Product Development; Strategy Development and Deployment; Internal and External Stakeholder Engagement and People Leadership for the Regional Ride Hailing Operations.

Caroline is an innovative, accomplished Strategy, Business Development and Operations Director respected for 15+ years orchestrating business strategy and growth for other global leaders like Coca-Cola, Diageo, Barclays, PwC, and Old Mutual. She provides visionary leadership while incorporating data-driven planning to navigate complex markets. She builds and maintains lasting relationships, driving stakeholder engagement and organizational alignment in diverse markets. She is an out-of-the-box thinker committed to establishing high-performance teams, fostering continuous improvement, and managing change to achieve record growth.

Caroline holds a Bachelor of Law Degree from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a CFA Level III Candidate. She is currently based in Nairobi, the Bolt Africa Headquarters.

Caleb Maru

CEO, Tech Safari

Caleb is CEO of Tech Safari, an Africa-focused tech newsletter and community with over 20 000 founders, operators and investors in Africa´s tech ecosystem. He is also Partner at Proximity Ventures, an Africa focused fund backing early stage founders. As the official host of Latitude59 Kenya Edition, Caleb is excited to address startup actors in Estonia.

Chidi Afulezi

Managing Principal, redKola Digital

Chidi Afulezi is on a mission to build the best products and product people the world needs. He is a product guy, digital insurgent, creative educator and an entrepreneur with a day job as Managing Principal of redKola Digital, a product management and digital transformation company. He is also a Managing Partner at the ZVG, a communications products consultancy. In addition to The Core Ventures, and jHunta, Chidi co-founded aKoma, a platform for the creative and cultural industries in Africa.

Chidi coaches and consults with leading product leaders and product teams in the private and public sectors globally, and is currently building the Product Leadership Accelerator, a Pan-African associate product management program. Chidi is a prolific educator, serving as a product faculty and instructor at the African Leadership University School of Business, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, the CRA Public Sector Fellowship, and General Assembly. He is based in Atlanta, Lagos and Kigali.

Aziza Inoubli

Regional Manager EMENA, Briter Bridges Ltd

Since joining Briter Bridges Aziza has managed several research projects on the African Tech Ecosystem. She is part of the Strategy and Growth team leading Briter’s expansion in Europe and the Middle East. From an engineering academic background, previous to Briter, Aziza spent more than 6 years working on the African Startup ecosystem. She had a project manager role in a development agency involving founders’ mentoring, ecosystem branding, and investor relations management. Aziza also held a leadership role in an African tech startup through which she led the operations and the startup’s expansion in the MEA region.

Edtech breakout session

Moderator

Kaili Terras

Ambassador at large for Education

Kaili is an Estonian career diplomat since 1997 with over twenty-five years of experience in various fields of diplomacy, ranging from security policy issues to humanitarian aid. She has represented Estonia in bilateral as well as in multilateral fora such as NATO, the EU, OPCW, and ICC.
Her diplomatic journey includes roles as a young political diplomat in Berlin, Estonian Special Representative in Lusaka and Ramallah, and as Ambassador in The Hague. She has collaborated with individuals from diverse backgrounds, continuously expanding her knowledge across different fields and building connections for the sake of Estonia. Currently, she leverages her experience as the Ambassador at large for Education.
She is a graduate of Tartu University, with a degree in special pedagogy (1989-1995) and a master’s degree in European Studies (2008-2010). A strong advocate for lifelong learning, she has been trained in various programs such as the Diplomatic Training Program for Young Diplomats in Berlin and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, among many others. Apart from her diplomatic responsibilities, she also serves as a gymnasium teacher. As a mother of two, she finds joy in being an enthusiastic reader, theatre lover and hiker.

Nadir Tati

Fashion Designer and Champion of African art and human rights

Nadir Tati is undoubtedly the leading figure when it comes to contemporary African style and fashion in Angola. With a degree in Criminology, she is a champion of African art and human rights, working also with underprivileged children. 

As a champion of African customs and traditions, Nadir strives daily to elevate Angolan fashion to the global stage. Foreign newspapers have regarded her as one of the most significant figures in African fashion history for her talent, determination, and perseverance.

Nadir has been awarded the Best Designer in Angola in 2010, 2011, and 2012. The prestigious Sirius Award, bestowed upon Angolan personalities in 2013, was granted to her for excellence in business and industry, as well as for representing Angola on the world’s runways. Nadir was the first Angolan and African fashion designer to dress a Hollywood actress for the Oscars in 2013.

In 2022 Nadir Tati was honoured with a Diploma of Merit by the Ministry of Culture and Environment in recognition of her career and contribution to national culture. In 2023 she was decorated by the President of the Republic of Angola with the Medal of Bravery and Civic and Social Merit, 1st Class.

Registration

  • THERE IS NO REGISTRATION FEE FOR THE FORUM.
  • TRAVEL AND ACCOMMODATION COSTS ARE TO BE COVERED BY THE PARTICIPANTS.
  • IN CASE YOU NEED AN OFFICIAL LETTER OF INVITATION FOR THE VISA APPLICATION, PLEASE MARK THE REQUIRED FIELD AT THE REGISTRATION FORM AND THE ORAGNISERS WILL CONTACT YOU.

Registration deadline is 30th of April, 2024.

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Accommodation

We have arranged special rates for you at the selected Radisson Green Key hotels in Tallinn.
The special rates are for the bookings made for the period of 20-22th of May 2024 and are subject to availability. In case you require accommodation at other/extended dates, please e-mail the hotels directly.

Please follow the instructions below and mention the promotional code ABF 2024 when requesting booking.

Business Forum venue:

Collection SGL/DBL – 180  €/night
Collection Superior SGL/DBL – 190 €/night
Collection Superior Old Town View – 200 €/ night
Collection Premium SGL/DBL – 220 €/night
Suites SGL/DBL rate from 290 €/night.

Price includes buffet breakfast, entrance to relaxation and fitness centre.
Bookings can be made in the hotel official homepage using promotional code ABF2024 or via e-mail reservations.tallinn@radissoncollection.com.

! Rates are valid until 19.04.2024.

Within 10-15 minutes walking distance to the venue and the Old Town:

Standard Class 140 € single use /150 € double use
Superior Class 150 € single use /160 € double use

Price includes buffet breakfast, entrance to relaxation and fitness centre.
Bookings can be made in the hotels official homepage using promotional code ABF2024 via e-mail info.palacetallinn@radissonindividuals.com.

! Rates are valid until 19.04.2024.

For additional accommodation options please see Accommodation – Visit Tallinn and Accommodation in Estonia

Venue

Africa Business Forum 2024 takes place at Radisson Collection Hotel Tallinn Conference centre at 3 Ravala Street, 10143 Tallinn.

Organisers

Africa Business Forum is organised by the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 
In case of any enquiries, please contact the organisers at africabusinessforum2024tallinn@mfa.ee.

Visit Tallinn

Spring is an ideal time to visit Estonia and its medieval capital city Tallinn, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why not extend your stay for a few days and enjoy Tallinn and its surrounding areas.

For more information, please visit the following sites:

Africa Business Forum 2023

Africa Business Forum 2023 focused on the theme of innovating with emerging Europe and drew together over 200 participants from 25 countries.

Africa Business Forum 2024