African startups take the stage at Viva Technology 2018 in Paris

The 2018 edition of Viva Technology, a global event for innovation, startups and digital transformation, took place from 24 – 26 May at the French capital’s Paris Expo Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. For its 3rd edition, the event extended its global outlook this year by shining the spotlight on African startups by dedicating a hub to African tech & innovation with over 50 African startups present.

The world is definitely looking to Africa as the future a continent filled with talented individuals looking for opportunities, and abundant demand and growth opportunities. French President Emmanuel Macron revealed at the event on Thursday that his country will invest $76 million in African startups, saying innovation on the continent is key to meeting challenges ranging from climate change to terrorism.

At Africa@tech at Viva Technology 2018, some of the brightest minds from across the continent were given opportunities to share their progress, visions and startup ideas alongside prominent startups from more than 10 other countries, including Israel, South Korea and Russia.

Countries represented included Rwanda, Nigeria, Cameroon, Morocco, and South Africa were given room to discuss how they address cultural problems and nuances through technology which has proven itself extremely impactful in changing the African single story. The use of technological innovations to change consumer habits while managing daily life with applications and smartphones is no longer unusual.

The three-day event saw more than 300 speakers take to the stage including Cisco’s Chuck Robbins, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Uber’s Dara Khosrowshahi and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg amongst tech bosses, startups, and innovators.

Senegalese entrepreneur Omar Cisse is promoting an app that helps to streamline mobile phone banking. (VOA/ L. Bryant)

South African startups Vizibiliti Insight and The Sun Exchange scooped prizes for their innovative solutions at the Viva Tech event with the Johannesburg-based artificial intelligence company Vizibiliti Insight winning EUR5,000 (US$5,800) in the Verizon challenge.

Vizibiliti Insight, which uses AI to help the commercial property sector, pre-screen tenants, and predict the chances of them defaulting, was selected and invited to present at Viva Tech after being shortlisted from over 110 applications for Verizon’s alternative credit scoring challenge. It was named overall winner for the Customer Experience Transformation through Digital challenge, winning the cash prize and an invitation to Verizon’s New York office to collaborate with the company. It also earns membership credits to Verizon’s Innovation Garage offices located all around the United States (US).

“This is a significant milestone for us and a huge honour to have been selected out of a pool of such strong competitors, many of whom have received millions of dollars in funding, for one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world,” said Vizibiliti Insight chief executive officer (CEO) Courtney Bentley.

Omar Cisse who heads a Senegalese startup called InTouch, which has developed an app making it easier to conduct financial transactions by mobile phone said, according to VOA, that the challenges for African startups are tremendous, but so are the opportunities. He stated; “Globally, you have more than $1 billion per day of transactions on mobile money, and more than 50 percent are done in sub-Saharan Africa.” “In Africa, you have very huge potential. Everything needs to be done now, and with local people who know the realities.”

The African section of Viva Tech has become very notable, and gigantic signs are pointing to stands from so many other African entrepreneurs, and as French President Emmanuel Macron said, “Africans need solutions made in Africa.”