The past few weeks have been an exciting time for the African tech community. With three Google developer events announced to take place in three different countries, three Facebook events in three different countries, and the recent visit by Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, to the growing tech communities in Nigeria and Kenya, there is a sense of a growing, resounding endorsement of the potential and energy within that sector.
With continuing low global oil prices, the Nigerian economy going into recession, and growing youth unemployment, there is growing interest in the opportunities that the technology sector can provide, in tackling many of the challenges that Nigeria, and other African countries face. Apart from the economic and employment opportunities, there has been much debate about how tech can help address some of the human development challenges that a developing country like Nigeria faces.
Of particular interest, has been the question of “leapfrogging” in the health sector, looking at how some developing countries moved straight to massive mobile phone coverage, skipping landline distribution, and allowing innovative solutions like the mobile payment solution mPesa, developed in Kenya, but now being replicated in Western countries.
The level of innovation, creativity, resilience and resourcefulness seen in the tech sector, raises some key questions: Are there lessons that the health sector can learn from the tech sector? How can we foster greater collaboration between the health and tech sectors in Nigeria? To what extent can tech realistically be used to address some of the challenges faced in the health sector?
There are many interesting new developments in health in Nigeria, and we have always tried to highlight some of these. There often, however, seems to be a divide between the technology sector and the health sector, in terms of culture, language and approach. Tackling the big challenges and fulfilling the potential of innovators in both sectors will require more working together. Fostering collaboration requires developing a shared understanding of the challenges, and building networks that connect the innovators in both health and tech.
As part of our commitment to help build greater awareness and collaboration on initiatives to improve health in Nigeria, Nigeria Health Watch is hosting our next Future of Health conference with the theme “Health Meets Tech”, in Abuja this Thursday – 22 September 2016.
With a breadth of speakers, from Lawal Kola Bakare, who with his team swiftly formed Ebola Alert (now EpidAlert) in the wake of the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, responding faster than traditional methods of mass mobilisation, setting up a hotline, a website, and social media accounts within days of the first case; to Nana Twum Danso, who through Maza in Ghana, is establishing a transportation network for rapid access to healthcare in rural areas; to Ola Orekunrin, founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, West Africa’s first and only full air ambulance service; we hope to showcase some of the innovations that are happening.
Beyond the innovations, we hope that this conference will be the beginning of strengthening networks and connecting innovators across the health and tech spaces in Nigeria, and across the continent.
The event is now fully subscribed! If you have registered, prepare yourself for an amazing event. Registration starts at 8 a.m., with the first speaker going on stage at exactly 9 a.m. If you tend to come late for events that you have registered for, there is no better time to change that than now. One thing is for sure – you do not want to miss the first speaker! ...and no, we can’t tell you who it is! .
If you did not get a place, join us through the livestream – here.
Tweet your thoughts before, during and after the event using the hashtag #NgHlth16
No event in Nigeria has ever brought together such an interesting mix of folk in health and technology – this might just be the recipe for something special.
We cannot wait to host you, in person or online, on Thursday!