Africa is the epicentre of opportunity - Lee Naik opens #findaba17 day 2

TransUnion Africa CEO Lee Naik opened the second day of Finance Indaba Africa 2017 with a promise that resonated with the eager crowd: The future is brighter than you think and we Africans are poised to make the most of it.

The second annual Finance Indaba is being hosted in the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg and has already attracted record crowds of finance professionals. Lee was the first keynote speaker of the day, and presented a positive and upbeat take on the risk-opportunity spectrum inherent in the rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI).

He points to examples like the Zipline drone currently being deployed in Rwanda to deliver blood supplies to the scene of accidents, and the Velocopter (pilotless helicopter) already ferrying passengers above traffic-choked streets in the UAE. For Lee, these are examples of how technology and automation can free people from process-heavy, drudge work, to focus on what we do best: be creative and nurture relationships.

With that vision shining bright in the audience’s minds, Lee then focused his argument on the shift of power that is happening globally – North to South, West to East – and how Africa is best placed to take advantage of these kinds of tech-enabled solutions. With Africa’s young and growing population, Lee says, will come problems – but these are problems we are best placed to solve, and that is the source of potential innovation.

Not only that but all indicators suggest that the highest economic growth will be seen on the continent in the next few years. Collectively, the continent is forecasted to grow at between 4 and 6 percent. By comparison, super-power-in-decline USA has growth forecasts of just 2.2% in same time period.

How do we take advantage of this opportunity? Lee believes culture will make all the difference, saying that “culture beats strategy”, and imploring the audience to consider their workplace culture. “Are you putting up walls to collaboration?” he asked. “What culture will you bring to work? What will you do differently to solve the problem?”

“Strategy is only as good as the people who live it,” he concluded.