Fast Facts

  • Workshop Date & Time: 2 July 2024, 1:30-4:30pm KST
  • Workshop Theme: Roundtable on Digital Africa
  • Registration Deadline: 12 June 2024
  • Workshop Organizers:

What is the Purpose of This Workshop?

Digitalization and digital connectivity are no longer confined to developed economies. Billions of users have newly accessed the internet over the last years and over thirty-five percent of developing country users are now connected (Statista, 2024). While previous work on digitalization has placed a strong emphasis mobile technology, e.g., “information and communication technologies for development” (ICT4D) (Heeks, 2018), there is now a recognition of the impacts of advanced technologies (Ahi et al., 2022), and the pervasive impact of digital transformation (Heeks, 2018). As for Africa in particular, the assumption is that with digitalization peripheral markets may transcend spatial, organizational, social, and political constraints, although some argue there is a possibility that digital tools and techniques may reinforce existing inequalities (Graham, 2019).

Business and management scholars and practitioners are currently focusing on the positive outlooks, considering digital transformation as vital for African organizations to sustain their competitiveness in the global market (Fisense, 2023). A growing number of studies on Africa has largely given attention on initiatives and related benefits to private and public sectors, but only limited attention has been given to emerging challenges and policy implications or how to address needs of different stakeholders (Osabutey & Jackson, 2024). There is evidence to suggest that advancements in digital technologies have led to new collaborative organizational networks, given rise to new businesses operations, and facilitated access to novel business intelligence (Senyo et al., 2019). Some of the earlier IB literature appears to assume low technological capabilities in Africa. However, newer studies are beginning to highlight the importance of indigenous technologies for both MNEs and domestic firms (Osabutey et al., 2023). In addition to mobile technological leapfrogging in Africa (Nachum et al., 2023), there is also evidence of the rise and internationalization of African digital technology startups. Hence, there are calls to support African institutions in surmounting advanced digital challenges and fostering a climate of technology-enabled economic growth (World Bank Group, 2023, 2024).

The “Roundtable on Digital Africa,” will convene at AIB World in Seoul, 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm on Tuesday, July 2nd 2024. It sets out to explore the scholarship landscape of digitalization and digital International Business across Africa. This session will bring together leading academics with ambitions to collaborate on digitalization issues, discuss current trends, challenges, and opportunities in Africa’s digital ecosystem. The roundtable seeks to foster meaningful dialogue and collaboration to promote education around aspects of empirical and practical challenges in working on collaborative projects and enhance skill development on such topics among participants. Through these discussions, participants will share insights and strategies to propel scholarship on digitalization issues in Africa forward.

What Topics Will be Covered in This Workshop?

From the Mechanical to the Digital Revolution: What Does it Mean for Africa?

This keynote, presented by Helena Barnard, provides a historical overview of the various technological revolutions that have brought us to the current digital revolution. I highlight the implications of the (de-)centralization of innovation in each revolution and propose that the digital revolution is characterized by both highly centralized innovations (e.g. big data) and decentralized opportunities for innovation (e.g. app development on a mobile). I explore the implications for Africa of these two types of innovation.

Data and Open Science – Opportunities for Research in Africa

This contribution, presented by Noemi Sinkovics, will explore the transformative potential of open science and data sharing in accelerating research and innovation across Africa. I will discuss the current landscape of data availability and how open science practices can enhance transparency, collaboration, and reproducibility in research.

Fintech and Financial Inclusion in Africa: Emerging Themes, Challenges, and Policy Implications

This roundtable contribution, presented by Ellis L.C. Osabutey, will address the transformative role of fintech in enhancing financial inclusion across Africa, spotlighting both the rapid advancements and the complex challenges faced. The discussion will explore key emerging themes such as the accessibility of mobile banking, the impact of digital currencies, and the regulatory landscapes shaping these innovations. Additionally, Ellis will address critical policy implications necessary for sustaining growth and ensuring equitable access to fintech services, providing a comprehensive outlook on how these technologies are reshaping Africa’s economic landscape.

Partnering for Impact: How Multinationals and Startups Collaborate to Create Shared Value in Africa

The contribution, presented by Shameen Prashantham,  will explore how multinational enterprises (MNEs) can play an important role in accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by engaging with startups that harness digital technology in Africa. Based on an exploratory study involving startup engagement in Africa by Alibaba, Bayer, Microsoft and Millicom – were studied in Africa, this discussion will consider the associated partnering process common to all cases, as well as differences in support provided by different MNEs depending on their locus of capability building (advanced vs emerging economy) and source of the partnering initiative (headquarters vs subsidiary).

Digital Africa Through the Eyes of Consulting Reports

The contribution, presented by David Schulzmann, will explore recent digital developments highlighted in prominent consultancy reports centered on the African continent. It will delve into Africa’s digitally driven economic progress, key trends, the significant disparity between rural and urban areas, and, finally, emphasize the substantial growth potential of rural and urban regions.

Digital Transformation and Africa – What Does the Development Studies Literature Tell Us?

This roundtable contribution, presented by Rudolf Sinkovics, will outline what the rich literature from the disciplinary area of development studies tells us about research problems and questions related to digital transformation and digital globalization in Africa.

How is This Event Structured?

This workshop is structured to include the following programming:

  • Introduction (Rudolf Sinkovics) – 5min
  • Keynote Address (Helena Barnard) – 20min
  • Data and Open Science – Opportunities for Research in Africa (Noemi Sinkovics) – 15min
  • Fintech in Africa (Ellis Osabutey) – 15 min
  • Building Global Relationships for Africa (Shameen Prashantham) – 15 min
  • Digital Transformation in Africa – What do We Know from Consulting Firms and Think Tanks? (David Schulzmann) – 15min
  • Digital Transformation for Development DTxD – Insights from the Literature (Rudolf Sinkovics) – 10min
  • Opening up to Roundtable Participants
  • Networking

How Can I Register for this Workshop?

Pre-registration for this workshop is required by 12 June 2024. All participants are expected to have valid AIB membership and to have registered for the AIB 2024 Conference.