Countries / Territories

WEDF 2014 - Session report - Parallel session III: E-solutions for SME export growth

  • WEDF 2014 - Session report - Parallel session III - E-solutions for SME export growth


    • Mr. Maurice Kagame, CEO, Pivot Access, Rwanda
    • Mr. Yves Eonnet, CEO, Tagattitude, France
    • Mr. Gagan Khurana, Head of Value Chain Partnerships, Grow Africa
    • Mr. Richard Newfarmer, Country Director, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, International Growth Center, USA
    • Moderator: Mr. Eric Kacou, Partner & Co-founder, Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners, Côte d’Ivoire


    Greater Internet connectivity, particularly through mobile technology, has opened up possibilities for SMEs, both in e-exports and in using new technologies to facilitate their traditional exports.

    In this session, African ICT business leaders shared their views on the latest trends in mobile payment systems, virtual market places, services linking farmers to markets and technological solutions to increase efficiency.


    • The digital economy is booming in Africa. Businesses need to understand the opportunities and how they will change the way they interact with customers.
    • New technologies offer exciting potential for SMEs in developing countries to transform their competitiveness in local and international markets.
    • To be successful in digital business requires more than an understanding of technology. Many traditional challenges are as relevant as ever: a sound business strategy, good production and marketing capabilities and an understanding of customers and markets.


    • African digital entrepreneurs have a tremendous opportunity: where there is a problem to be solved by technology that saves time or money, there will also be demand.
    • Better collaboration is the key to unlocking many of these opportunities: complementary solutions exist and, when they can be combined, create an immediate answer.
    • Barriers to trade – whether they come from restrictive practices or intellectual property – can be a spur to innovation. Where there is an opportunity, entrepreneurs will find a way around the barrier, especially if it is a technological barrier.
    • The future of banking is being made in Africa: Financial transactions are moving to the mobile domain, conducted by individuals sometimes directly with other individuals, sometimes with institutions.
    • A key challenge to universal adoption of mobile information or payment is to develop solutions simple enough to overcome problems of technological literacy. Only a minority of farmers know how to use SMS.
    • Technology alone, even mobile technology, is not enough to create significant new value for the communities where new solutions are launched. For example, knowing prices in a neighbouring market alters little if there is no reasonable or cost effective access to that market.
    • Local entrepreneurs could benefit from support in solving barriers to conducting e-commerce: including access to payment solutions and more cost effective logistics.

    Speakers' key messages

    • Mr. Kagame
      “The secret to building a successful new digital business is that it must answer a real need, related to an everyday problem that people have… and it must be simple to use.”
      “It is possible to imagine an information system based on a simple ERP tool that could revolutionise retail logistics in Africa, reducing transport and logistics costs.”
      “Rwanda is rapidly moving into a position where it has solved the issues of internet infrastructure… and where the government is interacting with civil society via the Internet… we could begin to compare ourselves with Estonia!”
    • Mr. Eonnet
      “The future of banking is being made right now in Africa.”
      “It is possible to design a solution where any kind of financial transaction can be conducted on the simplest of mobiles devices.”
      “e-solutions create jobs: the implementation of any of our solutions creates in turn a need for many more service jobs. Our job is to create jobs.”
    • Mr. Khurana
      “To create value in implementing a digital solution we need to ensure that we link the bits and bytes to bricks and mortar… In other words, a technology-only solution is not enough; we must consider the physical environment in which it is to be used.”
      “Better collaboration would help in the creation of solutions, and would unlock the innovative potential of Africa.”
    • Mr. Newfarmer
      “The emergence of the Internet has facilitated access to ideas as well as key inputs markets.”
      “Rwanda has the potential to be a regional leader in the provision of services particularly in relation to conferences, market transactions and tourism.”
      “Government’s role should be to ensure a conducive business environment: availability of the right infrastructure, appropriate education and training to facilitate the development of a vibrant sector for digital entrepreneurialism.”

    RDB logo

  • Conference Report

    conference report  

    Download the report (PDF)


    Photo galleries

    View photo galleries
  • Strategic media partner

    all africa 


    media partners

    00000african report





    Join us on LinkedIn

    Linkedin logo