7 things we learnt from the Afrotech Fest Event

ADT
ADT
Feb 10, 2018 · 7 min read

Shameless plug- ‘We’ here refers to BTNG- Building Things for NG and I attended on behalf of the team. Next event- ‘Celebrating African Women in Tech’ is on 16th of Feb, register here.

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Afrotech Fest Organisers

First off I would like to give a huge round of applause and tip about ten hats to the organising team of the Afrotech Fest event. It was fantastic to say the least. I would also like to extend the plaudits to the hosts (abiola, Carl Konadu) and everyone who volunteered, it was a great event. Well done all!

The 7 items below were garnered from the second day of the event (Saturday 27th January 2018) as I was not able to attend the first day but I heard raving reviews about it.

In addition, there were three venues on the day, youth venue, venue 1 and venue 2. I tried my best to jostle between venue 1 and 2 on the day, and the following does not capture the whole event. But it captures most of it.

So let’s begin…

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1. Technologists Must Broaden the Context

The insightful Ade Adewunmi was first up on the scene at venue 1 and delivered an inspiring talk about Responsible Disruption which gave technologists in the room a lot to think about.

She gave thought provoking discussion points about thinking more of what people might use your technology for using examples such as, social media platforms and the fake news saga, platforms being used for hatred and bigotry and the hilarious story of a shed being the highest rated restaurant on TripAdivsor.

Main Tip

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Eunice Ball of @africatbn

2. Do your Part to Change the Face of Tech

Eunice started her talk with a thought provoking question.

‘What does a Tech Entrepreneur look like?’

If you do an image search for terms like ‘Software Engineer’ ‘Tech Entrepreneur’ or ‘Programmer’, you are likely to get a stereo-typical set of images (white man at a computer) which does not depict the true landscape of the industry.

Eunice is on a mission to change the face of tech to include people that look like her- black women. To do this, Eunice is releasing a book called ‘Founding Women’ which would encourage more women in Africa or from Africa to work in the tech industry.

Main Tip

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3. Know What You’re Consenting To

Abi’s message about data awareness was eye opening. Starting with the question: “Is your location settings turned on right now?”, she gave various examples on the the data we give out to corporations without fully knowing it.

How many of us know what’s in the Spotify Terms of Service? What about Facebook and so on? Your data is being sold without you knowing what you’re giving up.

Main Tip

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4. It’s not Too Late

Before the Afrotech Fest event, I was simply looking forward to watching the Black Panther movie. But as soon as Helen began her talk, I became eager, excited, and ecstatic to see the new Black Panther movie.

Helen Gould’s excitement is infectious and the Black Panther introduction was a good way to start her talk about black people finally breaking barriers and doing great things.

She used Wakanda Vibranium as a prop for what could have been, if the resources from Africa were utilised for the enrichment of the people instead of being forcefully shipped to the west.

Main Tip

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Paris Petgrave of Rare Seed Capital

5. The democratisation of Venture Capital is here to Stay

I cannot remember the exact stats for the percentage of Venture-backed black-owned businesses in the UK but the numbers are heart-breaking. However, there is hope as the eloquent Paris of Rare Seed Capital highlighted at the event.

Founders of Rare Seed Capital on a mission to change the game by investing in a diverse range of companies both in the type of business and the people running it. Paris also touched on crypto-currency and why it is a key ingredient in the democratisation of Venture Capital.

Main Tip

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Brian Akperi, Dawn Duhaney, Abi Mohamed and Ade Adewunmi

6. Question the source of the data

There were quite a few other things happening at venue 2- mostly workshops, interactive presentations and panel discussions.

I attended the machine learning panel discussions and it opened up a lot about what’s happening in this relatively new field oftechnology. Lots of examples, lots of insights and lots to think about.

One key takeaway which got me thinking was, where the data used for machine learning is coming from. A lot of the data sets used to train the algorithms are often skewed towards a certain demographic which can be dangerous and excludes certain communities.

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Side example- Insurance companies in the case of Mohammed Vs John Smith

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Adam Campbell, Momo Pixel, Michael Anderson, Albert Marshall, Chella Ramanan

7. The Gaming Industry needs you

Last panel for the day was all about the game. Having played a lot video games but not given much thought to the people behind them, it was good to get a glimpse of what ethnic minorities go through in the gaming industry.

The panel talked about the lack of diversity in the gaming industry, the problems it leads to and what the outcomes are. A prime example is, how black characters are often portrayed in video games- stereotypical afro look with an accent.

It was good to hear Momo Pixel’s story about creating her viral game Hair Nah, her struggles with developers, the appreciation from the black community upon release and the ripple effects it had across the board.

Main Tip

Other Notes

  • Absolutely loved the Poem by Nikky Norton Shaffu
  • Quick shout out to Loraine James for giving us a quick tutorial on making dope music

And

  • I heard great things about the Elixir workshop

In all, great event.
Can’t wait for the next one!

By the way if you are in London next week Friday (16th Feb 2018) You should come down to BTNG’s first event of the year ‘Celebrating African women in Tech’. You can find out more info here.

More Photos

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Lorraine James
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Volunteer
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Location
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Nikky Norton Shaffu
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Afrotech Fest Team

Building Things for NG

Building Things for NG is a community aimed at bringing…

ADT

Written by

ADT

My essays lie at the intersection of design and human behaviour. Previously Co-founder @eclecticsource

Building Things for NG

Building Things for NG is a community aimed at bringing likeminded people together focused on building products/services for Nigeria

ADT

Written by

ADT

My essays lie at the intersection of design and human behaviour. Previously Co-founder @eclecticsource

Building Things for NG

Building Things for NG is a community aimed at bringing likeminded people together focused on building products/services for Nigeria

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