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Speaker From

South Africa



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Speaker Bio

Toby Shapshak writes and speaks about how innovation is better in Africa.  His TED talk on how Africa is solving real problems has had over 1,4-million views; and he has been featured in the New York Times. Toby is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff magazine; is a contributor to Forbes and writes a weekly column for the Financial Mail.


He has been co-hosting a weekly TV show on CNBC Africa for the past two years.


He believes Africa is a mobile-driven continent, about which he has written for CNN, The Guardian in London and for Forbes. Currently writing a book on innovation in Africa, looking at how the problems Africa is solving for itself will benefit the rest of the world. Toby has spoken at the South by South West (SxSW) conference in Austin, Texas, (thrice) on how mobile is being used in Africa (2013) and how music is being consumed (2014); and The Guardian’s Activate: Johannesburg on innovation out of necessity.


He has also spoken at Intel’s IDF conference in San Francisco, Germany’s Zukunftskongress (Future Congress), TEDxGateway in Mumbai, Pivot East in Nairobi, and Tech4Africa in Joburg.


Toby Shapshak was named in GQ’s top 30 men in media and the Mail & Guardian newspaper’s 300 influential young South Africans list; and has been the ICT Journalist of the Year. GQ said he “has become the most high-profile technology journalist in the country” while the M&G wrote: “Toby Shapshak is all things tech… he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech.”


Toby Shapshak


As a news and political journalist, he ran Mail & Guardian newspaper’s website when it was the first news site in Africa, shadowed Nelson Mandela when he was president, and covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He has interviewed a range of tech industry luminaries, including Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.


Formerly a senior newspaper reporter covering everything from crime to politics, he has been writing about innovation, telecoms and the internet and the impact it has on our lives for more than 20 years; including the Sunday Times, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, The Financial Mail, The Times, City Press, ThisDay, and The Weekender.




How mobile is changing everything


Mobile phones are one of the great success stories of the world, and nowhere is this more evident than in Africa. More people in Africa have a mobile phone than access to electricity. But that is not holding back how Africa solves problems, or innovates.


This talk explores how Africa’s 1.1bn people (expected to rise to 4bn by 2050) are using mobile technology that is leapfrogging older, desktop tech and enabling a new way of doing things. Meanwhile, the middle class (currently around 350m people) are expected to drive economic growth, much as their personal consumption is expected to be the driving force in China.


Companies that don’t adopt a mobile strategy are going to be on the outside looking in, as innovation (from mobile money to ride-sharing) becomes the new norm for doing business. Africa is just a mobile-first continent, but it is a mobile-only continent

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