A prototype "parcelcopter" of German postal and logistics group Deutsche Post DHL is seen on a table in Bonn December 9, 2013. DHL on Monday showed its prototype "parcelcopters," which is a modified microdrone that costs 40,000 euros ($54,900) and can carry packages up to 1.2 kg (2.65 pounds). REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay (GERMANY - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

DHL recently held its 5th annual Global Technology conference in Dubai. This conference was under the theme “Connecting Markets, Trends & People”, it hosted about 300 delegates for a three day program of plenary sessions and workshops. The topics covered included the latest trends, innovations and solutions impacting the technology supply chain with focus being on Middle East and Africa as regions of interest with high growth potential.

The “Rise of Africa” plenary session set out to explore the potential of and expectations for the African continent, with discussions being on how best to navigate existing challenges and trade barriers in order to tap into growth. A number of speakers illustrated how they have successfully operated in various African markets. Ashish Thakkar, Founder and CEO of Mara Group gave interesting and thought provoking insights with his keynote themed “Inspiring Africa, Capturing Chances”. Konga’s Sim Shagaya and Tayo Oviosu, CEO of Paga, made the case for doing business in Africa, rightly advising companies to move beyond negative media hype and become familiar with the situation on the ground in order to explore and tap into the tremendous potential in Africa.

It has been predicted that internet usage in Africa will increase 20 fold in the next 5 years. This is basically double the rate of growth in the rest of the world. The delegates at the conference got to learn about the African consumers’ preferences such as paying retailers through mobile phones rather than cash and an increased appetite for well-priced mobile devices fuelled by a rapidly growing middle class. Discussions were also held on Africa’s potential for becoming a manufacturing destination for technology goods given the big market.

The aim of this year’s conference was to connect DHL customers with experts who are already successfully running their businesses in Africa. The plenary sessions were tailored to give unique insights into how business is done on the continent, to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking. DHL which has been on our continent for the last 37 years, it is well positioned to support customers with end to end supply chains and tailor made logistics solutions to help them overcome challenges and tap into the continents tremendous growth opportunities.