Expert panel attracts audience from more than 100 countries to first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference

Expert panel attracts audience from more than 100 countries to first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference
Expert panel attracts audience from more than 100 countries to first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference

In a first of its kind, the Future of Work Virtual Conference – hosted by CNBC Africa, in partnership with Forbes Africa – attracted more than 2 000 global viewers who engaged with industry experts on digital opportunities for the continent. With the drastic changes taking place the world over, this innovative virtual platform (held on Thursday, 20 August) outlined how leveraging new technologies is the most viable option for business success. For those who missed the live #FOWA2020 event, the speaker panel is available here

“This was the biggest virtual conference dealing with the future of work in sub-Saharan Africa, and we extend our thanks to all the sponsors involved for its success,” said Sid Wahi, Managing Director of CMA Investment Holdings, the Founding shareholder of the ABN Group. “Despite the technological focus, a recurring theme of the day was on the impact to the human element in this changing business environment. How will this change in technology and how we work impact us from a jobs and skills’ point of view, and what do we need from our leaders to enable transformation?”

A revolutionary digital event, the Future of Work Virtual Conference was televised live on CNBC Africa, as well as harnessing new technology by hosting on the Hopin platform. This provided participants with a uniquely ‘real-life’ experience, including interactive Q&A opportunities with speakers on the ‘main stage’; Video Speed Networking; virtual expo booths; as well as engaging breakout sessions.

“For a conference centred on the African digital revolution, there was no better platform for modern networking,” said Roberta Naicker, Managing Director of the ABN Group. “It was so inspiring to witness the inter-continental engagement, with the expert panelists and business stakeholders discussing ways new technology can transform the business landscape. It was truly an eye-opener for businesses across the board, and I encourage anyone who missed it live, to catch the key takeaways on CNBC Africa.”

The conference panel consisted of industry leaders in the latest digital technologies. Among them were Kabelo Makwane, Managing Executive of Cloud Hosting and Security at Vodacom; and Rebecca Enonchong, Founder and CEO of AppsTech and Board Chair of Afrilabs – among many others.

Pankaj Shrivastava, Business Leader of Architecture, Software & LV Products at Rockwell Automation, in discussion with event moderator, Jonny Caplan, CEO & Executive Producer of Tech Talk Media, summed up the event with his comment: “Covid-19 has been unprecedented, but this is a time where companies should re-think and re-imagine how they operate. There are now new opportunities to be considered.”

The #FOWA2020 programme covered:

–    Turbocharging productivity: what automation, machine learning and AI can do for your business

Is AI something to be feared or embraced? Experts outlined practical applications and industry trends. Amrote Abdella, Regional Director for Microsoft4Afrika, explained: “AI and machine learning technologies are enabling organisations and governments in Africa to process and utilize data across various key sectors, such as agriculture, finance and even skills’ development.”

–      Cybersecurity for the distributed, hyper-connected workplace

A business is only as strong as its weakest link, which is why protecting valuable data and other corporate resources from cybercriminals is key. Patrick Grillo, Senior Director of Security Strategy at Fortinet, commented: “Hacking is a result of malcontent, but it is also big business, and anyone could be a hacker. There are formal or loosely-knit organisations dedicated to it.”

–      How Cloud computing & SaaS can help African enterprises futureproof their business model

Cloud has become the great equaliser, allowing for rapid innovation and scale. Used properly, this could be a game changer for any business. Alison Collier, MD of Endeavor South Africa, noted: “There is opportunity everywhere, with borders coming down and people being able to work online using service providers across borders. Fintech is a big attraction.”

–        Digital transformation and the distributed enterprise

The new landscape means pivoting your business model to allow for remote working, strengthened by authentic brand communication. As Jacqueline Raw, Owner & Founder, Ycagel stated: “The community building and network development that comes form co-working is only going to get bigger and bigger.”

–        Empowering the workforce to harness IoT and Big Data Analytics

The final panel discussion unpacked how business is able to create information out of data – one of the most valuable modern resources for businesses of all sizes. As Peter Malebye, Managing Executive, IoT Africa, Vodacom, said: ““The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the way we work as we know it. This lockdown has fundamentally tested the boundaries of collaboration, and it’s up to companies to acknowledge the power of technology and IoT to unlock value across business.”

Commenting on the event, Canninah Mapena, MD and Country Sales Director for Rockwell Automation Sub-Saharan Africa, said: “A key takeaway from today is that the need for innovation goes beyond gadgets. Running a successful, connected enterprise means undergoing digital transformation. To compete in the new economic climate, and succeed into the future, companies need to re-evaluate what it means to be efficient, innovative and competitive.”

If you missed out on this impactful event, catch The Future of Work Virtual Conference – held in partnership with Forbes Africa, with industry-leading event sponsors Vodacom, Fortinet, and Rockwell Automation – at

For more information about the event and to keep updated on upcoming events, visit