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Focus on technology as Social Media Week opens in Lagos

By Kabir Alabi Garba
21 February 2016   |   11:00 pm
SPURRED on by the successes of its three previous editions, Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos returns, from today till February 26, 2016, to explore the impact of technology across Africa and how it can be harnessed to stimulate socio-economic and cultural growth.


SPURRED on by the successes of its three previous editions, Social Media Week (SMW) Lagos returns, from today till February 26, 2016, to explore the impact of technology across Africa and how it can be harnessed to stimulate socio-economic and cultural growth.

Designed as a week-long conference that provides ideas, trends, insights and inspiration to help people and businesses understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world, SMW Lagos is part of the global conference, Social Media Week, hosted simultaneously in 12 other cities around the world.

Lagos is the first African city to host the yearly event inaugurated over eight years ago. So far, Lagos has also remained the only African city hosting the weeklong global conference.  To date, over 20,000 people have participated in SMW Lagos.

With “The Invisible Hand: Hidden Forces of Technology,” as the global theme of the conference, the Lagos version produced by AFRIKA21 and Dragon Africa has “The Networked African: Technology’s Impact on Africa (and How We Can Harness it for Good)” as its theme targeting critical examination of issues surrounding how mobile technology; networked connectivity; data and other technologies are radically changing industries and communities across Africa.

The curtain raiser today at the SMW Lagos Campus tucked inside Landmark Centre, a state-of-the-art event space at Victoria Island is one of the newly introduced programmes, ‘Future of Media’ Summit with the assemblage of news bureaus, broadcasters, journalists and bloggers to share best practices and discuss what’s next on the continent’s media landscape.

Specifically, the summit will feature talks led by Agence France-Presse, The Guardian, Nigeria, Quartz Africa, The Guardian , the United Kingdom, Pulse Nigeria and the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Another unique feature of SMW Lagos 2016 edition is “Women in Tech Day” billed for February 24. The initiative grows from the understanding that “when one woman helps another, amazing things can happen. Professional careers leap forward and new ideas take root… that’s what SMW Lagos African Women in Tech Day is all about.” The day will feature panel sessions and master classes led by Intel, She Leads Africa and Facebook.

There is also SMW Lagos’ Interactive Pavilion hosting a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors – from promising start-ups to established industry leaders. In a statement by the organisers, the pavilion is projected as “where business gets done: on the pavilion floor, in and around our conference programmes, in impromptu connections and in planned meetings and special events. The five-day show encourages targeted connections and new discoveries through experiential offerings from our partner exhibitors as well as co-working spaces, curated lounges and original crowd sourced programming on Stage15.”

Really, in the next five days, the SMW Lagos Campus will attract global attention as it hosts keynotes, panel discussions, master classes and features digital installations, co-working spaces, executive meeting rooms, exhibitions and a beachfront lounge for post-conference networking. It is expected to be a five-day exploration of a wide range of topics including social media and the Nigerian football industry, business, entertainment, education, and technology and governance .

SMW Lagos 2016 parades long list of partners including Facebook, Intel, Accenture, Nestle, Stanbic Bank, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture, Lagos State, the United Nations Women, Airtel, Lufthansa, the Wheatbaker Lagos, the British Broadcasting Corporation , Black Enterprise Magazine, Nigerian Communications Commission, National Pension Commission, SAP, BeatFM 99.9, Red Bull, Ciroc, The Guardian, Nigeria, Pulse Nigeria, Red Media, Nigeria Strength Advocacy & Civil Engagement/USAID, and Swift NG.

As for the producers — AFRIKA21 and Dragon Africa – while the latter is a network of business leaders, consultants and advisors with deep and rich experience in various industries across the African region, AFRIKA21 has distinguished itself as a media and production outfit that could take a multidisciplinary approach to promoting a new vision of Africa in the 21st Century.

It has demonstrated competence in the production of online content, multimedia events and public programming with the expressed purpose of reframing the conversation around Africa, creating awareness of the opportunities that exist on the continent and encouraging collaboration. Specialising in strategy and advisory services, Dragon Africa, on its part, offers gateway and market access services into Nigeria and other markets in the region.

Indeed, through the platform of Social Media Week, the mission of helping people and organisations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information is fast becoming a reality globally.