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Saqib Nazir Keynote for MT4D 2024 at 3iAfrica Summit

The 5th Industrial Revolution, a fusion of digital, biological, and physical innovations, is here
with us. Unlike previous industrial revolutions, which left us behind, this revolution provides
a unique opportunity for us to participate in this new age of development and prosperity. At
the heart of this transformation lies robust Digital Public Infrastructure, which is the
cornerstone of progress and prosperity for the continent in this new ear, and which we so
desperately need.
Innovation in digital infrastructure has the power to bridge vast geographical divides,
connect remote communities, and thereby unleash the untapped potential of millions.
From fibre-optic networks to mobile technologies, the digital revolution is reshaping Africa’s
landscape, yet, amidst this digital transformation, challenges persist. Poor access to reliable
telephony, internet and power hinders the full participation of the majority in the digital
In my opinion, there is no shortage of investment. There are billions of dollars out there
looking to be properly utilized, but there are a number of issues which hinder the necessary
investment into this infrastructure: 

  1. Enhanced Economic Inclusion: This refers to the ability of both businesses and
    consumers to afford the necessary infrastructure. It is imperative to cultivate an
    economic landscape where all stakeholders generate sufficient economic value,
    enabling them to invest in and sustain the required infrastructure at its rightful cost.
    Simply seeking price reductions isn’t enough; rather, we must strive to bolster
    economic capacities across the board to ensure equitable access and support
    sustainable development.
  2. Enhancing Customer Capabilities: This aspect pertains to our proficiency in fully
    leveraging the services offered to their utmost potential. Given the fragmented
    nature of our society concerning education and economic empowerment, there’s a
    pressing need to uplift these standards to a minimum threshold. By doing so, we
    ensure that our infrastructure is effectively utilized and benefits all segments of
  3. Enhancing Value Creation: The pivotal question remains – will we merely consume
    what the global market offers, or shall we contribute to this era by creating
    innovative services that resonate and are in demand worldwide? Our diverse talent
    pool spans numerous fields, awaiting the conducive environment needed to flourish.
    It’s imperative to foster an ecosystem that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship,
    enabling us to not only consume but also create and export value-added services
    that enrich the global landscape.
    When I look at my business, People’s Pension, which seeks to offer pensions and other
    financial services to informal workers, our success hinges upon three crucial pillars. Firstly,
    universal access to mobile phones, regardless of internet connectivity, emerges as a
    fundamental prerequisite. Secondly, fostering a populace equipped with the requisite skills
    and acumen to understand our offerings and navigate through phone menus easily is

essential. Lastly, empowering individuals economically to facilitate transactions is
Our vision extends beyond merely servicing our clientele; we aim to mobilize a substantial
customer base not only for our own services but also for other vital offerings. By doing so,
we aspire not only to fulfil our organizational goals but also to play a pivotal role in the
nation’s development narrative leveraging pension funds for long term infrastructure
We can see that there is demand for our services and for many other services and but then
how what percentage of the population can currently comply with these requirements? As
always, in the face of adversity lies opportunity. By investing in robust digital infrastructure
and fostering a culture of innovation, we can enable our talented populations create an
ecosystem of next generation value added and OTT services that will help Africa and chart a
course towards inclusive and sustainable development.
I am not going to speak about all the things we, as leaders in our various sectors, need to do
to attract the necessary investment because I think we all already know what needs to be
done. We have all the advice, all the reports, all the research, all the plans. What remains
pivotal is the execution, the leap from theory to practice and action.
And to do that, all we need to do that is a bit more honesty, integrity, and diligence in
everything we as leaders do. Let us bear in mind the weight of our responsibility not only to
the present but also to the generations yet to come, ensuring that our actions today lay the
foundation for a prosperous and sustainable future, in line with the rest of the world.