In 2007, Africa hosted its first TED global event in Arusha, Tanzania. It was a highlight because the world’s biggest thought leadership conference had finally touched base in Africa 23 years after its launch. Two years after this event, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave one of the most groundbreaking presentations: “The danger of a single story.” In that same year, TED introduced a license to produce a TEDx event anywhere in the world. Since then, the stage has become increasingly open to African thought leaders.

This month alone, several TEDx events have happened in Africa, and we’ve picked out some mind-shifting talks by Anglophone leaders.

Kanamure Bicura Junior – Rethinking startup investment in Africa

The conversation about investing in African startups changed dramatically over the last four years. We’ve seen such sharp shifts in investors’ behaviours that makes us wonder where exactly the ecosystsem is headed. In his TEDx Talk, Kanamugire Junior, a Rwandan venture builder, proposes his innovative strategy for boosting startup success in Africa. He scrutinizes the startup ecosystem, addressing how to boost the number of startups that are fit for Series A funding and how to overcome traditional incubation models. Junior delivers a discerning analysis of the difficulties and opportunities of scaling ideas in the African context. He emphasises the significance of a customised, long-term strategy for venture building, showing how African startups can generate substantial economic value and attain lasting growth.

Forrest Branch – Bold thinking for transforming African agribusiness

In his TEDx Talk, Forrest Patrick Branch shows the power of bold thinking to transform, inspired by the “Shinkansen Effect” from Japan’s ‘Bullet Train Thinking.’ He uses this idea to tackle structural problems in the DRC’s agribusiness value chain and food systems. Branch highlights the importance of innovative solutions, such as vocational and field-based education, agri-tech and mechanisation, and core infrastructure investment. He also envisions the DRC as a global leader that nourishes a large part of the world’s population, starting with affordable local market access, and international food exports.

Femi Reis – What if we’re actually losing our minds?

Femi Reis, in his TEDx Talk, “What if We’re Actually Losing Our Minds,” amusingly yet intelligently discusses the impact of digital habits on our cognitive health. He displays striking research that indicates a fall in human attention spans since the smartphone revolution, now shorter than a goldfish’s. Reis examines the change from page-based content to endless feeds, resulting in ‘Randomized Attention Dispersal’ and ‘Cognitive Obesity.’

Juliana Olayanju – Do you know what happens with every bite we take?

We all eat. But most of us, somehow, know very little about what happens with every bite we take. It’s not entirely the public’s fault. There’s not as much education as needed. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 40-50 hours of nutrition education for students. However, they get only about 8 hours. And that’s what Juliana Olayanju, founder of FoodNiche, tackles in her Tedx talk.

Blessing Abeng – Why we exist; contribution

No one knows how powerful an idea is until it’s acted upon. Blessing Abeng talks about how groundbreaking innovations are often products of ideas passed down by many contributors. Abeng’s theory is that this form of contribution — forming and spreading ideas— is why we all exist.

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