Bernanke, Chris Hughes, other global leaders converge on Lagos for technology conference

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Inspirational leaders from the global private and public sectors are expected to converge on Lagos on December 10, 2015, to discuss the critical issues confronting Africa, the world economy and the social transformation created by changing technology.

The conference with the theme ‘Leading in a transformational world – the imperative of innovation’, is expected to be moderated by several renowned speakers including José-Maria Figueres, former President of Costa Rica and now a leading campaigner on environmental issues.

Senior corporate representatives from around the world including Chris Hughes (Facebook Co-Founder), Steve Wozniak (Apple Co-Founder) and Tony Fernandes (Air Asia Founder and CEO) are also expected at the epochal event, the second in the series.

Other speakers scheduled to be present at the conference include Ben Bernanke (Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Central Bank of the USA), Hans Rosling (Professor of Global Health, Sweden’s Karolinka Institute), Mariana Mazzucato (Professor in Economics, University of Sussex), Chinedu Echeruo (Founder and CEO Gigameet.com) Narayana Murthy (Founder of Infosys) and many more.

The conference, conceived by one of Nigeria’s top brand and leading financial services company, Access Bank Plc, becomes pertinent, given the fact that leaders now, more than ever before, have to operate in a world that is quickly and radically changing on a global level.

As a prelude to the conference, Victor Etuokwu, Access Bank’s Executive Director, Personal Banking Division, said recently that life-changing innovations popping up in unexpected places around the globe with breakthrough developments in sectors such as nanotech, biotech, artificial intelligence, robotics and more, will affect every sector of the global economy in such a way that businesses will have nowhere to hide.

According to him, innovation means BIG change and even BIGGER opportunities for those who decide to be part of it.

“As we are all experiencing it, innovation is moving at a speed that’s never been witnessed. With 2 billion internet users worldwide and 50 billion connected devices by 2020, innovative technology is definitely the defining trend for today’s business,” he noted.

Since the growing complexity of today’s borderless environment is fast proving to be some- times overwhelming, the near consensus is that more than ever, leaders have to make rapid decisions that are often dictated by the seismic shifts taking place in fields as diverse as economics, the environment, geopolitics, society and technology.

Technology is now considered to be the big elephant in the boardroom, which no leader can afford to ignore its extraordinary, transformational and very disruptive power.

Technology has and will continue to change the way people address daily lives, just as it has impacted many aspects of private lives, as well as every single global industry – the obvious ones being financial services, retail, manufacturing, but also agriculture, accounting, law, education and so on.

Innovation also disrupts the “inner-life” of companies; including their organisational structures, jobs and the workplace, customer interactions and business models themselves.

Life-changing innovations popping up in unexpected places around the globe with breakthrough developments in sectors such as nanotech, biotech, artificial intelligence, robotics and more, will affect every sector of the global economy and businesses will have nowhere to hide!

The 2015 conference is the second in the series of strategic initiatives by Access Bank, which had brought together former Heads of States, key market players, senior public officials and emerging entrepreneurs.

In 2013, the conference which was centred around an inspirational conversation on leadership in a rapid-changing world and how to ensure sustainability, recorded one of the highest assemblage of eggheads with 16 exceptional speakers – from very different backgrounds, but all very prominent in their own right – provided the participants with some fascinating insights on what it takes and what it means to be a leader.

The speakers at the event included Fola Adeola OFR, Chairman Fate Foundation, Nigeria, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, the then CEO, Access Bank, Jacques Attali, CEO, PlaNet Finance, France, George W. Bush, former President of the United States of America, USA, Sebastian Coe, Olympic champion and chairman of LOCOG, UK and José-Maria Figueres, President, Carbon War Room & Former President of Costa Rica (1994-1998), Costa Rica and UK.

Others include John Agyekum Kufuor, former President of Ghana, Christopher Meyer, Founder Nerve LLC, Senior Advisor Deloitte, USA, Ngozi Iweala Okonjo, former Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Evelyn Oputu, former Managing Director, Bank of Industry and Nicolas Sarkozy, former President of France among others.

Incidentally, Herbert Wigwe, who was then Group Deputy Managing Director but now Group CEO, Access Bank, is excited about the conference which he said was founded in recognition that Africa must now play a central role in the global debates that matter to its citizens.

“Whether it is technology, entrepreneurship or the impact of financial regulation on growth, the future direction of the world is increasingly being played out in this continent.

“This conference will be a fantastic opportunity for a meeting of minds, sharing of knowledge, and the beginning of an understanding that can enhance the wellbeing and happiness of Africa’s people,” Wigwe said.

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