By Andile Masuku
It has been one year, nine months and 22 days since I last contributed to Business Report and over five years since I was a weekly columnist.
Since writing regularly for the paper, I've penned syndicated long-form editorials for other significant publishers, offering accessible African perspectives on the continent's eventful digital transformation journey. I've also been fortunate to produce and present live radio and storytelling podcasts for the BBC World Service.
A random highlight was being roped into this live 'social video' coverage of the Afrobytes Marketplace 2018 for BBC Africa from, "the great African city of Paris" with Kenyan rock star journalist Larry Madowo. (Larry is now arguably one of CNN's top international correspondents.)
Before I get ahead of myself, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Andile Masuku. I am a Zimbabwean-born sense-maker, storyteller, (African) tech and innovation fan, interviewer, profiler, online learning proponent and community-builder, who has primarily lived in South Africa for the last 23 years.
My work as a consultant, entrepreneur, media-maker, and community-builder over the previous 18 years or so has seen me travel to numerous countries across Africa and the rest of the world, to fulfil professional assignments.
Fun fact: I’ve slept in 16 hotel beds in seven countries in the last few months. So, yes, I do get around.
My most significant human relationship is with a certain Zimbabwean-born actuarial analyst turned health economist named Sithabiso Daphne Masuku, who I'm blessed to call my best friend, business partner and wifey (aka the Boo). We're currently in our tenth year of marriage.
It would be an understatement to say that Sithabiso's thought partnership in matters professional and otherwise over the last decade, has been hugely beneficial to lending nuance and depth to my perceptions and deductions regarding the progress of Africa's emerging digital, tech startup and early-stage tech venture capital (VC) industries.
Meanwhile, as a media, comms and community consultant, my eclectic discography has spanned developing and executing content strategy, tactical media plays, executive education programming and community-building campaigns for leading organisations such as Afrobytes, Airbnb, AXA, Celo, Cisco, Henley Business School Africa, Kering Group, SPARK, VC4Africa and others.
Currently, as an active curator of the Pan-African media and insights platform, African Tech Roundup, and part of the growing Pan-African team at one of Africa's most active early-stage tech investors, Founders Factory Africa, I enjoy privileged network and insight access, which I'm keen to open-source.
As I'm poised to resume regular contributions to this publication, Philippa has advised me to provide BR’s audience with some personal background, and motivational context as to why my column might be worth reading on the weekly Technology Focus in BR.
While I gently pull Philippa out from under the bus, I must admit that I share her sense that candidly disclosing aspects of my personal context and professional journey to date - relationships, experiences, influences, biases, insights, learnings - serves you, the reader, well.
After all, not only is it 'very 2024' to overshare online, but as a discerning Business Report reader, you no doubt value gaining transparent insight into the voices you hear from regularly in this paper.
What should you expect from this column? As I'm learning a ton from being both an observer of and an active catalyst to Africa's digital transformation trajectory, I'm grateful for the opportunity to use this space to grapple intellectually with tech ecosystem successes and setbacks (and everything in between).
I relish the prospect of leaning into the tension of being both witness and party to these live dynamics as the space grows and evolves. I also look forward to showcasing insights gleaned from fellow learners and doers working in the trenches of Africa's tech and innovation scene, and filtering weekly feedback from you, dear reader, on how the future is unfolding from your perspective. And, you know what? We'll see how it goes.
So, there you have it. Let the exchange (re)commence!
Andile Masuku is Co-founder and executive producer at African Tech Roundup and head of Community at Africa-focused early-stage tech investor Founders Factory Africa. Connect and engage with Andile on X and via LinkedIn.
* Philippa Larkin, Acting BR Editor’s note: From the moment I met Andile Masuku at a SAP media event, held in Cape Town, many years ago, I was struck by Masuku’s many insights.
From techs to start-ups to venture capital Masuku breathes life into this landscape via his storytelling. He has so much knowledge to share and, I hope, to help guide other aspiring participants in the sector into this community. I am delighted that Masuku has agreed to return as a columnist to BR and liven up the tech landscape in 2024.