Viva Tech 2018, Lots of Croissants and My Issues with Silicon Valley

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Admittedly I was only in Paris for one day of the Viva  technology conference, however the conference left quite an impression on me.


[Viva Technology, or VivaTech, is an annual commercial convention, dedicated to technological innovation and startups, held in Paris, France. VivaTech was founded in 2016 by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos.[1]

The first year of VivaTech gathered 45,000 visitors including 5,000 startup companies.[2]

In 2017, VivaTech was held at Paris Expo Porte de Versailles from 14 to 16 June in Paris, France. In attendance were 6,000 startup firms, 1,400 investors, and 1,500 journalists. French President Emmanuel Macron delivered the keynote address on 14 June and announced the creation of a 10-billion Euro fund for innovation and the launch of a French technology visa for international entrepreneurs.[2]

One thousand startups were exhibited in 20 open innovation “labs” sponsored by corporate groups (AccorHotelsAir FranceKLMAirbusBNPPLa PosteCiscoEngieCarrefourLVMHRATP GroupSNCFSodexoSanofiOrangeTF1, Talan, Pari mutuel urbain, Vinci EnergiesValeo).]


First …..

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I always love being in Paris, bakeries and baked goods are my favorite part of the French experience anyways back to the topic at hand.IMG_20180525_102032_514The Viva technology conference is probably the only technology conference that can boast have multiple presidents (Macron, the French president and Paul Kagame the Rwandan president) were on hand.

Then there was Gini Romney the IBM CEO, Satya the first non-founder CEO of Microsoft and Mark Zuckerberg, fresh from his EU grilling were on Cambridge Analytica was on hand to the closing keynote of the first day.


As Peris Co founder  of farmdrive cursly mentioned : yes, Mark is on his apology tour ….[grin]



There are very few conferences and tech conferences that can boast of this line up and that must definitely help with getting sponsors.

But if I am to be honest with myself, I was more interested in the dedicated Africa stage that was set up. I understand this was the first time they had done that.

The line of African speakers was impressive and the gender balance was even more impressive

I was there for the health and innovation, the financing entrepreneurship in Africa in panels. I spoke on the panel on generation entrepreneurship, the new African generation of entrepreneurs with a 19 veteran in the technology industry building Appstech across 20 countries and Cedric Atagana building Africa largest payment gateway in 27 countries, having raised 2 million euro from Angels and friends

We spoke plainly about the fact that it did not make sense that Africa tech ecosystem  keep blindly copying Silicon Valley, there are inherent advantages in Africa that we have refused to leverage.

For instance the international Labor organization has mention that by 2040 at least between 25%-40% of the world working population will be of African descent. African needs to ready to be the world workforce especially when fertility rates are lowering and average ages are increasing in Asia and Europe.

[Not odd that that a lot more funding is becoming available for birth control in Africa but I digress]


Africa can build entrepreneurial ecosystem our own way, rips of Silicon Valley will mean we remain a clone nothing more nothing less.


I characterize a good conference by

  1. The Network: Viva Tech provided that, there was good network of people, I could meet. I arranged and set up a really good set of meeting including the Andela Cofounder, The WFP innovation team and LinkedIn journalists

[Pic of me and the Andela Cofounder and  team]



  1. Different conversations The CEO stage was impressive , but none of these CEO’s said anything we did not already know


  1. Speaker Management: Yeah considering I arrived and my hotel room wasn’t already booked etc. etc., I am give them a pass mark.

[Pic of Amrote -Microsoft Africa Head  and Togo’s  Minister of ICT and Myself]