The Africans are coming… this year’s Meffys prove it

There’s nothing like a awards bash to bring together people and last night’s Meffys at a Mayfair hotel was no different.

Or was it? This was the ninth year of the awards given to achievers in the mobile space and things *have* changed over that time, and not just the continually transforming mobile industry.

Nine years ago it wasn’t that easy to find a woman at the Meffys (aside from MEF’s fragrant Rimma Perelmuter of course) and even harder to find a non-white male. It was a lads’ industry and awards nights like this generally involved unhealthy amounts of sexism, booze and that other rock n’ roll substance.

No longer. In the leaner and more realistic 2012, the women in the audience last night almost resembled the gender proportions of society… and what was even more refreshing was how many Asians and Africans were present.

What was even more impressive was the content coming out of Africa. I was lucky enough to be one of the judges and it was great to see Afroes for Moraba win the Social Responsibility and Development Award, it was by far the best entry.

Other African (and Middle East) winners included the Yala music service and cloud-based app comany BiNu. Even the biggest winner on the night had an African connection. The Meffys Outstanding Contribution Award 2012 was given to Hannes Van Rensburg, CEO Fundamo, for mobile banking in Africa.

On the main table among other high-powered executives (and me, the lightweight) was Prins Mhlanga who is doing great things for Vodacom in South Africa and fellow-judge Matthew Dawes who runs some extraordinary trade shows across the continent.

The headline of this piece says the Africans are coming, but they are already here. If you’re working in mobile and digital and not doing business there then it’s time you woke up. Congratulations to the MEF for noticing this and promoting the continent, they should be applauded.