Energy, AI on the menu at Africa’s annual technology get together

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The opportunities and challenges facing Africa’s tech industry provide an exciting line-up of debate and discussion at the continent’s annual meeting of its greatest tech minds in Cape Town in November. A showstopper this year is likely to be the dazzling new Tech Demo area at the Africa Tech Festival.

Johannesburg, 20 September 2023 – Get ready to be dazzled, as the annual Africa Tech Festival (now in its 26th year), always jam-packed with cutting-edge information and knowledge-sharing that ensures delegates leave fully charged to tackle the challenges ahead of them, or to take advantage of new opportunities, is back at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in Cape Town from 13 – 16 November 2023.

This year, on top of an outstanding line-up of keynotes, presentations and discussions spanning three key anchor events – AfricaCom, AfricaTech and the newly re-named AfricaIgnite – organisers have added yet another showstopper to the line-up that is sure to get attention – a tech demo area, which will be housed in the AfricaTech arena. The new feature will offer an opportunity to test, and get hands-on and play with all the AR/VR, AI, Web3, robotic and other tech innovations showcased by a carefully select group of tech trailblazers.

“Africa Tech Festival is well recognised for its depth of content and networking abilities, but our new Tech Demo Area will be an attraction in its own right. I’m not saying we’ll break the Internet, but we are anticipating that tech experts and engineers, business leaders, funders, policymakers and investors are all going to be bustling to get the inside track on the new tech on offer,” said James Williams, Director, Events | Connecting Africa | Informa Tech.

The Festival offers industry professionals access to the latest trends, thought leadership and disruptive technologies leading the industry, along with strategies for their integration across African industry verticals.

For more than 25 years, Africa Tech Festival has also informed and connected tech champions, business leaders, policymakers, including a strong ministerial presence, and investors, many of whom operate at the forefront of Africa’s digital transformation. Here’s a snapshot of what’s on offer in 2023:

Headliners – the festival is officially opened on Tuesday 14th November at 09H00 in CTICC 1, Auditorium Two. Thereafter, a series of headline and keynote speeches, presentations, panel discussions and fireside chats will take place, ad throughout Wednesday and Thursday.

AfricaCom – located on the ground floor in CTICC 1, AfricaCom forms the centre of the Connectivity Hall. Telecoms are the backbone of our technology future, and it is here that delegates get to see the latest innovations in products and services that will keep Africa and Africans communicating. Key tracks here are: Connecting Africa’s Next Billion, Digital Infrastructure Investment, Telcos of Tomorrow, Sustainability & Climate Resilience, AfricaCom Ministerial Summit 2023,and Media & Entertainment, along with the AfricaCom Centre Stage, which will host a series of masterclasses and workshops.

AfricaTech – Over in CTICC 2, AfricaTech will stage the AfricaTech Centre stage, on which like its counterpart, masterclasses, presentations and dynamic debates will entertain and inform delegates. The hall also plays host to multiple exciting exhibitors, and a series of tracks that cover:

Pioneer Tech – leveraging the power of cutting-edge technology and what that can do for fast-tracking Africa’s digital transformation.

Data Centres & Cloud streams – topics to do with building a data centre industry equipped to fuel Africa’s digital transformation journey.

Cybersecurity Africa – the importance of building resilient tech ecosystems in an age of increasing cyber threats that carry the potential to derail technological and business advancements, for large and small organisations.

Fintech & MFS Africa – explores the latest trends in Africa’s most vibrant sector, and one which has massive potential to fuel economic growth, and

AI & Big Data Africa – really the hot ticket item that has the potential to rapidly transform Africa into a knowledge and innovation hub by leveraging data, analytics and AI.

AfricaIgnite – Also located in CTICC 2, AfricaIgnite has expanded on AHUB’s previous footprint and mission to fully embracing Africa’s future – the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) and the brave entrepreneurs that will be driving progress and economic sustainability on the continent. Features include an exciting pitch competition with the chance to win a USD1 million prize later in the year at the Startup World Cup.

As already noted in previous stories, small, medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs undoubtedly play a crucial role in Africa’s inclusive socio-economic growth and, in emerging economies, they can account for around 40% of GDP, as well as generating at least 90% of new jobs.

Enabling SMEs to grow and compete in the value chain via digitisation of their capabilities can play a considerable role in strengthening a country’s economy, and that’s the focus of the Fireside Chat titled “Driving Resilient Economies Through the Digitisation of Small and Medium Enterprises” which will take place on 14th November.

Funding Africa’s digital revolution is a complex issue that plays a direct role in shaping every aspect of a tech ecosystem, even down to international relations. The “Financing Africa’s Digital Revolution with Modern Investment Strategies” panel discussion (Auditorium 2, CTICC 1, Nov 15), will unpack Africa’s tech spend and reveal details of some of the biggest investment projects, as well as exploring the need for more bespoke, collaborative investment models for smaller projects.

The keynote panel discussion “Digital Skills Africa: Igniting a Tech Revolution with the Workforce of the Future” (Auditorium 2, CTICC 1, Nov 15, 2023, 10:20-11:05am) digs into what’s required to build the tech workforce of the future and the importance of a mixed public-private model of educational support, while “Driving Diversity in Africa’s Tech Sector: Still a Long Way to Go” (AfricaCom Centre Stage, Nov 15, 2023, 3:05-3:45pm) reveals the huge challenges still faced by women across all areas of the tech industry, in addition to why attracting a more diverse pool of talent can be a game-changer for businesses.

Also key to tech growth is connectivity for the townships. An update on last year’s presentation, “Kayamandi 2023: The Pioneering Project Bringing Pay-As-You-Go Fibre to Africa’s Townships” fireside chat, will take place on 15 November. For Africa as a whole, delegates are referred to a talk entitled “Affordable Connectivity for All African as A ‘Basic Necessity’ to Boost Economy.”

Other panel discussions and fireside chats include “Connecting Africa’s Next Billion”, “Tackling the Challenge of Cross Border Payments”, “Mobile Gaming: Africa’s Potential as the Fastest Growing Video Game Market” and “Equipping Africa’s Youth to Help Address the Tech Talent Shortage”.

Among the keynote presentations not to be missed are “The Entrepreneur Textbook: Innovative Learnings”, “The AI Potential for African Tech Start-ups”, “Harnessing the Artificial Intelligence Revolution for African Enterprise” and “Attracting & Retaining Talent in a Challenging Economic Climate”.

Delegates at the 2023 event will enjoy exclusive, cutting-edge content delivered across six presentation stages, in addition to more than 200 exhibitors on the show-floor, ready to engage with thousands of Africa Tech gurus looking to discover the latest products and services and to connect with the brightest minds and businesses in the sector.

Also to look out for, is AFEST, Africa Tech Festival’s annual opening party and the legendary Africa Tech Festival Awards, in a new venue this year, to add to the excitement and growth the festival has experienced.

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