AfricaCom was launched yesterday at an informal, but intimate, function held in Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa. The event also kicked off the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of what is, Africa’s largest, influential, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) conference and exhibition.
A lively panel discussion involving some of the most progressive thought leaders and commentators on the continent started the proceedings. Manny Teixeira, MTN; Luke Mckend , Google South Africa; Rapelang Rabana, Rekindle Learning; Elizabeth Migwalla, Qualcomm and Gustav Praekelt, Praekelt Consulting and the Praekelt Foundation* led the debate, which centred on what might be in store for the architects of Africa’s digital future. This set the scene for November’s main event, due to take place at the newly extended Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 7 – 9 November 2017.
“2017 is a landmark for AfricaCom. Over the past two decades, we have grown from being a purely telecommunications-focused event, to a broad digital communications show now hosting the foremost group of influencers involved in every aspect of the African digital ecosystem,” explained Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of KNect365 (organiser of the show).
“As the digi-sphere continues to expand and impact every aspect of our personal and professional lives, AfricaCom has grown in scope to create a broad platform for everybody involved in powering the digital economy in Africa. I am delighted to share some of the fresh developments that will continue to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation anchoring it for the future of the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
Some of the new areas include:
- The Technology Arena – located in the CTICC’s new extension – an exhibition hall dedicated to mapping Africa’s journey through the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This will host:
o AfricaCom 20/20 – the centrepiece and base of the 20th anniversary celebrations. A vibrant, interactive, buzzing place to see digital solutions from top innovators; interact with next generation technologies in specially designed demo pods; and listen to thought provoking dialogue around ‘providing clarity of vision on future tech trends’.
o The new Innovation Stage – that will showcase ICT solutions affecting the converging TMT industries in Africa. Lively debate and discussion on topics such as eHealth and ICT4D, with quickfire presentations, and product pitches will be the order of the day.
o The Technology Arena will also be the new home for the AHUB – AfricaCom’s matchmaking centre for start-ups and investors; and TV Connect Africa – the confluence of broadcast, telecoms, content and new media experts in Africa, intent on developing commercial models for ITC across digital Africa.
Three days of networking, thought provoking content and amazing tech, will also showcase new opportunities in Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, FinTech, Blockchain, digital skills and more.
As always, the calibre of speakers – 400 of them – addressing attending delegates, is a major drawcard (as too the over 400 exhibitors). Conference tracks such as Visions for Africa Keynotes, SDN and NFV, Mobile Finance and eCommerce in Africa, Enterprise ICT, and Connecting Africa, as well as LTE Africa, will deliver the latest advances in their respective areas. Some of the luminaries to present their insights are; Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer, MTN; John Momoh (OON), Chairman & CEO, Channels Media Group; Is’haq Modibbo Kawu, Director General, National Broadcasting Commission; Joseph Hundah, CEO, Econet Media.
The annual AfricaCom Awards will once again highlight leaders in their respective fields and Cuthell reminded guests, that entries for these industry heavyweight acknowledgments were also now open.
Launched in 2016, AFEST returns to Shimmy Beach Club for a night of high-energy entertainment, echoing the vibrancy of AfricaCom 2017. Featuring a line-up of local and international artists, partygoers have the chance to network, and celebrate African technology.
Cuthell concluded the event by acknowledging all who had played a role in growing AfricaCom to date, but recognised the many challenges that still need to be understood, before solutions can be developed and implemented to ensure that all Africans are included in the digital economy.