from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN – MORE than 11 000 delegates and 400 exhibitors have converged in Cape Town, South Africa for AfricaCom, the annual premier Pan-African technology, telecoms and media event.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the event endorsed by governments promises to showcase cutting-edge information and communications technology innovations and host high level discussions on speeding Africa’s digital revolution.
The summit set for its traditional Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) until Thursday has over the past two decades grown from being a purely telecommunications-focused event to a broader, digital communications show now hosting the foremost group of influencers involved in every aspect of the African digital ecosystem.
“2017 is a landmark for AfricaCom,” explained Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of KNect365, the organiser of the event, ahead of the milestone edition.
The summit has grown in leaps and bounds since it was launched in the coastal city as GSM Africa in 1997.
“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,” Cuthell said.
South Africa Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella Thembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams, Tjekero Tweya, the Namibian Minister of Information and Communications Technology as well as Zimbabwe Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, Supa Mandiwanzira, will be among the dignitaries.
Shola Taylor, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, is among the speakers.
Among the most prominent companies to feature at the event include Huawei, the Chinese multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company, which set the tone with the launch of its momentous Mate 10 smartphone series in South Africa.
Li Peng, President of Huawei Technologies: Southern Africa region, speaking ahead of the resumption of AfricaCom, said the company was looking forward to working together with industry leaders, partners and stakeholders to explore the trends and innovations that are shaping a “better connected world.”
“The world is evolving at lightning speed. In recent years, digital transformation has been the main topic in the ICT industry, with operators, enterprises and partners in the African market facing both challenges and opportunities,” Peng stated.
Apart from a number of partnerships to be announced during the conference, Huawei will address how to develop a healthy emerging market and explore strategies to value-driven new growth. Peng said Russia was committed to building supportive and enabling ecosystems around the world to make this transformation happen.
“We aim to create an open, collaborative, win-win industry ecosystem that promotes shared success and provides end users with experiences that are real-time, on-demand, all-on-line, DIY (do it yourself) and Social,” Peng said.
The continent’s internet of things (IoT) capacity and potential will be on the spotlight at AfricaCom 2017.
Recognising the role IoT will play in redefining our world, especially across Africa organisers have added a specific conference track focusing on the subject.
“For this reason, we have created two-days of thoroughly thought-provoking content led by world-class speakers, with the aim of informing delegates, but also stimulating critical thinking as to the possibilities and boundaries of using IoT to govern future prospects,” Cuthell said.
Experts will discuss how IoT is enabling Africa is transforming lives and driving operational efficiency to produce new revenue streams.
AfricaCom 2017 has added a specific track focusing on Africa’s financial digital fluency, in recognition of the role financial technology is playing in redefining financial boundaries and opportunities.
On the eve of AfricaCom 2017, Cuthell said “digital disruption equaled digital democracy.”
“Nowhere will this be more keenly felt than in the ability for all levels of society to engage in the monetary exchange and rewards that fin-tech can provide,” he said.
The AfricaCom Awards, which celebrate the achievements of the best companies, solutions, products and personalities improving connectivity and driving Africa through the fourth industrial revolution, will again be a key component of the summit.
Some a record-breaking 10 000 delegates attended AfricaCom 2016.
– CAJ News