Africa’s rising status as a global leader in digital transformation was firmly cemented during day one of the inaugural GITEX Africa 2023, as tech leaders from across the continent and the world gathered to collaborate and pledge their commitments to accelerating cross-continent investment opportunities.
GITEX Africa, which runs until tomorrow (2 June 2023), in Marrakech, Morocco, welcomed thousands of attendees across its 45,000 sqm of exhibition expanse, with government ministers and private sector executives alike celebrating the collective achievements, and, more importantly, advancing the future ambitions of a continent determined to elevate its entrepreneurial innovation economy.
Creating Africa’s own Silicon Valley
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor of Lagos State in Nigeria, was among the keynote speakers at the GITEX Africa Digital Summit on how Africa is on the fast-track to become the next Silicon Valley.
Mr. Sanwo-Olu stressed the importance of investing in African youth, which makes up over 60 percent of the continent’s population, while noting that, according to studies, around 30 percent of investment in Africa is dedicated to the digital economy.
Mr. Sanwo-Olu also said Lagos is already home to some of Africa’s largest data centres, while the state’s Start-Up Act 2022 and Knowledge, Innovation, Technology, and Entrepreneurship (KITE) Project in the Yaba suburb are propelling Lagos, and Nigeria into a hub of global innovation.
“The Yaba Start-Up policy will elevate Lagos as a city ready to become a global player,” said Mr. Sanwo-olu. “In a few years, not only will Africa be supplying the bulk of professionals required (in the global IT industry) but it will also be creating a lot of jobs.
“In ten years, Africa will become the place where major global companies such as Microsoft and Meta, will come to recruit intelligent profiles trained in the technical fields in which Africa abounds.”
In its debut edition, GITEX Africa features 900 exhibiting companies and start-ups eager to gain access to meaningful and valuable connections for business development while learning about the vast opportunities in the world’s rising digital economy.
TalentQL is one of 60-plus Nigerian start-ups this week looking to scale-up its operations and collaborate with fellow innovators and investors. Founded in 2021, TalentQL helps companies build top-tier teams by hiring, developing and managing tech talent remotely.
“The focus for us is to bridge the divide between demand and supply for tech talent in Africa,” said Ibrahim Conte of TalentQL, which has operations in Nigeria, the UK, Rwanda, and the US.
“We help companies hire engineering talent via our diverse and robust pool of data scientists, developers, software, cloud, and cybersecurity professionals, and technical support. We shorten the process that companies go through to hire talent, and even ensure a cultural fit of candidates so clients have the best possible talent to grow their organisations and scale their products.”
Conte said demand for African talent is now higher than ever: “The supply and the demand are higher now for African talent, and we help these companies access those talents,” he added. “We’re participating at GITEX Africa to learn from other innovators and to celebrate collaboration to make things better for Africa.”
Promoting financial inclusion through flourishing fintech
Africa’s flourishing fintech sector meanwhile is estimated to reach revenues of US$65 billion by 2030, growing at the world’s fastest rate at 13 times over the next seven years.
This presents a unique opportunity for the continent to leapfrog outdated stages of technological development and move straight to more advanced solutions that are being debated and scrutinised at GITEX Africa’s Fintech Summit, one of ten dedicated conference tracks at Africa’s most comprehensive leadership conference programme.
Aalya Ghouli, CEO of DIGIFI and DIGISERV at BNP Paribas, a speaker at the Fintech Summit, said: “GITEX Africa is a unique opportunity to bring together the African ecosystem around a common goal: to accelerate digitalisation in Africa and position the continent as a key global player in the development of technological innovation.
“The number of participants and their backgrounds prove the current effervescence of the continent and its willingness of its states to position digital at the heart of their development strategy. GITEX Africa plays a major role to support this dynamic. BNP Paribas has been promoting for years now the financial inclusion and the digitalisation of financial services in Morocco and other African territories. It is natural to support such as a forum and initiative.”
Khalid Elgibaly, President of the Middle East and North Africa Division at Mastercard, will also speak on a fireside chat on GITEX Africa’s Fintech Summit about Fintech as a building block of Africa’s digital future: “Fintechs, with their disruptive and inclusive nature, have emerged as powerful enablers of financial services for previously underserved populations, overcoming traditional barriers such as limited access to banking infrastructure.
“By promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing among stakeholders, GITEX Africa unlocks new opportunities and drives the digital transformation necessary to address the continent’s unique challenges while unlocking its vast potential.”
Supernova Challenge battlers take centre-stage for start-up supremacy
Today will also see some of world’s most innovative start-ups take their next steps into potentially becoming the next African-borne Unicorn.
The GITEX Africa Supernova Challenge, Africa’s most valuable start-up pitch competition with US$100,000 in cash prizes, has pooled a shortlist of 70 disruptive start-ups from 31 countries to battle it out for supremacy across two days of live pitches in front of a 13-strong judging panel of global VCs, angel investors, and accelerators.
The shortlist of Africa’s most coveted start-up pitch competition was selected from more than 300 applications, representing nations from across the globe, including Cameroon, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Gambia, Ghana, India, Israel, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Uganda, UK, USA, and Zambia.
GITEX Africa is held under the High Patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, and hosted by the Digital Development Agency (DDA), under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform.
The hyper connector is organised by KAOUN International, the overseas events organising company of Dubai World Trade Centre, which organises GITEX Global in Dubai, UAE, the world’s largest tech and start-up show, rated by tech executives as the world’s best global tech event.