Africa Tech Festival will return to Cape Town from November 7–11, 2022, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Again this year, the super-powered agenda will heavily feature discussions around the essential topics of policy frameworks and regulations, as well as the necessity for all stakeholders to be on the same page for innovation and industry to turn ideas into action for the advancement of Africa’s citizens.
One such example is Cape Town, which has firmly established itself as a hub for technology and communications in South Africa and is leading the way on the African Continent too. The latest round of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), totaling R103 billion (around US$5.7 billion) and received in August this year, further reinforces just why Africa Tech Festival selected Cape Town as its home some 25 years ago.
Remarking on Cape Town’s growth as an investment destination and technology and communications hub, Alderman James Vos, Mayoral committee member for economic growth at the City of Cape Town, said: “On behalf of the City government, we are proud and excited to welcome the Africa Tech Festival back to Cape Town. We strive to maintain our status as the destination of choice for innovators wanting to launch bold ideas. This is why the City funds programmes that help to upskill Capetonians for this sector.
“Through industry partners such as the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative, we have enabled start-ups and people across the metro in accessing information resources for professional growth. Technology is a key driver and enabler of economic opportunities at an individual and community level, and I look forward to hearing about solutions that will allow for that, particularly for the regions of our continent that need it most.”
James Williams, director, events, Connecting Africa and Informa Tech, commenting on Africa Tech Festival’s evolution over the years, noted: “Even with a crystal ball, I am not sure we could have predicted quite how exponential the growth of technology and its influence on everyday life has become, or that the event would continue to expand at the rate it has, helping industry and governments to connect the dots that ultimately benefit the people of the continent,
“However, what is clear is that technology’s impact on economic sustainability is gaining ground, which is why there is an emphasis on policy and regulation across all streams at this year’s event.”
All on the Same Page Together
Taking heed of this directive for the event — to incorporate the necessary conversations on these topics and to promote further cooperation and collaboration between all parties — here are some of the key sessions that should be must-sees:
‘Coopetition’: A New Model for Shared Infrastructure in Africa - Infra 2.0: unpacking the value of more formal approaches to research, investment and knowledge sharing for Africa’s telecoms industries, one which integrates government policy early-stage. Sharing insights on this topic are Olusegun Okuneye, divisional CEO of ipNX Business, and Samuel Kwabena Nkrumah, head of transmission & transport, AirtelTigo Ghana, as well as Benoit Denis, senior economist, European Investment Bank and Dr. Miriam Altman, director, Altman Advisory and Professor of 4IR Practice, University of Johannesburg.
Happening on Tuesday, November 8 is a panel entitled, Sustainable Digitization: Building socio-ecologically responsible policy for the new Digital Africa. This will include a discussion exploring how the development of the African-European Partnership, established in 2020, can use the EU’s 150 billion to help build policy around tackling climate change across the continent. Leading these conversations are Olamide Oguntoye, policy lead, Climate Innovation at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, along with Olunfunso Somorin, African Development Bank and Seja Kekana from Nedbank.
Progressive policy is the foundation for any country seeking to embrace the 4IR and create a digital economy. The role of regulation is just as vital in ensuring laws are equitable and pragmatic. Regulation is also key to enabling fintech to reach its full potential and ensuring that it offers protection to the consumer. As a result, the upcoming panel on Regulating Fintech in Africa will delve into and deliver answers to the challenges of building robust policies for the sector and explore Regulatory Convergence as well.
Furthermore, rising cybercrime, ransomware and digital identity theft pose significant threats; in 2021 alone, cybercrime reduced GDPs across Africa by 10%, resulting in a $4 billion loss. This trend is affecting trust in the digital space. A lack of region-wide policies on cybersecurity is creating opportunities for cybercriminals to infiltrate systems. Several panels will examine what needs to happen for stakeholders to respond to this increase of cyber-attacks across the continent, including African Union’s Agenda 2063 as well as Developing Effective Policies and Data Governance Frameworks to Deliver West African Digital Potentials that will seek to answer questions including whether there should be a Pan-African cybersecurity framework and the effectiveness of the AU Cybersecurity Expert Group in providing guidance to these governments to ratify policies.
Who Owns Your Data?
In the panel, Developing Effective Policies and Data Governance Frameworks to Deliver West African Digital Potentials, West African regulators and policymakers will demonstrate how they are advancing the region’s digital transformation and data governance frameworks while also exploring the process of creating and implementing fit-for-purpose tech policy.
On Wednesday, November 9, a detailed discussion will tackle what governments across the continent can do to encourage the acceleration of data centers built in Africa. This is especially important, given that Africa accounts for less than 1% of the world’s establishment of co-location data centers.
Localizing data is also a key issue for Africans and their governments, and incentives to develop special economic zones and industrial parks which provide tax exemptions for data centers could go a long way to help. Google, for example, has recently announced it will be setting up a cloud-hosted data center region in South Africa. What else needs to be done to ensure that Africans’ data remains with them? To find out more, make a date to attend the Fireside Chat: Battling Africa’s Whitespace Capacity Issue.
What About Tomorrow?
The 4IR has already transformed Africa. This, however, is only part of the story.
Looking ahead is the panel: Going Global: African Tech’s Place on the International Stage. Taking place on Wednesday, November 9, this session investigates the urgent priorities that remain for the continent and how collaboration is crucial for ensuring it takes its rightful place on the global tech stage. The discussion will also unveil how modern solutions and partnerships can address heritage infrastructure as well as policy and education challenges to unlock the potential of Africa’s youthful, tech-savvy populations.
A similarly important presentation on this topic, Tech Horizons: Innovation Trends for Africa’s Next Decade, on November 10, will explore the support networks and vehicles that drive tech innovation in Africa — policy and legislation, market access, PPPs, etc.
A healthy part of the future is looking at affordable and accessible healthcare, the panel Scaling and Sustaining Healthtech in Africa: Leveraging Diverse Expertise to Maximize Impact, taking place on Thursday, November 10, will focus on government policy and the public and private sector partnerships that will determine Africa’s forthcoming vitality.
All Access Internet, Always on and Available
To make it all happen for Africa, there is a radical need for every citizen to have access to digital solutions. On Thursday, November 10, a wealth of insightful discussions will be dedicated to this topic on the panel Not All Internet is Created Equal - Unlocking Meaningful Connectivity and the keynote panel The Rise of the African MVNO. This latter panel session will look at how MVNOs are evolving away from price differentiation to build value-added services that provide more personalized, customer-centric experiences, It will also explore how regulators are striving to build fairer, more modern operator ecosystems to allow for open access to spectrum allocation as well as new market and sector expansion.
Also, of note is a discussion on how Not All Internet is Created Equal – Unlocking Meaningful Connectivity. The focus here will be on looking at the geographical, gender and financial factors underpinning many of these connectivity trends and the importance of policy and tech innovation in tackling these barriers. Speakers will include Onica Makwakwa, head of Africa Region Alliance for Affordable Internet & The World Wide Web Foundation.
Further information can be found on the Africa Tech Festival website here
FREE delegate passes are available here