The 21st annual AfricaCom event takes place at the CTICC in Cape Town. Photo: Gabriella Steyn.
The 21st annual AfricaCom event takes place at the CTICC in Cape Town. Photo: Gabriella Steyn.
The 21st annual AfricaCom event takes place at the CTICC in Cape Town. Photo: Gabriella Steyn.
The 21st annual AfricaCom event takes place at the CTICC in Cape Town. Photo: Gabriella Steyn.

CAPE TOWN – Testament to the growing influence and importance of the entire digital ecosystem on everyday life across the planet, the 21st edition of AfricaCom held in Cape Town 13 – 15 November 2018, attracted close to 14 000 record-breaking attendees this year with the most diverse and informed, audience ever. 

Commenting on the success of this year’s event, Tom Cuthell, Event Director at KNect365, organiser of AfricaCom, said: “The buzz around the entire AfricaCom precinct was tangible this week, as those attending and participating in shaping Africa’s digital future appear to agree the time has now come for less talk and more action in order to get things done. As organisers, we are pleased to have facilitated these conversations, presentations and exhibits and to play a role in Africa’s ongoing digital democracy.”

This actionable desire reflected throughout the more than 16 conference tracks with many speakers calling on regulators and policymakers to stop worrying about controlling what was already happening on the ground and to create the policy for what might be. 

“Africa has room for inclusive growth, and while there have been some development results they have not been optimal,” said Olabiyi Durojaiye, Chairman at Nigerian Communications Commission, further commenting that African countries needed to collaborate to cut down on the red tape to speed up an exchange of ideas and progression.  The so-called ‘developed’ world is not going to wait for Africa to get on the bus – the continent is approximately 10 years behind – so Africa needs an aggressive infrastructure build up to catch-up and even surpass its counterparts.  Don’t imitate but innovate.
One of the elements in preventing Africa’s rapid progression is a critical lack of appropriate skills.  As in 2017, education and access to learning platforms – especially in the early childhood development phase - were key topics across the three days. Africa has a veritable goldmine of youth. The importance of this was reflected in the number of E-Learning solutions and deployments on display in the Connectivity Hall and the Technology Arena.  As pointed out by several speakers, the 4th Industrial revolution is now not so much about the technology itself but how to use it to enable advancement. 
The Internet of Things (IoT) will have a transformative impact on both African Business and African Society. And this year’s IoT World Africa proved it. By bringing together a cross-section of the most innovative and forward-thinking enterprises and vendors, this year’s event – a first at AfricaCom - provided a platform for the burgeoning IoT ecosystem to get together and share their expertise, industry insights and transformation stories. 

From enthralling panel discussions on the importance of reformulating business’ operating structure to enable IoT across all lines of business, through to the creation of Africa-Centric business models that made by African Business, for African Business. 

Also disrupting and changing the status quo is the increasing prevalence of Artificial Intelligence (AI).  AfricaCom 2018 played host to the first staging of the AI World Summit in Cape Town. 

While machine learning and AI have been around in various guises for a number of years, it is now taking an upfront presence in many enterprise conversations, as evidenced by the number of ongoing conversations throughout the Summit and the event as a whole.