French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, and CEO of Methys and AfricArena, Christophe Viarnaud
French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, and CEO of Methys and AfricArena, Christophe Viarnaud
Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of Methys and AfricArena, and Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape
Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of Methys and AfricArena, and Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape
JOHANNESBURG -The 2018 edition of AfricArena kicked off yesterday at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town. 

The second consecutive year of the largest tech conference in Africa has an impressive speaker line-up and will be showcasing some of the best tech startups on the continent. 

Thursday 15 November 2018 – AfricArena 2018 is brought to you in association with Silicon Cape, the most mature ecosystem on the African continent. Last year’s inaugural event presented delegates with the opportunity to explore tomorrow’s trends and meet some of the continent’s most innovative startups. The event saw 80 startups from 25 countries pitching and exhibiting to an audience of well over 100 investors. AfricArena ended 2017 with a record number of US$2 million in investment offers being done.

This edition of AfricArena aims to top that of last year and claims that investment into African startups will this year crack US$1 billion. 

“What you’ll experience over the next two days is over 70 startups coming from 32 countries. We have over 600 attendees and that startups in attendance will compete in 11 open innovation challenges, which are spearheaded by our sponsors and partners,” states Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of AfricArena and Methys.

The event kicked off with a welcome address by Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, who congratulated the role of AfricArena in accelerating the continent’s innovation strategy. 

AfricArena is the way to go to embed innovation in government and our country. The advantage of tech in Africa is the ability to leap-frog legacy tech so South Africa can get to the cutting-edge.”

5 Things to Expect from AfricArena 2018:

An Impressive Speaker Line-Up

At AfricArena 2018 expect to see the likes of Aubrey Hruby, the co-founder of the Africa Expert Network; John Sanei, best-selling author, global speaker and strategist; Clibe Butkow, CEO of Kalon Venture Partners; Lydia Babaci-Victor, Director at Vinci Energies and Viola Llewellyn, President of Ovamba Solutions.

Top innovators providing uniquely African solutions

Startups presenting at AfricArena 2018 cover a vast number of industries and at their core are solving African problems. The startups are, amongst others: DiscoverIkasi, OniriQ, Amaya Space, Swift Geospatial, Ontolligent, ThisIsMe, Yimi, iFileMe, Homefarm, Aerobotics, Agrocenta, Arnergy, Electrify Network, SunExchange, Aquity Innovations, Iyeza Health, Pelebox, Dataprophet, IoT.nxt, DeepVR, Gamsole, Syafunda, Solar Turtle, Rensource, TravelBudds, StoryEnjoy, Medbit, FinChatBot, Paydunya, Lula, Khoyn, Inclusive Innovation and Virtual Drive. 

Africa-focused Panel Discussions 

The panel discussions at AfricArena are diverse with a selected number of key stakeholders taking part. The topics include:
How technology and innovation is changing the world of travel
Scaling into Africa and beyond

Smart Education

How to find the right partner for your fundraising process
What startups are looking for from VCs

Pitch Battles 

The startups in attendance will battle it out on the Arena Stage for the Challenges presented by AfricArena sponsors and partners: Vinci Energies, Saint-Gobain, RCS, VivaTech, Engie, Sanofi South Africa, Leroy Merlin and AirFrance KLM. Each of the challenge winners will participate in a collaboration with the sponsor of the challenge as well as receive a prize.

City of Cape Town Hackathon 

On Day 2 of the Conference the City of Cape Town will be hosting a hackathon to address the challenges faced regarding the MyCiTi buses. 

“The key to the success of AfricArena is an open collaborative Pan-African model with a lot of stakeholders involved. VC funding for Africa from 2017 suggests a 53% year-on-year growth, but that still only represents less than 1% of global investment. AfricArena tries to contribute to addressing this problem by getting corporates involved in open innovation initiatives,” comments Viarnaud. 

The African global advantage is about retaining humanity through the tech solution. African entrepreneurs are the entrepreneurs for humanity. They solve core human needs, are adaptive and fast, highly creative and leap-frogging tech barriers to solve key problems. 

Joining Christophe Viarnaud on stage was Kerry Petrie, General Manager of Silicon Cape, the host ecosystem for AfricArena

“Partnering with AfricArena is a critical part of what we call our Africa-first strategy. Silicon Cape’s new and evolved vision is for the Cape to be an Innovation Hub for Africa and the world. We want to prioritise a Pan-African approach to work on the continent,” comments Petrie. 

Day 1 saw Jake Bright starting the investment discussion with his captivating keynote. Bright is an award-winning author and advisor on global business, politics and technology, and contributor to TechCrunch and CrunchBase. His keynote presentation unpacked investment in Africa – raising the number from 2% to 10%. 

“The only way in which we will raise the VC investment into Africa is by improving performance events. Although we have come a long way, Africa still has only 1 unicorn, a handful of exits and no major IPO. Growing performance will bring more VCs to the continent,” states Bright, “Yet Africa has a tech industry. There are 442 Tech Hubs on the continent and tens of thousands of digital entrepreneurs as well as thousands of startups moving into every imaginable sector.”

“The rise of Africa-focused venture capital funds have been key to furthering investment on the continent. According to our research there are 51 Africa-focused VC funds globally with 22 that are locally run. Of those locally run VC funds, the Nigerians are leading the way with 41% based there. Africa’s VC landscape is becoming more African.” 
AfricArena continues today and tomorrow, Friday 16 November, at the Century City Conference Centre.

For those who cannot join the AfricArena conference in person, the startup pitches will be live-streamed via EuroQuity to thousands of investors worldwide. AfricArena is putting startups on the global stage. 

“We are here to fund the next generation of African startups,” concludes Viarnaud.

BUSINESS REPORT