Geeks throng Cape tech event

Big data: Focus on Africa's startups at huge gathering

08 November 2017 - 08:45 By Farren Collins
Cape Town International Conference Centre.
Cape Town International Conference Centre.
Image: cticc via Google

As many as 15,000 delegates filled the Cape Town International Conference Centre yesterday for the start of AfricaCom - the continent's largest telecoms, media and technology event.

The delegates, who came from all corners of the globe, were joined by 450 exhibitors and 400 speakers, including representatives from US tech giants Microsoft, Facebook and Google.

Speaking at the launch of AHUB, which aims to "unleash the power" of Africa's tech startup ecosystem, Rapaleng Rabana, the founder of education-technology company Rekindle Learning, said the initiative was important because startups often struggled to get into the market unless someone opened the door for them.

"I've been to AfricaCom before, and it's often overbearing for startups.

"Market access was often a major challenge," Rabana said.

But she believes it is important to bring more local startups to the market, because it is often they who can find the best solutions to local problems.

"Local startups must ask what problems they can solve in their own backyard," Rabana said.

"It's more important to start with what's around you, because there are enough opportunities locally."

Two of the main themes at this year's event are artificial intelligence and big data.

"The fourth industrial revolution will be driven by data and the power of computing.

"Devices will be the third thing, because without them, data is otherwise meaningless," said Microsoft chief innovation officer Clifford de Wit.