The return of Africa Tech Festival with all its face-to-face merit, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), 7-11 November 2022, is once again set to spur discussion, debate and networking as the African continent steadily progresses towards owning its digital transformation. Key to this will be the roll-out of 5G.
The long months of lockdown and restrictive business behind us have left reminders of the pivotal role the ICT and Telecoms sectors played in ensuring some form of human interaction for individuals, whilst education institutes, corporate companies, and small businesses alike could adapt their activities and function. In fact, for many of these sectors, the pandemic turbo-boosted their digital growth.
“The challenge of Covid-19 not only hastened the growth of ICT in these sectors, but it has crucially opened the eyes of all stakeholders to the possibilities within the sector to adapt and innovate,” remarked James Williams, Director, Events | Connecting Africa | Informa Tech. “While there has always been incredible innovation within the industry, the one roadblock for wider uptake of the very latest technology has perhaps been a lack of trust in the potential of each successive improvement and a support rather, for slow and steady developments of existing technology instead. This changed during the long months of lockdown.”
Indeed, while early adopters rarely reap the benefits from paving the way for new technologies, the Covid-19 experience has chipped away at this mindset.
“The past two years or more have shown not only that warp-speed growth is possible. But maybe more importantly, these two years have demonstrated that it is viable to bring solutions to market quickly, adapt at speed when required, and implement successfully. This new belief in what is possible will encourage innovators within the industry to push the envelope further and faster. The fear of losing out to competitors who are willing to leap in first, is also helping to spur more adventurous decision-making by organisations in both the public and private sector, which in turn has played a huge role in empowering innovators to be ever more creative. Many of these innovators will be present at Africa Tech Festival,” added Williams.
Despite this positive trend, the African continent continues to showcase the lowest percentage of Internet penetration, with only 39.9% of the continent having some form of access. This is well below the global average of 62.5%, highlighting the long way ahead before reaching global connectivity. With more than 89% of Africa’s Internet traffic running over mobile, the continent’s telecommunications sector will play a pivotal role in stimulating connectivity growth, as highlighted by Connecting Africa’s ‘The State of Connectivity in Africa 2022, Interactive Report’.
It’s expected, therefore, that AfricaTech Festival 2022 (incorporating anchor events AfricaCom and AfricaTech), will be abuzz as the key role players within the industry meet to share and analyse the wealth of recent breakthroughs and innovations on how to get Africa ‘connected’.
Kicking off the discussion around 5G (Tuesday 8 November) under the Connecting Africa’s Next Billion stream, is a Keynote Panel: Accelerating the Vision of a 5G-Enabled Africa. This will include unpacking the argument that 5G could eventually be a cheaper way to deliver voice and connectivity, critical to enabling a connected society across the continent.
The panel discussion Connectivity in Focus: 4G, 5G, and Africa’s Network Migration (Wednesday, 9 November 2022, AfricaCom 2022), will discuss the limitations of 5G adoption (predominantly high deployment costs, consumer affordability and reticence), as well as look at how African telcos are integrating unused 4G capacity as part of near-term strategies while eyeing the innovation-unlocking value that 5G will surely bring across industry verticals and consumer markets.
Also, sure to enlighten the event’s audience on the issue of 5G is the keynote panel Unpacking 5G Progress and Prospects in North Africa (Wednesday, 9 November 2022, 13:05-13:50, AfricaCom), which will put forth the argument that 4G performance is key for the future of 5G.
Innovation highlights of Africa Tech 2022
Aside from the networking areas and two exhibition floors, Africa Tech Festival 2022 has a superb line-up of speakers, panel discussions, fireside chats and presentations centred around innovation. Be sure to check the website early to determine, which sessions are open to everyone, which ones are reserves to premium ticket-holders, and which require you to book your seat in advance due to high expected demand for seats.