Second edition of GITEX AFRICA concludes in Marrakech

Doaa A.Moneim from Marrakech , Saturday 1 Jun 2024

The second edition of the GITEX AFRICA, the largest startups and tech show in the continent, concluded in Marrakech on Friday after three days of discussions on the AI solutions needed for Africa drive digital transformation and economic growth.

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The event addressed the continent’s digital opportunities and economic growth, bringing together some of the most influential tech experts, pioneering innovators, policy-makers, government leaders, and investors. 

GITEX AFRICA was organized by KAOUN International, the overseas affiliated company of the Dubai World Trade Centre and organizer of GITEX.

It was held under the patronage of King Mohammed VI and under the authority of the Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform, and in partnership with the Digital Development Agency (ADD).

Tech’s Role Africa’s Future

Aziz Akhannouch, Head of Government of the Kingdom of Morocco, asserted the role tech and innovation play in promoting important alliances for the future of the continent.

 “Digital transformation is not just a technological luxury, but an essential driver for strengthening cooperation between African countries,” he said.

“It offers concrete solutions to the challenges facing the continent, stimulates sustainable development, and creates a favorable environment for deepening integration between African countries”, he continued.

Akhannouch also noted that digital transformation is of utmost importance to realize Africa's full potential in the 21st century.

He added that the GITEX AFRICA exhibition constitutes a privileged platform to discuss the main catalysts enabling the continent to position itself as a consumer and producer of digital technologies.

GITEX AFRICA brings together this year over 1,400 exhibiting tech enterprises and start-ups, 350-plus leading investors, more than 600 conference speakers, and 100 government entities, while convening tens of thousands of attendees from 130-plus countries. The show also witnessed Egyptian participation.

 

 

Africa’s Digital Revolution

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of Digital Dubai Authority, stated that both the Kingdom of Morocco and the UAE have chosen the path of the digital revolution and formulated their choices based on the interest of human beings within the framework of sustainable development.

“Based on the digital transformation process we, in Dubai, have implemented since the turn of the millennium, we view the Moroccan experience with admiration and appreciation, especially in the field of strengthening regional and international cooperation and building bridges to replace narrow borders,” he added.

“The world today has become a small village and that the battle for sustainable development is our battle,” he stressed.

He added that individual achievements remain incomplete if they do not belong to all as the world today is interconnected in a way never seen before.

Startups on Growth

On her side, Ghita Mezzour, Minister of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform, emphasized the outstanding growth in the number of startups in Morocco and Africa.

She highlighted the importance of AI tech in Africa to transform the region’s economy and address the continent’s challenges.

“I will let you imagine how our economies and lives will look like in the next few years. Sustaining the growth of Africa as a technology and AI powerhouse is key to the continent's industrialization and growth and to job creation in a continent whose population will double by 2050. 50% of Africans will be under 25 years old by then”, Mezzour explained.

 

Fintech in Egypt

Leila Serhan, Senior Vice President and Group Country Manager for the North Africa, Levant, and Pakistan (NALP) region at Visa, told Ahram Online that FinTech in Egypt is gaining momentum.

Egypt, she added, is ranking second in the MENA region in fintech investment and funding and today stands proudly among the top five fintech growth markets in MENA.

“We are now witnessing more and more startups and companies entering the scene and these innovators are shaking things up, offering new solutions and services that are changing how we handle money,” Serhan pointed out.

“What's exciting is the support these FinTech startups are getting from local players and international investors who see the potential here," she went on saying.

She added that Egypt is becoming this melting pot for FinTech innovation, and the world is noticing.

“And it's not just about the startups, even the traditional banking sector is riding the wave, embracing FinTech, partnering up with these startups, and investing in them to fuel their growth,” Serhan stressed.

On its participation in the GITEX show, Serhan noted that Visa's presence at GITEX Africa underscores its steadfast commitment to driving financial inclusion, fostering innovation, and championing a cashless economy across the continent.

Visa’s participation was focused on two key pillars, collaborating closely with African fintech startups, and leveraging the event to shine the spotlight on financial inclusion showcasing its "Cashless Medina" concept, to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and social entrepreneurs like artisans with the low-cost solutions and the education they need to be part of the burgeoning digital economy.

“This move aligns with Visa’s mission to drive financial inclusion and innovation in Africa leveraging Visa’s global expertise in digital payments to expand access to financial services for underserved communities”, according to Serhan.

Innovations

As the event addresses AI as key for the continent to accelerate its growth, GITEX AFRICA witnessed several innovations that inspired the attendees.

One of these innovations Ahram Online has witnessed is the ‘World Unseen Exhibition Canon has organized, which is the first to be held in Africa, under its World Unseen campaign.

It was a photography exhibition designed to enable people with sight loss to better engage with the visual world. It also challenges sighted individuals to see imagery through different lenses.

The World Unseen campaign is an initiative that embodies Canon’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity in the creative arts field through a sensory-rich experience to change how both sighted and visually impaired individuals engage with photography.

“This event marks a significant step towards fostering inclusivity and reshaping how we perceive the world, particularly for those with sight loss,” said Aawatif Hayar, Minister of Solidarity, Social Inclusion, and Family in Morocco.

By providing visually impaired and partially sighted individuals with an opportunity to engage with photography through elevated prints, audio descriptions, soundscapes, and braille, Canon is not only making art accessible but also challenging societalperceptions,” added Hayar.

 

According to the World Health Organization, 2.2 billion people have some form of visual impairment globally, which puts up barriers to appreciating photography.

“Canon Central and North Africa’s participation at GITEX Africa is a testament to understanding and addressing the unique needs of the African region. We are very excited to showcase our wide ecosystem including the latest cutting-edge technologies”, said Rashad Ghani, Business to Consumer (B2C) Business Unit Director, Canon Central & North Africa.

 

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