First GITEX tech show in Africa will be ‘watershed moment’ for continent’s digital economy

A signing ceremony at Dubai's Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX) paves the way for its first African show, due to be held in Marrakech from 31 May-2 June 2023.


Image : GITEX

The first African edition of Dubai’s annual tech show, GITEX, will take place from 31 May-2 June 2023 in Marrakech, Morocco. The landmark event will be the first overseas venture for this influential show and reflects the growing importance of continent’s tech sector on the world stage.

GITEX has been connecting tech giants, governments, startups, investors and global innovation hubs since 1988. The new event was announced during this year’s GITEX, which hosted more than 5,000 exhibitors from 90 countries at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) and 100,000 attendees.

Visitors attend the GITEX Global technology show at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) in the Gulf emirate, on October 12, 2022. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP)

GITEX stands out from other tech trade fairs across the globe as it seeks to give a fair representation of tech companies based in emerging economies, shifting away from American, European, and Asian dominance in the sector.

This year the exhibition saw its biggest participation from the African tech ecosystem yet. It featured involvement from key African unicorns – startups worth over $1bn – including Jumia, Flutterwave, and Chipper Cash. According to the organisers, it was the largest ever gathering of African startups to be hosted under one roof outside Africa.

GITEX Africa aims to build on these achievements, curating the most powerful innovations emerging in Africa’s fast-growing fintech, e-commerce, cloud, internet of things, AI, telecom, and security sectors.

African investment is rocketing. A recent report from Endeavor Africa predicts the continent’s digital economy is on track to scale from $115bn to $712bn by 2050, while growth in startup funding is six times higher than anywhere else. In only six years, Africa has gone from zero to seven unicorns, with four born last year.

The momentum is palpable, and a GITEX event in Africa itself can only help to bring attention to the African tech sector in all its diversity.

‘Watershed moment’ for Africa’s digital economy

GITEX Africa has been launched in partnership with Morocco’s Digital Development Agency (ADD), a strategic public entity leading the Moroccan government’s digital transformation agenda under the authority of the Moroccan Ministry of Digital Transition and Administration Reform.

At an official signing event at GITEX on 11 October, Mohammed Drissi Melyani, general director of ADD, said: “We are honoured to organise this event in a continent which is seeing great dynamic, economic and social growth in many fields. Morocco is playing a crucial role to assist and support the development of Africa.”

Trixie LohMirmand, executive vice-president of DWTC and CEO of Kaoun International, which will lead the partnership, added: “The time for Africa is now. Against a stuttering world tech market, Africa has risen and punched well above its weight recently, with big tech investments rocketing and startups funding recording the best year ever in 2021 at six times over the global average.”

Pardon Mujakachi, vice-president of strategy and partnerships at Chipper Cash, an African unicorn offering mobile, cross-border money transfer services, added: “We’re excited to hear that GITEX is coming to Africa, and believe this a watershed moment for Africa’s future digital economy.

“GITEX Africa will create more opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to shine on the global stage, with Africa a key focal point of innovation and sustainable expansion in emerging economies. Converging the entire tech ecosystem, GITEX Africa will propel the continent forward in the incubation of startups, scale-ups, and unicorns such as Chipper Cash.”

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