Home » GITEX Africa Gathers Industry Innovators and Thought-Leaders Across the Tech Landscape 

GITEX Africa Gathers Industry Innovators and Thought-Leaders Across the Tech Landscape 

by Madaline Dunn

The second edition of GITEX Africa Morocco wrapped up today in Marrakech, Morocco. Having run for three days, it convened attendees from government, business, investment, and academia across 130 countries.

The event, held under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, explored a diverse range of themes, including everything from AI and agritech to climate finance and more, catering to the continent’s burgeoning tech scene. 

ESG Mena looks at some of the key topics discussed and the announcements unveiled. 

Bringing Regional Startups Under One Roof 

According to the International Finance Corporation, Africa’s startup ecosystem, while still nascent, is “one of the fastest-growing” worldwide, with startups that incorporate disruptive technologies showing the most promise.

This year, hosting over 1,400 exhibiting tech enterprises and startups, the event brought together a diverse range of entities spotlighting such disruptive technologies, including smart health solutions, agritech offerings, environmental technologies and AI-powered energy tech. 

Also at the event was the GITEX AFRICA Supernova Challenge, offering a $100,000 prize for entrepreneurs across a number of categories, including:

  • Cybersecurity, 
  • AI and Digital Cities,
  • Fintech and Blockchain,
  • Healthtech,
  • Sustainability and Agritech.

Each category had $10,000 allocated, with one overall winner awarded $50,000. This year, the event also featured the Young CEO Award and the Women in Tech Award. 

During the event, an MoU was also signed for GITEX NIGERIA, set to debut in September 2025, featuring AI Everything Nigeria, North Star Nigeria, GITEX HealthTech 5.0 and GITEX Future Finance 5.0.

AI in Africa: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities

There is undoubtedly no escaping AI, which is leaving virtually no industry untouched and dominating discussions, at GITEX Africa, it was no different. At the AI Everything Expo, its potential across the continent came under the microscope. 

Key topics explored at the Expo included:

  • AI governance and strategy, 
  • AI adoption, 
  • Infrastructure, data intelligence and data science, 
  • Generative AI, 
  • Closing the digital divide, and
  • AI innovation.

Indeed, globally, some forecasts see global investment in AI technologies reaching $200 billion by 2025, while regionally, the Middle East and Africa are seeing the fastest growth in AI spending, with a projected $6.4bn by 2026. 

Moreover, while AI has been pegged to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, Africa is set to see $1.2 trillion of this, with a 5.6 per cent increase in the continent’s gross domestic product by 2030.

The impact of AI on National Economies was a topic discussed earlier in the week at AI Everything. 

However, while brimming with opportunities, there are also important considerations that need to be prioritised in conversations about the technology, including its environmental footprint, its impact on jobs, and responsible AI and ethics. The latter was brought forward in a number of panels and fireside chats, including on the ‘Moral Codes Dictating the Conscience of Ethical AI.’

Concerns have also been raised regarding the underrepresentation of African datasets in AI training models, as well as the continent’s digital divide, with only 39.3 per cent of the population having access to the internet – both were discussed at the event.

The event also saw Microsoft, the event’s AI Partner, unveil its African Startups AI Fest set to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 6th, 2024. 

The hybrid event will target 10,000 startups and is aimed at supporting startups in their use of tech tools to scale solutions. 

Energy, Circularity, Sustainability & Net Zero

From one hot topic to another, sustainability was another key theme at Gitex Africa, and particularly at GITEX Africa Impact, with conversations on the role of sustainable supply chains in fighting food insecurity, the path towards net zero, the circular economy and the energy transition. 

One session assessed Africa’s “ever-increasing burden” of global carbon emissions and pathways to tackle this, from digital transformation to investment in grid modernisation. Likewise, the event also hosted conversations on the just energy transition, where it was emphasised that load-shedding must be a thing of the past, something which South Africa has been battling against for some time. Elsewhere, the balance between industrial growth and environmental responsibility was explored. 

Circular economy principles also moved into the spotlight at the event, and in a session titled “Transition towards a circular economy and the construction of climate-resilient infrastructure,” the evolution of sustainable construction in Morocco came into view. 

Access to finance 

The event also saw a focus on finance. This was particularly salient considering that startups are battling against headwinds amid a weaker investment climate, with funding challenges hitting hard after a record-breaking 2022. 

Indeed, in 2023, African technology and startup firms saw a 31 per cent decline in venture capital inflows. This marks a significant drop-off from previous years and almost matches the global startup funding figures for 2023, with a 38 per cent decline year over year recorded. 

At the event, panellists speaking on a session titled Navigating the African Startup Funding Scene explored this issue and the uneven distribution of investment across Africa, with 92 per cent of Africa’s investment in tech allocated in the big four: Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria.

This funding disparity was also explored with regard to women-led startups. Indeed, women occupy co-founder positions in just 15 per cent of African startups, and representation is also unevenly spread across the continent, with Botswana, Uganda, and Ghana seeing the highest concentration of women entrepreneurs. Funding for female-led startups also remains low. 

In the same vein, one session, Unlocking Financial Pathways for Women-Led MSMEs, examined the challenges faced by female-owned MSMEs in sub-Saharan Africa, such as limited funding opportunities, insufficient collateral, and low financial literacy. The session, featuring Mayowa Adegoke, International Journalist, Channels TV, and Nezha Alaoui, CEO, Women Choice, also explored solutions to bridge the gap. 

To keep up with the latest events across the region, head here. 

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