Wesgro & Silicon Cape have announced that they will be hosting the AfricArena 2018 International Africa Tech Conference in Cape Town on the 15th & 16th of November for a consecutive year. In addition to hosting the prestigious tech conference, the duo will include the 2017 conference winners to their Investor “World Tour”. The key themes for this year’s conference are SmartCity, SmartAgri, SmartCommerce, SmartSkills, SmartMedia and SmartTravel. Startups from all over the continent will be joining.
The announcement was made at an official Press Conference hosted by Wesgro at the InvestSa offices in Cape Town. The press conference included a panel discussion on successful ways to conduct business in Africa. Panellists on the day included: Christophe Viarnaud, founder of AfricArena; Alexander Fraser of VC4A; Kerry Petrie of Silicon Cape; Xabiso Lombo, founder of Guardian Gabriel, Rudi Visser Head of Innovation Acceleration for RCS, and Victoria Jackson of MEST.
This year’s event has attracted the backing of major international players with companies like RCS, Air France KLM, Vinci Energies, Saint Gobain, VC4A and Silicon Cape joining the fold. Nevertheless, local to the African ecosystem, key players like MEST, SAVCA, ABAN, Startupbootcamp Africa, La French Tech, French Chamber of Commerce, EuroQuity and BPI France have also partnered to make this year’s event a success.
Christophe Viarnaud, founder of AfricArena and CEO of Methys, was delighted with the impact of the first conference on the start-up ecosystem in Africa and celebrated this by announcing a greater commitment to their efforts. In a statement at the press conference Viarnaud stated that, “On the back of a highly successful first edition of AfricArena with over US$2 million in deal impact and much more in commitments, we have decided to double down on our investment and exponentially increase our impact. This year AfricArena will be expanding its pan-African footprint to find the best start-ups of the continent. We will also be taking some of the winners of the AfricArena 2017 challenges on an investor roadshow in Paris and New York. With a fully open collaboration model bringing an increasing number of sponsors and ecosystem partners, AfricArena is committed to its mission to accelerating the African Tech ecosystems.”
These sentiments were echoed by Taya van Lill who serves as the CEO of SAVCA, “The South African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) is once again excited to support AfricArena, an event that brings together various players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, highlighting the creative start-ups in and around Africa.”
In some circles, AfricArena has been distinguished as the largest ecosystem accelerator in Africa with over 80 start-ups presenting to more than 100 investors and having a combined representation from 25 countries. They intend to do the same in 2018 and take it to even greater heights by visiting Africa’s fastest growing tech economies. The six cities that will feature on the tour are Mauritius, Reunion Island, Nairobi, Casablanca, Lagos and Dakar whilst the conference itself will take place in Cape Town. Together these cities are all regional focal points having shown the fastest tech development and growth on the continent.
The tour will include 3-minute pitching battles to investors and local sponsors to the event will be given the opportunity to pose situational problems giving start-ups a chance to pitch potential tech solutions. The winners from each city will be attending the conference in Cape Town.
Looking forward to this year’s conference, 2017 winner WeCashUp has spoken highly of the experience offered to them by AfricArena. CEO Cedric Atangana commented that pitching was more than a validation to their efforts, “We came, we pitched, we won. This is not only a very big validation for my small team and I, it’s also the proof that we are doing something meaningful, not only for Africa, but for the entire world. After winning the AfricArena award, we got investment term sheets from 47 investment funds from the Silicon Valley, Europe and Africa.”
Tim Harris CEO of Wesgro celebrates the culmination of the year’s events in Cape Town as only fitting seeing as the ‘Mother City” represents the star-up capital of Africa. “Cape Town is the start-up capital of Africa, accounting for more than 60% of all start-ups in South Africa alone. Conferences such as AfricArena help make our ecosystem even stronger, by connecting the best and the brightest from across Africa. We are excited to be a part of this innovation, and we look forward to a successful “world tour” and conference later this year.”