Updated

The top African tech conferences in 2020 you can’t afford to miss

With so many tech conferences happening, there are multiple events on a variety of topics that could benefit tech executives. Here are CIO Africa's picks for some of the more interesting events on major tech topics of our time.

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Emerging technology such as artifical intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics, blockchain distributed ledger applications, internet of things (IoT), fintech, software defined networking and a wide range of cloud services are disrupting business in just about every economic sector.  In sub-Saharan Africa,  private enterprises and public administrations alike are adopting these technologies to compete and improve services. Judging from the number of African technology conferences that are scheduled for 2020, technology leaders on the continent have a wealth of opportunities to share and learn strategies for digital transformation.

Here are a few of the biggest, and most interesting, technology conferences and exhibitions scheduled for sub-Saharan Africa in 2020.

NOTE: Keep in mind that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China and other countries is starting to disrupt travel and cause event cancellations around the world -- not just in those countries with a confirmed large number of cases. For example, the CyberTech Africa conference in Rwanda, originally scheduled for March 24-25, has been postponed to November 22-24 (see listing below). Before planning travel, check back to the conference websites to ensure that the conference you are interested in has not been rescheduled.

Women In Tech Africa 2020

Cape Town, South Africa

18 - 19 March, 2020

The last few years have seen women standing up and making a claim to leadership in all sectors of the economy, and technology is no exception. Exceptional women leaders, founders and VC's are making profound improvements in the industry and Africa is seeking to ride that wave with the Women in Tech Africa 2020 conference.

Some of the keynote speakers include Lilian Barnard, the managing director of Microsoft South Africa, and Mimi Omokri, the Head of Business at Uber.

Some of the topics that will be under a microscope include:

  • The Roadmap to a Digital Africa
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Defining the Tone of your Company's Culture
  • Upskilling for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how you can level up for leadership
  • Next Generation Work and Talent

IoT Forum Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa

March 25-26, 2020

The internet of things is disrupting industries and creating new ways of doing business globally, and tech executives throughout Africa are focusing IoT efforts on critical life-saving, utility, agricultural, transportation and infrastructure applications. The IoT Forum Africa expects more than 500 attendees and 30 speakers. Key topics include Smart Cities, IoT for Public Safety, Digital Transformation, Blockchain, IT Security, AI, Analytics, IoT Strategy, and IoT Adoption.

Speakers include representatives from the worlds of manufacturing, public administration, telecoms, security, media and academia.

CMS Africa, Summit Accra

Accra, Ghana

26 - 27 March, 2020

This premier African tech event takes place every year in a different African city, and 2020 sees it landing in Accra, Ghana. Now into its seventh year, CMS Africa Summit offers not just uniquely for web and mobile design experts but also brings together industry leaders, startups, investors, academics, diplomats, and government officials.

Speakers like Kenyan digital strategist Elsie Birech, Daniel Dubois from Open Source Matters and German creative Elisa Fontyn are already on the schedule, while applications to speak at the event are still open.

The 2019 event saw 26 speakers, 5 universities and 43 companies represented and the 2020 event promises significant growth as West Africa embraces the digital revolution. 

Africa Tech Week

Cape Town, South Africa

11 - 15 May 2020

The beautiful city of Cape Town seems to be a favourite destination for continental tech gatherings and the second week of May sees arguably one of the most important of these annual gatherings. Africa Tech Week seeks to "promote digital transformation by connecting government, corporates and fresh talent in the tech industry."

Last year was the inaugural gathering of Africa Tech Week, hosted by Topco Media, and 2020 will seek to build on the connections that were forged through the conference, the exhibitions and the African technology awards that were presented.  With over 60 world-class speakers and more than 350 delegates, this is a chance to gather vital information. One of the stated aims of Africa Tech Week is to ‘educate South Africa and other African countries on the challenges and opportunities to be gained by their drafting appropriate plans and policies for the 4th Industrial revolution.'

Some of the economic sectors represented will include:

  •     Building construction
  •     Transport
  •     Engineering
  •     Automotive
  •     Maritime
  •     Agriculture
  •     Security

Lagos 2020 Digital Transformation Summit

11 June

Lagos, Nigeria

The Lagos 2020 event focuses on strategies, technologies and applications that will help tech leaders acheive their goals for digital transformation -- essentially a fundamental change in how an enterprise uses its technology, its workforce and business processes to improve its performance and value to customers.

The conference will explire technoligies including AI, IoT, cloud computing, machine leanring, robotics, big data analytics.

FinBank Innovation Conference & Expo

Kigali, Rwanda

26 - 27 August

New technologies including blockchain, cloud and a wide variety of mobile applications are disrupting the financial services industry and have the potential to change the competitive landscape in the African financial sector, including services for the unbanked. The Finbank conference is billed by the organizers as a "platform to stimulate collaborations and inclusion of the new technologies," specifically with a focus on startups looking to launch new products on the African market.

The organizers expect to see more than 700 attendees, 30 speakers and 30 exhibitors, with conference participants including fintech companies, investors and investment seekers, as well as banking and financial institutional representatives.

Gartner IT Symposium/Expo

Cape Town, South Africa

5 - 7 October

The Gartner event is one of the biggest tech conferences in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 1,000 attendees, 25 Gartner analysts, 35 exhibitors and 100 sessions expected. It also covers a broader range of topics than many conferences.

This year, the main topics include:

  • Business intelligence and advanced analytics
  • Customer and users experience
  • Digital business transformation
  • Emerging and disruptive technologies
  • Leadership, people and culture
  • Security, risk and compliance

For any given main topic, there are typically several related conference sessions.

AfricaCom 2020

Cape Town, South Africa

10 - 12 November

If you have to pick one international tech event to go to in sub-Saharan Africa this year, this is the one. This event brings together 15,000 attendees, 450 speakers and 500 exhibitors. As the conference organizers put it, this is the place to network, learn and get deals done.

The conference has a lineup of speakers from around Africa, from the worlds of government, private enterprise, and technology vendors, including for example MTN CEO Rob Shuter, communications ministers from Ghana and South Africa, and Grindrod Bank CTO Unathi Mtya.

AfricaCom is in a sense several conferences, focusing on a range of topics, in one. A few of the hot conference sessions are included in entire tracks devoted to IoTartificial intelligence, FinTech, and a Connecting Africa summit devoted to infrastructure development.

CyberTech Africa

22- 24 November

Kigali, Rwanda

The Cybertech conference and exhibition offers a wide-ranging agenda, and in a ddition a series of special events. Cybertech's special events cover sector-specific topics -- since the conference has been rescheduled from its original dates in March, the conference organizers recommend interested attendees to check back closer to the event to get a final list of event sessions. However, the conference is set to offer sessions in the folllowing borad range of topics:

  • Building the Innovation Ecosystem 
  • Telecom and IoT
  • Cyber Awareness
  • Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure
  • Cybermed
  • Agritech   
  • Aviation Cybersecurity
  • Criminal Investigations in the Cyber Era
  • FinSec 

The year ahead

The conferences listed above are just a selection of the top gatherings focusing on topics of specific interest to technology leaders. There are multiple conferences devoted to each topic, however.  As the agendas for conferences slated for the year  year fill out, and as conferences get rescheduled, we will be updating our curated list of top events, so check back in!

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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