When it comes to Information Communication Technology or ICT – Africa is one of the biggest opportunities today and keeping this in mind, India’s Exhibitions India Group recently organised its first edition of Convergence Africa World – in Kenya.
Prem Behl, Chairman, Exhibitions India Group speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the recently held, Convergence Africa World and how the event has driven global companies to the African market.
What were the key focus areas for this event in Africa?
Expansion of Africa’s technology space is rapidly changing the continent’s macroeconomic landscape. Most African governments are embracing wide-ranging communication solutions for voice, data and video, increasing Internet access, and making IT a crucial plank of their development plans.
Being ICT industry focused, Convergence Africa World 2015 expo served as a meaningful platform for not only domestic, but International companies too. Our key focus at Convergence Africa World was to facilitate access to the African markets for international and Indian organizations. Our aim was to introduce the latest technology, solutions and provide a platform for domestic African companies to network with other world leaders from the ICT industry, all under one roof.
The 3-day long exhibition and conference focused on showcasing cutting-edge technologies, as well as creating opportunities to interact with policy makers, research analysts, academia, media and industry peers to promote their brands and generate business.
Concurrent conference sessions on topics such as telecom, Digital Africa, Internet for all, media, IT security, pay TV, evolution of television in Africa, mobile money, etc., were key highlights of the event, attended by a large number of delegates.
How can Indian companies having presence in Africa benefit from this event opportunity?
India has been one of the fastest growing telecommunications market in the world, and today, Indian telecom firms are seeking business opportunities in international markets to expand their reach.
With Africa emerging as a rapidly growing market in the ICT sector, Indian companies stand to gain immensely by expanding their business interests in this region. This event provided opportunities for Indian companies to showcase their products, host physical demos for the local market, and also connect with the local industry for distribution and/or collaboration.
Today there are many global events happening. How is this event going to be different?
Convergence India, started in 1992, has a track record of successfully hosting 23 editions, and successfully promoting ICT in India. We have a great understanding of this industry, and are one of the most trusted expos in this sector. The first edition of Convergence Africa World played the role of being a bridge – connecting global companies with the African market.
There is no other event of this nature and scale in East Africa, which provides an opportunity to domestic and international organizations from across the world to engage and explore different dimensions of the ICT industry.
We have a large research team, immense domain knowledge, skills, industry contacts, media associations and media partners worldwide – all of whom support and magnify our efforts.
What are your expectations from this initiative? How many companies participated?
We are the pioneer expo entry to the East African region via Nairobi, Kenya. The expectations are that the participants will establish a foothold in the region and gradually expand their business to other parts of the continent. The East African countries are some of the fastest growing economies on the continent.
Kenya is demonstrating better governance, proactive ICT policies, and has demonstrated an interest to develop their infrastructure by removing obstacles to business, and by inviting international participation and encouraging investment in new technology.
Kenya is interested in promoting digital economies, smart digital cities, digital money, services, financial inclusion for all citizens, smart health and education, employment generation, skill development for local people, etc.
We had 130 participants this year from 16 countries across the globe, and this is an impressive number for the first edition of Convergence Africa world expo. We expect to substantially surpass this number in the next edition.
How will this promote the ongoing “Make in India” and “Digital India” initiatives in Africa?
African countries and leaders have traditionally shown an affinity to India as a country, and Indians as people. There is a substantial Indian diaspora in Africa, which is educated, disciplined, are good moral citizens with exemplary work ethics – either in employment or as Indian controlled businesses, and ther are recognised as assets to the economies, and governments, of the countries of Africa.
The African government generally welcomes business, culture, social, and educational interaction with Indian businesses and the Indian government. Our efforts and activities should provide an impetus to the exciting business activities, and should act as a catalyst to accelerate the growing trade and business opportunities on the continent.
African countries are generally comfortable in doing business with Indian entities, often in preference to other countries and nationalities.
Indian products and services are now recognized as being qualitative and accepted as price competitive. All of this will ensure growing exports from India, which enhances our own ‘Make in India’ capabilities. Indian companies are considered to be ICT leaders globally, and there’s wide acceptance in the world markets.
What are some of the big advantages, which this event brings for global vendors?
Convergence Africa World 2015 expo brought together leading ICT entities, from around the world, on one common platform. It served as an useful platform for international companies seeking to enter the African market. Apart from creating awareness, it was an event propagating knowledge sharing and networking.
There were industry bellwethers, including Airtel Africa, Ericsson, Conax, Matrix Comsec, HBE, Birla Ericsson, Mediaguru, Bamba TV, SPEC Technology, and representatives from the local government associated with the expo, which makes communicating with these brands very easy – which otherwise may not be feasible.