Gitex Africa 2023: Trends in the Development of the IT Industry

Elena Koskur-Ogly, Head of Sales Support at Nexign

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The international technology exhibition, Gitex Africa 2023, took place in Marrakech, Morocco, from May 31 to June 2. This inaugural event in the region brought together over 900 global IT companies and local startups. Notably, it involved approximately 40 Russian companies. Nexign actively participated in the event as a member of the Saint Petersburg delegation.

At the exhibition, we unveiled a range of new Nexign solutions, featuring our product lineup for 5G Standalone networks, the Nexign IoT Connectivity Platform designed to assist IoT business development, as well as other cutting-edge revenue management and business efficiency enhancement products catered specifically for telecom operators.

Gitex Africa's business program focused on innovation, digital technologies, telecommunications, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and related subjects. In this article, we will explore the key trends in the African IT industry highlighted by exhibitors and speakers at the event.

Cloud Solutions and IoT Technologies

The IoT and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors in Africa have witnessed rapid growth since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and this positive trend continues to the present day, with the number of countries involved in the region increasing from 6 to 27 in recent years. Currently, IoT technologies are extensively used in agriculture, healthcare, digital payments, Smart City initiatives, urban traffic management, and fraud reduction in electronic transactions. Exhibition participants identified vertical solutions as the highest in demand. 

Regarding cloud solutions, their development in the region is primarily driven by government initiatives, in contrast to the European market where demand fuels cloud solution growth. This distinction arises from the combination of stringent regulatory constraints and the African continent not being sufficiently covered by reliable broadband networks, which are essential for effective cloud solution utilization by medium and large businesses. 

Telecom Industry Development 

The African telecommunications sector continues to evolve, focusing primarily on providing fundamental infrastructure. During presentations, experts stressed the importance of achieving reliable coverage of the entire continent with 4G networks and dependable broadband access networks before shifting attention to new technologies. Therefore, the exhibition witnessed a significant presence of network equipment vendors. 

Industry-specific sessions at the exhibition featured discussions among regional government committee participants on various issues related to the development of next-generation networks. A prominent topic was how 5G networks and regulatory methods can optimize network infrastructure usage and energy consumption, including the regulation of base station sharing among telecom operators. 
Gitex Africa welcomed local telecom industry representatives such as Orange, Maroc Telecom, and Inwi that showcased highly sought-after solutions in areas including cloud services, smart homes and cities, cybersecurity solutions, and more. 

For the African market, minimizing costs and optimizing time-to-market are crucial for maintaining competitiveness. Local telecom players are actively developing proprietary IT solutions to compete with over-the-top (OTT) providers. Priority areas include payment systems and applications supporting government initiatives. The primary focus lies in developing commercial/umbrella applications on top of the existing technology stack. Ultimately, the African industry aims to create its own IT hub. 

Digital Transformation 

Digital transformation in Africa continues to hold significant potential and remains a key trend, with an estimated 12% of the regional market having undergone digital transformation, according to event speakers. 

Undoubtedly, the Gitex Africa exhibition emerged as a paramount and all-encompassing event for both participants and the entire region. It demonstrated the potential of the rapidly growing local digital economy and Africa's ability to contribute significantly to global technological advancements and innovations. Additionally, the exhibition provided a platform for building relationships and encouraging collaboration among major international players in the IT industry.