The Digitize Africa Organising Committee have announced that the inaugural Digitize Africa Conference and Exhibition 2017 will take place from 18 to 20 April 2017 in Durban, South Africa.

The event will see policy makers, industry players, SMEs and experts in the digitization value chain all gathered under the Durban International ConventionCriminal Centre (ICC).

Held in collaboration between the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA), eThekwini Municipality and several SME partners, Digitize Africa is positioned to be the premier digital gathering of the African continent, and will be convened on annual basis. Its purpose is the encourage, discussion, collaboration, consultation and information sharing across different players involved in providing digital services.

“The goal of this event is to start not just an annual event but a process of continuous engagement and showcasing Africa’s digital progress”Vika Mpisane, CEO of ZADNA and member of the Organising Committee

The Digitize Africa 2017 event will also feature experts and presenters from different sectors, including the South African Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services, KZN Provincial Government Departments, and Gauteng Department of Education. Private sector and ICT organisations include Google, Convergence Partners, Ster Kinekor, Sentech, ZADNA, Black IT Forum and the Durban Innovation Hub, among others.

Some of the key discussions will focus on the ICT Policy White Paper of the Minister of Telecommunications, and should provide the audience with an opportunity of understanding better the direction that the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) is taking in implementing the groundbreaking policy.

Other sessions focus on digital trends in Africa, Africa’s digital media and entertainment, e-sports, digital education and digital strategies for SMEs. Notable speakers include the Premier of KZN, Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, KZN MEC for Economic Development, and Gauteng MEC for Education.

The event takes a strong bias towards lessons, trends and strategies that small and medium enterprises can use to boost their growth and contribution to Africa’s gross domestic product.

“The essence of digitization presents unique opportunities for business whether small or big”, says Mpisane. “Whether you talk digital education, e-government, e-entertainment or ecommerce, the essence is that these digital developments present growth opportunities for business to either supply digital services and products or to benefit from them”.

To ensure that SMEs benefit, local business and other organisations, such as the KZN Black IT Forum, Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Durban Innovation Hub, Innovate Durban, Invotech and the Durban Smart Xchange have been allocated space and opportunity to have their members attend the event, participate in the discussions and even exhibit their products and services.

“There are opportunities for a selected number of startups to pitch their ideas to business experts and funding agencies at the event. The goal is to help the startups to fine-tune their business proposals. There is a good opportunity that the most impressive pitch may secure a limited grant in the process”, says Gabriel Ramokotjo, the former Gauteng ISOC Chair and a member of the 2017 Digitize Africa Organising Committee.

Entrance to the event is free but seats are limited.

“This is a wholly sponsored event and that’s why entrance is free. Of course, we encourage companies to come exhibit their products and services at the event, and learn from experts in the digital transformation of the African economy”, says Ramokotjo.

Limited sponsorship, partnership and exhibition opportunities are still available at the event website.

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