gtex‘s first African event took place from May 31st to June 2nd in Marrakech, Morocco. Tens of thousands of attendees from across the continent and abroad visited over 900 exhibitors, over 250 conference speakers and his 30 government delegations from African countries. At this event, we got to know how Morocco is taking advantage of being a center of development in Africa.
42 years after its founding, GITEX Africa 2023 It will be the first time that a GITEX event will be held outside of Dubai. Based in Morocco, the event focused on building a platform to support cooperation and remove some of the barriers and points of friction between 54 African countries.
Meanwhile, the event also championed Morocco’s unique technology ecosystem and start-ups, with the aim of promoting Morocco’s own progress by showcasing more than 100 companies operating within its borders.
After the opening ceremony was held with the Moroccan national anthem, Aziz Akhhanoushthe Moroccan Head of Government explained the importance of Marrakech, which is located in Dubai but has established a high profile in the technology industry, as the venue for GITEX.
“Marrakech is a symbol of Morocco’s cultural heritage,” he explained. Akhhanoush also discussed how GITEX Africa could build a new platform to help “establish a strong pan-African economy.”
Chakib Aljipresident of Moroccan Enterprise Federationechoed Akhanoush’s sentiments, declaring that Marrakech’s hosting of the event was “an affirmation of Morocco’s efforts” in recent years. Arji then commented on the “currently attractive technology environment for foreign investors” that Morocco has created.
Encouraging and attracting greater investment from overseas venture capital and the private sector was also a recurring topic during the event’s keynote speeches and panel sessions. Akhhanoush himself called for this, calling for “further growth in investment in start-ups and SMEs and encouraging innovation in AI and IoT” to capitalize on Africa’s unique position.
Trixie LomilmanExecutive Vice President dubai world trade center and CEO Kaoung Internationalinternational event companies and organizers GITEX Africasaid Fintech Times On what makes Morocco, and especially Marrakech, an ideal destination for international tech events:
“We need destinations with strong infrastructure, such as connectivity and road transport. To kick-start growth, we need strong financial sectors, strong industries to support it, such as car manufacturing and agriculture.
“The concerned governments also needed a good digital transformation program to support the development of the event over the next few years,” she said.
Romilman also explained that Marrakech’s geographical location makes it a strong candidate as a venue, stating: Being in a French-speaking country is also important. Geographically available connectivity therefore gives Marrakech a great advantage.
“It took a lot of co-operation with the government to make such an event happen and we are very grateful to the Moroccan authorities for making this happen. We have supported visitors and attendees from
Explaining how the event is beneficial for start-ups and SMEs in Morocco, Romilman said: “African industries can now keep pace with the rest of the world. GITEX Africa helps Moroccan companies keep pace with their competitors around the world. GITEX is all about the power of people and technology,” commented Lomilmann.
Morocco’s biggest challenge
Despite his positive outlook on the future of both Morocco and the African continent, Chakib Alji has shed light on some of the most pressing challenges facing the African tech ecosystem. . “Internet penetration in 2021 was just 41 percent, despite a rapid increase in user numbers.
“Bridging this gap is imperative. Attracting and retaining talent is also a key consideration. We can stay here and be able to grow, we need to raise more money for startups and make startups and the region more attractive to investors.”
Habiba Ben BarcaHead of Africa Division United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) also explained issues related to the private sector: The problem with the private sector in Africa is that most, if any, challenges are small, micro or medium. Access to finance has become a huge burden to accelerate the transformation of African economies and these are some of the issues we are looking at and how financial services can be leveraged. is. “
Role of regulators in Morocco
The role of regulators in both Morocco’s successes and failures also emerged as a key topic in many of the on-stage sessions at GITEX Africa 2023. Ismael Belcajatfounder and CEO of Morocco-based e-commerce app Bicyclenoted the positive effects of recent regulations:
“Morocco is a local champion when it comes to banking. We are very proud, and we are also very proud of our regulators for having the right legal framework in place to make that happen.”
While there were good points, opinions were repeatedly expressed on stage that the existing regulatory laws were too strict to enable innovation. Medhi TajiExecutive Vice President Moroccan Business Federationexplained how this regulatory environment is currently slowing progress: “Morocco’s economy is highly regulated. This is a good thing because the banking and insurance sectors are very strong. But it does not create a favorable environment for small financial services and fintech.
“We also need to find new financing solutions. There are loans for SMEs in the early stages, but we haven’t found enough financing for companies to move forward.”
Taji also explained that the country needs to “continue to train its youth” to alleviate some of the problems Morocco’s tech ecosystem is experiencing, adding that the federation to make this happen said about his goals: Trained in AI development and cyber security fields. “
Positive next steps towards progress for Morocco
The event allowed a number of African startups to showcase their capabilities and meet potential customers, partners and investors. 100 Morocco-based startups have been selected to form the ‘Morocco100’, set up to help attract investors to the event.
One of the many Moroccan fintech exhibitors who attended the event, Medhi GirariChief Product Officer and Co-Founder Kontawho spoke with Fintech Times On how GITEX Africa will benefit other fintech companies in the country, he said: “The main benefit is helping them expand their reach. It helps us learn a little more about the differences between African countries as they have different regulations. It gives us an opportunity to quickly understand and find the right market.”
“We had the opportunity to meet with potential clients, including solution providers who would help us enter unique markets such as Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Nigeria. We were able to find partners who were familiar with these markets and approach them if all went well.”
With GITEX events already planned for Africa next year, the future of technology and financial services in Morocco, like the rest of the continent, may be entering a new chapter.