11th Innovative Africa Digital Summit attracts big players in Africa


The 11th Innovative Africa Digital Summit (IADS) was held at the Sheraton Addis for three days with chief executives from big global companies in attendance.

IADS 2013 was organized by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) in close collaboration with Extensia Ltd, a UK company, from March 19 to 21. 
The summit, entitled “National Broadband Strategies and Agendas-Acceleration and Alignment” was held for the second time in Addis Abeba, with focused discussions on the need to create sustainable national and international growth and development of the African telecom and ICT ecosystem.   
Pierre Dandjinou, Vice President for Africa at the International Cooperation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a company based in California, who participated in the event, said that the summit was quite important to him, because of the discussions on relevant components of business. “Many of those who are doing deals in the ICT sector were here. They presented the products they have, the best practices they employ and the things they have gone through,” Dandjinou said. “Whoever was interested, was able to approach and discuss applicable issues with them.”
“This event has been high profile. A lot of CEO-level executives were here, which is quite rare,” said Marco Veremis, Chief Executive Officer of Upstream, another participant. “This probably reflects the global interest in the African market. This is a market everyone is looking at with interest,” he commented. 
The summit aided most participants in developing contacts and ensuring access to the African market, according to people Capital conferred with during the event. “This summit, I think, is all about developing contacts at one-stop,” said Dandjinou. “Of course, people will continue discussing business. I believe we were able to establish good business for Africa,” he said, and added that he hopes it continues in the future.
The 10th edition of IADS was also successfully conducted last year in Addis Abeba. According to Tariq H. Malik, Chief Executive Officer at Extensia, this event will have a positive outcome for Ethiopia. “To host such a huge summit, back-to-back is a big achievement for the country, and this shows the commitment of the government to  endorse the sector to meet the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) target,” stated Abebaw Degefu, Managing Partner of Credoks Plc, a local company that participated in the event. “I was in Barcelona a couple of years ago to attend the Mobile World Conference. And I would say this [the summit] is Africa’s Barcelona. It has attracted a lot of senior executives.”
At the event, MoCIT was able to show the various opportunities that abound for local and international companies under the telecom sector, which is a state monopoly.
Peter Gatkot, State minister of Communication and Information Technology believes that there are areas which are open to investors, like value-added services, public-private partnerships with MoCIT and private companies joining hands to further their business or start new ones. “Being a monopoly doesn’t mean all doors are closed to private companies and enterprises. They can turn up and do profitable business here,” he said. According to him, the government is playing an important role to put in place the policies and programs designed to attract the private sector targeted for the development of local ICT companies and the industry at large, with a focus on the promotion of ICT development. 
The number of attendees during the 11th IADS has shown an admirable increment from last year’s (100 more participants), which amounted to 500 representatives from local and international companies, of which 400 were from abroad. “Ministers of 15 countries, policy makers and regulators, service providers, end users, finance companies, international agencies, all have participated in the summit that involved keynote presentations, panel discussions on different topics and pre-arranged meetings,” Adrian Hall, Executive Director of Extensia, concluded.