Tech4Africa 2 opens with a BANG!

By: Heidi Schneigansz

After the phenomenal success of last year’s event, expectations for Tech4Africa 2011 were high, and if the opening by Gareth Knight is anything to go by, T4A 2011 is going to be a cracker.

Who else opens a conference by sending a few tweets on a giant screen, simply because he wants to thank the people who made the conference happen? When he followed this by a slide that simply said <t4a>Welcome!</t4a> we knew that we were at a tech event for true lovers of tech and what it can do on the African continent. In fact, since Tech4Africa, it has reached out to over 150 countries in a year. Gareth wrapped up by saying “Tweet for Africa, let your networks know that we’re here and that we’re here to make a difference.”

Next up, the famed ‘Greek Geek of 702’, Aki Anastasiou introduced Derek Wilcocks, MD of Internet Solutions, who admitted that he’s a digital immigrant that is awed by how the world is changing in ways that people are battling to come to grips with.  According to Wilcocks, this year the Internet hit over a zetabyte of traffic. I can’t even begin to fathom what a zetabyte is?! 34GB of content a day is now going into the average US household, which is tantamount to 50 CDs worth of data.

But it’s not just about consumers, the machine-to-machine bandwidth used in the last 12 months exceeded user initiated bandwidth use this year. Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Ford and Tesco are using automated analytics to adapt their stock levels and marketing within hours of a major event that affected their business.

Wilcocks showed the audience how companies around the world are adopting web-based technology to recruit digital natives, sell and market their products more efficiently and better their customer service. What was interesting was that the biggest innovations are not being made by tech companies but by the ‘old-school’ trucking, cement and logistics businesses. I can only hope that the South African corporates in the audience are listening so innovation can start coming out of Africa, rather than being just adopted by her.

As Wilcocks said, “Collaboration, Community and The Cloud are reshaping the world… we really need to think about how they can change consumers, entrepreneurs and the public sector in Africa, now.”