Tech4Africa, the Web and emerging technology conference, is breaking with convention by placing special emphasis on networking and direct access to some of the industry’s most internationally-recognised names that make up the events speaker line-up.
The main conference, being hosted at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg on 12 and 13 August 2010, brings luminaries such as Clay Shirky, Andy Budd and Dustin Diaz to Africa to address a gathering such as this for the first time.
“There are very few opportunities for the tech community in Africa to interact with like-minded people, never mind experts who’ve developed global brands or who are brands in their own right,” says Gareth Knight, MD of Technovated, the mastermind behind the event.
“Some of the best international events I’ve attended have promoted informal interaction with speakers and between delegates, and have proven to be the most valuable. And we are looking to replicate that at Tech4Africa.”
In addition to networking events in Cape Town and Johannesburg prior to the conference, the Tech4Africa format and structure have been designed to promote casual ‘corridor conversations’ and chance meetings.
A key element to this approach is that name badges will indicate the delegate’s needs or areas of interest, easily linking funders or investors with start-ups, graduates with companies looking to hire and executives looking for solution providers.
“This facilitates broader conversations, which in our view is where the conference’s real value lies,” says Knight. “Delegates are therefore able to quickly identify potential partners, and easily strike up conversations with people they might not otherwise have approached. The name badges create context and are a great ice-breaker.”
He adds that these types of conversations, as well as the interactive nature of stage presentations, go a long way to helping delegates realise that their problems aren’t unique and that many others grapple with similar challenges.
One session designed to address issues of a decidedly technical nature is the Intimate Q&A with Andy Budd, Dustin Diaz, Joe Stump, John Resig and Jonathan Snook during which they will chat about their own personal experiences, particularly their biggest challenges and how they overcame them. A large portion of the session will be dedicated to taking questions from the audience.
“We want delegates to return from the conference feeling that they have gained full value, which these types of interactions are designed to achieve,” says Knight. “I can speak from personal experience that this will be the case, having attended my fair share of international conferences where I’ve had the opportunity to raise my particular challenges with some of the leading minds in the industry.”
Tech4Africa runs from 12-13 August 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston. Workshops will be held on 10-11 August. The event is targeted at business professionals and technologists from businesses of all sizes, from entrepreneurs and start-up owners through to professionals working at large organisations. Clay Shirky – one of the world’s leading thinkers and writers on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies will be the keynote speaker at the inaugural Tech4Africa Conference. Shirky joins a stellar line-up of international speakers – including leaders from organisations such as Twitter, Mozilla, digg and Yahoo! – and African technologists from companies such as PesaPal, Ushahidi, Obami and many more.