Over 3200 telecoms executives from 110 countries gathered yesterday at the Cape Town Convention Centre for the 12th Annual AfricaCom (www.comworldseries.com/africa) congress and exhibition, with more expected tomorrow. “The event has become a landmark of the telecoms calendar, says Ian Hemming, CEO of organisers Informa Telecoms and Media; over two days, the
market’s most dynamic companies across the telecoms ecosystem are here to network, to share ideas and to showcase their solutions and services for the fastest growing emerging markets”.
The conference opened with a keynote session looking at market conditions in Africa’s telecoms, in particular the impact of the global economy on the sector. Chris Gabriel, CEO of Zain Africa presented his company as being customer-oriented rather than operating a network. Outsourcing,
infrastructure sharing and partnerships are used by Zain to serve customers better and to be “smarter about how to invest”. He didn’t comment on Zain’s potential sale of its African operations, but said that “Zain Africa is a growth engine of the Zain group”.
His presentation was followed by a debate between Ahmed Cisse (Deputy CEO of West African group Atlantique Telecom) , Ken Aigbinode (CEO of Nigerian CDMA operator Zoom Mobile), and Themba Kumalo (CEO of MTN Uganda). They discussed the impact of the global economic downturn on Africa’s telecoms markets. Mr Cisse said that his business was affected in the first half of 2009, but picked up in the second half of the year, with a 12% growth.
The rest of the day was divided between focused streams looking at different aspects of the telecoms business (networks and infrastructure, managed services, value-added services) and a new session on Connectivity & Capacity, as well as an afternoon plenary session on broadband.
In parallel to the conference, the 200-stand exhibition showcased a broader than ever picture of the whole telecoms ecosystem in Africa, with stands from equipment and infrastructure vendors, satellite operators, wholesale carriers, VAS solutions suppliers, OSS/BSS vendors and more.
The conference day closed with a networking drinks reception in the exhibition area. In the evening, the AfricaCom Awards ceremony will celebrate the year’s achievements with a gala dinner and party.
The second day of the congress will see more of Africa’s telecoms leaders discuss strategic issues regarding their operations, services and technology choices, with representatives of MTN Group, Orange, Etisalat, Zain, Safaricom, Comium, Globacom and more, sharing their expertise and visions on
the evolution of the market.