Joburg to host DEMO Africa conference of innovative start-ups


Johannesburg has recently been selected to host this year’s DEMO Africa conference, regarded as the “launchpad for emerging technology and trends,” in what Member of the Mayor Committee for Economic Development Councillor Ruby Mathang has said will have “positive outcomes” for the city.

Johannesburg – whose impressive infrastructure, booming business opportunities, excellent tourism offerings and exciting outdoor life have over the years helped it to secure several first-rate international events – will become the fourth African city to host this most-sought after continental event.

The two-day conference will tentatively be held in September, at a venue still to be announced.

DEMO Africa was launched in Nairobi in 2012. The conference returned to the Kenyan capital the following year and has since been held in Lusaka, Zambia (2014), and Lagos in Nigeria (2015).

The conference, one of the continent’s most-talked about start-ups events, was secured for Johannesburg by the Johannesburg Convention Bureau, Joburg Tourism’s international events unit. Joburg Tourism is the City of Johannesburg’s tourism entity.

Organised by Liberating Innovations in Opportunity Nations in Africa (LIONS @frica), DEMO Africa will bring together key stakeholders and decision-makers in the innovation, entrepreneurial and investment sectors from across the globe to connect with selected African start-ups.

DEMO Africa creates a multisectoral platform to facilitate increased business exposure and potential for start-ups with venture capitals, investors, technology acquisition specialists, IT buyers and media from across the globe.

Participating start-ups pre-selected by DEMO Africa receive mentoring, coaching and the opportunity to launch their products to a wide range of tech eco-systems that reflect and address the needs of the African continent and beyond.

DEMO Africa Alumni has raised more than $11-million in investment and business value since its inception.
It is supported by the United States’ Department of State, Microsoft, DEMO, VC4Africa, African eDevelopment Resource Centre, USAID, Start-up Weekend and the African Development Bank.

MMC Mathang says drawing large international events such as DEMO Africa to Johannesburg has several positive spin-offs for the city, including the creation of job and business opportunities.

“Joburg is attracting a wonderful variety of international events – from private gatherings such as the Miniaturist Festival to high-profile events like DEMO Africa. Encouraging tourism to Johannesburg by attracting large events is a powerful transformative tool that positively impacts on the entire value chain in the sector,” he says.

The following are some of the events scheduled to be staged in the city this year:

• Breakbulk Africa Conference – April 6-7;

• Banking Commission Meeting – April 4-7;

• Africa-Middle East Conference of the Junior Chamber International – May 4-9;

• International Commission on Large Dams, May 16-20;

• HGA Global Forum – June 16; and

• Conference of the International Law Association – August 7-11.

Joburg Tourism is a member of the International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) .