Microsoft to host largest event for African startups in Johannesburg

  • Microsoft is expecting around 10 000 startups to join its African Startups AI Fest in Johannesburg on 6th June – in person or virtually.
  • At the event, attendees will receive coaching on how the latest AI tools can take their companies global.
  • Investors have also been invited, so it could be a place where startups connect with potential funders.

Tech giant Microsoft has announced a string of major events for Africa in the last few days, as not only will the Xbox Game Camp return to three major African cities in July, but the company has also revealed where it will hold its African Startups AI Fest this year.

The event looks to support startups across the continent to gain access to the market quicker with the help of leading AI-powered solutions. Around 6 000 to 10 000 startups are expected to take part in the event, either virtually, or in person in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Microsoft says that the event is the first of its kind, and will be held on 6th June 2024.

“There is a need to provide startups on the continent with the resources to take their concepts from the drawing board to customers,” enthused Lillian Barnard, Microsoft Africa President, in a press statement sent to Hypertext.

“From AI-enabled tech solutions to advanced digital skills, startups need to be given every opportunity to thrive in a highly competitive global market because they are the catalysts for job creation and economic growth in Africa.”

Microsoft cites the African Tech Startups Funding Report from 2023 (PDF), which asserts that funding for tech startups in Africa has declined after a banner year in 2022, when over 600 startups raised over $3 billion in funding.

As it becomes more difficult for the continent’s startups to find funding, Microsoft believes its AI solutions could aid startups in scaling their solutions, increasing productivity and helping them grow.

“At Microsoft, we believe that technology, particularly the transformative power of AI, holds the key to a more empowered future in Africa,” Barnard adds.

At the event, in-person and virtual attendees will be introduced to AI solutions from Microsoft and others. The company says it will demonstrate how these AI tools can be leveraged by entrepreneurs in ways that give their businesses the extra edge in a competitive landscape.

There will also be webinars to teach attendees how to scale their startups, how to perfect the pitch, and how to navigate common challenges faced by startups the world over. Added to this, Microsoft says that attendees will be able to connect with potential investors through investor community sessions.

Apart from fresh AI tools for consumers like Copilot+, Microsoft says that it has helped African startups in the past to use AI software and automation to reach new heights. This includes companies like RE Legal Interact, M-KOPA, Omnisient, Zen Dawa, Deepecho and Terragon.

For example, Legal Interact recently integrated Microsoft AI to launch the first “AI lawyer” in South Africa, which can help with a number of legal queries, while in East Africa, M-KOPA looks to use AI-powered automation to speed up its plans to provide millions in the region with insurance and loans.

Startups are reminded to sign up for the event before 5th June 2024. Attendees can register here.

[Image – Photo by Matthew Manuel on Unsplash]


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