Microsoft is set to host the African Startups AI Fest – the largest Microsoft Africa virtual event on the continent

AI-generated image of a young African entrepreneur sitting at her desk working on a tablet and laptop.
  • The hybrid event will bring together startup founders and pioneers from across Africa
  • Microsoft’s startup partners and customers will take to the main stage to share their stories of success
  • Up to 10,000 startups will be given access to industry-specific expertise and insights on how best to take their business to the next level with the help of AI

Microsoft announced the introduction of its first African Startups AI Fest at GITEX Africa in Marrakech, Morocco today. Spearheaded by the organization’s Africa Transformation Office (ATO), the event promises to inspire and support startups to accelerate their journey to market with the right AI-powered tech solutions. The event, scheduled for 6 June 2024, will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, with virtual access available to attendees across the continent.

The African Startups AI Fest will bring together founders, entrepreneurs, business decision-makers, engineers and developers in the startups space from across the continent. This inaugural event aims to showcase the transformative power of AI and how startups can use this revolutionary technology to drive innovation and take their ideas not only to local markets but a global stage.

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

Overcoming mounting economic pressures

Recent research from The African Tech Startups Funding Report has found that funding for tech startups in Africa has declined after a highly successful 2022 when 633 tech startups raised over $3 billion in funding.

“In the face of a challenging economic climate, startups across Africa have demonstrated remarkable resilience,” Barnard says. “Despite the tough conditions, they have ignited a wave of innovation. Empowered with the right tech tools, startups can scale their solutions, enhance productivity, and drive growth. At Microsoft, we believe that technology, particularly the transformative power of AI, holds the key to a more empowered future in Africa.”

Finding the right tech partner

Over the years, Microsoft has supported startups on the continent to grow and develop. These success stories include the likes of Legal Interact, M-KOPA, Omnisient, Zen Dawa, Deepecho and Terragon.

Legal Interact is an Independent Software Vendor that has integrated Microsoft AI into its software and recently launched the first AI lawyer in South Africa. The solution is automating certain tasks by providing quick answers to legal questions, freeing up time for attorneys to address more complex legal queries. Thanks to IoT tools and AI-powered automation in the cloud, M-KOPA is providing inclusive financial services such as insurance and loans to people across East Africa. The fintech business has gone on to provide millions of families and entrepreneurs with the financial support they need to purchase solar systems, motorbikes and smartphones.

Attendees of the inaugural African Startups AI Fest will be introduced to these and other startup success stories on the continent. In addition, Microsoft, its partners and customers will introduce and demonstrate how AI tools can be leveraged by entrepreneurs in ways that give their businesses the extra edge in a competitive landscape.

The organization aims to reach 6,000 to 10,000 of these businesses and provide them with customized support through the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub programs. Founders and entrepreneurs will be primed for growth through industry-specific webinars designed to help startups scale, pitch coaching sessions that will help investors enhance their pitching skills and navigate common challenges, investor community sessions that will connect startups with top investors from the Continental investor community to glean key insights on securing their first investments, integration with the Microsoft Independent Software Vendor program and insights on how to best use AI technologies to propel their businesses forward.

To register for the African Startups AI Fest, participants can register HERE  by June 5th, 2024.

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