GITEX 2021 as Stimulus for the Digital Startup Revolution
By Inyene Ibanga

TECHDIGEST – A multitude of top-class tech innovators, investors, corporate and government representatives, users and buyers, and international media from across the globe converged on the Dubai World Trade Centre in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE) for the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition, GITEX 2021.

Renowned as the world’s biggest technology exhibition for Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, the grand showcase, which was held from October 17–21, with the theme: “Creating a Bolder Digital Future Together”, had in attendance over 4,500 exhibitors, 400 investors and 150,000 trade visitors from 140 countries.

Heads of government agencies and high-ranking officials from the different geographies shared their digital transformation roadmaps, technological aspirations, and opportunities in their countries’ quest for innovation and knowledge, transformation and excellence, towards achieving advanced digital economies.

The GITEX conference covered a broad lineup of tech-related topics, including digital (smart) cities and artificial intelligence; education (edtech); healthcare (healthtech); energy and utilities; data economy and cybersecurity. Others included fintech and blockchain; telecoms and 5G; future mobility; marketing mania and startups.
Notably, the GITEX has continued to serve as a meeting point for the global startup movement, to connect with some of the world’s leading tech mentors, angel investors, and venture capitalists.

This year’s event captured the interconnected or hyperconnected power of technology in the top six shows: GITEX; GITEX Future Stars; AI Everything; Future Blockchain Summit; Fintech Surge and Marketing Mania.

However, Future Stars tops the billing as the most outstanding tech show that helps to set the stage for the next-level success of tech startups that participated in the five-day global tech expo and conference.

Being a major component of GITEX, GITEX Future Stars featured over 700 transformational tech startups from 60 countries, alongside 400 powerful investors and venture capitalists, who will help to redefine their (startups) future capacity to sustain societal impact and economic viability.

Nigeria, through the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has been participating in the event since 2013 to build collaborations and explore opportunities to facilitate the digital transformation of the nation’s economy.
In the last six years, the agency has sustained its support for Nigerian startups through sponsorship of over 50 startups to showcase their innovative tech solutions to societal problems at GITEX Future Stars Pavilion.

NITDA, through its subsidiary, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), selected nine innovative tech-driven startups with solutions to problems in the areas of AI and Augmented Analytics; Transportation; Digital Economies; 5G; Cyber Security and Resilience; Cloud and Edge computing, and Blockchain technology.

Once again, NITDA used this year’s GITEX to unveil nine startups, their innovative tech solutions to emerging or existing problems, and the young innovators behind these promising Nigerian tech companies.

These Nigerian startups were able to make presentations to the global audience, with the possibility of attracting mentors and potential investors, who find their technological applications capable of having a worldwide impact.

The presentations of the tech startups included on EDU-VR, a virtual reality platform for education by Ibrahim Arome; Fascinate Technologies, a smart waste management system by Chijioke Ngige; Trail, a GPS app that has a live camera for monitoring children while being transported to schools by Malumi Opeyemi; RINET, a research and innovative network solution for detecting and fighting plagiarism, by Usman Murtala; and Bridging Safe, a technological intervention on health therapy for solutions to mental health challenges.

Others are Fuel Intellisense, an automated tank gauge to guard against the fraudulent dispensing of fuel by Tolu Abikehin; HalalVest, a fintech tool for saving, borrowing, insuring, and investing in a business by  Oguntoyinbo Abdulazeez Femi; Agricon, an agricultural backed cryptocurrency platform by Usman Waziri Isa, as a catalyst for financial inclusion within the agricultural value chain and Chopwork by Akoh Jerry Ejiga for job creation and efficient service delivery.
In addition to the various tech shows and exhibitions, the GITEX 2021 introduced new platforms such as GITEX YouthX, for the cultivation of young tech talents with an annual creative programme to bring them closer to the practitioners’ ecosystem and the YouthX Unipreneur, exclusively for connecting university students with startups, companies, and governments.

The global forum provided a veritable stage for tech professionals and enthusiasts to celebrate the fusion of technology and the creative economy, and the dynamic innovators and tech revolutionaries disrupting the fields of fashion, sports, music, and art.

Very hopefully, the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the IT regulator NITDA would continue to leverage the GITEX to showcase Nigeria’s dynamic startup ecosystem to the global market, while also building a sustainable environment for our startups to thrive at home.

Inyene Ibanga is Managing Editor writes from Wuye District, Abuja.

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