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AfricArena Summit 2019

The Sea Monster crew attended the AfricArena 2019 tech summit that took place between 11 and 12 November at the Century City Conference Center in Cape Town.

The conference provides a platform for organisations from tech startups to global corporates, from all over the continent to share their business models, gain valuable networks and understand the realities of funding new technologies and business models. Sea Monster joined the other fish in the sea with exhibitions of our VR and AR projects. We caught up with the crew for a debrief, to find out what the highlights of this year’s summit were and what Sea Monster learned from the summit and what we added to the mix.

Sea Monster, like many other tech companies, attends a large number of events but we find that AfricArena stands out as it is extremely targeted and quite practical in the manner it’s set up. AfricArena serves as a forum for South African, a number of other African companies and French businesses to collaborate. It focuses on creating real value exchange between companies in South Africa and France in a way that many larger events can’t deliver.

The summit has managed to take into account that the startup/tech landscape is much more nuanced than many people think and they responded by creating different forums and platforms where various businesses can participate. They created a showcase and Sea Monster was one of the companies selected to participate with our Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality projects. There was also some great panel discussions and very focussed presentations, which make for a good mix of formats for collaboration.

We believe that it takes about three to five years to extract real value from events like this and AfricArena is definitely one of the events that are becoming a pillar in our local event strategy. AfricArena’s focus is on tech, not just for tech’s sake but also as a way to leverage technology in Africa to create valuable business opportunities between South Africa, the rest of Africa and France.

Sea Monster showcased the in-flight AR proof of concept that we designed for Air France and AfricArena last year as part of the Air France Challenge, which we won. We also showcased our work in progress for our Table Mountain VR solution. We were asked to participate in two panels, one with Facebook’s Spark AR toolkit for creating AR effects on Facebook and Instagram, where we spoke on the importance of AR in business beyond just fancy face effects. We also spoke about the Oculus VR ecosystem, like our Table Mountain project being built on Oculus Quest. Though not our area of expertise, we participated in a panel on AI. The focus of these discussions was on how the technologies of AR, VR and AI complement each other and how valuable they will be in the future of the workplace and the rest of society as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The big takeaway for us is that Africa, as the youngest population in the world can be the most productive in the next 10 – 15 years and these technologies will be a crucial part of this in terms of education and within the workspace. AfricArena is one of the players helping to make this happen.

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