A Roundup of GITEX Tech Expo 2011

A Roundup of GITEX Tech Expo 2011

I was lucky enough to be able to attend GITEX this year in Dubai for the first time. GITEX is the largest technology expo in the Middle East and like everything in Dubai these days, it was Big! GITEX combines both a consumer fair for everyone to grab electronics at bargain prices as well as the main expo for businesses.

My first impression and something I really liked was that the consumer fair was held at a completely different location. This meant that the throngs of consumers shopping for the 55″ led tv or the gaming laptop didn’t interfere with the real business deals happening at the expo. This was a stark difference to to the Saba Saba trade fair in Dar es Salaam where Chinese vendors showcasing the hottest vegetable chopping appliances were right next to banks, manufacturers and solution providers.

The expo showcased vendors and solution providers from the full technology spectrum which included:

  • Card Technology
  • Networking & Security
  • Mobile Apps & Content
  • Digital Advertising
  • Cloud Technology
  • Consumer Tech
  • Telecommunications
  • Business Solutions
  • Government

Dubai being a trading hub meant a strong showing of tech hardware and consumer tech vendors. A lot of the brands on display such as Touchmate, Intex, I-nix etc were not brands that you usually see but are very popular in emerging markets. This is primarily because these brands are more agile and cater to the specific needs of these markets. For instance I-Nix had a portable speaker that was rechargeable, surprisingly good sound clarity and could play songs from a SD card, flash drive or any auxilary input. To top if off it could also play FM radio. Now thats a versatile device made for the African consumer.

A number of startups were showcasing cool technologies such as laimoon which is a recruiting service made for professionals in sales and marketing. Laimoon doesn’t ask for your resume, instead they ask you questions about how you work and behave to match you with roles across industries. Cloud9ers was another startup based out of the U.K and Egypt that was helping enterprises effectively leverage the power of cloud computing.

The most impressive aspect of the expo though was the UAE government’s showcasing of how they are leveraging technology to streamline processes, improve security and take as many as 2000 services online. Payments are made online for almost all services and sms notifications and reminders are standard features for all services. Digital self-use kiosks are also being employed in various departments to help citizens navigate the bureaucratic maze. More on these here.

Is it wishful thinking to hope for a tech expo like this in Tanzania?

Taha is a technology enthusiast with a particular passion for mobile services. He loves following major technology/business trends in developing countries, especially his native Tanzania, and believes Africa is the new uncharted frontier. His entrepreneurial adventures have focused on CampuSMS – a texting service for college campuses. Taha is currently employed as a technology consultant with Capgemini in Los Angeles, California. He is also an avid traveler and photographer.

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