Six years ago, I wrote this article about TechCabal, because I saw it as a promising new publication that could bring a fresh perspective to Africa’s coverage of the digital industries. The publication, which was launched just two years before TRUE Africa, is now ten years old, and TechCabal’s journalists have “covered the fundraises, exits, expansions, and even the not-so-great tales of internet shutdowns and regulatory pushback.” Last week, I went to the inaugural GITEX Africa conference in Marrakech, because I was looking to speak with some of the people who are now at the forefront of the continent’s digital transformation.
Tech leaders from across the continent—and the world—gathered to collaborate and pledge their commitments to accelerating cross-continent investment opportunities. Thousands of attendees could be seen promoting their products and services, walking across the conference’s 45,000 sqm of exhibition expanse, with government ministers and private sector executives alike celebrating the collective achievements.
Still, the most interesting conversation I had at GITEX Africa was with Tomiwa Aladekomo, the CEO of Big Cabal Media, the media company that publishes both TechCabal and its sister publication Zikoko. Aladekomo says he and his team are “telling the stories that matter, creating content that moves Africa.” Spending time with him, I realized it was time to publish a second article on this fast-growing media company, this time in the form of an interview with Aladekomo.
What were you looking to achieve with your presence at GITEX Africa last week?
We sent six people to GITEX Africa: three salespeople, our editor-in-chief, a reporter and myself, the CEO. It’s the most people we’ve ever had at a conference, and we had a mix of goals. First, it was an opportunity to spend more time in North Africa and be exposed to its growing startup ecosystem. Secondly, because GITEX Africa has such big pan-African ambitions, it was an opportunity to meet and engage with startups and tech innovators, regulators and funders from all over the continent. We aimed to capture stories, build relationships and understand what a wide range of stakeholders are working on. Besides listening in on sessions, formal interviews, networking with the players, and so on, we captured over 40 video interviews with startups from across and beyond the continent.
Third, we got to share our perspective and insights of Africa’s tech ecosystem today. I presented a keynote titled “2023: A Watershed Moment for African Startups”, where we argued that 2023’s restrained fundraising environment offers the most disciplined and ambitious startups to build innovative solutions for huge problems. Our last goal, but certainly not the least important, was commercial, building new relationships and sales opportunities. TechCabal is perhaps the most influential and far-reaching publication focused on the business and impact of tech in Africa, and reach pan-African and global audiences interested in tech in Africa. We’re always keen to find advertisers and partners looking to reach and understand that audience. We provide them advertising, events, audience and industry insights and consulting services.
What is the biggest challenge and biggest opportunity for TechCabal in this new digital age?
The biggest opportunity lies in the continued growth and importance of Africa’s tech industry. Given our massive youth population and relative underdevelopment as a continent, we expect that tech will be the most significant driver of productivity and growth over the next few decades. As the premiere publication covering that growth and the sector, there is what feels like endless room for growth.
Our biggest challenges lie in continuing to work out monetization in a shifting media landscape, with advancements in AI and content production and discovery decisions by the biggest platforms (Google, Meta, etc.) constantly shifting the ground. We face these challenges headlong though, constantly innovating on monetization and building new products to serve our customers.
What role do you think the African diaspora can play in helping to accelerate Africa’s digital transformation?
Talent is one of the most critical gaps on the continent. As Africa’s tech industry matures, we need more and more experienced operators to build ambitious and disciplined companies. Supporting and partaking in that journey is among the most meaningful things that members of the diaspora can do to support Africa’s digital transformation.