MediaTech Africa

Andy Stead

Mediatech Africa, a massive-scale trade fair taking place in Johannesburg from 20 to 22 July 2011, promises to showcase the very latest in film, broadcast, sound, lighting and new media developments in the industry.

This biannual hub is the largest of its kind on the continent and will
be based at the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate. The previous edition in 2009 attracted more than 6 700 visitors.

Following the success of past years, the exhibition will again concentrate on a diversity of sectors, including broadcast; film and production; professional AV; sound; lighting; staging and rigging; DJ and professional music equipment; system integration; new media and web; satellite and signal; computer music and production tools; and musical instruments.

“These sectors have already seen fundamental shifts in recent years and the future is likely to hold additional challenges,” says Simon Robinson, Mediatech Africa exhibition director.

“That is why it is critical for serious industry players to remain abreast of change. Mediatech Africa enables them to do so, providing a centralised point to view so they can experience the latest products and technologies.”

In 2011 the trade exhibition will include a diverse programme including live demonstrations, workshops and, for the first time, a business matchmaking programme. Microsoft will also have a presence at the event this this year. With all equipment being IT-driven, Mediatech Africa is an important market for this company.

Through the matchmaking programme, visitors will be able to pre-register and get paired up with relevant exhibitors. Meetings will then be facilitated between interested parties, allowing exhibitors to engage with visitors on a more personal level.

“I have been involved in the expo since its inception,” says Robinson. “I started working on it in 2000, and we ran the first-ever event at Sandton Convention Centre in 2001. It runs every two years, and this tends to work out extremely well as there are generally radical changes in technology over such a period – so visitors can really expect to see exciting developments.

According to Robinson, preparations begin about 18 months before the event with just two organisers, but this grows to 10 as the opening date draws closer.

Reaching a broad range of buyers

Previous years have shown that exhibitors experience increased product sales as a direct result of Mediatech Africa, Robinson adds. “This year we have decided to support this process to an even greater extent by implementing the matchmaking programme.”

Mediatech Africa allows exhibitors to reach a broad range of buyers and interested parties, with the last trade exhibition attracting visitors of a high quality – over 50% of whom had authority to purchase, I think we need to attribute this statement to someone.

In total, Mediatech Africa 2009 attracted 6 779 visitors, an increase of 2 609 from 2007. Visitors came from around the world, with a total of 183 foreign visitors, predominantly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Some 62.4% of these visitors operated in the broadcast, film and production industry; 44.3% were from the pro AV, sound, lighting, staging and rigging sector; and 36.9% were from the computer music and production tools industry.

“This year we have about 120 exhibitors representing about 600 brands on show, representing a small growth on previous years,” says Robinson. “Although we do anticipate growth, it’s hard to be specific until the final entry has been made. We usually see a good spread of visitors from across industries and varying levels of seniority.

“The proactive and strategic marketing of the expo, its exhilarating atmosphere and clear structure makes it easy for visitors to find what they are looking for. These factors, coupled with excellent exhibitors, are what make Mediatech Africa such a successful trade exhibition.”

Moving to the Coca-Cola Dome

After many years of hosting the event at the Sandton Convention Centre, Robinson says organisers were unsure about moving the expo to the dome.

“There were pros and cons with both venues,” he says.

“Sandton really lends itself to trade shows, offering a state-of-the-art facility, great conference space, loads of accommodation and entertainment for travelling visitors. So the move to the dome was a big one.”

The decision to move was initially sparked by cost and the challenge surrounding the number of halls Mediatech Africa organisers could use.

“The dome offered us the space in one hall to grow and also the opportunity to bring in vehicles easily, build stages outside and even do live sound demos on concert stages.

“Most of our ‘out of town delegates’ stay at Montecasino, which is 10 minutes away and it has great accommodation and restaurants. The dome has been a very positive move for the show and exhibitors and visitors have been very happy,” Robinson says.

“We have looked at the benefits that may be offered by having the expo in Cape Town, but the event is very costly to stage and the bulk of the broadcast, commercials and pro audio industries are based in Johannesburg.

“We are seeing a growing number of people travelling from KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town to attend the event, as it is of an international standard and not many South Africans can afford to go to similar events overseas. But I will never say never to a move, certainly not now.

Robinson says his team considers the expo to be the premier event of its kind Africa – and the success it has enjoyed over the years has meant that they may even one day consider taking it to other regions on the continent like North Africa. “Perhaps,” he says, “but not yet”.