After 30 years in operations, one of the continent’s premier IT exhibition organisers, the Africa IT Exhibitions and Conferences (popularly known as AITEC Africa) has ceased operations and closed shop.
According to sources, AITEC was forced to close down its Kenya office after it had it had a run in with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over tax related issues. The IT conference organiser was allegedly not paying tax (we assume this to be 30% corporate tax) in Kenya, claiming that it is taxed in its UK-based headquarters and paying the same in Kenya would be a case of double taxation.
However, our sources claim that when KRA contacted the UK’s tax authorities to clarify and confirm if this is true, Kenya’s tax regulator was instead informed by its UK counterpart that this was not the case, and told to go back to AITEC and claim the tax. It is after this that the firm decided to shut down its Kenya office after seemingly running out of options.
A look at the firm’s website – aitecafrica.com – redirects to Changamka Microhealth, meaning that the domain has not been renewed. Below is a screenshot of the firm’s homepage as it appears now:
The firm’s Twitter handle –
@aitecafrica – has also been inactive for a while having been last updated on November 28 last year, the same as its Facebook page whose last post was made two days later November 30.
Founded by Sean Moroney in 1987, held its first exhibition and conference in Harare in 1990 at a time when the continent’s ICT sector was in its infancy.
From then, the firm then diversified its product offering, venturing into ICT publishing (Computers in Africa magazine) and training.
AITEC has held ICT events in various African countries, including Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The firm’s events featured an expo – where exhibitors showcased their products and solutions to attendees – and a workshop where speakers shared insights on various industry trends and issues.
The firm has also acted as a foundation for various people, nurturing individuals who later moved on to set up their own enterprises. Among these include Harry Hare and Andrew Karanja (founders of CIO East Africa magazine – where I previously worked as an editor – and an IT training consultancy, African eDevelopment Resource Centre (AeRC); John Mwangi and Anne Mutugi who left the firm to found a rival event organiser called East African ICT Exhibitions & Conferences (now renamed The Event Management Company); Prisca Akinyi and Daniel Oguta who also left to form Clearsky Events & PR as well as Anne Kariuki, who like the others, has since moved on and set up her own firm called Velky Marketing and Communications.
Sean Moroney, AITEC Africa’s founder, was born in South Africa in 1952. He ventured into publishing as a student journalist and became editor of Wits Student, an anti-apartheid publication. He was later appointed Executive Editor of the Africa Contemporary Record in London, a position he held for four years. He then became editor of African Business magazine, based in London, and after two years was promoted to the position of Assistant Publisher for the IC Publications Group, responsible for New African, Middle East and African Business magazines. In 1987 he formed his own company and launched Market South East, a business newsletter covering Eastern and Southern Africa. He would later found Computers in Africa magazine.