BotConAfrica 2017 speaker line-up announced

Silicon Cape
17 May 2017

An outstanding array of speakers is headed for BotCon Africa 2017 with twelve speakers now confirmed for this essential conference on the state and future of conversational interfaces in Africa. More speakers will be announced over the coming week.

Taking place in Cape Town on Thursday 25 May 2017, BotCon Africa 2017 will have a particular focus on the African market with Facebook sharing updates about their Messenger platform including valuable case studies from the Continent.  Martin Raison, Facebook’s Research Engineer at Facebook AI Research in Paris will talk about ‘teaching machines to interact with people’. Martin worked as an engineer on, a Natural Language Processing platform used by thousands of developers around the world to build chatbots. After the acquisition of by Facebook, he joined Facebook AI Research to help create the next generation of conversational AI. He graduated from Stanford University with a Master’s degree in Computer Science. sharing updates about their Messenger platform including valuable case studies from the Continent as well as

Joining Facebook in the speaker line-up is Yonder Media’s Stuart Steedman, who will talk on A Brief History of Bots (Humanity’s relationship with automatons), as well as Frans Cronje of DataProphet whose presentation will cover Comprehension models for informational chatbots and document query. Nick Cuthbert of WhereIsMyTransport will give fascinating insight into the startups’ Public Transport Chatbot Experiment while MeerKAT’s Toufeeq Ockards will share what he’s learnt through experimenting with bots on Twitter.

BotCon Africa 2017’s Business and UX stream is being driven by Clevva’s Ryan Falkenberg with a talk focusing on AI that enables not replaces people.

The technical talks and interactive workshops that were so popular at BotCon Africa 2016 are a highlight of this year’s event, allowing developers to get to grips with building chatbots, machine learning and other supporting paradigms. As part of this stream Hein Van Der Merwe of RetroRabbit will present a workshop on Natural Language Processing with Deep Learning, Rudolph Jacobs of RetroRabbit will run a workshop on How do you talk to IMDB? and Bernardt Duvenhage of Feersum Engine will give a talk on Sentence Matching.

Expected to to follow in the sold-out footsteps of the 2016 inaugural conference, BotCon Africa 2017 is an essential event for software developers, businesses and marketers working with natural language processing, machine learning and AI. BotCon Africa 2016 drew 130 participants and featured speakers like Emeka Afigbo of Facebook, who spoke on Messaging Apps as the New Platform; Simon de Haan from on Bots for social impact; Ashvin Sologar from Kalido on natural language processing and Retro Rabbit’s Jade Abbot talking about word embedding, recommendation systems and open source tools.

BotCon Africa 2017 is not just for software developers, it’s also for marketers and business owners wanting to learn about bots for business and a chance to connect with business leaders, data scientists, product designers, technologists and industry innovators who are changing the face of interfaces.

Make sure you are at Workshop 17 at the V&A Waterfront on 25 May 2017 to explore the wide world of conversational interfaces and the impact they can have on businesses and lives in Africa.

For more information, pricing or online bookings visit or email

BotCon 2017 is brought to you by Retro Rabbit,’s Feersum Engine and Facebook for Developers.


First Round Speaker List

The following speakers are confirmed to speak at Botcon Africa 2017 in Cape Town on 25 May 2017:

  1. Martin Raison (Facebook AI Research)
  2. Stuart Steedman (Yonder Media)
  3. Riana Smit (RetroRabbit)
  4. Frans Cronje (DataProphet)
  5. Justin Watson (Botpress)
  6. Nick Cuthbert (Where’s my transport)
  7. Toufeeq Ockards (SKA SA)
  8. Angelique Kamara (Facebook)
  9. Ryan Falkenberg (Clevva)
  10. Belinda Lewis (Praekelt/Feersum Engine)
  11. Johan de Villiers – (First Technology WC)
  12. Rudolph Jacobs (RetroRabbit)
  13. Bernardt Duvenhage (Praekelt/Feersum Engine)


About Botcon Africa

Botcon Africa is a full-day conference focused purely on conversational interfaces, machine learning and AI. The event explores the technologies that are behind the best global bots through featured talks and workshops by leaders and innovators in the field. Alongside expanding the knowledge-base of participants, BotCon Africa is an opportunity for connecting with the leading practitioners in conversational interfaces. The inaugural BotCon Africa took place in November 2016 and drew a sold-out audience.


For media queries contact:

Sam Manclark @ A Better World Network

082 556 5188

Post by A Better World