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Digital Africa comes to Wits

In recognition of the role digital technology is playing in Africa, Wits University will be hosting its inaugural Fak’ugesi: Digital Africa Festival 2014.

The festival will run from 11 August to mid-September 2014 and will showcase all things digital, promoting an important fusion between technology, art and critical thinking within the digital technology domain.

Prof Barry Dwolatzky, Director of Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and co-founder of the festival, says that digital technology and the “Rise of Africa” are two major forces shaping the 21st Century: “If Africa is to achieve its expected economic prominence, Africans will need to become major innovators and developers of digital technology. It lies at the heart of the ways in which we manage our lives and run our companies, cities and countries.

Dwolatzky says that digital technology will need to be used to educate and empower the continent’s more than a billion citizens and is at the heart of the Fak’ugesi: Digital Africa Festival. The phrase “Fak’ugesi” is Zulu street slang for ‚Äòswitch on the electricity’ or ‚Äòshine more light’. Dwolatzky elaborates, “As a name for the festival, the phrase emphasises the energy and excitement of the forces of Africa and digital technology, which the festival will draw upon and magnify.

Situated at the heart of Africa’s most dynamic and important metropolitan area, Dwolatzky says that Wits University has a critical role to play in shaping the continent’s future, “The Fak’ugesi: Digital Africa Festival is an umbrella event, aimed at coordinating and curating a number of stand-alone conferences, exhibitions, workshops, short-courses and other activities that will promote the fusion of creative and technical development of digital culture in Africa.

Strongly positioning Wits University as the digital gateway between Africa and the rest of the world, the festival will act as a focus for the wide range of research and innovation, which is already taking place at Wits. “The festival will attract students, researchers and entrepreneurs with an interest in digital technology throughout Africa,” says Dwolatzky. “Each event will turn the spotlight on some aspect of digital technology including software, hardware, networks, digital content, games etc.

The festival will be centered on the JCSE’s new Tshimologong Precinct as well as making use of some of the venues on Wit’s East and West Campus and in the fashionable inner City areas of Braamfontein, Maboneng Precinct and 44 Stanley Avenue.

Several headlines events have already been confirmed:

Agile Africa 2014: A major conference on software development methods, following up on the very successful inaugural event held in Braamfontein in August 2013.

A MAZE/Johannesburg 2014: An Indie-Games and Digital Arts Festival, attracting games developers and digital artists from Europe and Africa. The Festival has been run annually since 2012 in Braamfontein in partnership with the organisers of Berlin’s A MAZE Festival.

CASCADE: CASCADE is a collaborative multi-disciplinary project that champions digital content development through a series of workshops and activities. The event is led by “Onedotzero” – an experiential arts organisation with over 16 years’ experience in curating and producing cultural events and content for brands and agencies. CASCADE will be supported by the British Council.

Process Improvement Africa: This is a one-day conference focusing on the role that process and process improvement plays in helping ICT organisations deliver high quality products and services in a predictable and repeatable manner. The conference will showcase models and methods such as CMMI, ITIL, TSP and AGILE.

Maker Event: 3-D Printing, laser cutters and other rapid prototyping tools are revolutionizing hardware innovation. “Maker Spaces” give innovators the freedom to explore solutions in the hardware world as easily as software developers do in the world of bits and bytes. The Maker Event will provide an opportunity for Makers to collaborate, learn and teach.

Unyazi Festival of Electronic Music: The only African festival dedicated to the latest developments in electronic and electro-acoustic music. Launched at Wits in 2005, the 2014 Festival, in partnership with NewMusicSA, will feature innovative and exploratory music from African and the rest of the world.

Social Media Week is a bi-annual event that takes place in over 14 cities around the world, celebrating the best in innovation, creativity and technology. The goal of each event is to provide the best information, ideas and inspiration to help people understand how to achieve more in a hyper-connected world. Social Media Week started in New York in 2009 and has since grown to become a leading media platform and worldwide event with local presence and global reach across all five continents. This September, DigiSense will produce the first-ever Social Media Week Johannesburg. During the week, participants will be treated to a line-up of panels, Q&A’s keynote addresses, master classes and more‚Äîeach focusing on a different facet of the growing influence and endless possibilities made available through digital technology and social media.

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