Innovation was the unspoken theme at the first day of the 10th annual GovTech conference, currently underway at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.
In his address opening the conference yesterday morning, the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele (MP) highlighted government’s efforts to create a digitally-savvy citizenry, to drive South Africa’s transition to a knowledge economy.
“We have begun implementing the first phase of the SA Connect policy to rollout broadband infrastructure by conducting pilots in eight rural districts. We are finalising plans and funding options for the second phase, which will entail rolling out to all communities and government offices in the rest of the country,” he said.
“We are also in discussions with municipalities about sustainable ways to provide free wifi as a strategy to provide free internet access to all South Africans, especially the youth and the poor, in all of South Africa’s public spaces. This commitment is inspired by the huge potential of ICTS to drive socio-economic development,” he noted.
Later in the day Minister Cwele officially opened a R400 000.00 computer lab at the Umlazi Comprehensive Secondary School. The state of the art lab is equipped with 33 computers with a broadband speed of 15Megabits per second and it’s able to connect to other such labs in the country, allowing students and teachers to exchange knowledge and information in real time. This, says Minister Cwele, puts it above the speed mandated by the SA Connect broadband policy, which aims to have all government departments connected by 10Mbps lines by 2020, including schools.
In his closing keynote, ex-FNB CEO and founder of MonteGray Capital, Michael Jordaan led delegates through his journey of innovation at FNB, sharing key lessons.
Innovation, he says, is only possible if people are empowered to do things, are empowered to take risks, and are allowed to make clever mistakes without devastating consequences. Innovation, he says, is about recognising that no one person is smarter than the collective, so tap into the collective wisdom to find solutions to problems and then execute them, because ideas alone are no good – they need to be implemented. Have fun, he says, citing fun, coffee and wine as critical to innovation – because they encourage energy and creativity. Take people out of their normal space, apply a little wine and coffee and see what happens, he advises.
Hosted by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), Government Technology (GovTech) conferences were launched in 2006. The annual events have become renowned as premier platforms for ICT collaboration, capacity-building and information-sharing.
GovTech is designed to enable stakeholders and delegates from both the public and private ICT sectors to work together to identify new and creative ways to mainstream ICT solutions to South Africans.