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Top ICT award for Gadget founder

Gadget founder Arthur Goldstuck has been named recipient of the Distinguished Service in ICT Award 2013 by the ICT industry’s professional body.

Gadget founder and editor-in-chief Arthur Goldstuck has been named recipient of the Distinguished Service in ICT Award 2013 by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) and the award sponsor, EngineerIT.

The IITPSA, the professional body of the information and communications technology (ICT) industry, in conjunction with EngineerIT, determine a worthy candidate for this award for ‘distinguished service’ to the IITPSA and/or the IT Industry based on the following criteria:

The Award criteria are:

* The recipient ideally should have been a member of the professional body of the IITPSA for 10 years;

* Has demonstrated a long-term commitment to the objectives of the IITPSA and the ICT sector.

* Has been a role model and mentor showing dedication to the advancement of
the ICT industry in SA.

* Is recognised as having made an exceptional, career-length contribution to
the ICT industry.

The person who receives the award is also bestowed with the grade and title of Fellow (or Honorary Fellow) of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa, if he/she is not a Fellow already. The ‘worthiness and acceptability’ of the nominee for this award is assessed by the Committee of Past Presidents of the IITPSA where a majority must support the nomination and recommend it to the IITPSA Executive Council. Here, in turn, the nomination must also receive the support and approval of the majority of the Executive Council.

The Citation for Goldstuck’s award, presented at the IITPSA President’s Awards Breakfast last week, reads:

“It is our custom not to mention the name of the Award Recipient until the end of the citation, but we will be very surprised if everyone in this room, including the recipient (who doesn’t yet know that he is getting the award), doesn’t work out who is being referred to after the first few sentences that follow.

“This person is a well-known South African journalist, media analyst and commentator on information and communications technology, internet and mobile communications and technologies.

“He is a former investigative journalist and news editor at the Mail & Guardian, one-time South African correspondent for Billboard, contributor to numerous magazines and newspapers on tech and popular culture. He has written 18 books, including 7 on Internet- and mobile-related topics, 6 on urban legends and 3 humour books. Most have been best-sellers in South Africa, with “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Internet: A South African Handbook” the biggest selling IT book ever in this country.

“He is the Editor-in-Chief of Gadget Magazine which is South Africa’s oldest online technology magazine, launched in 1998. In June 2011 it became a content partner of the MSN portal, replicating its content on the Tech & Gadgets section of the MSN.co.za portal.

“This person is the founder (in 2000) and Managing Director of World Wide Worx, a leading independent technology market research organisation. World Wide Worx researches Internet access, mobile consumers, mobile Internet, mobile payments, online banking, online media, social media, cloud computing and trends shaping business and consumer use of technology in Africa. It has established itself as one of the leading independent technology research organisations on the continent.

“He was a pioneer in the South African market in the use of the internet as a tool for productivity. He developed the first South African benchmarks for website strategy, and has represented South Africa as a judge for events ranging from the International Advertising Festival in Cannes to the Global Mobile Awards at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. World Wide Worx research is used by international, regional and local organisations, corporations and universities. He also provides regular newspaper columns on IT-related topics, and has been interviewed on SA radio stations many times, making technology interesting and accessible to the general public.

“He is both a true stalwart and a justifiably well-known personality of the South African ICT Industry and is fully deserving of the 2013 award for Distinguished Service in ICT, having made a genuine career-length contribution to the community and the world of ICT.

“The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa and EngineerIT are thus delighted to present both an Honorary Fellowship of the Institute and the 2013 Distinguished Service in ICT Award to Arthur Goldstuck.”

The IITPSA President’s Awards Breakfast, hosted by ITWeb, also saw the following awards presented:

Sal Laher, CIO of Eskom, was named the 2013 Visionary CIO of the Year winner.

Mteto Nyati, Microsoft SA MD, and Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, were the co-winners of 2013 IT Personality of the Year Award.

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Loadshedding keeps small business from the cloud

New research shows nearly half of South African small businesses struggle with internet connectivity

New research reveals South African small businesses aren’t able to adopt cloud technology because of their connectivity problems. The third annual State of Small Business report from accounting software firm Xero, conducted in partnership with World Wide Worx (WWW), shows that over half (53%) of small businesses haven’t adopted cloud technology yet, due to connectivity problems.

Over half (59%) said that scheduled power outages by the national supplier posed a significant challenge for their business. In addition, more than two fifths (43%) said that their internet connection was ‘OK but not 100% reliable’. Other challenges cited include new technologies entering the market (29%) and compatibility with customers (45%).

The research represents the opinions of 400 South African small business owners and 200 South African accountants. Almost half (47%) said their staff were highly tech-literate, but more than two thirds (67%) don’t allocate budget for training employees to use the software provided.

Colin Timmis, General Country Manager, Xero SA and professional accountant said “Our most recent State of Small Business report gives a real insight into what it’s like on the ground for small businesses in South Africa. In uncertain times like these, technology can provide stability. For example, cloud software can help overcome issues with connectivity. It helps to make your business more agile, meaning you can work from anywhere at any time. Being able to move when there are scheduled power cuts or patchy internet is crucial to keeping your business running.”

Nearly all who had adopted cloud technology said that they noticed an increase in profit (98%) and an increase in efficiency (99%). More than half (51%) suggested that it had improved their ability to work anywhere, and a quarter (25%) said it had improved security.

In addition, nearly two fifths (38%) said their IT set up was ahead of the curve. Over half (56%) said they use basic automation, whether in operational or accounting tasks. A quarter (25%) said they were using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, followed by cloud computing (19%).

“It’s great that South Africa’s small businesses are seeing the benefits of adopting technology. But there will be a learning curve for anyone using new software and employees shouldn’t be expected to self-teach. Because people are more tech-savvy than they used to be, training normally only takes a few hours. It could make all the difference in getting return on investment on the technology that you buy”, said Timmis.

Other key findings from the research reveal:

  • Three quarters (79%) of small businesses claim that accounting software support is very important
  • Three quarters (78%) of respondents use accounting software to manage financial records and over half (55%) are using desktop solutions.
  • Only one fifth (22%) are using cloud accounting tools and nearly a quarter (23%) still do their books manually.
  • Only a tiny proportion of respondents (0.25%) are using AI and machine learning.

Download the report in full here.

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Uberising solar energy

A team of students from Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday walked off as winners with R20 000 in prize money for an innovative concept to provide equitable energy access to remote villages based on, among others, “Uber(ising) solar energy.”

The team was one of four university teams participating in the African Utility Week and Powergen Africa conference and exhibition’s first ever Initiate! Impact Challenge. The 19th edition of the event gathered thousands of power, water and gas industry experts in Cape Town this week and ended on Thursday.

Student teams from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand also took part in the three-day challenge sponsored by the Enel Foundation, the Innovation Hub, Lesedi Nuclear Services and the Russian Nuclear Agency Rosatom. The Initiate! Challenge aimed to create a platform for students and start-ups to drive innovation and share ideas for the energy sector.

Strathmore University’s winning team: (left to right) Fredrick Amariati, Ignatius Maranga, Raymond Kiyegga and Alex Osunga.

The Strathmore University team included engineering students Ignatius Maranga, Raymond Kiyegga, Fredrick Amariati and Alex Osunga. One member of the team will also have the exclusive opportunity to join the 5th annual student fact-finding mission to Russia to visit several state-of-the-art nuclear facilities and dedicated Russian nuclear universities. Maranga said the team is happy and humbled especially because they competed against some of the top universities on the continent. He said the teams’ winning idea is rooted in real life challenges that Kenyans in rural areas face. “The solutions offered so far to expand energy access are not solving these problems as many are not financially viable.”

The team’s idea is to put a solar panelled container in rural villages that will also house a clinic and a knowledge hub like a school for vocational training to teach people about the use and benefits of solar energy. It will also include a shop where villagers can buy daily essentials like milk.

Maranga said: “The school will help with capacity building as villagers will see and learn benefits of electricity and as the business grows, they will want to have electricity in their homes and when that point comes, we will have solar powered tricycles. These tricycles will carry and deliver batteries like Uber does passengers to villagers in more remote areas. The system is modular so we will add another container to charge batteries. These batteries are ferried on trikes, so villagers in more remote areas can request a number of charged batteries on their phone.”

Maranga explained that it is common cause that Africa is big, and many people live in remote rural villages. “So, it is not always possible to extend the power grid to these areas as it is very expensive. So, what do we do instead? Most people own a cell phone, and everyone needs electricity, so you take it to them. They cannot exactly carry a battery for two kilometres so why then not Uber a battery?” Maranga said their company Kijiji, (Swahili for village) will now look at commercialising their idea, optimise it and do market tests. “If accepted we want to roll it out depending on funding.”

The team’s idea appealed to the judges because it was a simple idea that is easy to replicate beyond Kenya to the rest of the continent. Chief executive officer of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, Dmitry Shornikov, said: “We are very pleased with the solutions presented by the students. The maturity and depth of their research gives us great hope and proves that young Africans really are devoted to solving Africa’s energy challenges.”

Business Development executive at Lesedi Nuclear Services, Shane Pereira, in an earlier interview said the company partnered with Initiate! because it is dedicated to the youth that will be the leaders of tomorrow. “The growth and development as well as training, coaching and mentoring of the youth is critical to the success of our future economy.”

The ideas of the other three teams focused more on mitigating the risk of climate change and came up with ideas ranging from vertical farms to energy boxes.

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