Digitize Africa 2017 Speakers Announced

PLUS the winners of the Digitize Africa Startup Competition


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Digitize Africa speaker and ZADNA CEO, Vika Mpisane.

The Digitize Africa organising committee is happy to announce that the South African Minister of Home Affairs (Prof. Hlengiwe Mkhize), Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (Dr. Siyabonga Cwele), Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services (Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams), the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal (Mr. Willies Mchunu), KZN MEC of Economic Development and Tourism (Mr. Sihle Zikalala), and MEC of Education in Gauteng (Mr. Panyaza Lesufi) are some of the keynote speakers at the 2017 Digitize Africa Conference and Exhibition

These dignitaries will speak on different dates and times during the conference, which runs from 18 to 20 April at the Durban ICC. The Minister of Home Affairs will speak on 19 April. Her speech is expected to include ongoing digital initiatives at Home Affairs, such as the eHome Affairs initiative and smart ID cards. The talk will also touch on ongoing policy initiatives, including the Green Paper on International Migration. 

"Clearly, there’s a lot of good work being done in the department, and we are looking at ways of improving our services to our citizens. For us to achieve this, we need to be on the cutting edge of the 4th industrial revolution," says Minister Mkhize. "We consider this event as one of the platforms we will be using to engage with ICT practitioners and solution providers, while at the same time we also update key stakeholders about how Home Affairs is digitizing its services."

Minister Cwele is scheduled to speak on 18 April during the opening ceremony alongside the KZN Premier and other speakers. Deputy Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams will speak in the morning of 19 April and will precede the panel discussion on the National ICT Policy White Paper. 

The National ICT Policy White Paper was promulgated in September 2016, and directs a number of ICT regulatory changes. Amongst these is the open access directive that changes how the spectrum will be managed to accommodate emerging ICT businesses. The policy also stipulates ways in which digitization of government services should happen, while at the same time directing for the integration of ICT regulators.

MEC Panyaza Lesufi will speak on 19 April during the digitizing education track. He is no stranger to implementing groundbreaking digital education programmes. His "paperless classroom" pursuit has seen his department installing smart, interactive boards in more than 375 schools in Gauteng Province. The department has also provided laptops and tablets to learners. The initiative has significantly improved the delivery of education in Gauteng.

"The 4th industrial revolution is upon us. We cannot be passive during this important revolution, but we need to use digitization to enhance the quality of our education," says Lesufi.

A number of notable private sector figures will also feature at 2017 Digitize Africa. These include senior representatives of Dimension Data, Google, Ster Kinekor, Hewlett Packard, PayFast, Ruckus Wireless, CSIR, Sentech and ZADNA

"This line up of speakers certainly means delegates will tap into a wide range of expertise and insight in the provision and regulation of digital products and services," says Vika Mpisane, chair of Digitize Africa 2017 organizing committee and CEO of ZADNA.

Winners of the Digitize Africa Startup Competition

In the meantime, the Digitize Africa 2017 Startup Competition winners have been announced. Each winner has been allocated, as a prize, a free exhibition stand at the event. The winners are:

  • Wezart, an ecommerce platform for African fashion and art suppliers and sellers to trade. 
  • Open Data, a non-profit civic technology lab that implements open data, open government, and civic technology for use in social change and social justice for all citizens in Durban. 
  • Spazapp, a free android App that gives spaza shop owners the ability to order directly from big brands and suppliers. 

About Digitize Africa

The Digitize Africa Conference and Exhibition is primed as "Africa’s premier digital gathering". The event is hosted in partnership between startup entities, the .ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA), Innovate Durban and KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government, amongst others.

Registration for the event is free, and should happen online at www.digitizeafrica.co.za. More information can be obtained from the aforementioned website. Enquiries should be directed to info@digitizeafrica.co.za. 

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