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October 29, 2018

Incubating technological innovation

By Ian Houvet, Managing Director, Boxfusion

In September, South Africa became the first country on the continent to host the ITU Telecom 2018 Conference. It took place in KwaZulu-Natal, with roughly 9000 delegates from around the world descending on Durban to share ideas and showcase innovations developed in the tech space.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was the guest of honour, and opened the proceedings, once again endorsing government’s support for the investment in South Africa’s telecoms industry. But what was most remarkable about this conference, which pools heavy-weight industry players, was how impressed international delegates were with the technological innovations coming out of our country.

The attention of the world is increasingly turning to Africa, and the impression that our local technology made on these global visitors further serves to confirm that we are doing something right. The continent has long been a hub of inspiration and creativity for the rest of the world, and off the back of a successful ITU Telelcom 2018 Conference, it’s time for us to seriously invest in the ITC sector.

As an SMME that works closely with the public sector, we’re pleased to see that government is putting its weight behind investment in telecoms infrastructure (also recently announced as part of the President’s stimulus plan). After the ITU Conference, the Deputy Minister for Telecommunications, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams, announced that there would be the creation of two digital transformation centres, one in Johannesburg and one in Durban. Here SMMEs playing in the tech sector can be incubated over the long-term. The primary reason, according to Abrahams, is because “We have a responsibility to invest in our own innovations and protect the IP of our people.”

This principle – investing in and enabling the production of homegrown software solutions to the unique challenges that the continent faces – must be a cornerstone of everything we do when it comes to developing the ICT sector.

One of the key principals of the ITU Conference, and one President Ramaphosa highlighted in his opening speech, is “Everything is possible when everyone is connected,” at Boxfusion, we’ve always believed that this is true, and possible, beginning with the digitisation of the public sector, and rolling out to citizens so that South Africa can be on the cutting-edge of digital governance.

While the conference has long since ended, we hope that the promises made and the technology that was showcased will continue to propel the continent into The Digital Age, through increased investment and support for local ICT industries throughout Africa.

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