Pretoria – The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry is a force for economic and social change that has not only unleashed new forms of connectivity but provided an outlet for new forms of innovation, says Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
Minister Cwele made the remarks at the glittering 2016 ICT Achievers Awards ceremony at the Galleria, Sandton, on Thursday evening.
The awards saw respected guests from the government and private sectors, decision-makers and influential role players in the ICT sector come together to honour individuals and organisations who have made noteworthy contributions to ICT in South Africa.
Led by the South African Communications Forum (SACF), the awards were celebrated under the theme: “Celebrating Excellence, Innovation and Leadership”.
They sought to celebrate and reward ICT achievers, increase awareness of the contribution made by the ICT industry to national economic growth and development and uncover new pathways of innovation in the sector.
Speaking at the event, Minister Cwele emphasised the need for stakeholders in the sector to work together to address challenges of localisation.
There was also a need to bridge the gap between policy directives and implementation in order to realise overall growth in the ICT sector.
“I am encouraged by the inclusion of the ICT Localisation of Industrialisation Award, which seeks to recognise those organisations who contribute towards South Africa’s agenda to establish and develop local ICT industrialisation,” Minister Cwele said.
He encouraged companies to utilise ICT localisation incentives provided by the Department of Trade and Industry.
SACF CEO Loren Braithwaite Kabosha said: “We are encouraged by the diverse participation reflected across all awards categories and applaud all of our stellar champions.
“It is indeed our hope that these inaugural awards will set the tone for continued recognition of those advancing ICT in South Africa”.
The top performers in the ICT industry were awarded in seven categories, namely Top ICT SMME, Top ICT Innovator, Top ICT Youth Leader, Top Woman in ICT, Top ICT Accessibility Excellence, Local ICT Industrialisation and Honorary ICT Lifetime Achievement.
Speaking to SAnews, Communications Deputy Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said it was important to highlight the importance of using ICT and how people can benefit from it.
“If you talk about ICT you talk about innovations and creativity…The difficulty with ICT is that most people tend to think that they are meant for particular grouping of people, but ICT is for everybody. The youth by nature are innovative and curious, and when you get them to use them and expose them, they are definitely bound to come up with solutions for the country.”
She said the Department of Communications, in supporting the Department of Telecommunications, had a role to play in ensuring people have access to ICT.
“Our people cannot communicate if they don’t have access to ICT and its important to make sure that others goes out to manufacture those devices and others go and bring the applications, and make sure that our people have access to those and able to use them,” the Deputy Minister said.
During the ceremony, the Deputy Minister handed over the Top ICT Youth Leader award to Tumelo Komape who is the Digital Manager in the City of Johannesburg.
Other winners include, among others, Siyafunda Community Technology Centre, which won the Top ICT SMME, Merake Institute-Text to voice African Languages shared the Top ICT Accessibility Excellence Award with Robobeast-3D Prosthetics and Geekulcha organisation scooping the Local ICT Industrialisation Award.
Minister Cwele and Vodacom CEO, Shameel Aziz Joosub jointly conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award to internet pioneer, Michael Aymer Lawrie for his role in getting South Africa connected to the internet in 1991 amid technical and political difficulties in the country at the time.
Lead sponsor, Vodacom, provided the prizes for the winners which included the latest hi-tech tablet devices.
Speaking to SAnews after accepting his award, Tiyani Nghonyama from Geekulcha said the award meant there were people who appreciated the work they put in to helping grow the country.
The organisation provides training for high school learners, ordinary youth and corporate leaders/developers. It also collaborates with cool people and platforms to help them out in the ICT journey. – SAnews.gov.za