Jozi’s 2020 smart city will include Africa’s ‘Silicon Valley’: 20 interns jet off to Hong Kong


20 young interns selected to go to Hong Kong

Wednesday, 24 August 2016: Hundreds of young people that are being digitally and economically empowered by the City of Johannesburg’s youth-focused initiatives gathered at the Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein, fast becoming known as Africa’s future Silicon Valley.

The City of Johannesburg recently hosted its first Smart City Day at 46 Juta Street, the address of one of four sites that make up the new technology precinct in Braamfontein. Young citizens are gathering there to connect, to be connected with free Wi-Fi, and to share in the City of Johannesburg’s drive to be a smart city by 2020.

Zolani Matebese, head of broadband for the City says: “We are driving a range of youth-focused projects that are integral to our smart city vision. We are training unemployed youth to become technology enabled and economically active, providing unemployed graduates with workplace experience and equipping our youth in all aspects of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).”

Matebese said that the City’s goal was to ensure that every citizen had access to free Wi-Fi, and that the basic infrastructure was in place for Joburg to be a Smart City by 2020.

“Young people are at the heart of this drive as they are helping to educate citizens who are not computer literate. They are also learning skills for future jobs like visual artists, data scientists, algorithm engineers, simulator and interaction designers, game developers, simplifiers and story tellers.”

The Smart City Day showcased the range of different initiatives targeting young people that the City of Joburg is driving. The highlight of the day was the City of Joburg Educating Digital Interns (Cojedi) initiative. Some 500 youngsters registered for the programme this year, and 480 have now graduated in one of four accredited programmes – Cisco certified network Associate; Microsoft Certified System Engineering; Certified Fibre Optics Technician and Web Development and Cloud Computing.

“20 Cojedi graduates were selected to go an on educational tour of Hong Kong, considered to be one of the smartest cities internationally,”says Matebese. “We look forward to the learning experiences they will share with the City upon their return.”

Other initiatives showcased on Saturday included the GeoJozi Developer Challenge, that calls on young people to get involved location technology and help solve street address challenges; ICT workshops for grades 11 and 12 focused on game design and prototype iteration; Geekulcha that hosts champion hackathons and creates platforms for innovation and creativity in ICT; and Maru a Jozi which is a digital platform that gives Jozi citizens unlimited internet access when using the portal.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, Director of the JCSE at Wits University said that it is vital for the economic sustainability of Johannesburg to ensure that young people are digitally enabled and are provided with the qualifications and tools to become economically active.

“Johannesburg is responsible for 40% of the country’s GDP and for 10% of the African continent’s GDP. And the city is home to a top rated university. These facts will ensure that the Tshimologong Precinct becomes the digital hub of our new smart city – and the Silicon Valley of the African continent,” he said.

Other activities that were showcased at the Smart City Day included:
• #Hack. Jozi pitch sessions
• The Waste Group Exhibition
• E-learning programmes
• Smart metres and City Power
• e-Health@Joburg.

The Smart City Day is a project of the Department of Economic Development in the City of Johannesburg and formed part of the Fak’ugesi Digital Innovation Festival currently underway.

The City’s department of economic development is the command centre for economic growth, engaging with all role players to create an enabling environment for accelerated, shared and sustainable growth.