The Innovation Hub Management Company (TIHMC) in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Government hosted the Gauteng eKasi ICT Summit which took place at the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown on Thursday, October 6.
The Innovation Hub, sub-Saharan Africa’s first internationally accredited and leading Science and Technology park has a mandate to accelerate businesses in the Gauteng region, and now with the government’s efforts in revitalising township businesses this initiative is a way of catapulting local SME’s.
Lebogang Maile Gauteng’s MEC for Economic, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development graced the occasion and he said, “some of you can help us to adopt entrepreneurs and SMME’s just to mentor them,” this was in light of the fact that entrepreneurs in the townships don’t have enough mentorship and business support.
The Innovation Hub’s CEO Mr. McLean Sibanda who also facilitated a panel discussion on ‘the role of ICT in addressing employment and modernising the GP economy’ also emphasized the fact that business in townships is under transformation and the market has to be aligned inorder to cater to local entrepreneurs and their unique needs.
The Innovation Hub as a Science and Technology park promotes socio-economic development and competitiveness of the province through innovation and has extended its reach beyond its headquarters in Lynnwood Pretoria to townships such as Ga-Rankuwa, Soweto and Alexandra. MEC Lebogang Maile reiterated the role of local SME’s in the development of the country’s economy and that technology is an enabler thereof.
Several activities were taking place, including plenary sessions, parallel sessions, exhibitions, and the eKasi Bootcamp and Pitching which included a cash prizes for the winners.
The event was well attended by stakeholders, partners, media, entrepreneurs and local business owners who had an opportunity to ask various questions to the panelists which included the likes of Angel Investor and Entrepreneur Stafford Massie and Alan Knott-Craig Jr, founder of Project Isizwe. Sponsors included telecommunication heavyweights Huawei and Telkom. The event attendees also had an opportunity to make use of the mobile hot desking that was available, a bus with approximately 5 stations where one could access the internet.
It is undeniable that ICT can be found in all areas of our lives but the far-reaching impact that ICT has on business in South Africa is yet to be exploited. We have many budding entrepreneurs in this space however as a growing economy we need more SME’s who will not only innovate but who will also invent. Stafford Massie mentioned the fact that because we (Africans) have real problems, the inventions we come up with are bound to have global significance as they solve pertinent issues that people deal with on a daily basis.
The role of township economy can no longer be ignored and it is encouraging to see the government making efforts in creating opportunities for the great minds that have the potential not only to create jobs in their communities but also to make a global impact.