Telecom conference to attract billions

Friday, August 31, 2018

South Africa will use the 2018 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World platform to attract new investment into the country in an effort to meet the President’s target of US$100 billion investment over the next five years.

“It is helping us to advance our ambitions as a country that is open for business by providing a platform to attract investment while enabling us to play a role in advancing the developmental agenda at multilateral organisations,” Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele said.

Addressing a media briefing on Friday in Tshwane, he said 39 Ministers have already confirmed their participation at the event.

“The conference aims to deliver economic development and foster social good through its exhibition for digital solutions and forum sharing knowledge and networking,” the Minister said.

South Africa will for the first time host the ITU Telecom World in Durban from 9 to 13 September 2018.

The conference will be hosted for the first time on the continent in order to increase the participation of other African countries, thereby increasing the possibilities of investment in information and communication technology (ICT) on the continent.

“Working with our partners, we are providing support to over 50 Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) to exhibit at the conference. In addition other multinational companies will bring SMMEs from Africa to the rest of the world,” Cwele said.

These companies are in fields such as analytics, automation of performance management and geolocation of animals.

The Minister said the companies are at different stages of development. “They have been mentored on how to pitch their ideas to investors. Beyond the conference, the department and its partners will provide them with financial and business support as they journey to their next levels,” he said.

According to the Minister, the ITU has agreed to set up the African Digital Transformation Centre which will be launched in Durban at the conference.

“The goal of the centre is to enable entrepreneurs to keep their intellectual capital on the continent while ensuring that their innovations are tested and standardised on the continent,” he said.

The centre is anchored on policy and governance; innovation and SMMEs; connecting the unconnected and the social impact of digital transformation.

Cwele said the centre will work with institutions of higher learning which can champion each of the four pillars.

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and its partners also intends to set-up a Tech SMME Incubation centres at the Dube Trade Port, KwaZulu-Natal and the Innovation Hub, Pretoria.

“These centres will be hosted in an environment which will enable the building of solutions, and the ability to transform innovative ideas of SMMEs into real projects. The facility will grow into a space that allows sponsored SMMEs to build and stage their ideas,” he said.

The Minister said SMMEs using the facilities will be contracted on an agreed timeline to get their ideas to prototype level.

“Through various partnerships, the Department and Cisco hopes to develop current and cultivate new SMMEs in the ICT space and help them enter, grow and compete in the market,” the Minister said.

These centres will be launched simultaneously during the ITU Telecom World 2018.

In addition, the department in partnership with industry will establish a refurbishment centre in KwaZulu-Natal.

The centre will refurbish in-warranty and out-of-warranty ICT gadgets including mobile phones and tablets.

“SMMEs will be identified, trained and equipped to run the centre,” he said.

CEO MTN Group Rob Shuter said they are pleased and inspired to be able to assist with the conference.

“We think it’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase the vibrant ICT and business sector of South Africa with our peers MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, First National and Standard Bank. We have a business community we can all be proud of,” he said. –