Webinar: Narrowing the Digital Divide

Webinar co-moderated by Prof Barry Dwolatzky and sponsored by Nedbank.

While South Africa tops the “PWC Africa Connectivity Index” it still lags behind most of its international peers. Within South Africa access to fast and affordable Internet connectivity is highly unequal. The “digital divide” has been brought into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this webinar our panel of experts presented some of current statistics relating to Internet connectivity, so as to develop an up-to-date understanding of how the Internet is being used in South Africa. We then explored the constraints and major bottlenecks that inhibit higher Internet penetration in SA. These include the cost of mobile data, appropriate levels of digital literacy, speed and quality of service, and others.  Practical solutions, with an emphasis on the role of Corporate South Africa, were presented.

Keynote

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams :  Minister of Communications and Digital Technology

Panellists

  1. Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide WorX
  2. Dr Lucienne Abrahams, Director, Wits University’s LINK Centre
  3. Mark Harris, CEO of Altron Nexus
  4. Lance Williams, Executive responsible for Provincial and Local Consulting at the State IT Agency (SITA)

Panelist Profiles

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide WorX

Arthur Goldstuck is a South African journalist, media analyst and commentator on information and communications technology (ICT), internet and mobile communications and technologies. Goldstuck heads the World Wide Worx research organisation, and has led research into ICT issues such as the effects of IT on small business, the role of mobile technologies in business and government, and the technology challenges of the financial services sector. He regularly provides strategic insights and guidance on trends at conferences and corporate events across Africa.

Dr Lucienne Abrahams, Director, Wits University’s LINK Centre

Luci Abrahams (PhD) is Director of the LINK Centre at Wits University, building research on digital innovation and how digital technologies influence change. Studies include: digital skills gap analysis; digital government strategy; scaling up innovation in tech hubs; open access in scholarly publishing (Open AIR research partnership); and health e-services improvement (Egypt-South Africa research partnership). Luci convenes the MA and PhD programmes in Interdisciplinary Digital Knowledge Economy Studies; and short courses in disruptive technologies, digital operations and leadership, and cybersecurity professional practice. She serves on the Board of TENET; and on the Evaluation and Review Reference Group for the review of the National Research Foundation. Luci is Corresponding Editor for The African Journal of Information and Communication, indexed in the SciELO Citation Index.

Mark Harris, CEO of Altron Nexus

Mark Harris served as Country General Manager for IBM SA and as an IBM Vice President for Business Development – Middle East and Africa, before joining Kagiso Media as CEO. He now heads Altron Nexus, a company that provides advanced network design and operation services to the public and private sector. He served on Thabo Mbeki’s ICT Advisory Council and has played a leading role over many years in supporting and growing the local ICT sector. Mark is also Chair of the JCSE Advisory Board.

Lance Williams, Executive responsible for Infrastructure at the State IT Agency (SITA)

Lance Williams is the Executive for Infrastructure at the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) with over 24 years of experience in the ICT sector. Having obtained an Information Systems Honour’s degree and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Cape Town, Williams spent 9 years in the private sector specialising in financial services before transitioning to the Public Sector. He has over 12 years of experience as a CIO in the Public Sector and was appointed as an Executive at SITA in 2018.  A humanitarian as well as an IT visionary, he has served on the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Board, chaired the National Disaster Management Advisory Forum, co-chaired the Working on Fire Programme and was a South African government representative to the United Nations in respect of Disaster Management. He has also served on the Board of the South African Weather Service.

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Barry Dwolatzky

Prof Barry Dwolatzky is the original "Grand Geek" and founder of The Grand Geeks collective. He is an Emeritus Professor at Wits University and Director of the JCSE at Wits University