Humanoid robot Sophia to headline GovTech 2019

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 24 Oct 2019
Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ most advanced human-like robot. (Photo source: Hanson Robotics)
Sophia is Hanson Robotics’ most advanced human-like robot. (Photo source: Hanson Robotics)

Sophia, the interactive humanoid robot, will make her debut at the 13th annual GovTech 2019 conference.

Sophia is an innovation by Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence firm, Hanson Robotics.

This year, the State IT Agency (SITA) will host GovTech under the theme “Digital transformation: Gearing towards the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) and beyond”.

In a statement, SITA says the GovTech programme will also include the 2019 SITA ICT Digital Public Service Awards and the culmination of the 2019 SITA NDP2030 Hackathon.

It further states the government tech event will share information about government’s critical milestones and the country’s journey to digital transformation.

“GovTech’s quest is to develop South Africa into a ‘smart nation’ – from delivering digital services to all citizens, to introducing innovative technologies that make government business processes smoother, and finding the best, most cost-effective solutions to ICT challenges in public service delivery,” says acting SITA CEO Ntutule Tshenye.

This year’s conference has four key content pillars: social protection, the digital economy, economic transformation and service delivery infrastructure.

Over the four days, the sessions will address how technology and ICT infrastructure development will digitally transform and uplift various sectors, including health, education, agriculture, energy, water and sanitation, financial services, transport and communication. Issues such as alleviating poverty, economic growth, job creation and gender inequality will be addressed.

Topics include agri-tech and food security; how technology can address climate change; how technology will revolutionise healthcare; the future digital economy; curriculum alignment and innovation to support skills development for 4IR; ICT support for small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs); and the national cyber security strategy.

In addition, sidebar sessions will be held in an SMME exhibition hall with the aim of facilitating small business growth.

“A functional society is defined by inclusiveness and by empowered individuals capable of contributing to the economy,” states Tshenye. “With this in mind, the dedicated track for SMMEs at GovTech is aimed at enabling SITA to design and implement strategies that will empower SMMEs to work on ICT solutions to address South Africa’s challenges and build the country’s future.”

Other expected conference speakers include:

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, communications and digital technologies minister; Thembi Siweya, deputy minister in the Presidency; Robert Nkuna, director-general at the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies; advocate Pansy Ntlakula; Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub; and Lillian Bernard, MD of Microsoft SA.

GovTech 2019 will take place at the Durban International Convention Centre from 27 to 30 October.