New Joburg MMC puts ICT on agenda
Prominent ICT figure, Rabelani Dagada, who was recently appointed member of the mayoral committee (MMC) of finance in the DA-led City of Johannesburg (COJ) municipality, has already hit the ground running.
Dagada, who holds the COJ's R60 billion purse, says he will continue with the ambitious ICT projects initiated by the previous leadership.
The DA wrestled the City of Johannesburg from the ANC, with Herman Mashaba being elected mayor of Johannesburg at the city's inaugural council meeting last month. He defeated former mayor and ANC candidate, Parks Tau.
In an exclusive interview with ITWeb, Dagada said: "Although we didn't agree with the previous administration that was running the city, I find their contribution towards the advancement of ICT highly commendable."
A veteran in the South African ICT industry in his own right, among other accomplishments Dagada previously served as president of the Institute of IT Professionals SA (IITPSA), formerly the Computer Society of SA.
Under the DA's leadership in Johannesburg, Dagada said the party will build and extend on the Tau legacy in as far as ICTs are concerned.
"Two prominent ICT programmes that will receive lots of our attention are the Tshimologong, which is spearheaded by the Wits Joburg Centre for Software Engineering, and the city's own broadband company, temporarily named Metro Trading Company."
Setswana for "new beginnings", Tshimologong is Johannesburg's newest high-tech address in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein, where the incubation of start-ups, the commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youths will take place. The centre was officially opened yesterday.
Other than advancing ICT, contributing to human capital, and bridging the digital divide, Tshemologong is doing an impressive job in terms of urban renewal and attracting direct investment to Braamfontein, said Dagada.
"Tshimolong is turning Braamfontein into an ICT hub and I love it. It is in this premise that I will recommend to the executive mayor that we continue to fund this programme."
At micro-level, he pointed out the broadband programme will enable the city to improve service delivery and reduce operational costs. At macro-level, he adds, this programme will increase economic growth, and bridge the digital divide, and thus it will continue to receive financial support.
"We will also evaluate other ICT-related projects and determine how they can be supported financially."
On his appointment, Dagada said: "Johannesburg is actually an African economic hub. The executive mayor, Mr Herman Mashaba, only informed me of this appointment 15 minutes before we were sworn-in. I was extremely surprised and felt honoured. We were appointed on Friday, 26 August, and we were summoned for the first mayoral committee on Sunday, 28 August.
"It then dawned down to me that being politically responsible for R60 billion annual budget will be a daunting task. The celebratory mood died within 24 hours after realising the sheer burden of accountability. Be that as it may be, I am up for the challenge."
Dagada will remain an active member of the IITPSA, but will not serve in the governance structures.
"I teach at the Wits Business School once per week, either in the evening or on Saturdays. I love teaching and sculpting future leaders, but the law requires that I should get the council's permission to do any paying work. I will definitely continue to serve in the ICT governance committees of the Tshwane University of Technology and Cape Peninsula University of Technology."