IT Personality of the Year Award

Now in its 34th year, the IT Personality of the Year recognises a person who has made an outstanding impact on the South African ICT industry and a significant contribution to the ICT profession.

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It is presented by the Computer Society of SA (CSSA), in association with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science and Gartner Africa.

Past winners include Alan Knott-Craig, Andile Ngcaba, Mark Shuttleworth, Ivan Epstein, Mardia van der Walt-Korsten, and, last year, Asher Bohbot, CEO of EOH.

Mission: recycle every device

Keith Anderson, chairman of the e-Waste Association of SA, has made it his life mission to fight for responsible disposal of electronic waste.

It's been a slow journey for e-Wasa to be understood, says Keith Anderson. The e-Waste Association of SA (e-Wasa), an industry accredited body for dealing with all e-waste matters, was established in 2008. It receives no government funding and Anderson works pro bono, from his home in Durban.

Anderson says e-waste is growing three to four times faster than conventional waste, and SA is recycling only about 12% of it. He wants to get that to 55% to 60% in five years - which would be good not only for the environment but would also create more "green" jobs.

A key part of that mission advocating for a national e-waste management policy - a grand plan that will involve the department of environmental affairs, municipalities and captains of industry. "We need a champion at a national level, industry involvement and constant advocacy."

Technology exists to deal with e-waste, he says, and people generally have the will to do it, but SA needs legislation to make responsible e-waste disposal mandatory rather than voluntary.

Access to information: A force of change

Anriette Esterhuysen, director of a non-profit international network, works with ICTs to fight injustice and bring positive change in society.

It's hard to think of a job with a more 'greater-good' purpose than Anriette Esterhuysen's - fighting social injustice, advocating access to information and communications, and using technology for the upliftment of impoverished, oppressed and marginalised people.

Esterhuysen is the executive director at the Association for Progressive Communication, an international network of organisations. She started her career as a librarian, e-mail and the Internet in the early days inspired her future work. "I believe in the power of information and communication to drive change, that's brought me to IT."

Esterhuysen has a reputation for being smart, energetic and not afraid to tackle tough issues. Her work is focused on promoting affordable Internet access through advocating for dynamic approaches to frequency regulation and protecting the free flow of information. She talks of the many barriers in SA's communications strategy. "There are so many bottlenecks, a lack of vision at the policy and regulatory level. There isn't a strong vision of how access can be a positive force in the country."

Despite her important work, Esterhysen was surprised to be in the top five finalists. "It's a recognition that the not-for-profit sector is an important part of the industry. We need more consumer and rights groups that specialise in information and communications."

The man behind .africa

Neil Dundas, CEO of UniForum, leads the 'dot africa' ICANN domain name application.

Neil Dundas is driving the 'dot africa' ICANN domain application and is the acting CEO of UniForum SA. He does his work with contagious passion, spreading his belief that .africa will help foster a culture of entrepreneurship in Africa.

"The IT industry in SA has to wake up to the possibilities that Africa offers. Africa presents a great opportunity, and the SA IT community is ideally placed to benefit from exporting these opportunities."

A turnaround strategist, Dundas transformed UniForum SA into the South African Central Registry, driving its transition from an e-mail-based system to a modern EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol) domain registration system. His colleagues describe Dundas as an "excellent communicator, strategist and well-liked person", and credit him for making the domain name system one of the world's most transparent, well-run and respected top level domains.

Dundas has turned his energy towards ensuring that UniForum SA, trading as the ZA Central Registry, is selected by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers as the successful bidder for the new .africa generic Top Level Domain, due to be implemented around the first quarter of 2013.

Social impact has played a large part in the ZACR .africa bid. Dundas and his team pushed for a portion of the R50 paid annually for every domain to be used for projects aimed at boosting the growth of the Internet in SA.

Crystal clear: Unravelling market trends

Arthur Goldstuck, founder of World Wide Worx, is a pioneer in South African technology research.

Arthur Goldstuck has combined his roles as rigorous analyst and seasoned journalist to bring historical and cutting edge perspective to ICT debates. By providing both market data and thought leadership, he has helped bring ICT issues to the forefront of the public agenda, and continues to act as an objective voice of reason in calling both private and public sector decision-makers to account.

Goldstuck is a respected expert in unravelling trends. "Our role is to uncover information that is there, but that no one has bothered to put together, and to use that to provide a clear, objective and sound understanding of what's happening in the industry, in the market, and what's likely to happen in the near future."

Since 2000, World Wide Worx's research has defined the Internet user population in SA, the size and use of the mobile Web, and newly emerging areas of technology application, such as social media, cloud computing and tablet computing in SA.

These statistics have been used by both the International Telecommunications Union and InternetWorldStats.

Former investigative journalist and news editor at the Mail & Guardian, contributor to numerous magazines and newspapers on tech and popular culture, Goldstuck is also a renowned author and speaker on technology trends. He has written 18 books to date. Most have been best-sellers in SA, with "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Internet: A South African Handbook" the biggest selling IT book ever in this country.

First published in the December/January 2013 issue of ITWeb Brainstorm magazine.

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