Etion's Teddy Daka named IT Personality of the Year 2018

Teddy Daka, CEO of JSE AltX-listed Etion, has scooped the 2018 IT Personality of the Year title.

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Teddy Daka, CEO of Etion.
Teddy Daka, CEO of Etion.

Teddy Daka, CEO of JSE AltX-listed Etion, has scooped the 2018 IT Personality of the Year title.

This much-anticipated announcement was made tonight at the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) President's Awards, held in Sandton.

This year marks the 40th IT Personality of the Year Award, which is presented by the IITPSA, in association with ITWeb, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and Gartner Africa.

The accolade recognises a person who has made an outstanding impact on the SA ICT industry over the past year and a significant contribution to the IT profession.

Presenting the award to Daka was last year's winner Shashi Hansjee, CEO of Entelect.

Speaking to ITWeb after receiving his accolade, Daka said: "It's not me who has won but it's a family of people that I work with. My view has always been when you win this kind of award, the focus is on me as IT Personality of the Year but the reality is there is a lot of people, about 400 people in our group, that wake up everyday in the morning and decide to make a difference in people's lives using technology.

"This award means that people in this country recognised that what we do as a company resonates with them. This is an affirmation that what we are doing as a business is paying off. So this is very humbling and exhilarating to get noticed."

Daka turned Etion from a loss-making engineering firm to a profitable digital technology business.

Advancing humanity through technology

When Daka joined Etion, then known as Ansys, in 2012, he had two objectives: to turn the business around from one that was doing poorly, into a profitable one, and to transform it from its engineering heritage to a digital technology entity that is ready to drive the 4th industrial revolution in Africa.

"I believe in enhancing humanity through technology. This is very important to me. I think when people have the ability to create jobs and don't, we have a problem."

He says SA and Africa as a whole face some tough challenges.

"Looking at the statistics, people lack secondary education, unemployment is rife, many don't go to school, and the World Economic Forum predicts that around 42% of jobs will be displaced because of automation. Our future skills will be different, and we need to think differently about how we can get those people into employment."

For the past five years, all the new technology that Etion has developed is aimed at bringing semi-skilled people into the formal economy, he says.

Stiff competition

Daka joins an illustrious list of previous winners that includes Alan Knott-Craig Sr, Andile Ngcaba, Mark Shuttleworth, Benjamin Mopathlane, Ivan Epstein, Barry Dwolatzky, Mteto Nyati, Sbu Shabalala and many more.

He faced off against five remarkable finalists:

- Brett St Clair, CEO and co-owner of Siatik, Google's cloud partner in Africa.

- Charmaine Houvet, public policy director of Africa at Cisco

- James Grcic, MD of CSSI and CEO of SkyClass Aviation

- Nico Steyn, CEO and co-founder of IoT.nxt

- Quintus Moolman, regional manager for sales and solutions at Dimension Data Eastern Cape

More winners

The other winners were Dudu Mkhwanazi of Project Isizwe who walked away with the Social Responsibility/Community Award. The award was presented to a person, team or project that delivers the benefits of IT on a not-for-profit basis into the community or brings the community into the IT space.

Project Isizwe is a non-profit that partners with public and private sector organisations to deploy free WiFi hotspots in low-income communities. The organisation pioneered the deployment of the largest free public WiFi network in Africa in Tshwane and connected two mining communities to free WiFi in partnership with Glencore Mine in Emalahleni.

Project Isizwe beat competition from Africa Teen Geeks and Welgevonden Game Reserve.

The winner of 2018 Distinguished Service in ICT Award was Dr Jackie Phahlamohlaka while the Technology Excellence Award went to EmptyTrips, a start-up company that uses machine learning and smart matching algorithms to create a marketplace where shippers, agents and transport carriers can connect, bid for cargo, find transport assets to move their cargo, and even store or insure it.

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