New leadership at Black IT Forum
Lobby group, the Black IT Forum (BITF), has elected new leadership.
The BITF was established in 1997 with the aim of advocating to propel black people into the mainstream of the ICT industry in SA.
The new leaders of the Black IT Forum, who were elected at an annual general meeting held in Midrand on 20 July, have called for a meaningful transformation of the tech industry and voiced their concern over a continued lack of support from government.
The meeting was attended by delegates from across SA, including those from the Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
The new top five leaders of the BITF were elected to take its newly-revised vision forward and for the first time, female representatives were elected.
The BITF top five:
1. President: Moste Mfuleni (Eastern Cape)
2. Deputy president: Marilyn Radebe (Gauteng)
3. Treasury: Sizwe Taitai (Mpumalanga)
4. Secretary general: Sanele Gcumisa (KZN)
5. Deputy SG: Baratang Miya (Western Cape)
The new national executive is expected to convene a strategy session in September to discuss a way forward and review the BITF nationally.
The previous leaders were Mdu Mkhonza (president), Darryl Dennis (national chairperson), Motse Mfuleni (national secretary general) and Morena Ntsika (national treasurer general).
The newly-elected leadership says small, medium and micro-sized enterprises – not firms owned by elite billionaires – should be at the forefront of rolling out higher speed spectrum once it has been released.
Cabinet recently approved the much-anticipated policy and policy direction for the licensing of high-demand spectrum following extensive consultations with the sector and members of the public.
The policy and policy direction sets a framework for the transformation of the sector by allowing the entry of new players into the market, while at the same time encouraging investments and innovation.
“Now that government has finally released the policy direction document, we call upon government to ensure it gets implemented to break the monopoly by big players in the ICT sector by allowing small players to have a seat around the table once the high-demand spectrum is released,” says Motse Mfuleni, the newly appointed president.
“Tech start-ups cannot remain on the side-lines of economic participation while a lion’s share of the projects in the sector are always given to the same firms owned by black billionaires,” he adds.
The release of high-demand spectrum will, according to the BTIF, ensure SA is not left behind by its global peers in the fourth industrial revolution, and that the spectrum will lead to the introduction of new technologies and much faster 5G Internet connectivity, which is expected to improve the performance of several sectors, including business, education and healthcare.
“The ICT sector is where we believe new jobs will come from as it is the pioneer of innovations that we are seeing on almost a daily basis as the world begins to see and feel the effects of the fourth industrial revolution,” says BITF secretary-general Sanele Gcumisa.
“But besides this, start-ups in this space are still not receiving enough support from big corporates and this is a big barrier for transformation. We need an economy that is inclusive and diverse in order to deal with the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.”