Geekulcha introduces council of ICT advisors

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Tiyani Nghonyama, COO of Geekulcha.
Tiyani Nghonyama, COO of Geekulcha.

Geekulcha has introduced a council of advisors who will help the ICT youth organisation collaborate on projects and share knowledge on ICT-related issues.

Geekulcha, which has almost 10 000 student members across Africa, specialises in creating an ICT networking platform where young, skilled, creative and ambitious tech enthusiasts meet to connect with each other, network with industry leaders and obtain training to further improve and enhance their IT skills.

The organisation partners with various government departments to host and coordinate ICT youth initiatives across the country, such as hackathons, start-up accelerators and innovation challenges.

The Geekulcha Council of Advisors consists of 12 ICT industry leaders from companies such as PwC, Standard Bank, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and software firm Digihelp, among others.

Tiyani Nghonyama, COO of Geekulcha, explains: "The introduction of the Geekulcha Council of Advisors was inspired by a need to drive a culture of sustainable ICT innovation initiatives, which is part of our mandate. Council members have ICT industry and leadership experience in IT innovation, ecosystems development, change management, and more.

"Their duties will consist of attending a quarterly full-day meeting of advisors; submitting an industry-related article for publishing every quarter; working and assisting the organisation with a plan of goals/action on projects and initiatives, and listening and providing guidelines to presentations on planned activities."

The list of advisors consists of Vukosi Marivate, data scientist at CSIR; Vincent Hofmann,

director at Inquisition, Charity Chirowamhangu, IT security manager at Standard Bank, Keitumetsi Tsotetsi, manager of cyber security at PwC; Jayshree Naidoo CEO at Yied_i; Lee Annamalai

manager of SMART Systems Group of CSIR; Atenkosi Ngubevana, founder of Geek_In_U;

Faith Tembe, emergency department manager at Standard Bank, and Mike Barker, engineer at the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency.

The advisors were selected based on various factors, including ICT industry experience, technical understanding of ICT technologies, gender balance and more, adds Nghonyama.

Tsotetsi explains: "As Geekulcha hosts a variety of tech activities around the country, we need to ensure that an inclusive and sustainable socio-economic drive is realised. The main ICT challenges faced by local youth is that they are not aware of the careers, job opportunities and business opportunities available within the field."

Marivate points out that his role within the council will be creating a better understanding of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence, and imparting his knowledge to local youth and entrepreneurs.

"As a data scientist, I believe that with the right data and modelling techniques we can tackle a number of challenges in SA. But to do this, we have to have people who understand what and how ML works, not just as a black box. Furthermore, we need to advocate for better data collection, storage and sharing (especially government open data). I plan to bring in my experience in data science and machine learning at CSIR to the advisory board."

Nghonyama says Geekulcha's plan for 2018 is to strengthen and expand its reach nationwide.

"With the launch of the Geekulcha Digital Lab in Mpumalanga, in collaboration with Vulinqondo Innovation Hub, our organisation seeks to drive more ICT skills development programmes focused on localised green economy and innovation. A lot more focused programmes are on the pipeline for sector-focused and drive onto the industrial revolution."

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