Our ICT Africa 2011 wish list

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Later this week, this year’s ICT Africa exhibition and conference will take place. It’ll run from the 5th to the 7th of October. It’s Zimbabwe’s ICT industry flagship event, organized by the Computer Suppliers Association of Zimbabwe (COMSA). This year however (and last year as well actually) there’s great involvement by the Ministry of ICT in organizing the event.

If this year’s event is going to be anything similar to last year’s or the year before that (and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise) then we expect to have the event filled with mostly stuff that’s not exciting. Companies will exhibit some HP PCs, laptops and servers they’ll selling. Maybe a few companies will bring iPads this time around.

You’ll also have the ISPs, telling you how fast and lovely their internet is. They’ll give you flyers with details of each service they offer and how you can get it. Most of the flyers you can get at their offices or just off their website on any given day by the way.

If you’re lucky, YoAfrica will have a free LAN gaming party and some free Wi-Fi.. ZOL does free Wi-FI too The two are Zimbabwe’s largest ISPs.  YoAfrica didn’t come to last year’s exhibition unfortunately and we hear ZOL too might not be coming this year.

Close to the end of the 3 day event, a government minister will come give a speech about how important ICTs are to the country.

We’ve attended this annual exhibition faithfully these past three years and this is more or less the picture.

Exciting? Hardly.

Do we look forward to it? Not really.

Will we attend this year? You bet!

Would we like to see some change?  Absolutely.

Here are some ideas:

  • Let’s have some real innovation from the exhibitors. Launch an exciting ground breaking service. Announce significant milestones for the industry. The exhibitors should not show us stuff we already know!
  • The free internet and the gaming is great, let’s have more exciting stuff like this that keep visitors on their feet wanting more. The Ubuntu team offers a refreshing experience too. More stuff like this please.
  • Let’s have more discussion panels. Let’s have the Econet CEO, Telecel CEO, the YoAfrica CEO, the Burco CEO, the POTRAZ Director General, the ICT Minister and all these people leading companies that are bringing ICTs to the people. Let’s have them all on one stage answering questions from a smart host and us the users of the ICTs . We’d like so much to hear their view on a lot of topics.
  • Let’s have a day dedicated to tech entrepreneurs, where start-ups present, discuss, share and get advice. The future of the ICTs belongs to them.
  • The name ‘ICT Africa’ doesn’t say what the event is about. At least not anymore. Let’s find a suitable name.

That’s us. If we see these things this year, we’ll be pleasantly surprised. If not, maybe next year. And just to be clear, we’re not discounting the efforts COMSA (and now the ICT Ministry) have made to hold this event yearly, No. We just wish for more.

If you have any suggestions for the organizers, please share in the comments below.



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11 Comments

  1. Magneto

    ICT Companies here do not invest in Research and Development so we cannot realistically expect any amazing new innovations or any cutting edge gizmos. We import everthing including ideas! 

    Reply
    1. Arthur Mbendera

      i think the level we are in ICT is a reflection of the performance of our economy. Zimbabwe has capacity in terms of skills required to do the researches you are talking about, the main problem is the financing. The other problem we have is that the people who are driving the ICT industry, im sorry to say found themselves in those positions by accident,many lack passion for the industry and hence lack of seriousness in the way the drive our industry.

       We need to take our efforts seriously, we need do develop ourselves as individuals, we neeed to have faith with our local solutions.

      Reply
  2. keith letters

    I agree with you Magneto, but there is nothing wrong with importing ideas. As long as you tweak them to suit the new environment.

    Reply
  3. ngth

    Is it a case of the chicken and the egg, as a small software development company, with our main earner a specific industry we saw little to no point in exhibiting at ICT Africa, the general crowd is not serious about bespoke systems or industry specific solutions, we are better off approaching industry directly.

    Obviously this scenario is different for more broad based companies like hardware suppliers and ISPs.  Once they make a go of the show and attract the crowds looking to do business then it will be more worth while the small guys getting involved and then you will start seeing more innovative products.

    Is TechZim going to have any kind of presence?

    Reply
  4. JamesM

    Here’s an event that runs the risk of become as routine and as monotonous as the annual Harare Agricultural Show. And in this day and age who goes the Harare Show? Except for Kombi drivers and other maguma-guma. The reasons given in the article for attending are simply not compelling. I used to attend ICT africa back in the 90s when it was a professionally run event. Haven’t attended since. Since the country is still emerging from a decade of economic malaise and uptake for this event is going to be slow for quite some years, if ever!

    Reply
  5. CyberTech

    The majority of ICT companies in Zimbabwe only specialise in selling devices only! When it comes to coming up with great innovations where they implement these devices you get nothing from them. Hell most of them dont even offer adequate support for these gadgets. So this year ICT Africa will probably be filled with a bunch of teams of sales people(usually beautiful who have cramed their stuff for this event only) who will be trying to sell their imported products or at least get new customers. Expect to see a lot of new players in the retail part of ICT and less players in terms of those that actually role out new services.

    Reply
  6. Raymond Swart

    Unfortunately, as far as I’ve heard, the open source and Ubuntu communities won’t be making an appearance this year either. Partly because there are so few volunteers to make it happen, but also because these are free products which means none of the team members can afford to finance it themselves, and the organisers won’t provide a free stand. Since the open source guys have always been willing to do something “free” for the community, wouldn’t it be nice if the organisers of ICT Africa could do the same? Maybe that’s just the “naive” open source mentality though.

    Reply
    1. Tafmak3000

      Unfortunately there is no open source land and electricity. But I think ICT Africa should sponsor some stands to some volunteer groups. The more people exhibit, the more people come, the more money is made and the sooner global warming will end. 

      Reply
      1. Ronald

        Its sad the Ubuntu Loco Team will not be exhibiting at this years ICT Africa, yes there is no open source land and electricity, we did what we did in past on a voluntary (in its true sense) basis: 0. for the love of the technology, 1. for the benefit of the ICT industry and users, 2. for the fun of it.

        Without the support of the organisers and ICT industry at large we can not afford to exhibit, a stand was going for $600 (http://lists.yo.co.zw/pipermail/ictafrica/2011-July/000001.html) and we do not make money from what we do as a Loco Team and we can not afford to cover such costs. In the past team members would go out of the way and finance such costs from their own pockects.

        For your information the Ubuntu Loco Team stand was a crowd puller and had  so many different and interesting things to show (as compared to most stands) e.g The Freedom Toaster, IP Camera’s and monitoring systems, we also had lots of fun and freebies as well…..

        It is very sad that we will not be exhibiting at this years ICT Africa show, there wont be any Ubuntuuuuuuu (the spirit of togetherness, the I am what I am, because of who we are)

        As pointed out by Raymond, there are very few volunteers willing to put in their time and effort to prepare for an event like ICT Africa.

        Hopefully next year the Open Source Community will be represented.

        @504f6ea59b3d6ced7f3dc71b1d759565:disqus
          Limbikani, back in 2006 at the ICT and Linux Expo we had a heated debate on Free Open Source Software vs Proprietary Software. The Linux Community  was represented by Donald Hobbs, John Oxley and Lee Ambrose whilst the proprietary side was represented by Owen Ruwodo, Cedric Tsiga from Intersoft Solutions (Microsoft Certified Gold partner), I can not remember who moderated the debate (it was lively, informative, thought provoking …)

        We also had training sessions which were conducted by Donald Hobbs, Basil Kunaka (Novell Zimbabwe) and Brenda (Kubatana)

        It will be good to have meaningful, relevant training sessions and lively and greatly moderated debates and discussions on topical issues such:

        e-governance
        government 2.0
        business 2.0
        web 3.0
        broadband and net connectivity
        ict security
        cloud computing
        virtualisation

        as compared to the boring sales pitches we hear every year, most of them from people who are not sure and do not really know what they are talking about

        my 2 cents

        Reply
  7. paidamoyo

    its just that these companies have been exhibiting the same thing year in year out we need some new things every year people who are innovative.can we also have the worst stand prize maybe the companies would improve l shall not mention names

    Reply

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