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Opportunity Issue 102

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).


DIGITAL STRATEGY What has been your experience as a woman in the ICT environment: is it a supportive environment for women? Women in ICT require support by government, industry and academia. They require funding to support their businesses, they require training and they require assistance in accessing the markets (buyers of their services). There is still a long way to go. There are a small number of such businesses and this could be the byproduct of what is taught in our institutions in South Africa. There needs to be a change of curriculum. Academic institutions need to realise that this is the information age. The courses they offer require radical upgrades. This also goes to how the two national departments of education, Basic and Higher (DHET), are slow in transforming to cater for today’s information age. Women need to be supported at a young age. This should not just be done during Women’s Month: a structured reform agenda is required. What is a Hackathon and what are the goals of such events? A Hackathon is a local competition, run annually, that allows innovators to showcase their talent and their ideas. These innovations are further showcased to the private sector and to government for them to employ this talent in the market and commercial space. The competition is categorised in different sectors, for example health, education, agriculture, etc. The winners of this competition either continue to sell their products to government or private companies, or they open their own businesses. The objective of the competition is to show people in the province that these innovators exist and also to allow the innovators to showcase their creative abilities. Please give examples of success stories. One group of youngsters created a Covid-data app, others have developed websites and a tracer for the Department of Health. Among the other interesting solutions are a mind-development mathematical game for education of young children and a water-smart solution for a municipality. We are currently assisting three of these innovators to patent their solutions so that their IP is protected. What does the future hold for education in ICT in KwaZulu-Natal in terms of the coming 4IR? Firstly, the MKI has progressed and is now in the space of 5IR. We have communicated the migration of the province to the Fifth Industrial Revolution. Although I am unable to talk on behalf of the Department of Education, the MKI advocates for the fast-tracking of curriculum change. This will be assisted by the province’s fast track in connectivity and the digital skilling of educators. Is the MKI creating the infrastructure/environment in which young people and business people can take up the opportunities that 4IR represents? The MKI now operates in the space of 5IR and is supporting access to digital infrastructure through the digital centres. We hope to have more partners who may adopt a location or investors or companies who may come forward to fund this Digital Centre initiative. The more Digital Centres we have, the more opportunities there will be for advancing digital access in the province. 40 |

LEADERSHIP An astute disciple of research, development and knowledge economy Sphelele Khomo (CA) is the Chairperson of the Board of the Moses Kotane Institute. Chairperson of the MKI Board, Sphelele Khomo Raised by a single mother, Sphelele Khomo née Sangweni, under very strenuous circumstances, was not deterred from dreaming big, and big she dreamed. With township education as her only option, she focused on turning her dream into reality. Having matriculated at Filidi High in Bhekuzulu township in Vryheid, she found herself at Wits University, a feat that at the time was not synonymous with those of her ilk, namely shack dwellers. She enrolled for a BCom degree and completed it with aplomb. She went on to pursue and complete her BAcc postgraduate degree. A mother of three, one set of twins and one girl, Sphelele is forever grateful for what the Tertiary Education Fund for South Africa offered her. TEFSA is the precursor to the current system known as NSFAS. She completed her postgraduate studies in 2000 and joined KPMG to serve her articles. Having passed the Board Exams, Sphelele went back to Wits University to lecture for two years. In the meanwhile, opportunities in the corporate world were beginning to present themselves. She joined Rand Merchant Bank and later became involved with Kagiso Trust Investment. Both of these engagements were located in Gauteng. In 2012 she joined the University of Zululand (UNIZUL) at Empangeni as a Senior Lecturer. This was a critical time in the field of tertiary education as the Council on Higher Education had just launched a “Curriculum Inquiry in South African Education”. With a team of dedicated colleagues, Sphelele worked hard for approval of the university’s accounting courses by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), which was achieved in 2018. This feat was recognised both by the African Woman Chartered Accountants (AWCA) and the Advancement of Black Accountants of South Africa (ABASA), when they awarded her Trailblazer in Academics in 2020 and the Best Academic in 2021. A recent achievement was to lead the Moses Kotane Institute to a clean audit in the most recent financial year. Sphelele has a passion for implementing and assessing and she is committed to developmental education and the knowledge economy. She is concerned that African and Coloured children still struggle with their Initial Test for Competence (ITC) and the Assessment of Professional Competency (APC) prerequisites to practise as an accountant. While Sphelele notes that there is much needs to be done, she is pleased that SAICA is tirelessly working to find and implement solutions within the sector. | 41

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