Breakdown of Africa Tech
The Sentech Africa Tech Week 2022 took place at the beginning of September. While we were so proud to be awarded an AI Technology award at this event, many of the Aspire staff members also visited the event. Here are the first-hand impressions of one of our intern junior developers, Lukhanyo Sonyamba, who is not only a valued member of the Aspire Team but is also a children’s rights activist, community activist, poet, writer, artist, former child government monitor, and now child government mentor in the office of the Children’s Commissioner in the Western Cape, Regional Spokesperson of COSAS of Dullar Omar Region.
What were some of your general impressions of the Africa Tech event?
The Africa Tech event was aimed less at developers and more at entrepreneurs and small businesses who want to make connections and get in touch with people in similar businesses. The event felt like it was more than just a place for people who have a shared love for the growth and development of technology, but a celebration of innovation.
What type of businesses did you come across at the event?
The event hosted mostly smaller, younger businesses. For example, I met a director who had started his business about two years ago but was in need of more resources. He said that the reason he had come to Africa Tech was to make connections and to try source out the resources that he needed for the future of his business. I believe Africa Tech this year specifically targeted SMEs and was focused on celebrating the people who had actually done the work to make a conference like this possible.
What did you think about the information that was presented at Africa Tech?
I found that the information that was presented is actually publicly available; however, I thought that the event did a good job at providing concentrated information about specific categories relevant to small businesses.
Other important tech subjects such as political issues, poverty, accessibility of resources like internet and electricity were raised in a much broader sense but there were few forms of action to solve these issues were presented by speakers at the event.
Some companies spoke about the manner in which they were benefiting communities in the rural areas; however, they spent most of the time talking about what they were doing and less time talking about how the people themselves could get involved. It would have been more beneficial if they could have discussed how people on the ground could take part and benefit from the work.
In other words, I believe conferences like these should be more groundbreaking. I thought that they scratched the surfaces but did not reach any of the core aspects that need to be addressed.
I got the sense that the conference was somewhat aimed at inspiring people to move their businesses to Cape Town and increase awareness about how Cape Town is the place to be for tech businesses. They’re not wrong in the sense that Cape Town is growing vastly technologically but we should also want to upscale our other provinces in South Africa.
But what comforted me was the young people that I saw at Africa Tech this year. One of the speakers, for example, was an inspiring young man who has created a successful company at a very young age and this really drove home the point that even with such limited resources you can create something revolutionary. Also, I came across a proposed answer for South Africa’s loadshedding situation, the creation of a device called a WiBOX. This device stores electrical energy and can apply power for small household devices such as routers and charging stations.
What were some of your expectations going in?
I expected the core focus of the event to be around technological innovations and less about the politics. I expected to see more examples of how groundbreaking coders and engineers could pave the way by creating and inspiring ways to help benefit the future of mankind in both the in the short and the long run. I also would have liked speakers to talk more about future aims or ambitions.
Strictly from a developer’s point of view, what would you have liked to have seen?
I would have liked there to have been more focus on coding and other aspects of coding. But there was no mention of this whatsoever, no suggestions of ways to do things better or easier.
Having conferences that focus in depth on these coding aspects I believe would put more light on the subject and promote people to want to become developers themselves. By getting people interested in the work that we do, we could spread more awareness about the work developers are doing within African and within South Africa. We are the engineers of the future and by doing this, people will have the opportunity to see the changes we are bringing and be inspired to become a part of those changes.
Do you think going to Africa Tech was worthwhile?
Yes, I think it was worthwhile because I met inspired people like the creator of the WiBOX.
The concept of the metaverse is another thing that caught my attention when I was there. I had the opportunity to have interesting conversations on that topic with one the panelists. The metaverse is something that has become quite dangerous because there are no restrictions about what you can and cannot do within it. Upscaling this technological aspect has almost become a second point of reality and a lack of structure and restrictions could cause psychological issues in the future. Someone could confuse the two realities and behave recklessly.
Were there any other technologies that you found interesting that you want to bring up?
I came across something called Edu Tech. Education through technology. Edu Tech is basically doing exactly what Aspire Solutions is doing with the Aspire Academy but on a much larger scale.
What is the Aspire Academy doing right?
I think the most important thing Aspire is doing right is not making it mandatory to learn. I know that if you force me to do something, I’m not going to want to do it.
Another big thing is that in the academy, each time we’re learning something, we’re learning it not only from ourselves but from the people around us. And not everyone around you is at the same level as you. You have the opportunity to see the different levels people are at and assess where you are and where you want to get to. This provides an opportunity to relearn as well as learn about what we’re going to do in the future at the same time. In other words, you’re constantly learning about where you come from and where you’re going, which I think is brilliant.
“Africa Tech Week 2022 has brought a wonderful set of celebration to what we have as Africa has achieved but let us not stop there but continue not to celebrate alone but has a world that is ever increasing in technology advancement let us innovate for the people our people and each one is responsible for this to take place. Let everyone take their place.” – Lukhanyo Sonyamba