Calls for National ICT Council in South Africa
The wave of change ushered in by Barack Obama's victory in the US reached SA last night, as calls of “yes we can” echoed the Montecasino Ballroom at the beginning of the 2008 IT Personality of the Year Award ceremony.
In his address, Adrian Schofield, president of the Computer Society of South Africa (CSSA), emphasised the change that needs to happen in the ICT industry, saying: “South Africa does need a council – not the Built Environment Professions council, not an advisory council, but a national ICT council, bringing together all the stakeholders in a mandated environment – at the level of the state president.”
Schofield believes this council could provide unity and end confrontation in what he notes is a fragmented environment, saying: “It would make the industry adopt a more unified approach to grow the sector and would persuade the government to adopt a holistic approach to the creation, adoption and implementation of ICT.”
But, emphasised Schofield, like political change, people need to demand and participate in change for it to happen. “The Computer Society must change to contribute to this unified approach. It must become what it set out to be 50 years ago, but in a guise relevant to 21st Century SA. The society must find a way to represent the interests of all IT professionals, it must continue to foster best practice standards, and it must fuel the education, training, coaching and mentoring of young aspirants in the industry.”
While the evening was meant as a celebration of 50 years of the CSSA and 30 years of the IT Personality awards, Schofield warned the failures of the society could lead to disaster in the industry. “We are failing ourselves; we are failing our country because we, as an industry, are wasting time and resources on the petty issues, instead of working together to improve education, to raise standards and capacity to promote exports.”
The structures for participation are in place, he noted, but without any involvement, these structures cannot become agents of change for the industry. “We have most of the tools to do this in place. Your computer society offers a range of ways in which you can enhance your career, network with your peers and recognise exceptional achievement. But the society cannot achieve this just by existing.”
He called for the increased engagement and involvement of IT professionals, saying: “Most of all, let's change. Change ourselves, change our society and change our world.”