Technology Innovation Open Day held at the Vaal University of Technology
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Technology Innovation Open Day held at the Vaal University of Technology

From left: Mr Hendrik Van Der Merwe: Operations Manager VUTSGSTP; Emfuleni local municipality Executive Mayor: Cllr Gift Moerane; Minister of Communications Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, and Dr Joseph Molete: Executive Director VUTSGSTP

Selina Rapulane

On the 28 June, the Minister of Communications, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (also known as “commander of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR)”) visited the Vaal University of Technology Southern Gauteng Science and Technology Park (VUTSGSTP), where she led a Technology Innovation Open Day.

The programme was directed by Mr Manqoba Zungu, one of the founding members of the GetReady Mentorship Programme, a project whereby unemployed youths are given training in a combination of soft and digital skills that will help place them in employment.

The open day was held as part of the build-up to the inaugural Digital Economy Summit and it seeks to expose young people to the wide array of opportunities presented by 4IR through exhibitions and interactions with various state-owned entities and private sector companies. This included exhibitions on technological advancements in content production, education, transportation and e-sports; among others.

The day kicked off with a mini-hackathon coding challenge, followed by NEMISA radio production training and a Get Ready Skills engagement.

“Dintja di bofilwe. It means you are safe to run around,” said Dr Joseph Molete: Executive Director at VUTSGSTP, when he delivered the welcome speech to the delegates, students, staff members and exhibitors to the event.  “You need to know, Minister that you have our full support for your portfolio. It’s a very challenging task that you have. We love to see young, vibrant people take the challenge on and we are here to support you. Now that we are going into the fourth industrial revolution, those young people need support and we are very privileged to have the Minister and the team insisting that this technology open day happen here in the Vaal. It’s about time that the Vaal gets the limelight.”

“You may be asking yourself why we chose the Vaal area. If you listen to President Ramaphosa and what the governing party has been conversing, it is the fact that we need to build an inclusive economy and for us to build such an economy, it means we must get out of Hatfield and Sandton. We have got to make sure that the people of this country are treated equally,” said the Minister.

She further mentioned that there are “many different definitions of the 4IR but ours is to say that this is an era we are living in already and this is where our people are active”.

She gave an example of digital gadgets, such as cellphones, GPS, and cameras, that we depend on daily and how technology has made things simple. “But today we are able to be part of the world, as I am talking to you now, other people are streaming online, they are not here but they get to know about your story that there is VUT, that it is here,” she said.

About eight young coders from Pretoria, Johannesburg and the Vaal took part in the Geekculcha user-centred hackathon (a competition in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming) including an 11-year-old boy, supervised by his father.

Afrinnovative Designs took first place in the hackathon and won a cash prize and a cellphone sponsored by Huawei. They will be using their cash prize to upgrade their business.

The day also had exhibitions from Huawei 5G experience, NEMISA and the Idea 2 Product Lab, showcasing their 3D printing equipment. Lesedi FM was also part of this event, broadcasting onsite for the duration of the programmme.

The Emfuleni local municipality Executive Mayor: Cllr Gift Moerane gave a vote of thanks.

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