Tech conference to 'inspire'

2010-08-04 08:05

Special Report

Information wars begin - expert
Information wars begin - expert

The expansion of the internet in developing countries and the resistance by governments signals the start of the information wars, an expert says.

Cape Town - The Tech4Africa Conference 2010 kicks off in Johannesburg next week and the organisers hope to create an environment where participants can be inspired by speakers on all things digital.

"I went to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in 2006 and it was a life-changing experience for me. I was able to interact with these great people and it gave me a new perspective.

"So I thought: 'Let's create the environment here so people can be inspired,'" organiser Gareth Knight told News24.

Knight insisted that the internet in SA was changing rapidly in ways that many local experts could imagine.

"There's a shift on the web and we here in South Africa kind of a sense of it, but we don't really understand exactly what that means. People don't know what a 100 Megabit (Mbit/s) line feels like. In my home in the UK, I have an 8Mbit/s line for £20 (R232) per month and I come home and download at high speed," he said.

Broadband capacity

He said that while local experts understood the technology distance between SA and the developed world, it was difficult for them to relate to its experience in real terms. Cyber tools were changing the way people used the internet, Knight said.

"Ordinary people in the US come home from work and edit Wikipedia (the free online encyclopaedia) and download shows to watch. In fact, many people use the internet as a replacement for TV. We don't have a sense of those changes here in South Africa," said Knight.

He lamented the lack of broadband capacity in SA, despite the announcement recently by several internet service providers (ISPs) of uncapped access, but was hopeful that new players in the market would expand broadband to homes.

"We get the least traffic at the weekends because you can't use the internet from home. It's just too slow. When we do have the speed, behaviour will change and socio-activism is going to be huge. There are many people who don't have a voice, but have something to say," said Knight.

He said the line-up of speakers at the Tech4Africa Conference was designed to cater to the diverse nature of the web in SA, while also trying to contain costs.

Mobile internet

"It's been a four year journey to bring this event to South Africa; it's been a labour of love. Lets' face it, no one gives a damn about us because we're a small market and we have to do things for ourselves. People just aren't willing to spend the money to do the things that we talk about," he said.

"Look at how Google is spending money to cover all US towns with 100Mbit/s bandwidth. They know that once that is in place those people will use the internet," said Knight.

He foresees the growth in mobile internet while he believes businesses will remain largely wired.

"In our company in the UK, we have no servers in out buildings because everything is in the cloud, but here, we're a long way from that."

The conference runs from August 12 - 13 2010 at The Forum in Bryanston and pre-event workshops will be held on August 10 - 11.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    internet  |  technology

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

linking and moving

2015-04-22 07:36

SHARE: publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.