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Google Big Tent event discusses South Africa’s digital future

September 5, 2013  »  ICT PolicyNo Comment

For the first time ever, Google brought its Big Tent to Africa. On September 5th, the event made its debut in Johannesburg, South Africa, gathering together leaders from politics, business, and technology to exchange ideas and debate South Africa’s digital future. Keynote speakers included Hon. Yunus Carrim, South Africa Minister of Communications and Vint Cerf, a “father of the internet” (and Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist).

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Big Tent Johannesburg specifically looked at how the internet and mobile web is transforming Africa’s economy and society. Speakers asked questions like:

  • How can we harness the digital economy to fuel jobs, growth and innovation in South Africa?
  • Who will benefit from the growth of the internet economy in South Africa?
  • Does South Africa have conducive policy frameworks?
  • How do we create conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • What are examples to emulate from within and beyond South Africa?

South Africa’s Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, highlighted the transformation effect of Internet on society. He warned of the danger of a digital divide reinforcing social exclusion.  He also laid out the government’s vision to expand access to the Internet to ensure people and businesses across the country can take advantage of the opportunities online.

Vint Cerf evangelized the power of the Internet and how South Africa can better take advantage of the opportunities. He touched on regulatory frameworks, technical support for its growth, and how to maximize on the global market created by the internet.

Additional points gathered using the #BigTentZA hashtag are useful too

The new Minister of Communications gets plenty of positive reviews:

Entrepreneurs should serve actual local needs (and not just copy international trends):

We need forward-thinkers:

An open internet, uninhibited by regulation, is fundamental to its use as a tool for economic growth:

Stats: the often-cited broadband/GDP number plus South African internet penetration:

In summary:

The Google+ recap, heavy on photos, is worth a look too: #BigTentZA

Sponsors included Silicon Cape Initiative and BusinessDay.