The Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) has urged a concerted effort to take digital access to every South African, to support youth development and small business growth.

Speaking at the IITPSA’s first online AGM earlier this month, IITPSA President Thabo Mashegoane highlighted the Institute’s focus on the development of young ICT professionals and the need to develop a stronger ICT skills pipeline for the country, as well as to extend digital access to all sectors of society. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic has proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that ICT is in fact critical infrastructure – as important as roads, sanitation and healthcare. But the past few months have also highlighted the fact that there are people who risk being left behind as we move toward the digital new normal,” he said. 

“ICT access is becoming a human right, and without it, millions of people cannot access education, jobs, vital information and services. As ICT professionals, we cannot simply be torch bearers for ICT – we need to assume greater responsibility for helping build this critical infrastructure. We need to ensure equitable access for everyone.”

Mashegoane called for the ICT industry to advocate for policy that is more favourable for the majority. “Now more than ever before, ICT needs to be talking to the government and forming partnerships across policy formulation and implementation. We need to be working together to create digital education platforms that are free or low cost, coordinated and transparent. The foundation for skilled or employable youth is access to training and education, so we have to create policies that give all young people equal access,” he said.

“Digital access is just as important for helping create jobs and build businesses as it transcends barriers such as location. Once they have digital access, our youth and small businesses can access business tools, information, services and opportunities.  We need to focus our attention on becoming more involved in society and giving ‘Generation Next’ the skills and tools they need to thrive in a digital world,” Mashegoane said. 

IITPSA members heard during the AGM that the Institute remains in a strong position, with growing membership, despite a year characterised by slow economic growth and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IITPSA reported back on a successful year of operations with an increased focus on thought leadership, career development and stakeholder engagement.

IITPSA CEO Tony Parry noted that the Institute membership comprised around 75per cent young professionals aged 26 – 40, with 70 per cent of South African members being black, coloured or Asian, making it increasingly representative of the local ICT sector and the broader South African demographic.

During the meeting, IITPSA members voted online to elect and/or re-elect the following non-executive Directors: Ulandi Exner, Admire Gwanzura, Rimmon Kisten, Karel Matthee, Kudzayi Chipidza, Senele Goba, Llewellyn Kearns and John Singh.

The IITPSA’s office bearers for the 2020/21 year remain unchanged, with Thabo Mashegoane as Board Chairperson and President, Admire Gwanzura as Vice President and Karel Matthee as Treasurer.