Mamela Luthuli, Founder and CEO of Take Note IT, has been named South Africa’s IT Personality of the year at the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA) President’s Awards 2023.

The winners of the prestigious awards were named at a ceremony in Johannesburg this week.

AI expert Prof Mark Nasila, Chief Data and Analytics Officer of FirstRand Risk, was the winner of the Technology Excellence Award; Nomusa Keninda, E-learning Specialist and Founder of the Mpumalanga ICT Club, won the Social Responsibility/Community Award; and 25-year-old entrepreneur Amukelani Michael Mhlongo won the Dynamism in ICT Youth Award.

Congratulating this year’s finalists and winners, IITPSA President Senele Goba said the awards theme for the year: ‘IT Visionaries: Celebrating the ICT Industry’s Embrace of the Future’, recognised those ICT professionals who drive ICT innovation and progress in South Africa.

She said: “This theme was chosen because we recognise that the pace of change in the ICT sector has picked up. Some IT professionals have the vision and ability to see change coming and adapt accordingly. Among this year’s President’s Awards finalists and winners, we have exceptional ICT professionals who are not only adapting to change, but also pioneering change. They are driving digital innovation and progress. They are a shining example of the approach we all need to take.”

Goba said: “We need to embrace constant change and lifelong learning. We must stay abreast of emerging technologies and upskill ourselves to stay relevant. This is why continuous learning is one of the key pillars of the Institute’s work.”

She noted that greater effort was needed to help marginalised groups – including women – gain the skills they need to participate in a digital society. “We are ethically bound to encourage and welcome more girls and women into the ICT sector. We must upskill young people and pave the way for them to thrive in the sector,” she said.

2023 winners

The winners of the 2023 IITPSA President’s Awards are:

IT Personality Award – Mamela Luthuli, Founder and CEO of Take Note IT.

As a career entrepreneur who started her first informal ventures at the age of 14, Mamela Luthuli now heads one of the few black, female-led, cyber security and IoT firms in South Africa.

Luthuli has an MBA from Henley International Business School, Harvard VPAL Cybersecurity: Managing Risk in the Information Age (Harvard University), Management Development Programme Diploma (UNISA), and a Degree in Public Administration from the Cape Town University of Technology (Pentech).

She is a board member of the Female Founders Initiative Middle East and Africa, Women in Tech Global Association, and an Advisory member of Defense and security CSIR.

Her accolades include the Corporate livewire Global Awards 2022/2023 Cybersecurity Service of the year-South Africa Winner, Top Empowerment Winner 2022, AfricaTech Week: Security Technology Company Award Winner 2021, and Woman Of Stature: Women in IT: Technology category Award 2022.

Technology Excellence Award – Prof Mark Nasila, Chief Data and Analytics Officer of FirstRand Risk, and a member of the Singularity University Faculty for Artificial Intelligence, Data science and Data strategies.

Recognised as a leading force in the development techniques and methodologies for AI, data science and machine learning, he is the developer and the brain behind an AI system FNB has harnessed to reimagine its risk management and forensic due diligence processes.

He holds a PhD in Mathematical Statistics from NMMU and an MSc (cum laude) in Mathematical Statistics from NMMU, and is a steering committee member of the National Institute for Theoretical Physics and Computational Sciences (NITheCS), a research fellow at Stellenbosch University and a Professor of practice in Artificial intelligence at the University of Johannesburg. He was named one of the Corinium Global Intelligence ‘2020 Global Top 100 Innovators in data and analytics’, the 2022 Southern Africa Finnovator of the year by Exibex at the FINNOVEX 2022 awards, and won the Excellence in Data & Analytics 2022 award at the DigiBank Summit.

Social Responsibility/Community Award  Nomusa Keninda, E-learning Specialist and Founder of the Mpumalanga ICT Club.

Keninda is an e-Learning Specialist for the Mpumalanga Department of education and the Founder of the Mpumalanga ICT Club. Within the club, she launched the DigiGirlz Initiative to empower and mentor young girls from rural villages to pursue STEM-related careers. Her coding initiatives with youth have earned her accolades such as the Inspiring Fifty 2020, and a Trailblazer award winner 2021 by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI).

Dynamism in ICT Youth Award – Amukelani Michael Mhlongo, Chief Operating Officer of Me2You

25-year-old entrepreneur Amukelani Michael Mhlongo co-founded Me2You, which combines a meal kit delivery service with a virtual food bank, targeting food waste, hunger, and environmental sustainability. Me2You’s Amaqhawe program also serves as a platform for local employment, empowering community members as delivery personnel, giving them opportunities to earn income while contributing to their neighbourhoods. Mhlongo is also Co-founder and COO at venture builder Silicon Gold.

Distinguished Service in ICT Award                        

Prof. Janet Wesson of the Department of Computing Sciences at Nelson Mandela University

Fellowship of the Institute Award                          

Rob-Kerrich Walker, Consultant at BMW

Tony Parry, CEO & Professional Member of the IITPSAIITPSA presidents awards Banner 2023