During the past month, I was privileged to travel to Lille, France, as an observer to the annual General Assembly of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP).
IITPSA is the South African country member and local representative body of IFIP, the leading international organisation for ICT and the sciences, formed under the auspices of UNESCO. IFIP is a venerable body, representing societies from 56 countries and regions around the world, with over 500,000 members including more than 3,500 scientists from academia and industry, and 101 working groups reporting to 13 technical committees.
With the opportunity to hear submissions and insights from delegates from around the world, I was struck by two key observations: South Africa’s IT sector is on par with its global counterparts; and local industry and academia are managing to forge closer ties than we see in many other countries.
I noticed that the sector’s challenges are similar around the world, but that South Africa has progressed and is now at the same level as most developed countries in many respects.
The gender divide is still a global challenge, and one that the IITPSA continues to address through its Women in IT initiatives.
One challenge raised by many countries was a disconnect between industry and academia. Yet in South Africa, we have made good progress in working together, as is evidenced by IITPSA’s sponsorship of academics within the IFIP Technical Committees. Among other things, this support will see them contributing to IFIP’s new digital framework for education, which will be submitted to the UN in five months’ time. Our close ties with IFIP also informed the updated IITPSA code of ethics, which was developed by IFIP Technical Committees and represents global best practice.
The outputs of the research carried out by these academics and practitioners benefits all our members and the industry as a whole, illustrating the value of close collaboration between industry and academia.
Our work with international bodies and academia is a source of pride for us, and – we trust – for all our members.