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BKCOB | The Energy and ICT Forum Report

By : Dr Chris Ettmayr
BKCOB Exco – 1st Vice President ; Energy-Ict Committee Chair;
Renewable Energy & ICT Manger ELIDZ

The BKCOB’s Energy Forum has recently been approved to take on another sector which is Information Communication and Technology (ICT). Energy and ICT are very closely related these days with companies wanting to establish energy monitoring and management systems which are all controlled through some type of IT system.

The BKCOB was also approached by the business community who faced very real challenges in their day to day operations and they were seeking ICT solutions which could address these problems. The usual kneejerk response is to look abroad or event outside of the Province for ICT experts, whilst locally based experts are operating quietly below the radar for clients who are based in the larger metros! So there was a clear mismatch between demand and supply but also a nice opportunity for the business chamber to create a platform to bring the member challenges and ICT solutions together. The first step has been to create awareness about IT opportunities and the committee, sponsored by the East London IDZ, set up an event to discuss the economics behind hosting a local internet exchange. This was held at the Blue Lagoon Hotel where members were taught in a very simple diagram how the internet works and who pays for the transfer and collection of data. We discovered that the internet in East London is actually retrieved from Johannesburg, Durban or Cape Town, as no internet exchange exists in the Eastern Cape! A local exchange would ensure slightly faster speeds, but more importantly, cheaper internet as users pay for the distance taken to retrieve data. So this event provided much to think about and the question about how to set up a local exchange to ensure that all emails sent within East London stays in the local exchange and the money spent on this stays within the city or province. So we are forging ahead with this idea which fits very nicely into buying local and supporting local business.

The forum is now planning a second event after being exposed to awesome local ICT innovations. From asset tracking systems, to the banking and financial sector, right through to ICT solutions for agriculture, these products have been dreamt of, innovated and manufactured here in our own city, yet they have no local buyers for these products as they are not readily visible. So the next step is to seek out these local innovators and their products, and then showcase them for all to see. It is hoped that by creating this platform for debate, learning and knowledge sharing, the BKCOB will bring about renewed business opportunities into the ICT sector and we can start the attraction of these skills and businesses back into the city!