Johannesburg – South Africa is facing a skills-shortage in the information and communications technologies industry (ICT) at a time when people should be finding digital solutions to their economic problems.

Professor Barry Dwolatzky, director and CEO of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) shared this sentiment with Fin24 after the launch of the official Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg on Thursday.

“We South Africans have to find ways to not be consumers of other people’s digital solutions. We have got to step up and become the people who solve our problems and we are hoping that this hub is the place where this will start,” Dwolatzky told Fin24.

He added that the ICT sector was going through rapid changes with the industry cutting through almost all sectors of the economy.

“It used to be spoken of as an ICT industry, now every industry has ICT – it’s like every building has plumbing in it and you can’t talk about a plumbing industry because it is everywhere,” Dwolatzky said.

“We see the coming together of hardware, software and content. We have things like big data, we have things like the internet of things and we still don’t quite know what this innovation is going to mean,” He added.

Dwolatzky said that given the advancements made in the industry, there was a scope for people to be innovative but that the world was now competing to solve problems.

“As we move into this very competitive environment our big challenge is skills, we need a lot more skills and we have to become competitive in a very competitive world,” he said.

“I think we have got opportunities but we have challenges we have to solve which we have to solve on our own,” Dwolatzky said

On Thursday, the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, which is seen as the brainchild of Dwolatzky, was officially opened during a media event and tour of its facilities.

Included in the tour was Africa’s second IBM Research Centre which was launched last week, Telkom’s Future Makers lab – which is to be housed in a re-purposed nightclub, and other ICT facilities.

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