The TechCentral Show (TCS) enjoyed tremendous growth in 2023, cementing itself as South Africa’s leading business technology show.
TCS greatly surpassed prior years in terms of the number of guests interviewed and the hours the show produced. It also proved to be a record-breaking year for viewership, as a growing number of South Africans tuned in to gain insights from prominent industry leaders.
In 2023, TCS guests included an assortment C-suite professionals, ranging from CEOs to leaders in the public sector. The topics covered on the show were even more diverse in nature and included satellite mobile broadband, e-commerce, mobile telecommunications, investment, the township economy and even nuclear energy.
Here is a selection of 10 of the best TCS episodes you might have missed in 2023:
1. Starlink in South Africa – separating fact from fiction
In this TCS episode, Dominic Cull, the regulatory advisor to the Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa), dispelled many of the misconceptions regarding Starlink and the SpaceX subsidiary’s apparent reluctance to enter the South African market.
Cull tackled tough questions on the legalities regarding BEE and the issuing of telecoms licenses, how communications regulator Icasa’s “type approvals” for communications equipment work, and why there is an artificial restriction on the issuing of new licences.
2. GG Alcock on the digitisation of the township economy
Informal economy expert, marketeer and consultant GG Alcock outlined how digitisation is changing the economies of township and rural communities in South Africa. Raised in rural Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal, Alcock described his upbringing as that of a typical rural Zulu boy, which included goat herding and stick fighting, and this explains the fluent isiZulu he speaks today.
Alock delved into detail regarding the Covid-19 pandemic’s influence on the adoption of digital payment methods in the informal economy, explained why card payments are outpacing banking apps and why business owners in townships are ditching cash.
3. The Information Regulator bares its teeth – an interview with Pansy Tlakula
In one of the most candid TCS episodes of 2023, Information Regulator of South Africa chair Pansy Tlakula told TechCentral about her day-to-day activities in the role. Tlakula discussed the Protection of Personal Information Act, the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the Information Regulator’s role in enforcing both pieces of legislation. Also under the microscope in this episode was the R5-million fine the regulator imposed on the justice department, the apparent cyberattack on the State Security Agency and the regulator’s plans regarding the rising number of attacks on public infrastructure.
4. Levy brothers on the future of Blue Label and Cell C
Brett and Mark Levy, the brothers who lead Blue Label Telecoms, were guests on TCS during a turbulent time for the company, whose share price had plummeted on concerns about Cell C. In the interview, the brothers explained why Blue Label bought Cell C in the first place, what went wrong in the first recapitalisation of the mobile operator, and why Blue Label is pursuing a controlling stake in Cell C and what the potential upside of that could be.
5. Superbalist founders on their new venture, Bash
Claude Hanan and Luke Jedeikin were bitten by the e-commerce bug with the success of their first venture, Superbalist. After selling the business off to Takealot Group, a short hiatus followed before the duo rekindled their business-building partnership for their new venture, Bash, part of The Foschini Group. In this intriguing TCS episode, Hanan and Jadeikin give their views on the state of e-commerce in South Africa, why they chose a mobile-first paradigm for Bash, and the complexities of selling fashion online.
6. Takealot Group CEO Mamongae Mahlare on the outlook for e-commerce
Takealot Group CEO Mamongae Mahlare had an interesting career path leading up to her taking on her current role. In this entertaining interview, Mahlare shared how some of her experiences prepared her for her running Takealot as well as the challenges that come with taking over from a passionate founder CEO. The discussion also highlighted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on e-commerce, why Takealot Group growth is slowing, and the impact of increased competition as other bricks-and-mortar retailers embrace e-commerce.
7. Andile Ngcaba on his go-global investment plans
This nostalgic TCS episode saw Andile Ngcaba looking back to the moment he quit his government job to become a technology investor 20 years ago and how his business, Convergence Partners, has evolved. Ngcaba, who splits his time between Africa and Silicon Valley – where he has a home – unpacks the recent announcement that Convergence Partners Investments is rebranding as Solcon Capital and has appointed a new CEO, Pramod Venkatesh, and why its focus has been broadened beyond Africa to both developing and developed markets.
Ncgaba highlighted some of the lessons he has learnt in his career as a technology investor and spoke about some of the key investments the company has made over the years.
8. Bongani Mabaso’s plan to fix the State IT Agency
Despite his shock resignation only nine months after taking up the position, former Sita CEO Bongani Mabaso had ambitious plans for turning the embattled agency around when he took up the position in April. In this interview, the then freshly appointed Mabaso outlined his plans for Sita, including the direction he aimed to take it and why, how artificial intelligence could help corruption-proof Sita’s procurement process and the impact that the skills crisis is having on the IT sector. Unfortunately, he’ll be able to see none of those plans through after stepping down early.
9. Werner Kapp unpacks his strategy for Altron
Altron group CEO Werner Kapp dove into Altron’s financial results in this episode of the TCS. Kapp detailed his strategy and why he had chosen certain focus areas. He explained which parts of Altron have him particularly excited and the plans for specific businesses under the Altron umbrella including Altron Document Solutions, Altron Karabina and Altron Systems Integration, among others.
10. Inside AfriForum’s plan to deploy modular nuclear reactors in SA
South Africa’s crippling energy woes have driven a series of innovations as people seek alternatives to state-owned Eskom’s unreliable grid supply. In this episode of TCS, Johan Kruger, head of community independence at AfriForum, a vocal Afrikaner civil rights organisation, outlined the organisation’s plans to deploy pebble-bed modular nuclear reactors (PBMRs) in South African communities to help stabilise the country’s energy supply.
Kruger unpacked how AfriForum wants to help homeowners and businesses extricate themselves from the Eskom mess by deploying their own power generation systems, including rooftop solar. He also detailed the origins of PBMR technology.
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