Stimulating Innovation in Africa: A pathway to Sustainable Development

Prof Mike Bruton, Toby Shapshak, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, Dr Otlhapile Dinakenyane

  • Duration: 60 min
  • Language: English
  • Ages: All Ages
  • Date: March 09, 2021 20:00
  • Recorded: Live session with recording available afterwards
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Innovation has a positive impact that cuts across all levels of society. This webinar will explore the kind of policies and strategies that are vital to stimulate the culture of innovation in Africa. Join Prof Mike Bruton (Chairperson: Scifest Africa Advisory Committee) in conversation with Professor Tshilidzi Marwala (Deputy Chair: Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution), Dr Otlhapile Dinakenyane (Lecturer and Researcher: Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) and Toby Shapshak (Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Stuff Magazine).


Prof Tshilidzi Marwala

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg. He was a Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Dean of Engineering at the University of Johannesburg. He was a full Professor of Electrical Engineering, the Carl and Emily Fuchs Chair of Systems and Control Engineering as well as the South Africa Chair of Systems Engineering all at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Before this, he was an executive assistant to the technical director at the South African Breweries.

He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University, a Master of Mechanical Engineering from University of Pretoria, PhD in Engineering from University of Cambridge and was a post-doctoral associate at Imperial College. His research interests include applications of artificial intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance and medicine.

He has extensive track record in human capacity development having supervised 47 Masters and 31 PhD graduates to completion. Some of these students have proceeded with their doctoral and post-doctoral studies at leading universities such as Harvard, Rutgers, Purdue, Oxford, Cambridge, British Columbia and Concordia.

He has published 20 books, over 300 papers in journals, proceedings and book chapters and holds three international patents. He was an associate editor of the International Journal of Systems Science (Taylor and Francis Publishers). Marwala is a registered professional engineer in South Africa, a Fellow of The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Academy of Science of South Africa, South African Academy of Engineering and a distinguished member of the Association for Computing Machinery.

He has received more than 45 awards including the Order of Mapungubwe from the South African Government and the President’s Award from the National Research Foundation. He is a Deputy Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a board member of Nebank and a Trustee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Dr Otlhapile Dinakenyane

Dr Otlhapile Dinakenyane is a Computer Scientist currently working as a lecturer/researcher in the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Her research interests include mobile computing, cyber security and emerging technologies. Dr Dinakenyane joined BIUST in 2014 after completing her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom (UK). She has served in several committees in BIUST. She also assumes the role of the departmental industry liaison which afforded her the opportunity to work closely with the IT industry in Botswana thereby keeping her abreast with the local landscape and trends.

Her passion with university-industry engagements has seen her working towards seeing SMEs engaging with BIUST for both entities to have mutual benefit from the relationship. This was fuelled by her involvement in the RECIRCULATE project with the university of Lancaster (UK). Her leadership skills have seen her organising and hosting several events in the university including ICT Day, National Science week and STEM festival. Dr Dinakenyane has graduated 6 MSc students and a PhD student in Computer Science. At a national level she serves in the Botswana Internet Governance Forum interim committee and the National Cyber Security Strategy team.

Toby Shapshak

Toby Shapshak writes and speaks about how innovation is better in Africa. His TED talk on how Africa is solving real problems has had over 1,5-million views; and he has been featured in the New York Times. Toby is the editor-in-chief and publisher of Stuff magazine; is a contributor to Forbes and writes a weekly column for the Financial Mail. He co-hosted a weekly TV show on CNBC Africa for the past three years.

He believes Africa is a mobile-driven continent, about which he has written for CNN, The Guardian in London and for Forbes. He is writing a book on innovation in Africa, looking at how the problems Africa is solving for itself will benefit the rest of the world. Toby has spoken at the South by South West (SxSW) conference in Austin, Texas, (thrice) on how mobile is being used in Africa (2013) and how music is being consumed (2014); and again in 2017 about how innovation is better in Africa. He also spoke at The Guardian‘s Activate: Johannesburg on innovation out of necessity. He has also spoken at Intel’s IDF conference in San Francisco, Germany’s Zukunftskongress (Future Congress), Sweden’s The Conference, AfricaCom in Cape Town, TEDxGateway in Mumbai, Pivot East in Nairobi, and Tech4Africa in Joburg.

Toby was named in GQ’s top 30 men in media and the Mail & Guardian newspaper’s 300 influential young South Africans list and has won the ICT Journalist of the Year. GQ said he “has become the most high-profile technology journalist in the country” while the M&G wrote: “Toby Shapshak is all things tech… he reigns supreme as the major talking head for everything and anything tech”. As a news and political journalist, he ran Mail & Guardian newspaper’s website when it was the first news site in Africa, shadowed Nelson Mandela when he was president, and covered the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He has interviewed a range of tech industry luminaries, including Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak.