The Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) and the Information Technology Association (ITA) yesterday combined forces to convene a high level workshop on the contribution that can be made by the information and communications technology (ICT) sector to the power crisis in South Africa. 

Prof Barry Dwolatzky, JCSE Director, says the workshop brought together a group of over 30 ICT decision makers, thought leaders and influential stakeholders from government, industry and academia to meet with members of Eskom’s senior management. The workshop was facilitated by Roger Layton Associates (RLA).
“An effective, trusted portal which could be utilised by consumers; wider use of mobile and push technology; better knowledge to manage demand for electricity and greater use of business intelligence and analytics were just some of the top ideas discussed at the workshop,” he says.
Roger Layton set the framework of the discussions as being the search for innovative ways in which the ICT sector can support South Africa’s efforts to become more energy efficient, in particular through improved communication and management of information.
Following input from Tony Parry, Computer Society South Africa Executive Director; David Ives, Microsoft Director: Developer and Platform Group; and Keith Anderson, ITA President, the delegates sifted out a number of themes that they agreed would provide opportunities for further action.
Anderson says there was general agreement at the workshop that a wealth of information exists, both to inform consumers about how they can influence the national load on the electricity grid and to provide feedback to Eskom to predict the future energy needs of the country.  
“The ICT sector has many solutions already available or in development which will be able to assist in creating greater awareness around energy saving and managing energy usage. It is merely a matter of coordinating efforts to ensure the power crisis is dealt with as quickly and as smoothly as possible,” says Anderson.
The event was supported by a number of organisations including Wits University, Eskom, Microsoft, GijimaAST, EOH and a number of leading small to medium enterprises
Dwolatzky says the details of the discussions will be released in a report to be compiled by the JCSE and RLA.
“The report will contain the content of the workshop and proposals/plans for actions to follow.  Key aspects of the report will include common themes based on qualitative analysis, a selection of most promising ideas, potential implementation strategies and a proposed follow up to the workshop,” he says.