Driving SA software development

30 May 2005

The University of the Witwatersrand and the City of Johannesburg, in partnership with government and industry in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector, have launched the Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE).

The centre aims to serve as a “nucleus for software development in South Africa and on the continent”, said Professor Barry Dwolatzky, a director at the centre.

The JCSE, he said, would grow South Africa’s capacity to deliver world-class software, develop research and training initiatives to strengthen the local software development industry, and promote best practice in software development within an African context.

According to Dwolatsky, international corporations are increasingly outsourcing software development to emerging countries such as South Africa, India, China and Russia, taking advantage of high levels of skills at lower costs.

“The SA software development industry has flashes of brilliance and some really notable successes, but it is largely immature, ad hoc, and small-scale”, Dwolatsky said.

“It will not be able to compete against other global markets unless something is done now. The government, business – both SMMEs and large corporates – and academic worlds need to get together and get the ball rolling right now.”

The centre, established within the university’s School of Electrical and Information Engineering, will offer high-level public lectures, master classes, continuing professional development courses and technology incubation to develop ICT leadership for the country.

It will also offer consulting and software certification and accreditation services, and carry out applied research in collaboration with various companies and organisations.

“Facilities will also be established, including world-class infrastructure, specialised computer laboratories, a software engineering library and lecture and meeting rooms,” Dwolatzky said.

In one of the centre’s first collaborations with business, IBM is to set up a Linux Centre of Competence at the JCSE, installing IBM server equipment worth over R2-million, as well as a large suite of Linux-based software.

According to the JCSE, IBM’s Linux centre will provide both a Linux demonstration environment for IBM customers and a powerful research and teaching environment for JCSE students and clients.

SouthAfrica.info reporter

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