Tech-savvy South African expats are making their mark in software development across the world, but their expertise is yet to benefit the country of their birth. To examine how to fix this, Brand South Africa hosted an international Google Hangout bringing together some of the best global South African minds in digital technology.
Held at Wits University’s Johannesburg Centre of Software Engineering (JCSE) on Tuesday 24 June, the discussion focused on how South Africa can turn its brain drain into brain gain by bringing expats’ knowledge and experience back home.
Panellists included the South African founders of top international software companies, including Vinny Lingham, the co-founder of Gyft, Yola and Silicon Cape; Pieter de Villiers, co-founder of Clickatell; Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the Chief Marketing Officer Council; and Alpha Software co-founder Richard Rabins.
Simon Barber, Brand South Africa’s country manager for the US, said the National Development Plan offered huge scope for plugging in expat skills, knowledge and connections. De Villiers agreed, saying software development and expat involvement should be viewed with the NDP goals of reducing poverty and inequality in mind.
JCSE head Barry Dwolatzky said South African expats can be used to bring value to the local software development industry. “All of you out there are not lost people but are bridges that can be used to link what we are doing here in South Africa.”
Watch the full Google Hangout session: