As it celebrated its tenth anniversary last week, the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) repeated a call for pledges of support from organisations and individuals for the renovation and refurbishment of the ambitious Tshimologong Precinct in Braamfontein, a planned tech hub and startup incubation centre in the heart of Johannesburg.
JCSE is a joint venture between the University of the Witswatersrand and the City of Joburg.
Wits University vice chancellor and principal Adam Habib told attendees at the launch of the JCSE ten year review that the Wits University is excited about the project because it “ticks all the boxes”.
“Tshimologong will be a place where young people, graduates from Wits, graduates from any institution and people who are not even graduates at all… if they’ve got a fantastic idea they can come here. They can explore that idea, it’s a free space. They will have good bandwidth, good coffee and mentorship. We will have resources from the private sector, venture capitalists coming through. The idea is that we give birth to a whole series of new startups,”said Habib.
While Wits and City of Joburg keep the JCSE alive, the organisation is constantly seeking out more partnerships to deliver on its aims – aiming to be at the crux of “town, gown and private sector” as Habib puts it.
Next door to Tshimologong, IBM is renovating a space to house its new global research lab, one of just 13 outside the US. htxt.africa covered IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s travel to South Africa to mark an investment totalling 700 million rand that they are making through this project. Microsoft’s 4Afrika programme has also set up an “App Factory” in the Digital Innovation Zone. The City of Johannesburg has invested seven million rands in setting up the Tshimologong Digital Technology Precinct.
JCSE director Professor Barry Dwolatzky said the organisation has achieved a lot, although budgets were tight.
Dwolatzky detailed some of the JCSE’s achievements in the ten year review document handed out during a celebration of milestones achieved during the past decade. Among them was a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), with over one million rands in financial support from the Department of Trade and Industry, to bring the US university’s Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) to South Africa.
“Could have done better”
In its 10 year review, also published this week, JCSE admits in its review that it could have done better at measuring, analysing, and reporting on the impact it has made since the signing of its founding charter in May 2005.
The JCSE took in its first interns in 2005, launched its postgraduate entrepreneurial and leadership training program named CoachLab@JCSE in 2009 and secured premises for the Tshimologong Precinct in 2002.
Despite its many achievements, Dwolatzky says that its goals haven’t changed because the IT sector in South Africa still faces the same challenges it did a decade ago.
“There’s still a lot to do to transform the IT industry in South Africa, women are still under represented and we still (have) the same challenges cost of broadband and access relative to the rest of the world as we did ten years ago,” he says.