Former SNII Launches Nelson Mandela iHub

On Monday 12 March the Seda Nelson Mandela Bay ICT Incubator (SNII) launched its new name and brand. Now it will be known as the Nelson Mandela Bay iHub, a space for incubates to realise their aims by implementing ideas with the potential to disrupt the current standard.

“Our objective is to remain at the cutting edge of the fast-paced ICT sector. To achieve this, we would like to introduce some key focus areas. In iHub, we will have a clear focus on technologies that have potential of disrupting existing values chains to facilitate market access whilst contributing social development,” said CEO Darryl Dennis. This will be done though a focus on “educational technology, smart agriculture, automation and robotics, big data and analytics, cloud computing and block chain technology.”

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan representative councillor Axolile Nodada highlighted the social necessity that lies in an accessible, innovative and skills development-driven institutions in the metro. “”The circumstances of one’s birth or their geographical location can’t determine their access to opportunity or their prospect to prosperity,” stated Nodada. He shared the harsh realities that the majority of young people in the country suffer through on the road to finding viable jobs. High data prices and access to technology (computers, printing, scanning etc) are still issues that need to be address including establishing entrepreneurial institutions in easily reachable areas.

Keynote speaker CEO of SEDA Mandisa Tshikwatamba raised the importance of collaboration: with the media by getting “acquainted with what happens with development spaces such as the NMB iHub, as well as collaboration with their private sector”. The vision articulated with this new formation is, as put by Tshikwatamba, “The vision of making sure there is partnership that is establishing a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship and enterprise growth where business and cooperatives can do what they mean to in terms of creating jobs and making sure they come up with models that are inclusive in terms of participation in economic activity that generate economic yields that benefit our societies.” The small business sector employs about 47% of the workforce and contributes to more than 20% of the GDP making it quite a significant part of the economy and job market. “That’s why even when the crafters of the National Development Plan were crafting the NDP they said 90% of new jobs are seen not to be coming from anywhere else but to be coming from the small business sector. So the challenge is on our table…and we are saying we are up to it’ stated Tshikwatamba.

“One of the platforms that we are currently working on is a platform whereby we are working with the private sector making sure we bring enterprise development into the backyard of big industries…and places of learning.” This is building from a model of other incubators SEDA has. There have been about 64 models of other incubators in TVETs, universities and community organisations. Ms Tshikwatamba said the “engine parts of government that seek to assist in these initiatives (like Nelson Mandela Bay iHub) are waiting…parts like SEDA, the department of Science and Technology, the department of Trade and Industry and others. There’s a wide space for business to partner within the government space.”

The SEDA CEO connected the name Kwantu Towers, where the NMB iHub is located to its renewed and remodelled purpose. She shared her message to all the incubatees: “Be encouraged. When you see this investment this confirms that someone is behind you, someone is seeing your effort; someone is interested in nurturing what you’ve started.”