Africa’s unsung role in the information technology industry is the stuff that gets Siphumelele Zondi excited. He’s a journalist and the creator, senior producer and anchor of Network, a technology news programme on SABC 3 that examines emerging technologies and the innovative ways that Africans are using IT to solve their own particular problems.
It’s an idea that he hatched while studying media and cultural studies at Sussex University in England on a Chevening Scholarship, awarded by the British government to young people it identifies as future leaders, so they can pursue their master’s or doctoral studies in the UK. Zondi says the idea of Network came when he was doing his degree, majoring in new developments in digital media. “A lot of research I was coming across was on tech innovation and usage in Europe, North America and Asia, and there was little coming out of Africa, as if there’s no innovation in the technology space here. That’s when I conceptualised the programme,” he says.
Network covers tech innovations from across the continent as well as showing how Africans are using existing technologies in new ways to solve their problems. For example, the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia used social media tools to swell the movement, the mobile money service M-Pesa developed in Kenya has been exported to other continents, and prepaid phone credit came out of South Africa, he says. “This is information that is often overlooked and I wanted to uncover more when I returned from England.”
Zondi also works as a current affairs presenter for Channel Africa Radio, a radio station within the SABC. He has also worked as a senior producer and anchor for CNBC Africa and did some work as a reporter for eTV in his earlier years. Zondi has also lectured on broadcast journalism at Tshwane University of Technology, where he did his journalism degree, and he launched a blog there with his students that was nominated for the South African Blog Awards. In 2010 and 2011 he was part of the EVA Junior Business Fellows, a group of young people from around the world identified as future leaders by the Finnish business sector.
— Lesley Stones