A great environment to learn and get inspired

Tech4Africa is less than a week away and we’re very excited! We’ve worked so hard to create an awesome environment at the conference, so we wanted to let our delegates what’s in store for them (the reasons for what we like to call Tech4Africa the “unconference”):

1. Speakers on panels will be talking from couches, not lecterns.

2. Questions are encouraged after each session.

3. Our speakers will be listening in at other talks, just like all the other delegates.

4. Andy Budd, Joe Stump, Dustin Diaz, Jonathan Snook and John Resig, will be doing an intimate technical Q & A session, where they’ll talk about issues they’ve faced and how they’ve approached them. This is a vital session for anyone technical.

5. There will be surprises prizes under seats, and a “goody bag”.

6. We’ve created ample opportunity for hallway conversations, networking, and meeting new people.

7. There is an interactive expo environment including a news studio, Internet cafe and an FNB coffee lounge.

8. There’ll be unique badges to help start conversations and introductions.

9. A deadly serious “no ties” and “no suits” policy!

10. Between all the serious stuff, there is a Cocktail party (with DJ) and an After party, where we hope you’ll join us for some fun!

Get ready for some inspiration 😉 Hope to see you there!

Last but not least…

A few last things about the conference, before things become totally manic.

We’ve got around 65 speakers over 2 days. I’m really excited about the depth of knowledge and experience that folks like Andy Budd (Clearleft), Alex Hunter, Erin Caton (Apple), Joe Stump (SimpleGeo), Jonathan Snook (Yahoo!) and Dustin Diaz (Twitter), will bring to Tech4Africa. These guys are really amazing at what they do, and are also awesome people, so anyone at the conference is in for a treat. Take 5 minutes to checkout the full line-up if you haven’t done so.

I think you’ll agree it’s a great line-up, which represents a good mix of business and technical people, and offers great content to delegates. More than anything, this is a first in Africa, and it’s largely down to your willingness to be a part of it. For that, I thank you. I hope you can spend the two days of the conference learning, absorbing, and enjoying. There is a team of 19 full time people working on Tech4Africa, to make it the event we’d all want to go to.

We’re now working pretty much 24/7 to make this event something that we would aspire to attend.
I’m not saying that lightly. Like you, I’ve been to my fair share of conferences, and in general I find most of them bland and uninteresting, with too many exhibitors.
So, I’ve tried really hard to make this one the conference that I would want to go to. My litmus test is: would I spend my hard earned cash and go to Tech4Africa? Would my friends do the same? I’m happy to say that right now the answer is yes, and I hope that once you’re there and you’ve experienced it for yourselves, the hard work and attention to detail will be apparent, and you’ll feel the same way. Ultimately though, all we can do is provide the right environment for the speakers to shine.

The focus is on interaction, discussion, engagement, debate and learning. The focus is on you.
Unlike a lot of conferences where you go listen to someone stand behind a lectern and run through powerpoint slides, essentially giving a lecture, we’re creating an environment where everyone will either be standing, or sitting on a couch with a bunch of other people. Our focus is 100% around delegate value, and this comes through real discussion and if needs be real arguments. It also comes through the audience feeling like they’re there being engaged with, and not lectured in a one-way environment.

As a quick reminder, online registration and payment for conference tickets closes at 1pm on Tues 10th August. If you would like to register after that, then please do so on site. Registration will be open at the venue from 1pm on the 11th of August (badge collection and/or registration). Please note that we will not accept cash, and that when the venue is full, we’ll have to turn people away. For conference registrations go here.

There is a conference “after party”, which will be on Friday night (August 13th), so please book that in your calendars, get the babysitters in, bring your significant other, and join us for some fun! RSVP on the event’s Facebook page.

And lastly, expect the “unconference”: don’t wear ties, don’t wear suits, bring your sense of humour, and enjoy yourself!

It’s going to be an awesome event, and I can’t wait to see you there 😉

Gareth Knight

Tech4Africa organizer
MD, Technovated

Design at Tech4Africa

With only a week to go till Tech4Africa kicks off in Johannesburg on the 10th of August, we take a final look at some of the exciting sessions and speakers that have been lined up to make this THE conference to attend this year.

When launching a new site or product online, probably the most important factor is how it looks, and your users can use it without hassle. Design is key to making sure your users will keep coming back for more. At Tech4Africa, we will be hosting some of most prolific experts in user interface & design.

First up, be sure not to miss the session entitled “Ignore User Experience at your peril”, hosted by leading UI design expert Andy Budd. Andy comes from a long history of user design and interface, and currently heads up User Experience at Clear Left in the USA. Andy will lead you through a 1 hour session on why you should pay attention to user experience and what you can do about it.

Another “must-attend” session if you design is your thing, is an all South African panel hosted by the indomitable Allan Kent from Saatchi & Saatchi AtPlay. The panel of leading practitioners takes you through the thinking and output for a redesign of a well known, high profile, local website, PayFine.co.za. Joining Allan on the panel are Rian van der Merwe from South African start-up, now based in San Fransisco, Yola. Mike Lewis from Origin Interactive will also be joining the panel, in what should be an interesting session on this intuitive South African site, that allows you to pay your traffic fines online.

Be sure to book your place for Tech4Africa now. All our Early Bird offers have been scooped up, and it won’t be long before all the remaining seats are being snapped up at a crazy pace.

See you next week for the biggest & best tech conference South Africa has EVER seen !!

Online registration notice

Important news for those planning to register for Tech4Africa.

Note that online registration for the conference and the workshops will close at a certain point this week and the next one (you will be able to register later on site). Take these dates and times into consideration:

* Workshops: online registration will be closing at 5pm on Friday 6th of August.

* Conference: online registration will be closing at 1pm on Tuesday 10th of August.

If you miss these deadlines, you can always register later on site for both conference and workshops.
Conference registration and badge collection will be open at the venue from 1pm on the 11th of August.

The countdown has begun, we’re almost a week to go to Tech4Africa, the most diverse and unique conference in South African tech history, featuring the most prolific speakers from both South Africa as well as internationally.

Join us now! Register online here.

Let’s talk development at Tech4Africa

The countdown has begun, and with less than 2 weeks till the most diverse and unique conference in South African tech history kicks off, all the last minutes plans are being put into place. We can’t wait for the doors to open and introduce you to some of the most prolific speakers from both South Africa as well as internationally.

A big focus at Tech4Africa will be focused on development and how local startups can benefit from learning from some of the best Developers from the biggest platforms around the world. Guys like Dustin Diaz from TwitterJohn Resig from Mozilla are just some of the big names to join us at Tech4Africa.

Jonathan Snook from Yahoo will be looking at how iPhone & Android development are growing rapidly, and how you can create the perfect and usable app. Jonathan comes from a long history of web development and developing apps, and will no doubt share his fantastic knowledge on these topics.

Another session not to miss is by Andy Budd, who is an interaction designer and web standards developer from Brighton, England. Andy leads the user experience team at Clearleft, and will be hosting a session called “Ignore User Experience at your peril”. User experience is essential when developing a new product, and Andy will take us through the steps to ensure it is done 100% correctly.

With Twitter growing daily in leaps in bounds, Lead User interface engineer, Dustin Diaz, will be sharing his tips & tricks when developing with Javascript. In his session called “Unobtrusive interfaces with js” will assist developers in ensuring user interfaces are are always rich & engaging.

Another Javascript ninja, John Resig, will be presenting a session called “6 secrets to becoming a jQuery ninja”, in which John will be showing you the tricks of the trade on how to become the ultimate jQuery ninja. John comes with a wealth of jQuery knowledge is the lead developer of the jQuery Javascript library.

If there is one session you do NOT want to miss at Tech4Africa, it will be the Q&A session with all these guys, joined by Joe Stump from SimpleGeo. Andy Budd, Dustin Diaz, John Resig, Jonathan Snook & Joe Stump will all join in a 1 hour Q&A session panel, where they will be answering your questions as well as answering an interesting question – “What was your hardest challenge, and how did you overcome it?” Be sure to join the guys on the Thursday at 11:00

It’s not only the international chaps who will be sharing their experiences with you, we have a fantastic South African panel called “Ideas are cheap, execution is everything. Live to bootstrap.
The panel will be headed up by Brett Haggard who is joined by Barbara Mallinson from Obami, Eve Dmchowska from Crowdfund,  our very own Gareth Knight from Technovated & Andy Higgins from BidorBuy. The panel will look at how South Africans need to bootstrap their product and without losing perspective or faith.

Last but not least we will also be hosting Erik Hersman who was the man behind the ever popular African open source project Ushahidi, which allows users to crowd source crisis information to be sent via mobile. Erik will share his story on how Ushahidi has grown into the international success it is today.

With a lineup like this, you cannot afford to miss Tech4Africa this year. If you have not registered your place yet, we suggest you do so ASAP. Places are running out fast, this is one conference you do NOT want to miss out on !

Winners of the Old Mutual scholarships

Congratulations to the lucky students who won the Old Mutual Scholarships to attend Tech4Africa!

1.Robin Tshepo Putu
2. Henno Gous
3. Mike Changa Sinalo
4. Lennon Chimbumu
5. Joshua Yudaken
6. Peter Brookstein
7. Stéfan van der Walt
8. Travis Noakes
9. Lishen Mabundza
10. Khomotso Lucky Mmapheto
11. Talya Goldberg
12. Cebo Mthembu
13. Tebogo Masilo
14. JT Thom
15. Jono Lewis
16. Kate Ludwig
17. Justin Arenstein

See you at the conference!

7 reasons why you should attend Tech4Africa

Whether you’re an African business person wanting to understand how the Web 2.0 is relevant to the enterprise, an entrepreneur interested in learning more about venture funding or a technologist wanting to learn from the best technical people around, here is how you can benefit from attending Tech4Africa on August 12 and 13, 2010:

#1 – Get global perspective for the African context

Tech4Africa is the first Web, mobile and emerging technology conference of it’s kind in Africa. It will bring together internationally respected speakers and practitioners who are building the Web and technology as we know it, with leading Africans who are themselves paving the way forward.
Speakers will delve into topics like emerging technologies; Web 2.0; mobile, wireless and cloud computing; entrepreneurship; search and marketing.

#2 – Listen to keynote speakers Clay Shirky and Leila Chirayath Janah

Clay Shirky is an experienced speaker on topics related to the Web, social media and the Internet. Shirky has spoken at events such as TED Global, SXSW, the Web 2.0 expo in New York and San Francisco, SES San Jose, the Adobe Learning Summit, New York Tech Meetup and the Aspen Ideas Festival.

Leila Chirayath Janah is the founder and CEO of Samasource, a social business that connects over 800 women, youth, and refugees living in poverty to digital work. Ms. Janah is a frequent speaker on entrepreneurship, technology, and international development at institutions including MIT, Stanford, and Harvard. Her work has been profiled by CBC, CNN, The New York Times, and The New Scientist, and in 2010, she was named one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Women in Technology.

#3 – Listen to globally respected subject matter experts

Top international technologists at the conference will be, among others, Dustin Diaz, a user interface engineer at Twitter and author of JavaScript Design Patterns; Joe Stump, the former lead architect of social news Web site Digg and co-founder of SimpleGeo; John Resig, creator of the popular Javascript library jQuery, and a Javascript tool developer for Mozilla; and Jonathan Snook, a web designer and developer at Yahoo!.

#4 – Listen to African speakers that are leading the way

African technologists such as Steve Vosloo, the 21st century learning fellow for the Shuttleworth Foundation; Barbara Mallinson, founder of educational collaboration platform Obami; Agosta Liko, founder of mobile payment service PesaPal; Erik Hersman, the co-founder of open source crisis information site Ushahidi; Andy Hadfield, an expert in the design of web strategies and online communities; and Nii Simmonds, speaker, consultant, and sustainable evangelist on African entrepreneurship, sustainable technology, and African innovation.

These are just a few of the outstanding African speakers who are going to be present at the conference. Check out our website to see all of them.

#5 – Go to workshops where you can dive into detail with industry leaders

Learn from the best at our workshops on August 10 and 11, 2010. Sessions include “A masterclass in Usability and Accessibility”; “A deep dive into Google Analytics and Adwords”; “A Masterclass in Architecting applications and Advanced Javascript” and “Successful digital projects”.

#6 – Technology networking on steroids

Learn, discuss and share experiences and thoughts with the African technology community during the conference and at the cocktail party. Tech4Africa will be a great place to broaden your knowledge and business network. Checkout the companies that have already bought tickets for the conference.

#7 – Be inspired

Our simple goal is that delegates walk away both informed and inspired. Placing greatest emphasis on learning, interaction, engagement and discussion, we want the conference to be a place for new ideas and to encourage people to make and change things.