Conference Report: Southern African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT '14)

We (A/Prof. Suleman, King'ori Maina, Sean Packham, Yamiko Msosa and myself) formed part of the list of delegates at this year's Southern African Institute for Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT) conference [1]; held between September 29 and October 3 in Pretoria. The conference was hosted by the Department of Informatics at the University of Pretoria. This was my third time attending SAICSIT---having had attended the 2011 and 2013 events, and it just keeps getting better.

I gave a talk, based on a paper---Fine-grained Scalability of Digital Library Services [2, 3]---I co-authored. I was slotted in the Cloud Computing session and, incidentally, the two papers that won the best paper awards in both the Computer Science [4] and Information Systems [5] were presented in the same session. This year's conference had the lowest acceptance rates in recent years [6], with an acceptance rate of 30.4% (38/125).

While I sat in some interesting mainstream Computer Science sessions, one of the hallmarks of the event, for me, was the two hour-long ICT4D workshop; the workshop fit in rather well with the conference theme---Empowered by Technology. Although general, a couple of interesting things came out of the workshop:

  • An overwealmingly large number of institutions around South Africa are working towards a number of ICT4D-centric projects. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Monash University, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rhodes University, University of the Cape Town, University of South Africa, University of Pretoria;  University of the Western Cape; University of the Witwatersrand and Western Cape government had representation at the workshop.
  • A nation-wide Google group (ICT4D-4all) [7] is now up and running
  • There was a proposal by UNISA to develop an open ICT4D knowledge repository

Interestingly enough, the next event (SAICSIT '15) will be held on Western Cape and will be hosted by Stellenbosch University [8].