The SAIEE will inaugurate George Debbo as President at the Annual General Meeting on the 28th of March 2019. This year, the President's theme is "Digital Transformation - the enabler for economic and social inclusivity".
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION – THE ENABLER FOR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL INCLUSIVITY
Digital Transformation addresses the changes that have taken place in the world around us as a result of the deployment and application of digital technology. Such changes have influenced all aspects of our lives, including professional and personal. Within the professional realm, such changes have impacted the way businesses are run and conducted as well as our contact and interface with such entities. Within the private space, Digital Transformation has changed how we communicate and socialise as well as how we consume information, including that which forms part of our entertainment.
A key benefit of Digital Transformation is that it has allowed the disadvantaged sector of our society, especially on the continent of Africa, access to several services from which they were previously excluded. Digital Transformation has contributed significantly to enabling inclusivity in areas such as economic and social development of the disadvantaged sectors of our society.
This address discusses both the benefits and disadvantages of Digital Transformation, as well identifies the key digital technologies that have contributed to both Digital Transformation as well as Digital Disruption, the latter also being a significant contributor to Digital Transformation. The address will also cover the current barriers that are hindering the progress being achieved with Digital Transformation, especially within the South African context, and proposes how the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) can get involved in the public debate related to Digital Transformation, and the setting of policy in this context.
George Debbo has been an integral part of the telecommunication industry in South Africa for over four decades. He started his career in the South African Post Office (SAPO), which later transformed into Telkom SA on commercialisation in 1991. As a pupil technician, he progressively rose through the ranks to Executive level before he left in 1999 to further pursue his career in the vendor community.
During his time at Telkom, he was responsible for many engineering projects including research to increase the robustness of pulse code modulation systems to lightning interference. He was actively involved with the deployment of synchronous digital hierarchical (SDH) technology into the transmission network. In 1994, he championed the implementation of long haul optical fibre and the formulation of the Vision 2000 strategy. This strategy was formulated to complete the modernising of the telecommunications network by converting outstanding electro-mechanical exchanges to digital exchanges. By eradicating the waiting list, Telkom added one million telephone lines into underserviced areas (predominantly the previously independent TBVC states).
George was responsible for two of the most significant projects Telkom has ever launched in South Africa. The first project was the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure to service the first democratic General Election in 1994, for which he earned the Telkom Managing Director's Award. In 1995 he headed the development of the infrastructure required to support telecommunication and television services for the Rugby World Cup.
In 1999 George left Telkom to join the vendor community, first as Technical Director for Marconi South Africa and then as Chief Technical Officer for Ericsson Sub Saharan Africa, following Ericsson's global acquisition of Marconi PLC in 2006. During his time within the vendor community, he was responsible for many significant projects including the deployment of ADSL technology in South Africa, the implementation of the first metropolitan and access fibre network in Africa which took place in Kampala Uganda and the deployment of the first 4G mobile network which took place in Angola. In 2012 George left Ericsson to set up his own business as an Independent Telecommunications Consultant.
Today George's prime area of interest is in software programmable networks and virtualisation. He is currently carrying out applications research in this area and is regularly called upon to address conferences on this technology.
In terms of academic qualifications George has a BSc (Elec.Eng) and an MSc (Elec.Eng) degree, both obtained from the University of the Witwatersrand and is a registered Professional Engineer with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
You are welcome to join us on the evening of the 28th of March at the South African Military Museum.
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, which is essential as we have limited seats available.