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Following the tradition, this year the alumni dinner also welcomed a special speaker: Stafford Masie, leading global IT trend-tracker, thought-leader, inventor, and “father” of Google in sub-Saharan Africa. Stafford’s speech “The digital clash of civilisations” also set the theme for the interesting discussion throughout the dinner.
Henning Suhr (Country Representative, Konrad Adenauer Foundation South Africa) started the proceedings by welcoming the scholars, alumni, friends and colleagues from KAS and SAIIA. He emphasized the importance of the long-run scholarship programme since 1999 as a contribution of both institutions to the young talented scholars of South Africa. Events like this offer an opportunity for KAS and SAIIA to maintain the close relationship with the scholars as well as to seek possibilities of collaboration and networking. Among the scholars of various generations present at the events were the four current scholars of 2018: Cayley Clifford, Zinhle Ngidi, Kate Mlauzi and Priscilla Thindwa.
Stafford Masie delivered his speech on creative insights into technology’s transversality and applicability - from crypto to blockchain to small banking and giant telecoms. His passionate and astounding speech brought to the table much news about the breakthroughs in technology in the past few years, from the application of artificial intelligence in consumer behavior analysis to Bitcoin or blockchain. One of his arguments that received much approval from the audience consisting of many scholars in the field of humanities was: “We need to understand humans more, not technology better”. The speech was followed by a discussion with all the guests moderated by Elizabeth Sidiropoulos (Chief Executive, SAIIA). Many concerns focused on the future of technology in South Africa regarding the course of development and current challenges the country has to confront with, such as high unemployment or a weak education system. Overall, South Africa was expected to nurture and embrace the fast-paced innovations with all of its potentials.
Generally, the event offered a pleasant opportunity for our scholars, friends and colleagues to reflect on how far the scholarship programme has come, as well as acknowledging the difference it has made to the lives of many young Africans. It ended well with networking amongst the guests of the KAS-SAIIA scholarship programme as well as exchange knowledge and experience. We are looking forward to the cooperation with our scholars in the near future.