Keynote Speakers

The Role of Data & Technology in Financial Inclusion

Talk Abstract

In many regions of the world, traditional banking does not adequately provide access to financial services for people and businesses that do not have an initial financial basis, a proof of identity in the conventional sense or that are in rural or remote areas. By using mobile phone services and participating in mobile payment networks, digital data is now being availed for a large segment of the population that was formerly invisible. This talk will cover the novel technologies and techniques within the context of financial inclusion and digital finance that IBM Research Africa explores, develops, evaluates and deploys to overcome grand challenges in helping individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises access financial services affordably.

Speaker

AbdiganiDr. Abdigani Diriye is a research scientist and a manager for the financial services research group at IBM Research Africa and the co-founder of Innovate Ventures, the leading startup accelerator and technology fund in Somalia. At IBM, Dr. Abdigani and his team design, develop and deploy innovative and commercially viable technologies to extend access to financial services in Africa. Dr. Abdigani has held research positions in industry and academia for some of the largest companies and institutions such as Fuji-Xerox Palo Alto Labs, The Open University, Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon University and has previously founded a FinTech startup. Dr. Abdigani has published over 35 papers and patents in leading scientific outlets, and holds a Bachelors, Masters and PhD in Computer Science from the University of London. Dr. Abdigani Diriye is a TED Fellow, Next Einstein Forum Fellow and has been listed as one of 35 innovators under 35 by MIT Technology Review. His work has been featured in Forbes, Wired, Technology Review, Quartz, BBC Radio, CNN and Fast Company among others.  

 

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)

Talk Abstract

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for post-graduate training, research and public engagement in the mathematical sciences. Our mission is to enable Africa’s brightest students to flourish as independent thinkers, problem solvers and innovators capable of propelling Africa’s future scientific, educational and economic self-sufficiency. In this talk I will highlight AIMS’s success stories, challenges and opportunities since our first centre opened in 2003.

Speaker

BGreenBarry Green is the Director of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in South Africa and the Chief Academic and Research Officer for the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS NEI). He completed his PhD at the University of Cape Town in 1984 and lectured at Stellenbosch University before spending ten years as a research scientist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. In 1996 he returned to Stellenbosch University, where he was appointed Chairperson of the Mathematics Department in 2002. From 2006 to 2009 he was the Executive Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, incorporating Mathematics, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, and still holds a Mathematics Professorship there. In 2007 he received the South African Mathematical Society’s Award for Research Distinction. He has been Editor of the mathematics journal Quaestiones Mathematicae from 2002 to 2015 and has served on the Editorial Board of Afrika Mathematika.

Green has been closely involved with the growth of AIMS since its founding in 2003 and was appointed the second Director of AIMS South Africa in April 2010. He is passionate about promoting the growth of the mathematical sciences in the developing world, particularly in Africa, and has recently been elected the President of CIMPA, the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics.

 

Decolonisation of Knowledge in Engineering and the Built Environment

Talk Abstract

In 2015 and 2016, South Africa saw nationwide protests catalysed by the #FeesMustFall movement – among others, the call for “decolonisation of knowledge” surfaced – arguments for- and against- this topic actively emerged within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) communities. In this talk, Prof Saurabh Sinha, Executive Dean: Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE), University of Johannesburg (UJ), South Africa, will firstly relate Engineering, Engineering Education and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Supported with actionable steps, the talk will then bring about an integrated approach, define and contextualize the call for decolonization of knowledge.

Speaker

SinhaProf Sinha obtained his B. Eng, M. Eng and Ph.D. degrees in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pretoria (UP). He achieved both his B. Eng and M. Eng with distinction. As a published researcher, he has authored or co-authored over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, books and at international conferences. In addition, he is the managing editor of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE) Africa Research Journal. Prof Sinha served UP for over a decade; his last service being as Director of the Carl and Emily Fuchs Institute for Microelectronics, Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. Together with his research group, he conducted teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, researched and performed extensive management tasks. To allow for continuation of postgraduate student leadership, he was also appointed as extraordinary professor at UP. On 1 October 2013 Prof Sinha was appointed as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

Beyond his academic contributions, Prof Sinha continues to be an active member of several professional societies, significant elected positions include: 2014-2015 IEEE Vice-President: Educational Activities, IEEE Board of Director.

He is also the recipient of the 2007 SAIEE Engineer of the Year Award, 2010 UP Laureate Award and 2013 TW Kambule NRF-NSTF Award for his outstanding contribution to science, engineering, technology and innovation (SETI) through research and its outputs. Beyond his academic contributions, Prof Sinha, a registered professional engineer, served as an industrial consultant for Business Enterprises at the University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd.

Prof Sinha currently serves on committees of international, national, regional and professional societies, including the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). ECSA is a signatory of the Washington Accord – International Engineering Alliance (IEA).

Prof Sinha speaks internationally on topics relating to engineering education, sustainable development (sustainable engineering education) and in areas relating to his specialist area of work – mm-Wave microelectronics – integrated circuit design.

 

Cognitive Radio and Dynamic Spectrum Management: Connecting Africa’s next billion!

Talk Abstract

Speaker

MaharajProfessor Sunil Maharaj is the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and IT and also holds the SENTECH Chair in Broadband Wireless Multimedia Communications at the University of Pretoria. He has more that 28 years in industry as a Microwave and RF Design Engineer, academia and research experience. His is a professional engineer and holds a PhD in Electronic Engineering from the University of Pretoria. Among others, he has twice been the winner of the DTI-THRIP Technology Award in the Advanced Hi-Tech category and in 2015 winner of the SAIEE Engineering excellence award. His research interests are in Massive MIMO, Cognitive Radio Networks and 5G cross-layer design. He is the South African lead investigator in the establishment of the Institute of Cognitive Networking (iCON) which is a collaborative research initiative between SA and USA.

 

Sensing the Future!

Talk Abstract

Sensors are everywhere! They make cars safer and more efficient, regulate most industrial processes and are found in nearly every mobile phone or tablet PC. Sensors are the natural complement to the digital revolution, providing the “senses” that enable the application of digital processing to real-world problems. Today, more and more sensors are made from silicon, using low-cost techniques adapted from the hugely successful IC industry. Such sensors can be easily combined with local electronics to realize so-called “smart” sensors: complete sensing systems in a single package. By exploiting the various physical properties of silicon, a wide range of physical parameters can be sensed, e.g. light, temperature, sound, airflow to name but a few. The aim of this talk is to give an overview of the technology behind today’s smart sensors and to discuss new developments and future trends.

Speaker

MakinwaKofi A.A. Makinwa is a Professor at Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, where he leads a group that designs analog integrated circuits and smart sensors. He holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria, an M.E.E. degree from the Philips International Institute and a Ph.D. degree from Delft University of Technology, both in The Netherlands. From 1989 to 1999 he was a research scientist at Philips Research Laboratories. He holds 25 patents, has (co)-authored/edited over 200 technical articles and 12 books, and has given invited talks and tutorials at several international conferences. Dr. Makinwa is a (co)-recipient of several best paper awards, and is a recipient of the Simon Stevin Gezel award from the Dutch Technology Foundation. At the 60th anniversary of the prestigious International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), he was recognized as one of its top ten contributing authors. He is an IEEE fellow, an alumnus of the Young Academy of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and an elected member of the AdCom of the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society.