The eKasi Tech Fest and Gaming Expo, simply referred to as the ‘eKasi Tech Fest 2018’ was held from the 18 – 20 October 2018 at Soweto’s Dlamini Multi Purpose Hall. The festival combined both gaming and technology into one event, managing to cater to the needs of gamers and technology enthusiasts.
A major objective of the event was to bridge the digital divide and enable township communities to participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution in order to ensure all round sustainable development at present and in the future. It stands as the first and only township gaming festival aimed at addressing innovation and economic potential in a township setting.
The eKasi Tech Fest is an initiative by the Innovation Village (i- Village) Foundation NPC, based in Soweto; born out of a need to create a platform that would bring together diverse thinkers with a multitude of skills and talents and enable these thinkers to connect and network with one another. The festival brought together a range of people such as esteemed industry leaders, policy makers, innovators from underrepresented communities, township entrepreneurs, incubators, students and young people interested in entrepreneurship, gaming and eSports brands as well as avid gamers.
Over the three day event, numerous relevant platforms were hosted including informative panel discussions, exhibitions and the Gauteng Gaming Community Cup.
The exhibitions allowed attendees to explore the latest developments in technology, whilst exhibitors, mainly start-ups were given a platform to engage with influential people and the community with the aim of commercialising their products and services. A wide range of educational and entertainment video games were also shown on relatively new platforms such as Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR); platforms such as these were probably not accessible to many before this.
The informative panel discussions focused on issues of transformation of township economy through technology. Some of the discussion topics include developing a vibrant township economy, cyber bullying, understanding eSports, game design and development, pitching your game, shaping the future of education and most importantly, women in technology.
A panel discussion, The Future of Women in Tech: Beyond Tech, was held to discuss the challenges that woman face, such as career opportunities, funding, resources and market access, in the context of the emerging technology industries in South Africa. This discussion was headed by Erika Denis, the regional head of media, music and film at the French Embassy.
Programs such as Digital Lab Africa, offer women from any socioeconomic space a chance to make a place in the technology world. These programs enable township or rural women to develop their skills and to reach the same level as the other future leaders of this expanding technological industry.
The event also focused on gaming as an industry, through the Gauteng Gaming Community Cup Tournament and there were many prizes to be won in gaming competitions. The Soweto Esports Community Cup Final in Pro Gaming FIFA & Tekken 7 was hosted for the first time. There was a Counter Strike (CS:GO) competitive match as well.
In summary, the eKasi Tech Fest was a huge success as a celebration of innovators and job creators, specifically in terms of start-ups and in bringing a diverse group of people together, all while playing games and learning at the same time.
*Images courtesy of the eKasi Tech Fest and Gaming Expo social media pages.
Written by Dhruti Dheda
Dhruti Dheda is a Chemical Engineer with a strong interest in media and communication. She is the editor of the Engineers without Borders South Africa Newsletter and the Community Manager – South Africa and Regional Outreach for Geeky Girl Reality. If you wish to collaborate or network, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her on twitter @dhrutidd