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ACM SIGGRAPH-Eurographics visit to Southern Africa
19 March-4 April 2001
Part 4 - Details of the Meetings in Cape Town



4.1 CITI - Cape Information Technology Initiative (http://www.citi.org.za)

CITI is a non-profit corporation established to promote IT entrepreneurship in the Cape Town area. A building has been purchased in downtown Cape Town and good networking facilities and a secretary have been installed. Budding entrepreneurs are able to acquire cubicle space in the building for their companies at a low cost. 5-6 high-tech startups or related organization are resident in the building currently.

The delegation met with the head of the initiative, Peter Frampton (in the foreground above), followed by a more general meeting with those current members of CITI that have an interest in graphics.

In talking to CITI about the value of the networking facilities, we encountered a theme echoed throughout the region. Bandwidth to connect to the net is a problem, at two levels: at the local level, South Africa still has a government telecommunication monopoly, and fixed lines are expensive and installed only after great delay. Secondly, the bandwidth connecting the region to the global net is severely restricted -- only a few tens of megabits are available for the entire country. This issue impacted much of our discussions about online resources, as we realized downloading multi-megabyte resources such as most ACM Digital Library papers is not currently practical.


  • cape-on-line telemedicine applications 
  • graphics-boutiques for possible post production facilities for the growing film industry in the Cape Region 


  • CITI to act as a ``phone-contact'' for AFRIGRAPH 
  • desire for CITI to be represented at the proposed AFRIGRAPH reception at S2001

4.2 University of Cape Town (http://www.cs.uct.ac.za)

    4.2.1Department of Computer Science, Staff


    An informal meeting was held between the delegation and several members of the Department of Computer Science, Edwin Blake, James Gain and Gary Marsden (James and Gary are pictured above, left to right).

    One of their major concerns is the way in which large companies from the U.S. and Europe hire their students to work out of the region. For instance, last year 100% of their honors graduates in computer science were hired to work outside the region by large firms (Microsoft was mentioned as the largest employer), often to perform lower-level jobs such as software quality assurance. This 'brain drain' leaves them not only with few or no post-graduate students, but also no local talent to staff companies in the region.

    From discussing this concern at UCT and elsewhere, the idea arose of having a Southern Africa reception at SIGGRAPH 2001, and publicizing it among alumni from the region now working elsewhere, to make the former students aware of the activity occurring in Southern Africa in case they would like to return to pursue those (see Outcomes below). 


    • funded collaboration between UCT and other universities, possibly through the European Union Framework VI projects or NSF funding 
    • attracting back and keeping graduates to do further research and staff companies


    • invitation for UCT (and other) alumni currently in the US to the AFRIGRAPH reception at S2001. These lists to be provided by the Universities

    4.2.2 Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research

    The delegation met with Dr. Sibusiso Sibisi, UCT's deputy VC of research. Issues discussed were the problems of keeping postgraduate students and access to open source material for developing countries. 


    • collaborative funding opportunities 
    • visualisation of pollution dispersion 
    • open source issues


    • possible panel at AG2001 on Open Source Issues 
    • ACM SIGGRAPH proposed HUB to provide partnership opportunities 
    • UCT to investigate ways of further developing links between their Arts and Science departments

    4.2.3 Department of Computer Science, Students

    The presentation (Appendix A) was given to the staff and students (after we were allowed back into the building following a fire alarm).


    • getting involved with the SIGGRAPH conference


    • suggested submitting for Educators grant for S2001 and Student Volunteers for S2002 (deadline for S2001 closed in January)

    4.2.4 Dean of Science

    A meeting was also held with the Dean of Science, Professor Daya Reddy (an applied mathematician with an interest in visualisation) and several other members of the science faculty including representatives from Geology, Physics, Chemistry and Computational Chemistry. IT has been made a priority of the Faculty. 


    • Large Parallel Visualisation Centre to support multidisciplinary work 
    • improving network bandwidth 
    • ACM Digital Library consortia


    • provision of open source visualisation software to those interested

4.3 CAMA - Contemporary African Music and Arts (http://www.cama.org.za)

CAMA is the Contemporary African Music and Arts initiative aimed at recording for prosperity, unique music and art from around the African continent. Accordingly, they have raised sponsorship for equipping seven locations around the continent (Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sudan and South Africa)with digital video capture and editing resources, and their collaborators are now capturing video and audio records of Africa's cultural heritage, particular the verbal and oral traditions that need to be captured. 


  • media for capturing art and music, copyright issues


  • possible CAMA participation at AG2001

4.4 Carolynn Wissema, Information Architect

We met with a local consultant, Carolyn Wissema (second from the right), who works on data visualization projects in the region. Most recently, she worked on some projects visualizing AIDS infections rates in the Western Cape province. The dimensions of the AIDS epidemic in South Africa (http://www.aids.org.za) are staggering; around 22% of pregnant woman in the country are HIV-positive (hard statistics on the overall infection rate are not available). Carolyn showed us the visualizations she had done in conjunction with the City of Cape Town visualizing the most-infected areas with the aim of enabling more effective targetting of preventional and education programs. 


  • visualisation of complex data related to urban developments


  • visualization of data shown to be a powerful tool for understanding some of the complex problems currently faced by Southern Africa, for example AIDS and crime.

Go back to Part 3 - Executive Summary
Go on to Part 4 - Grahamstown
Go back to the Table of Contents

Nan Schaller, ACM/SIGGRAPH Project Grants Chair

Last updated: March 25, 2002