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AFRIK-IT  March 1998

AFRIK-IT March 1998

Subject:

Y2k in South Africa (in a Nutshell)

From:

Chris Anderson <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Fri, 13 Mar 1998 21:23:18 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (122 lines)

At 08:52 1998-03-13 -0600, Dave wrote:
> it seems the likelihood of
>the entire North American power supply to come crashing down is a whole
>lot higher than I thought.

Yardeni is not too happy about the status either.

>I really haven't heard much about South Africa at all.
>What about cities like Durban, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein or
>Pietermaritzburg or others?

Getting anything done in Africa is like the Mating of
Elephants. Everything happens at high level with lots of screaming
and stamping about. And then you have to wait a long time
before anything happens.

Cape Town and Johannesburg are off and running. Durban
and Pretoria are just getting going. The others not.
We are trying to set up a structure to support Local Government.

> What are they doing to ensure critical
>utilities - electricity, heat (other than electric), sewerage, water,
>telecommunications - to the people and businesses and government
>entities?   It does get cold down there, at least in the south doesn't
>it?

Heating is not such a problem. But we have a huge backlog
of rural infrastructure which is going to be adversely affected.

You have to understand SA infrastructure. All major utilies were
originally parastatal although they have now been "privatised".
There is one major Electricity supplier, Eskom, who have a program
well under way, and are currently hunting down embedded systems.
Their "clients" are heavy industry and local government ( who are
way behind). Eskom has to get their suppliers and users in line.

Telecomms is all under Telkom, who also are well on the way.
(Their desktop people use the "Cinderella method" I may add).

The banking system consists of 4 very large groups, all ATM's
are linked country wide in the SASWITCH network. Different banking
concept. They are all budgeted and beavering away.
Air and Rail Transport used to be the same company, and they are
also well down the track. But a huge amount of work has to be done.

I don't want to give the impression that all is well, and that sunshine
and happiness prevail. Manufacturing and Retail are dreadfully behind.
I would classify the general status as  "Doing Inventory",
although of course there is a lot of remediation going on.

As far as I am concerned, the bad news is that the one department
we all love to hate, The Receiver of Revenue, our IRS equivalent,
lashed out 30 million last year on the latest state of the art and
are reported to be on target for end 1998. Rats. The one bunch
that I really would not mind seeing disappear seem to be in fine shape.

We are still losing trained people to the US and Europe
and how we will cope is causing many of us to acquire
more grey hair than necessary. I am burning the midnight
oil trying to produce a methodology to redeploy what staff we have.

Government is in the process of setting up a Y2k Centre, but it
does not even have working email yet. So Government have at
last started taking it all seriously. We have a long way to go,
but the NYDSC (National Y2k Decision Support Centre) is a very
positive step, and we are gearing up to give it full support. because
they will need all the help they can get.

Public awareness is nil.  Media are still at the "hype" stage and
report "strange" goings on in US and Europe as if we had nothing
to do with it. But now Parliamentary questions and budgets are
emerging, all of a sudden there are a lot of "Special" Y2k editions
scheduled this month. My fingers are raw from typing press releases.

Most of our "awareness" has come from private user groups
and the Computer Society SIG (for which I do a lot of work),
and we are in the midst of setting up to support the Y2k Center.
Needless to say we are classed as "cranks" and "doomsayers"
by Media and get zero support. Although this is changing.
We are in the process of setting up Industry segments
such as Petrochemical etc.

The whole infrastructural thing is under review. A massive info
campaign is about to start (April).

> Does South Africa also supply the infrastructure to places like
>Transkei and Swaziland?  What about to other countries like Namibia,
>Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique?  Is each self-contained or are there
>cross-border arrangements?

Essentially each does their own thing. However Eskom and
Railways cover the southern continent and are hitting their
heads on the problems now.

Water is a problem. Always has been, always will be.

Patrick O'Beirne and I have been shouting
loudly on the AFRIK-IT list (which covers the rest of Africa), with
very little success. The World Bank has just started an initiatve
to get Developing Countries up and going. There is a gleam in
my eye to provide Y2k project advice from SA. After all Cinderella
is a free service. Maybe I should start charging vast sums and
then people would take me seriously. B>)

The usual seminar thing chugs on. We had Karl Feilder
here on Wednesday, so we had a chummy get together.
(The technical content of his presentation has improved
vastly, I thought it was excellent, and very entertaining).

After all, Cinderella's main function in life is to Keep Karl Honest B>)

In general, an air of harsh reality is at last starting to creep in.
Gene Amdahl was right, 1998 is the year Y2k gets real.

We are busy, busy, busy. We are definitely not Happy Campers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chris Anderson          email:                       [log in to unmask]
Y2K Cinderella Project          [log in to unmask]
http://www.cinderella.co.za             Striving for Year 2000 Compliance
------------------------------------------------------------------------

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