Sponsored: Putting passion and technology into infrastructure projects

IT evangelist Abdul Baba, chief technology and information officer, has a challenging road ahead, as he balances the technology needs of Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) mandates to meet the critical infrastructure demands this country has.

24 July 2023

Abdul Kader Baba - CTIO at Infrastructure South Africa (ISA).

ISA is a single point of entry for infrastructure planning, management, and delivery. It’s responsible for meeting the infrastructure targets set out in the National Development Plan, also providing leadership on infrastructure planning and technical and financial support for nationally prioritised infrastructure programmes. 

“The technology strategy is ensuring that we build a digital platform that facilitates infrastructure investment and implementation across all SA’s public and private sectors,” says Baba. “Technology is at the heart of what we do and by becoming increasingly technically nimble and adept, we hope to accelerate and enable the organisation to execute on its mandates.

“A key objective is implementing efficient data architecture to facilitate the next generation of proactive, predictive, integrated and realtime infrastructure-reporting at all stakeholder levels, which means top technology priorities for the next year will require focus on data and analytics, including the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) as well as cloud service adoption.”

Baba says what keeps him up at night is trying to keep up with the organisations’ demands and staying on top of new technologies and trends, like AI, which he says will become a critical value chain enabler, fuelling demand for IT and communication. 

“CIOs must understand the business impact such technologies as AI and machine learning will have and how to use advances for best effect to create operational efficiencies and business advantage. This goes hand-in-hand with factoring in the way cybersecurity is going to develop. However, CIOs also need to think in the now and not too far ahead in terms of the technologies to embrace.

“Everything is constantly evolving, including my role as CTIO, which has moved beyond CIO into CTIO and covers technology as well as information, and I see the role increasingly encompassing digital as well – integrated and focused on driving business value, enablement and information resilience.” 

Positive future

Baba says the pandemic, the impact of loadshedding and economic and political pressure have been and continue to be challenges affecting the role of ICT to maintain ISA’s strategic intent, but he sees the outlook for the country, despite the current economic headwinds, moving into a positive future as development projects take place and move to conclusion. He says the challenges allow ISA to play an even greater role in addressing infrastructure-related issues across all relevant sectors.

“This also where MTN fits in as a key player in terms of coverage and the ability to connect the country, plus make smart cities possible. MTN’s continuing to provide connectivity infrastructure is a critical part of infrastructure development.”

What gets Baba up in the morning is giving back, through technology, to make a difference in the country and its communities. One way he does this is through an NPO initiative helping disadvantaged children have access to technology.

A sought-after professional local and international speaker, he emphasises the importance of building networks and their value.

“To be successful, never stop learning, always do your best to make a difference with solutions that solve problems and, above all, be passionate about achieving what you want to achieve,” he concludes.