In September 2011, the Pretoria-based mLab opened its doors to regional entrepreneurs seeking technical, business, and legal know-how, access to potential partners and investors, and affordable facilities.
Kotze’s background and skills make him uniquely suited for the mLab’s top post. As Nokia’s developer outreach and marketing manager for East and Southern Africa, he spent the last two years working with local developers and mobile ecosystem stakeholders to drive knowledge exchange.
As he prepares to assume his new role on Friday, June 15, Kotze hopes to continue creating the conditions for inclusive, sustainable, locally sourced growth.
“Mobile entrepreneurs not only hold the key to creating new jobs,” said Kotze, “but also to democratizing many services and opportunities that have historically eluded many across the continent.”
“I have a simple vision for mLab SA,” he added: “To make it synonymous with opportunity.”
The hire is the latest move in an expansion and talent-seeking campaign by the consortium in charge of mLab SA. The mLab aims to emulate the runaway success of mLab East Africa and mLab ECA, which have both produced a number of award-winning international firms since their launches last year.
mLab SA is run jointly by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Meraka Institute, The Innovation Hub, and Ungana-Afrika, with funding from infoDev and the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa.
Among those who expressed excitement over the news was Toni Eliasz, infoDev’s manager of mobile operations. “Already during our network meeting at OIAS two weeks ago, Derrick showed a deep understanding of the needs of mobile entrepreneurs and the mobile innovation system as a whole,” Eliasz said.
“I am confident Derrick will become a key player for mLab SA and for our whole mobile innovation network,” he added.