DebConf16/Bids/Cape Town

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[edit] DebConf 16 Cape Town Bid

Cape Town is the most Southern city in Africa
Table Mountain is a prominent part of Cape Town's skyline, and an icon for the city.


Cape Town, also known as "The Mother City", is Africa's southern most city with a population of nearly 4 million people. It's technologically developed with a Mediterranean climate and many natural attractions throughout the city and in the greater Western Cape province. It's the second-most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg.

We're submitting a bid to host DebConf16 in Cape Town.

[edit] Why Cape Town

[edit] We believe that Cape Town makes a great DebConf host city

  • Cape Town is a beautiful, cosmopolitan city and a premium conference and tourism location. As such it has a lot to offer, with many tourist-friendly activities outside the conference.
  • English is nearly universally spoken and understood as either first or second language. We also have a sizable international resident population and eleven official local languages.
  • The Free Software community in Southern Africa is largely centred on Cape Town. It's home to many related businesses, and start-up initiatives such as SiliconCape.
  • There has never been a DebConf in Africa before.
  • We have a small, but very dedicated base of Debian users and a local free software conference would be a good way to inject some enthusiasm. Simply planning the bid has brought some people out of the woodwork and into our community.
  • We have an experienced and diverse local team.
  • Cape Town provides a gentle introduction to African culture, catering for a wide range of experiences.
  • The cultural and historical elements of Cape Town, along with its raw beauty, great food and friendly people makes it a travel destination worthy of anyone's bucket list.

[edit] Weaker points in our bid

  • The Southern tip of Africa takes long to get to, increased budget required for sponsoring travel.
  • Because of Cape Town's well developed tourism drive, it isn't as cheap as one would expect Africa to be.
  • Current proposed dates are in the middle of winter. While only mildly unpleasant, it does result in significantly less variety of available activities.
  • Public Transport exists, but isn't as well developed as many European & American cities. The bus system is new, and doesn't cover the whole city, yet.

[edit] Local team

If you are interested in joining this initiative, but perhaps not quite affiliated to Debian yet, some volunteer tasks are listed on the /volunteers page

The following people support this bid:

Name Location Debian affiliation DC experience Other experience/affiliation
Jonathan Carter (highvoltage) Cape Town Debian Contributor / Package Maintainer Attended DC12, DC12 Video Team Ubuntu Member, Cape Linux User Group
Stefano Rivera (tumbleweed) San Francisco (from Cape Town, visits regularly) DD since 2011, user since ~2000 DC11-DC12 (video team), DC13-DC14 (driving bits of video team), DC15 (infrastructure shadow lead) ex-UCT student. Cape Linux User Group. On the outskirts of PyCon.ZA and ScaleConf organisation.
Jan Groenewald (pipedream) Cape Town AIMS
Marc Welz (marc) Cape Town Long time user, upstream Chair of Cape Linux User Group
Graham Inggs (ginggs) Cape Town DM since 2014, applied for DD UCT Engineering Faculty
Bernelle Verster (indiebio) Cape Town very, very new to Debian TEDxCapeTown Organizer
Allison Randal (wendar) Seattle/Cape Town DM since 2011, Debian packaging since 2005, Debian user since 1999 DC11, DC13 (website, sponsors team), DC14 (local team, website, sponsors team) OSCON conference chair (2005-2010), Open Source Intitiative board member (2014), Perl Foundation board member (2003-present), Python Software Foundation board member (2010-2012)
Nattie Mayer-Hutchings (nattie) Cambridge, UK DD since 2015 DC5, DC6, DC7, DC9, DC11 (front desk), DC13 (front desk), DC14 (front desk), DC15 (participant assistance team lead)
Raoul Snyman (superfly) Cape Town DM since 2014 Ubuntu Member
Simon Cross (hodgestar) Cape Town PyConZA organizer (2012, 2013, 2014)
Hannes von Haugwitz (hvhaugwitz) Saarbrücken, DE DM since 2010, DD since 2013 DC15 (local team) lived in Cape Town for three month in 2012
Nigel Kukard (nkukard) Cape Town DM since 2014 DC15 orga ##Linux on Freenode (founder), Cape Town Perl Mongers (founder). CEO of AllWorldIT. No affiliation to any suppliers for DebConf15. Skills: Management, Programmer, Network & Systems Architect.
Igshaan Mesias (netdog) Cape Town Debian User, was almost a DM Fedora Fonts SIG, Fedora Package Maintainer, Cape Linux User Group
Tyrone Cunningham Cape Town Debian (deb) User since 2012 Cape Linux User Group, Linux System Administrator at FullFacing
Your name here

All of us are aware that DebConf15 will appreciate our help finishing up post-conference tasks, and that it is in our interest to finish these tasks in a timely fashion. However, we have not yet finalised who will attend DebConf15.

[edit] Venue

Venue Locations in Cape Town

We investigated several /Potential Venues around the Cape Town area, before settling on our favourites. The choice isn't final, yet, but we have a first choice venue, and two reasonable backup options. The preferred venue is on the main campus of University of Cape Town (UCT), using university lecture theatres and student dormitories. One backup option is also a UCT campus, but it's the Business School campus, at the Waterfront, which is run as a conference venue and hotel by students. The other backup option is not affiliated with UCT - a conference hotel in Stellenbosch, about half an hour's drive out of Cape Town. The UCT main campus would be the cheapest option by far, as we'll likely be able to use the lecture theatres at no cost, and the dormitories are very cheap.

The venues are covered in more detail on sub-pages:

Criteria UCT Upper Campus UCT Breakwater (backup) TechnoPark (backup)
Location Venue is about 7 minutes from the city centre, by car (no traffic). The venue is free, so budget for nightly chartered bus is reasonable. Venue building is in upper campus, right at the base of Table Mountain, with direct access to hiking and short walks. Venue located on the V&A Waterfront, with 80+ restaurants and pubs. 6 minutes by taxi/Uber, 15 by bus or 30 walking from city centre, and numerous other restaurants along the way. Venue located in wine country to the east of Cape Town, 9 minutes by taxi or 1 hour walk from Stellenbosch city centre. Cape Town city centre is 39 minutes by taxi or chartered bus from venue.
Transport Airport to venue is 15 minutes by taxi/Uber or chartered bus (scheduled at most popular days/times for attendee arrival and departure) Airport to venue is 50 minutes by public transport, or 20 minutes by taxi/Uber or chartered bus. Airport to venue is 30 minutes by taxi/Uber or chartered bus.
Accomodation Dorms 5 minutes walk from conference venue, on the same campus All-in-one hotel and conference venue All-in-one hotel and conference venue
Food External caterers Restaurant, in-house catering In-house full catering
Capacity 200-400 people 200-300 people 200-300 people
  • free venue
  • close to town
  • dorms within same campus
  • great open spaces for hallway track
  • flexibility to bring in our own catering
  • 10Gbps uplink (500Mbps guaranteed international)
  • local team member on facility sysadmin staff for networking needs
  • on-campus pub (beer €1-€2), with extended hours on request
  • central location (and good public transport)
  • hundreds of restaurants within easy walking distance
  • across the street from an aquarium (including a penguin encounter area), and other Waterfront entertainments such as an enclosed ferris wheel, seal observation area, hands-on prospecting tour (like the old miners), museum of cannons, live street music, starting points for helicopter, bus, and boat tours (including a pirate ship tour), two movie theatres, a comedy club, and shopping
  • onsite "children's club", and childcare offered as a standard service through the hotel (in-room or supervised activity)
  • many alternate hotels within 5 min walking distance, covering a range of luxury from youth hostel to 5-star experience
  • external restaurants within TechnoPark complex, winery dining 15 minutes walk away, and many restaurants in Stellenbosch starting on the city outskirts 20 minutes walk away, and increasing in concentration towards the city center
  • childcare offered as a standard service (arranged through housekeeping)
  • nearby activities include hiking trails, bike rentals and mountain bike tours, winery tours and olive tastings, botanical gardens, a toy museum, animal farms for eagles, giraffes, crocodiles, and big cats (lions, cheetah, leopards, and tigers)
  • 15 minutes walk to closest off-campus restaurant or transport needed into city for dinner (taxi/Uber or chartered bus)
  • opening and closing plenaries would be held in an adjacent or nearby building
  • closest dorms have only shared bathrooms (other dorms have private baths, or family accomodation)
  • closest alternate hotels are ~10 minutes drive, requiring at least taxi/Uber, but most convenient with a car rental
  • largest plenary room holds 220 attendees, so for larger attendence would need to run plenaries live-streamed to an overflow room
  • main dining area in the hotel is too small for 300 people (alternatives: cater meals in the large exhibition space, or only sponsored attendees eat in hotel dining area)
  • Stellenbosch is a smaller city, with less variety in activities than Cape Town
  • Cape Town is too far from the venue for dinner every night, though reasonably close for a few dinners
Potential Dates 1-15th July (or sometime within 1 June - 17 July vacation) 10-20 August (or can be scheduled anytime during the year) 10-20 August (or can be scheduled anytime during the year)
Details /Venues/UCT ChemEng /Venues/UCT Breakwater /Venues/TechnoPark

[edit] Food

[edit] Dietary Considerations

  • Cape Town is a very diverse city and caterers are very well prepared for a wide variety of dietary requirements accomodating:
    • Vegan
    • Vegetarian
    • Religious requirements
    • Lactose intolerance
    • Gluten-sensitivity
    • Raw food
  • We even have a Banting diet craze at the moment. Only in rare cases does (mostly Halaal) meals cost a small bit extra - and this is for the stricter compliance only.
  • Food will most likely be served as open buffet. This will also allow us to cater better for the omnivores who may want to eat less meat and more vegetables than average.

[edit] Sea food

Being a coastal city, Cape Town is rich in a wide variety of sea food.

[edit] Wine and Beer

Cape Town and its surrounds are host to a large amount of wine farms, producing many award wining wines that are exported globally. It also has a blooming craft beer and micro-brewing community.

[edit] Catering

  • We have not received a full range of quotes from our contacts yet.
  • Three quotes thus far from commercial caterers are in the ball park of R375 pppd (ball park Euro 27, $34) (see the /Venues/UCT_ChemEng#Caterers for more details)
  • We are fairly confident that the caterers we spoke to so far will be able to offer a diverse selection and avoid monotonous meals.

[edit] When

Being in the southern hemisphere, it would be winter during the usual DebConf time.

The primary venue, at the University of Cape Town would only have campus accommodation available during the winter and summer vacations, we don't have that much flexibility in dates. The proposed dates are 1-15 July 2016 (give or take a few days) if held at the UCT, and 6-20 August 2016 (approx, flexible) if held elsewhere.

Cape Town's winter is fairly rainy and windy. Combined, these can be fairly unpleasant and cold, but not freezing.

Many outdoor tourist activities aren't really possible during the winter, and things tend to close down outside the summer tourist season. But, on a nice day, one can hike, enjoy the beaches (but not necessarily the swimming) and see wildlife.

[edit] Fun and Free Time

  • Wine Farms - The Western Cape province houses many world-notable wine farms. Many of them are in close proximity of each other, making it an ideal day trip.
  • Beaches - Cape Town has many large beaches, beach trips would be especially memorable for those who have never visited the ocean.
  • Robben Island - Notable prison island during South Africa's Apartheid years where Nelson Mandela once served his sentence (also has many penguins)
  • Khayelitsha Tour - Khayelitsha is a large township that is born from relocations during the Apartheid years. Rich with history and a vibrant and growing local community.
  • Table Mountain - Either Hike or trip via cable car
  • Lions Head - A two to three hour hike
  • Cape Point nature reserve - Drive down the peninsula, including Chapman's Peak drive
  • Tygerberg nature reserve Hike through the hill in the Northern Suburbs with superb views of the city in the distance
  • Whale Watching - Whale watching in Hermanus, especially good during August
  • Mark Ter Morshuizen's farm - Mark is an avid local Debian user who also brews excellent beer
  • Stony Point - penguin breeding colony at Betty's Bay
  • Two Oceans Aquarium - Cape Town's largest aquarium, named after its location (where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet)

[edit] Potential venues for conference dinner

[edit] Entertainment

In the case of a winter DebConf, we'll have to be prepared for bad weather. Some ideas proposed so far for winter breaks:

  • Mao (probably doesn't need mentioning)
  • Karaoke (perhaps as a last resort only?)
  • UCT Sports centre has an indoor climbing wall and a couple of basketball courts.

[edit] Getting there

Cape Town is rather remote for all of the northern hemisphere. Travel costs will be higher than average, but other costs such as accommodation and food should be significantly lower.

[edit] By Air

Europe is about 12 hours' flight from Cape Town, and one can expect to pay approx. €1000.

East Coast USA is about 16 hours' flight from Johannesburg, at approx. €1500. Prices are usually similar via Europe.

Cape Town International Airport has a few daily direct intercontinental flights:

  • British Airways [London]
  • Emirates [Dubai]
  • KLM [Amsterdam]
  • Qatar [Doha]
  • Singapore Airlines [Singapore]
  • Turkish Airlines [Istanbul] (stops in JHB)

There are many other connections available via Johannesburg's OR Tambo Airport, including:

  • South African Airways [Bejing, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, Munich, New York, Perth, São Paulo, Washington]
  • Air France [Paris]
  • Cathay Pacific [Hong Kong]
  • Delta [Atlanta]
  • Etihad [Abu Dhabi]
  • Lufthansa [Frankfurt]
  • Quantas [Sydney]
  • Swiss [Zurich]
  • Virgin Atlantic [London]

Connections between Johannesburg and Cape Town (a 2 hour flight) are plentiful — it is one of the top 10 busiest air routes in the world.

[edit] Visas

Requirements for all visitors to South Africa:

  • A valid and acceptable passport or travel document for your intended stay.
  • At least one blank page (two to be safe) in your passport for endorsements important
  • A valid visa, if required
  • Sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay
  • A return or onward ticket
  • Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

[edit] Countries requiring visas

Many nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa to enter South Africa, citizens of these countries may visit South Africa for up to 90 days (or in some cases 30 days) without a visa. This includes most of Western Europe, USA, and Canada.

[edit] Visa Application process

Other attendees need to apply for a visa. Visa applications don't need to be made in-person — there is no visa interview — they can be done by courier, Some countries citizens are charged fees for a visa, for others the visa is free of charge.

Conference attendees should apply for an ordinary tourist visitor visa (Form BI-84). The conference should provide a letter of invitation to every attendee that requests it, and notify the Department of Home Affairs that the conference is taking place.

South African missions abroad. Mission web sites (for missions that have them).

[edit] Customs (including Cheese & Wine)

Bad news for Cheese lovers: Dairy products are amongst the items whose import without approval is restricted. Some of the team members never knew this, and may have been breaking the law for years, YMMV.

We could contact the Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, to request a blanket approval for DebConf attendees.

Travelers are allowed to bring, per-person, duty-free:

  • 2 litres of wine
  • 1 litre in total of other alcoholic beverages
  • 200 cigarettes and 20 cigars
  • 250g of cigarette or pipe tobacco
  • 50ml perfume and 250ml eau de toilette

Personal effects aren't taxed, but any goods over the value of R5 000 (€362) are potentially liable for a 20% tax (up to R20 000 value). This would be refunded on departing South Africa.

[edit] Exchange Control

South Africa has strict exchange control, and transferring large sums of money in and out of the country requires Reserve Bank approval.

However, normal tourist activity requires no authorization. DebConf Attendees shouldn't be affected by the exchange control laws at all. They will likely only be an issue for the conference, moving Debian money and/or sponsorship into and out of the country.

Strictly speaking, foreign currency brought into the country must be converted to Rands within 30 days. Large, say over R10k, transfers by banks can take a few days, because of the Reserve Bank approval, but shouldn't be problematic. Individuals transferring over R1m out are usually required to pay a 10% tax.

[edit] Connectivity

See the conference /Venues pages for venue and official accommodation connectivity details.

South Africa has quite expensive fixed-line Internet connectivity, compared to the rest of the world, but fairly cheap cellular and wireless options.

All South African cellular networks use GSM and the major ones have LTE coverage within Cape Town (although not necessarily over the conference venues). You can expect to pay on the order of R5 (€0.36) for a pre-paid SIM card, and R100 (€7.24) for 1GiB of data, for a month. You will be required to register (RICA) your SIM card with the Government, providing ID and proof of residence (you can usually do this at purchase).

[edit] Potential Local Sponsors and Support

Aside from the usual International sponsors, these companies have a presence in South Africa (or are local), and may be worth approaching for sponsorship. None of them have been contacted.

[edit] Business

  • 2go
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Frogfoot Networks
  • IBM
  • LSD Information Technology
  • MyBroadband
  • Obsidian Systems
  • Oracle
  • Pick 'n Pay
  • Praekelt Foundation
  • SAB (South African Breweries)
  • Samsung
  • Siemens
  • St James Software
  • Takealot
  • Woolworths
  • Yola

[edit] Institutional / Government

  • CHPC (Centre for High Performance Computing)
  • CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research)
  • SITA (State Information Technology Agency)
  • TIA (Technology Innovation Agency)

[edit] Community

[edit] Umbrella Organizations

Under South African law, we could register a Not for Profit Organization quite easily. We've spoken to a lawyer about doing this.

It may be possible to become a tax-exempt Public Benefit Organization, but it would take at least a year for a company to get PBO status.

Given the difficulty in getting tax-exempt status, we may want to look to a sponsor organization to receive and spend local donations for us. Praekelt Foundation has done this for

[edit] Power

Type M / BS546 socket. Rated 15A
  • South Africa uses 230V power with a Type M 3 pin socket
  • This socket is incompatible with US and European plugs, but 2-pin euro-plug adaptors are available in all supermarkets (most small appliances are sold with euro-plugs).
  • Bulk buying some adaptors and setting up some US + Europlug power strips for users who wish to charge laptops and phones would be trivial.

[edit] Computer Equipment Availability

There are a few high-street computer stores (there are a couple in the V&A waterfront, and at least one on Main Road, below UCT).

However, to purchase any specific hardware or components, one probably wants to use an online specialist. There are several in South Africa, and some offer next-day courier service (for a fee), or pick-up from their warehouse (half an hour's drive away).

[edit] Local Laws and Regulations

  • Smoking is prohibited in any closed public area. This includes airports, malls and public transportation. Smoking is allowed in designated areas and outside unless otherwise specified.
  • Current legislation only allow alcoholic beverages to be served until 2 am.
  • No alcohol may be sold to persons under the age of 18. IDs aren't usually checked at restaurants and bars, but are often checked at clubs.
  • South Africa drives on the left, like the UK.
  • Any valid driver's licence is accepted in South Africa, provided it bears the photograph and signature of the holder and is printed or authenticated in English.
    • However, car hire companies may require an international driver's licence. Check, if you are reserving a car.

[edit] Public Transport

A MyCiTi bus at the central station

Compared to Europe, Cape Town has fairly poor public transport. Taking public transport in Cape Town is not ideal when you are in a rush, but is very convenient and relaxing once you understand how it works.

The Metrorail train lines don't cover the city very well, and have had crime trouble in the past. There are sections that are considered safe during the day, and the Southern line that serves the university to town section is arguably the best functioning. Recently, the GoMetro app made it easier to check the state of the line in real time. Rondebosch (below UCT) to Cape Town Central Station takes about 15 minutes. Plan to have adequate time for delays, but in heavy traffic the trains are the better option. Going the other way, the views by train to Simon's Town are spectacular.

The unregulated Minibus Taxis are considered by some not to be particularly suitable or friendly to tourists, but as an African experience is fun and efficient. The best way to utilise this mode of transport is to ask people around you which stop to go to to get where you want to go, and if you feel uncomfortable, to ask someone for help. South Africans are very friendly and eager to help, in general. Travel times are similar to the trains, and they're very cheap.

More recently, there has been a rise in metered Taxi cabs, and Uber has launched, competing squarely with them. Taking metered taxis or rental cars are strongly dependent on traffic, and the university to town can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour, 25 minutes being more typical.

You can expect to pay around R10 (€0.72) / km for a metered taxi. Drivers are often open to negotiation up-front on a flat fee for a trip.

Launched for the 2010 world cup, there is a bus service, MyCiTi, that covers the City Bowl, Nothern Suburbs and airport fairly well. At the time of writing there is not a convenient link between MyCiti and the University in Rondebosch. Commuting times are similar to rental cars, although they have dedicated lanes during peak traffic. MyCiti Android App.

We would recommend that skittish attendees use MyCiTi, Uber, and metered taxis to get around Cape Town.

The University of Cape Town also has a dedicated 'Jammie' shuttle service, which we are currently investigating as the official DebConf travel option if the conference is held at the university. Holiday schedule.

[edit] Other commuting options

Cape Town is home to the Cape Argus cycle tour, and is readily accessible by cycle for both pleasure and commuting, on road and off. Lately, the city is becoming even more cyclist friendly, as part of the integrated rapid transport (IRT) developments.

Cape Town also proudly hosts the Two Oceans Marathon, which is second only to the Comrades. The city is populated by avid runners, and it is virtually possible to transverse Table Mountain to get anywhere in Central Cape Town if that's your thing. The contour path right behind the university connects with town to the north (approx 16km unpaved road), and reaches further than the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens, for a commute with a difference. (For an afternoon hike, head up about 30 minutes slow climb-walk to the contour path and walk a circular route in the forest which lasts an hour). Some people take it as far as the beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard, but don't do this if you're in a rush.

Alternatively you can leave the contour path and cross the mountain for a hike - apparently a previous president took this route to work daily. For any hikes on the mountain, the Slingsby maps are highly recommended and beautiful mementos to boot.

Swimming to most places is possible but not really suited for commuting yet; it takes long, the water is rather cold and there may be sharks or strong winds. There may also be whales and orcas. Best to stick to organised events or boat charters.

Bundu-bashing through the wild is not recommended - stick to the multiple, well sign-posted trails . The Cape is covered in fynbos which is scratchy, and the rest is boggy or sandy.

[edit] Bus Hire

As some our our venues are less well served by public transport, we've investigated hiring buses for airport pickups and/or evening round-trips to the city. UCT has it's own Jammie shuttle bus system that should be hireable (and its regular routes may even be useful to attendees).

Third party bus services charge around R3400 (€250) per evening for a 60 seater bus, or R5600 (€420) per day. 13-16 seater minibuses are around half that price.

[edit] Crime and Safety

South Africa has a huge economic inequality, high unemployment, and many people living below the poverty line (close on 50% of the population). This results in levels of crime, higher than Europe or the United States, but equivalent to other locations that DebConf has been held, in the past. The majority of crime occurs in poorer areas outside the city.

One can visit and live in South Africa, quite safely, by simply being aware of ones surroundings:

  • Avoid dangerous city areas at night (e.g. slums).
  • Avoid empty trains in the evening. Busy trains during rush hour and the day are safe.
  • Don't go up the mountain or along the contour paths alone, be social, invite a group for hiking or jogging.
  • Don't flaunt wealth and valuables. Keep fancy cameras out of sight, unless you're using them.
  • Don't leave visible items in a locked car.
  • Call a reputable taxi service or use Uber, rather than hailing a random taxi cab.

All the conference venues we're looking at provide good security and would be safe environments. Petty theft would be our main concern in these areas — don't leave phones, laptops and other valuables unattended.

[edit] Team Administrivia

[edit] Contact Details

[edit] Misc sub-pages

[edit] Links

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