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Convergence of Telco and FinTech Businesses Can Drive Financial Inclusion In A Tough Economy

Mariam Cassim – Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services

New technologies available to telecommunications operators (telcos) and financial service providers (FinTechs) are combining to lead the charge in financial inclusion for large numbers of previously financially marginalised South Africans.

The synergies obtained by combining two separate market operators is now evident.  Telcos have a strong, trusted brand presence, an established nationwide infrastructure and a large and secure customer base.  Many of these customers are based in rural areas and have limited or no access to banks, ATMs or the internet.

Innovative technologies on the FinTech side enable the delivery of small micropayments and other services to individuals who can now benefit from credit access, payment portals and insurance.

However, this process needs to ensure that lending practices are responsible and do not leave consumers in a worse off financial position. Fortunately, the insights telcos bring into their customers’ payment track records ensure responsible lending.  Experience shows that lower-income groups have a good track record of paying back loans if they are affordably priced.

Credit risk assessment

Invariably, customers in the mass market, lower-income segments struggle with access to ‘buy now pay later’ type products, especially because many are not documented anywhere in the formal financial services environment.  This is particularly true when it comes to unsecured lending for very small amounts – generally between R5 to R200.

Telcos have recently introduced Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools that link telecommunications behaviour with consumers’ financial activity to assess their financial viability. These tools identify the creditworthiness of these consumers. Also read: Vodacom Is Using AI To Enhance The Customer Experience

This telco/FinTech convergence process is also relevant in the small business sector.

According to Statistics SA, SMMEs are playing an increasingly important role in the formal business sector and are an important driver of economic growth and employment.  As a result, the National Small Enterprise Amendment Bill was recently gazetted to support small businesses in the country.

In an increasingly digital economy, for start-ups and SMMEs to access loan finance and access affordable business automation solutions, such as taking payments from customers, it is essential that they connect to the correct business tools.

Frictionless payments

When collecting payments from customers, FinTechs must offer a seamless and frictionless one-channel experience, ensuring consistent, efficient and personalised customer engagement across all touchpoints.  Ultimately, the objective of telcos and FinTechs is to deliver great functionality and improved benefits that enable small businesses to grow.

The pandemic has thrust the fragility of peoples’ lives into the forefront. Many unbanked South Africans need access to an affordable funeral and device insurance cover to protect them from the harsh realities of our new environment.

Access to insurance

While most insurance sales are still done in a face-to-café environment, convergence of telcos and FinTechs will now introduce innovative new solutions that will allow lower-income earners to access these products on digital and mobile platforms that are best suited to their needs.  Insurance providers must find the best channels to serve their customers and provide real value across all touchpoints.

In the same vein, innovative new technology in the insurance sector also increases efficiency by improving customer servicing and claims processes. The development of sophisticated data and claims management systems reduce turnaround times in claims pay-outs.

The above are only a few examples of this massive new trend in the financial services sector in South Africa.  Encouraging financial inclusion, particularly during these unprecedented times, is more important now than ever.

Financial freedom for many South Africans may still be a long way off, but the disruptive processes and unique products offered to both consumers and small businesses by progressive telco and FinTech companies will steadily improve financial inclusion for all South Africans and underpin the growth of thousands of SMMEs.

Also read: Vodacom Is Attracting More Financial Services Customers

  • Mariam Cassim – Chief Officer of Vodacom Financial and Digital Services

Starlink From SpaceX Has The Potential To Bridge The Digital Divide

digital economy
digital economy Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

Starlink is on the brink of providing an upgrade to how the internet is accessed in today’s digital economy. With a ground-breaking satellite mesh network system, Starlink has the potential to provide internet to even the most remote parts of the world.

A project spearheaded by world-renowned tech billionaire and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Starlink is a breakthrough in internet service access. In addition, Starlink will connect the world by bridging the digital divide between urban and rural communities.

Starlink is a giant leap forward in achieving internet coverage in underserved areas. There have been companies that have tried and failed due to low speeds caused by high latency. Starlink has promised to deliver internet connectivity with extremely low latencies.

Low latency means users will experience very few interruptions when, for example, streaming movies. Elon Musk said at the 2020 Satellite Conference in Washington, DC that “We’re targeting latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level like that’s the threshold for the latency.”

Currently, Starlink have managed to launch 1,200 satellites into orbit. At full capacity, Starlink says that a total of 12,000 satellites will be orbiting the earth. The company will continue to launch satellites in a phased approach to have about 8,000 satellites orbiting just 500km above the planet and the remaining 4,000 circling much higher up, at around 1,200km. They aim to have all systems in place and ready to go by the end of this year.

The speed at which the Starlink system will provide internet connectivity to underserved users’ will open a new world of opportunity no matter their geographic location. This speed will go a long way in bridging the digital divide, closing the gap between the have’s and have not’s. The Starlink setup is a two-step approach in any order. Musk says, “It’s very important that you don’t need a specialist to install it. The goal is that… there’s just two instructions and they can be done in either order: point at sky, plug in”.

Rural or urban, first-world or not, Starlink will not discriminate in its service delivery. Whether situated in Los Angeles or a small farming town in the Kalahari, internet speed will be the same once at its full potential. “Starlink is ideally suited for areas of the globe where connectivity has typically been a challenge. “Unhabited by traditional ground infrastructure, Starlink can deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable or completely unavailable”, (posted from the Starlink website).

Another benefit is that there is no need to lay cables in the hard-to-reach areas, which would be costly and time-consuming. At the press of a button, a user can activate Starlink. Starlink will allow schools and businesses in rural areas to access internet speeds on par with schools and businesses in urban areas. This connectivity is progress to bridging the digital divide. The cost is the only current setback not yet conducive to low-income neighbourhoods. However, hopefully, this will become a thing of the past.

The Starlink project does not mean that fibre internet will become obsolete. On the contrary, Musk reassures telco companies by saying, “I want to be clear, it’s not like Starlink is some huge threat to telcos. I want to be super clear that it is not. In fact, it will be helpful to telcos because Starlink will serve the hardest-to-serve customers that telcos otherwise have trouble doing with landlines or even with cell towers.”

Starlink has launched enough satellites to make up 25% to 35% of all satellites in space. With 11 000 more satellites to go, Starlink will undoubtedly be crowned ‘Space King’. With no signs of slowing down, we could witness history in the making within our lifetime.

  • Simon Swanepoel is the CEO of RocketNet

HPE Brings New Multi-Cloud Platform-as-a-Service Data Centre Solution To SA

HPE South Africa CEO, President Ntuli

HPE has brought a new multi-cloud Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) data centre solution to the South African market. This powerful multi-cloud data centre model is all about leveraging the cloud to define the customer experience, while underpinned by HPE’s GreenLake platform.

This unique multi-cloud offering is the latest culmination of a long-standing partnership between HPE and Datacentrix, and the infrastructure power of Teraco – Africa’s largest data centre ecosystem.

“With their expertise and knowledge of cloud hosting, Datacentrix is the ideal systems integrator and partner for multi-cloud collaboration,” says HPE South Africa CEO, President Ntuli.

The data centre offering runs on HPE’s GreenLake platform, with a variety of Datacentrix solutions and services bolted on top. These include backup and disaster recovery by Veeam, as well as storage and compute. It delivers the cloud experience across data centres, multi-clouds and edges, and provides data insights to better manage capacity, performance, compliance and cost.

Ntuli, says the solution is not only technologically innovative but is also a direct response to the needs of South African enterprises.

“There is a considerable uptake of public cloud services in South Africa, but companies still need to retain control over their own data. As a result, many applications and a lot of data remain on-premises for business reasons.

“However, companies with an existing public cloud presence can now leverage GreenLake to combine the cloud’s simplicity and agility with the governance, compliance, and visibility of the Hybrid IT model.”

Ntuli adds that while companies cannot take everything to a public cloud, the new data centre offering gives customers flexibility by enabling them to pay for the services and capacity that they use rather than having to invest upfront.

Managing complex environments

Ahmed Mahomed – Datacentrix

Datacentrix CEO Ahmed Mahomed says the company has the expertise to manage complex customer environments, as the data centre solution is an extension of a service already being offered to the market.

“We manage complex environments and the customer can be assured that they are outsourcing these capabilities to two reputable organisations.”

He notes that the PaaS solution lowers capital expenditure as it gives customers the flexibility to only pay for what they use and to scale up services as and when needed.

“If you think about it, the cost of managing infrastructure is significant. Now, customers never have to worry about building their own data centre. We provide a cost-effective cloud platform, where the customer can obtain extra capacity in our data centre when they need to for solutions such as data recovery, for example.”

Teraco CEO Jan Hnizdo says the organisation is excited to be the critical infrastructure provider to further the strategic partnership between HPE and Datacentrix. He adds that this cloud hosting platform is significant for businesses as most are now pursuing a hybrid cloud adoption strategy, given the attractiveness of the pay-per-use model that the cloud offers.

Jan Hnizdo Teraco CEO
Jan Hnizdo Teraco CEO

Greater choice

“The deployment of HPE GreenLake cloud services in Teraco’s data centres ensures that users obtain cost efficiencies and security, without having to invest in data centre or server and software infrastructure. Teraco provides secure and operational reliability, coupled with Datacentrix’s full system integration solutions while incorporating HPE’s GreenLake. This truly is a pay-per-use Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering.”

Hnizdo says the offering has come at a great time for South African enterprises that now have even more choice with regards to cloud offerings.

“Enterprises will benefit from the flexibility of the cloud while leveraging the Teraco data centre and interconnection platform. This provides enterprises with cost-effective and secure interconnections to dense ecosystems and cloud-on-ramps. As a result, Datacentrix deploying the HPE GreenLake cloud platform at Teraco was the strategic choice,” he says.

“Our core business practices will continue to be a value-driven, innovative approach that is services-led, spanning both customers and partners, as well as a people-focused environment that fosters a culture of inclusivity,” added Mahomed. HPE is one of our strategic partners and we are excited about pursuing this opportunity with them.” Mahomed concludes.

The First Mobile Phone Call Was 75 Years Ago – What It Takes For Technologies To Go From Breakthrough To Big Time

An engineer demonstrates a car phone five months before the historic first call on a competing company’s commercial mobile telephone service in 1946. Bettmann via Getty Images

I have a cellphone built into my watch. People now take this type of technology for granted, but not so long ago it was firmly in the realm of science fiction. The transition from fantasy to reality was far from the flip of a switch. The amount of time, money, talent and effort required to put a telephone on my wrist spanned far beyond any one product development cycle.

The people who crossed a wristwatch with a cellphone worked hard for several years to make it happen, but technology development really occurs on a timescale of decades. While the last steps of technological development capture headlines, it takes thousands of scientists and engineers working for decades on myriad technologies to get to the point where blockbuster products begin to capture the public’s imagination.

The first mobile phone service, for 80-pound telephones installed in cars, was demonstrated on June 17, 1946, 75 years ago. The service was only available in major cities and highway corridors and was aimed at companies rather than individuals. The equipment filled much of a car’s trunk, and subscribers made calls by picking up the handset and speaking to a switchboard operator. By 1948, the service had 5,000 customers.

This promotional film from the 1940s touts Bell Telephone’s Mobile Telephone Service.

The first handheld mobile phone was demonstrated in 1973, nearly three decades after the introduction of the first mobile phone service. It was nearly three decades after that before half the U.S. population had a mobile phone.

Big history in small packages

As an electrical engineer, I know that today’s mobile phone technology has a remarkable number of components, each with a long development path. The phone has antennas and electronics that allow signals to be transmitted and received. It has a specialized computer processor that uses advanced algorithms to convert information to signals that can be transmitted over the air. These algorithms have hundreds of component algorithms. Each of these pieces of technology and many more have development histories that span decades.

A common thread running through the evolution of virtually all electronic technologies is miniaturization. The radio transmitters, computer processors and batteries at the heart of your cellphone are the descendants of generations of these technologies that grew successively smaller and lighter.

The phone itself would not be of much use without cellular base stations and all the network infrastructure that is behind them. The first mobile phone services used small numbers of large radio towers, which meant that all the subscribers in a big city shared one central base station. This was not a recipe for universal mobile phone service.

Engineers began working on a concept to overcome this problem at about the time the first mobile phone services went live, and it took nearly four decades to roll out the first cellular phone service in 1983. Cellular service involves interconnected networks of smaller radio transceivers that hand off moving callers from one transceiver to another.

The author explains the ‘cell’ in cellphone service.

Military necessity

Your cellphone is a result of over a hundred years of commercial and government investment in research and development in all of its components and related technologies. A significant portion of the cutting-edge development has been funded by the military.

A major impetus for developing mobile wireless technologies was the need during World War II for troops to communicate on the move in the field. The SRC-536 Handie-Talkie was developed by the predecessor to Motorola Corporation and used by the U.S. Army in the war. The Handie-Talkie was a two-way radio that was small enough to be held in one hand and resembled a telephone. Motorola went on to become one of the major manufacturers of cellphones.

The story of military investment in technology becoming game-changing commercial products and services has been repeated again and again. Famously, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency developed the technologies behind the internet and speech recognition. But DARPA also made enabling investments in advanced communications algorithms, processor technology, electronics miniaturization and many other aspects of your phone.

A watch that’s a telephone.

Looking forward

By realizing that it takes many decades of research and investment to develop each generation of technology, it’s possible to get a sense of what might be coming. Today’s communications technologies – 5G, WiFi, Bluetooth, and so on – are fixed standards, meaning they are each designed for a single purpose. But over the last 30 years, the Department of Defense and corporations have been investing in technologies that are more capable and flexible.

Your phone of the near future might not only fluidly signal in ways that are more efficient, enable longer ranges or higher data rates, or last significantly longer on a charge, it might also use that radiofrequency energy to perform other functions. For example, your communications signal could also be used as a radar signal to track your hand gestures to control your phone, measure the size of a room, or even monitor your heart rate to predict cardiac distress.

It is always difficult to predict where technology will go, but I can guarantee that future technology will build on decades upon decades of research and development.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]The Conversation

Daniel Bliss, Professor of Electrical Engineering, Arizona State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Jason English and his Award Winning Strategy of Engineering Value

Jason English
Jason English

In the 1940s at the height of World War II, with a shortage of materials available, substitute components were sought out, often at a cost-saving. Quality was sacrificed for survival, ironically, at all costs. American engineers at General Electric were called upon to address the challenges, crafting the concept of modern-day value engineering.

Today, the system is still employed by those at the project design stage looking to improve efficiency while decreasing operating costs. The problem many companies face when trying to implement the method, is that a hyper-focus on cost-savings invariably leads to a decrease in quality.

With value engineering, one could argue that while designers and engineers are motivated to solve a problem – money no object – value engineers are then called in to scale back the materials and components in an effort to complete the job at the lowest cost. The functionality of the design remains, but what about the quality. In the race for efficiency, are we diluting effectiveness?

Jason English is all about engineering value. As the Chief Ecosystem Officer of CG Tech, an investment holding company with interests across the Middle East, South Africa and Europe, English is also currently the CEO of Al Laith, a CG Tech subsidiary specialising in design, engineering and contracting services in the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. English’s unique leadership methods in management are leading to big contracts and awards. Fostering a purpose-driven approach within the group that nurtures engineering value, as opposed to value engineering.

For Jason English value engineering isn’t a process he necessarily subscribes to, feeling it can be somewhat of a hindrance to innovation. Subscribing instead to the mantra that value is created through imagination, the South African entrepreneur reasons that if you’re focused on cost, you’re ultimately sacrificing imagination and creativity.

“I believe that starting with a smaller budget forces people to be more creative from the get-go. This is why many smaller businesses can outperform their larger corporate competitors. Constraints power ingenuity,” explains English. “But there’s an important caveat; you also need to be willing to give your people the space and time to innovate.”

With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Al Laith has become a reliable name throughout the Middle East region, providing services to a number of high-profile clients. Since becoming part of CG Tech in 2016, the company’s capacity to engineer value has only been strengthened.

“At CG Tech we believe in disruption through innovation,” says Niall Carroll, Chairman of CG Tech. “Using the latest digital technology to power our portfolio is what drives us.”

For Al Laith, this has meant embracing technology, such as ground-scanning, IoT, digital assets and 3D animations to help advance their rapid construction capabilities. It’s not only about the hard technology but also the softer innovations like online training and cloud collaboration. Their expertise and willingness to take on larger more complex projects has seen them land exciting contracts, as well as repeat customers.

Driving their success is an environment that embraces communication and a failure-tolerant approach to innovation.

“Failure is okay, even encouraged, as long as we learn something from it,” says Jason English.

Whether it’s building Field Hospitals to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic or landing a crucial contract from the UAE government to build two mega stages for the upcoming Dubai EXPO 2020, Al Laith’s reputation as a capable executor and technology-driven partner proceeds it. In 2021 the company was awarded The Best Supplier of the Year at the Middle East Event Awards, beating out stiff competition within the highly desirable category. The team went on to be nominated as a finalist for the ‘Digital Transformation of the Year’ category by Ventures Connect at the Construction Technology Awards, beating out industry giants SNC Lavalin, Aldar Properties and Eucom for the award.

“We were delighted to receive the award for Supplier of the Year and humbled to be nominated against such industry-leading companies for the ‘Digital Transformation award. At Al Laith we really work under the guise that everyone’s input drives change. After a difficult year for everyone it was great for the team to get the recognition they deserve,” says English.

For Jason English, the psychological safety of the team should always be paramount.

“Ensuring your people feel valued and protected, means they will inherently be more productive and focus on the job at hand. We’ve set our goals and the team is pushing hard to achieve them” notes English, adding, “It’s all about taking care of your ecosystem, instilling a culture where the success of one, equals a success for all of us.”

Protecting your ecosystem and in turn embedding a solid company culture within your organisation, is so important to English that he has decided to pen his thoughts in a book on the subject. Due out later this year, “The Oros Effect” taps into Jason English’s distinct brand of leadership. One that promotes openness and creativity in order to engineer value.

“Basically, my Oros is my ideals and values. The key to success lies in being able to effectively transfer this Oros to every member of my team, and for them to transfer their own Oros to theirs,” says the 43-year-old.

It’s a concept that’s being successfully applied throughout the CG tech portfolio, where owner-operators of the umbrella companies make up the group’s Board of Directors. This unique ecosystem promotes mutual collaboration and development,  and a collective sharing of success.

For Al Laith, this has included relying on a fellow CG Tech company, The Virtulab to help power its digital tools and technologies. As the company looks towards upcoming projects like EXPO 2020, Jason English and the rest of the Al Laith team are confident in their abilities to continue innovating and delivering more complex projects into new markets and regions beyond the Middle East.

You Can Now Buy Wine At A BP Petrol Stations

BP Station South Africa

You can now buy wine at BP petrol stations after the retailer was granted a liquor licence. The retailer today launched a wine to-go offer through the Pick n Pay Express forecourt convenience store at BP Radiokop, north of Johannesburg.

“In line with bp’s new strategy to ‘adapt to and grow its convenience and mobility business,’
our primary objective is fully to leverage innovation to unlock new value for our customers,” said Belinda Petersen, bpSA head of convenience.

“Our strategic partnerships with South Africa’s leading brands such as Pick n Pay and Mr D place us on the front foot.”

The liquor licence to be given to a petrol retailer is a first for the South African market.

Within the strict confines of the COVID-19 regulatory requirements, the Pick n Pay Express
store at BP Radiokop in the Westrand is the first to have wine out on shelves, with a planned rollout of the offer to selected bp sites throughout the country.

“We are excited to be expanding our Pick n Pay Express product range to include a wide
selection of proudly South African wines, and delivering it in one convenient location,” saID Petersen.

“We invite customers to ‘pop’ in and grab a bottle…. and pair it with our perfect snack promos or tasty nibbles from Wild Bean Café – we’ve got you covered.”

BP said wine-to-go is in line with its “new strategy to ‘adapt to and grow its convenience and mobility business'”, with the primary objective to “fully leverage innovation to unlock new value for our customers.”

“Our strategic partnerships with South Africa’s leading brands such as Pick n Pay and Mr D place us on the front foot,” said Petersen.

As the country was put on level 5 lockdown, BP responded swiftly to customer demands for convenience and safety with the launch of home delivery service through a partnership with Mr D in April 2020.

In addition to its over 500 service stations, BP South Africa provides a unique convenience offering through Pick n Pay Express, bp Express and Wild Bean Café. In partnership with Mr D, it offers the largest network of home delivery.

Also read: Massmart Moots Standalone Makro Liquor Store


Huawei South Africa Donates ICT Equipment To A KwaZulu-Natal School

Huawei South Africa
Huawei School Donation

Huawei South Africa has partnered with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to donate 300 pairs of school shoes, 200 school bags, 200 scientific calculators, and 20 laptops to students in need during the COVID-19 pandemic and amid lockdown restrictions.

The donation forms part of the DPSA’s contribution to the Back-to-School Campaign, a government initiative to support scholars in impoverished areas. June marks ‘Youth Month’ in South Africa, this year it is celebrated under the theme: “The Year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.”

The DPSA has chosen Mkhaliphi High School in Northern KwaZulu Natal, as the recipient of the Huawei donation. The high school serves children from Hlabisa, which is situated near the Hluhluwe–Umfolozi Game Reserve – which is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa.

Huawei SA deputy CEO Kian Chen and DPSA Minister Senzo Mchunu visited the school this weekend to hand over the donation to the Principal, Mr Luvuno and members of the school governing body.

Huawei South Africa is already heavily invested in youth ICT training projects because it believes that corporates can make important contributions in reversing the ICT skills shortage in the country.

Expanding on his message to the educators, parents, and scholars at the handover ceremony, Chen noted that ICT must be accessible to all South Africans in the areas they live in.

“This is how we will create a more equal society where everyone can benefit from the next phase of industrial growth, which will largely take place in the digital space,” he says.

“For this reason, we partner with government, academia and business to ensure that a broad base of South Africa’s youth get exposure to the power of technology.”

Huawei runs a series of youth programmes which include training in new technologies like 5G, cloud and AI, a bursary programme for postgraduates, an intern and graduate programme, and the Huawei ICT Academy, which runs in more than 50 universities and colleges around South Africa.

Minister Mchunu commended the company for the role it is playing in building South Africa’s ICT talent pool, especially its role in introducing youth to cutting edge technology and innovation which will power South Africa’s future economic and social growth.

The school aspires to introduce Information Technology as part of its curriculum but has cited lack of resources as one of the main challenges. To this end, Huawei South Africa has donated 20 laptops to Mkhaliphi High School. The excitement of the learners upon presentation of the laptops was a special moment, with the Minister remarking: “Most, if not all the learners, have never had a laptop in front of them and that is very telling – not only for the acting principal and his staff but also for the government of the republic as a whole, that we still are not conscious enough of the requirements of a classroom – equipping it accordingly.”

The minister addressed the learners, encouraging them to keep focused on their studies, not allowing themselves to be distracted by their environment, upbringing and most challenges experienced by teenagers.

In closing, the minister said: “South Africa still has to catch up in terms of our education standards with the rest of the world, particularly with Europe, the Americas and Asia. Those continents are by far, ahead of us. We need to guard the interests our children and create an environment which will enable them to advance. There are still some parts of the country that are still left behind and it is our job to ensure that we intensify our efforts in accelerating development – not only in respect of education, but all aspects of life.”

MTN Guinea-Bissau Taps Nestlé Executive Eliane Houphouet-Boigny As New CEO

Eliane Houphouet-Boigny
Eliane Houphouet-Boigny

MTN Group announced the appointment of Eliane Houphouet-Boigny as the CEO of MTN, effective 1 July 2021, the latest woman to take the helm at an MTN operation.

“I would like to welcome Eliane to the MTN family and look forward to her taking MTN Guinea-Bissau to new heights, as we work to lead digital solutions for Africa’s progress,” said MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita.

Houphouet-Boigny is a seasoned professional with a career spanning more than 20 years, and experience across multiple markets in Europe and Africa.

Most recently, she held several leadership roles at Nestlé, including Head of Innovation, Head of Business Transformation and Head of Operational Excellence & Continuous Improvement.

Houphouet-Boigny holds two Master’s degrees, one in Chemical Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Switzerland) and another in Strategic Management from HEC School of Management in Paris.

She takes over the reins from Freddie Mokoena, who has been CEO of MTN Guinea-Bissau since September 2013.

“I’d like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to Freddie. He has done an amazing job in leading the team over the past 8 years. Freddie steered the team through a period of amazing growth, and I am deeply thankful for his invaluable guidance and contribution to MTN,” said Mupita.

MTN has been present in Guinea-Bissau since 2005 and has around 900 000 subscribers.


Vodacom Is running A ‘Triple Your Data’ Promotion On Just4You, Exclusively for NXT LVL Registered Customers


While we celebrate Youth Month, many young South Africans are facing enormous challenges exacerbated by COVID-19, including unemployment at an all-time high. In a recent survey by the University of Cape Town, more than half of young people polled said they were uncertain about the future. As part of Vodacom’s ongoing commitment to empower South African youth, Vodacom has revamped its NXT LVL (pronounced Next Level) platform to address the concerns of young people.

Through this digital platform created to meet the needs of the youth, Vodacom NXL LVL will now offer young people opportunities to connect more, learn more and earn more by giving them the right tools to reach their full potential.

In celebration of Youth Month and the launch of the refreshed NXT LVL platform, Vodacom is running a ‘Triple Your Data’ promotion on Just4You, exclusively for NXT LVL registered customers, giving them a free allocation of a social ticket through one single purchase. Some of the benefits of being on NXT LVL include affordable data-centric bundles, being rewarded with VodaBucks for purchases and goals achieved through the NXT LVL platform.

NXT LVL customers also receive value-added services such as health products, legal cover, device insurance and Voucher Advance to help them go further.  For customers who consume a lot of data, there is a choice of data deals between 20GB* at R99 per month and 30GB* at R129 per month.

“We believe that brands have an obligation to lighten the load that consumers are experiencing right now. This includes our youth who are an influential sector of our market and the future of this country. Our NXT LVL youth platform has evolved its offerings to understand the current and critical needs of young South Africans, supporting their goals and dreams to succeed, and rewarding them with what matters most to them at this time,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Consumer Business at Vodacom.

Targeting 18 to 25-year-olds, NXT LVL has gained over 4 million customers since its launch just over five years ago.

“We have revamped the platform to provide South African youth with more than just traditional communications and connectivity solutions, but the tools and opportunities to earn, learn and grow as they move forward to the next level of their lives,” added Mendes.

Understanding that young people need skills to advance their careers, NXT LVL connects users to zero-rated e-learning services, such as Vodacom’s e-School, as well as learnership programmes on the ConnectU portal. With the high youth unemployment rate in South Africa, and a need for meaningful support, NXT LVL users are also able to build a digital CV, register for online courses and search for jobs on Vodacom’s Future Jobs Finder, which provides access to online courses through Udemy and local employment opportunities on zero-rated websites.

“Vodacom is going beyond providing reliable data and connectivity. We want to give our customers support and solutions needed to transform their lives for the better. NXT LVL demonstrates that through technology and the power of our youth’s spirit, young South Africans can be empowered to go further together,” said Mendes.

Vodacom customers under the age of 25 can register for NXT LVL on the My Vodacom App and USSD.

Former Telkom Chairman Jabu Mabuza Passes Away

Jabu Mabuza
Jabu Mabuza. Image source: ENCA

Former Telkom chairman and businessman Jabu Mabuza has passed away. His family said in a statement that he passed away on Wednesday, South Africa’s Youth Day,  following COVID-19 complications.

Mabuza has held a number of directorships within the Southern Sun and Tsogo Sun Groups as the Former Group Chief Executive of Tsogo Sun. He served on the Board of South African Tourism for nine years and as its Chairman, for six years, ending May 2012.

He was also the chairman of Eskom.

“He was a gallant fighter for the political and economic freedom of South Africans. On this day in 1976, he had joined thousands of black youths who demanded the end of Bantu education. He was later expelled for participating in that seminal protest that exposed the brutality of the apartheid regime and propelled the struggle for liberation,” his family said in the statement.

“At 63, Jabu lived his life so beautifully and committed to the transformation of South Africa’s economy. He was a pillar of strength for his family, a dedicated servant of the country, an activist in empowering black entrepreneurs and committed to work for the transformation of corporate SA.

“The family is grateful for the support and prayers during this time. We request the public afford the family privacy and space as we process the passing of our father. Further details will be communicated.”

Outside of our South African boarders, Mabuza served on the boards of Tanzania Breweries Ltd (TBL), and Castle Brewing Company in Kenya. He served on the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in Washington DC as a Board Member and on the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) in England – UK as an Executive Committee Member, Chairman of the Regional Business Council for World Economic Forum (WEF). Has taken part of B20 G20 Delegation to all the B20/G20 Summits and matters over the years. He was appointed to the Concordia Leadership Council based in New York – USA.

Mabuza was born in February 1958 in the town of Waterval BovenSouth Africa. His family was later forcibly resettled in White River on trust land, and Mabuza lived alternatively with his two grandmothers. He later went to live with an aunt in Daveyton. While in junior secondary school, Mabuza was expelled for being caught in the 1976 student protests in Soweto. He graduated in Durban and from 1981 until 1982 attended the University of Limpopo.

In 1980 he became a clerk of the court at what was then called the Department of Bantu Affairs. He began driving taxi cabs for tuition funds while in Daveyton, later becoming a taxi owner.[5] Also in the late 1980s he helped found the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services, becoming the organization’s CEO in 1990.

Mabuza was the group CEO of Tsogo Sun Holdings.

On January 20, 2018, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Mabuza as the new chairman of Eskom, a state-owned power utility company.

On July 29, 2019 Jabu Mabuza was appointed as Acting CEO of ESKOM, replacing Phakamani Hadebe at the struggling State Energy utility.


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