MTN MoMo Launches Additional Services To Help SA During Challenging Times

MTN’s Mobile Money solution, MoMo, has launched some new functionalities aimed at assisting South Africans during challenging economic times. These include the new food...
Home Blog

MTN is Ending its Presence in the Middle East, Sells Stake in MTN Syria

0
Rob Shuter
Rob Shuter, MTN Ceo

MTN Group is selling its 75% stake in MTN Syria as part of its strategy to exit the Middle East in an orderly manner.

The company informed investors on Thursday that it was focusing its strategy in future on the African markets:

“As part of our ongoing portfolio review, we believe the group is best served to focus in the future on our pan-African strategy,” said Rob Shuter, MTN CEO.

“We will therefore be exiting the Middle East in an orderly manner over the medium term. As a first step we are in advanced discussions to sell our 75% stake in MTN Syria.”

MTN also owns stakes in MTN Irancell (49% stake), MTN Afghanistan (100%), MTN Sudan (85% stake), MTN South Sudan (100% stake)  and MTN Yemen 82.8% stake.

In 2019, the MENA region had 72,9 million mobile subscribers and 28,9 million data users.

Prolonged war and conflicts are impacting Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and South Sudan,
making operations in these countries difficult. US-Iran tensions have increased

Sudan experienced a significant political change with a new military-civilian governing council taking over.

In Iran, the collapse of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), deepening sanctions and confrontations with the US have increased pressure on the economy and industry.

The JCPOA is a detailed, 159-page agreement with five annexes reached by Iran and the P5+1 (China France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on July 14, 2015. The nuclear deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015. Iran’s compliance with the nuclear-related provisions of the JCPOA will be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) according to certain requirements set forth in the agreement. On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA and reinstate U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Absa Rewards Customers to Earn cashback on Bolt rides and food app

0
Bolt app
Bolt app

Absa Bank has launched a partnership with e-hailing service Bolt in a significant expansion of the bank’s rewards programme in South Africa.

As of 1 August 2020, Absa Rewards customers will earn up to 30% cashback on rides booked through the Bolt app nationwide, and up to 30% cashback on food orders booked on the Bolt Food app.

The partnership is also the first time that Bolt has partnered with a bank rewards programme – in South Africa or anywhere else in the world.

Absa believes that the partnership with Bolt complements the other Absa Rewards offerings, which include travel, lifestyle, health, grocery, and wellness brands – including recently announced partner Dis-Chem.

“Bolt is available in more cities and towns in South Africa than any other e-hailing service, making the partnership impactful for Absa customers across the country, and not just those in major urban centres,” said Christine Wu, Managing Executive: Customer Value Management at Absa Retail and Business Bank.

“This partnership marks the inception of Absa Rewards’ new Digital Lifestyle offering, which will reward our customers with big discounts on a variety of digital services. This includes entertainment, gaming, streaming, e-hailing and food delivery services, while giving back real cash. These benefits will be rolled out throughout 2020.”

Gareth Taylor, country manager for Bolt in South Africa explained that the rapidly expanding e-hailing platform – now operating in more than 33 South African cities and towns  – anticipates that the Absa partnership will enable drivers and restaurants to connect with more consumers and maximise their earning potential for their own small businesses.

“Our focus is on the thousands of South African drivers who rely on Bolt to connect them with passengers and earn a steady income. This partnership with Absa introduces even more passengers to the Bolt platform, making it possible for drivers to connect with more opportunities to earn an income, so that they can continue to care for their families and loved ones,” he said.

This partnership will also allow Bolt and Absa to leverage their collective financial and transportation expertise for the benefit of their customers, drivers and businesses.

 

With this first brand partnership in South Africa, Bolt sets the scene for other similar agreements with brands in other sectors that will encourage more people to join the platform, and in turn, boost earning opportunities for the more than 10,000 drivers that earn a livelihood by using it to connect with clients.

Econet Launches Kwesé Play in SA, Brings Roku box, Netflix

0

By Staff Writer

Econet, the owners of Liquid Telecom, has introduced its Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) service Kwesé Play in South Africa.

The firm through Econet Media is bringing Kwesé Play video streaming service to the country.

The company will leverage Africa’s largest fibre network, available through sister company Liquid Telecom which concluded its acquisition of Neotel last year.  Neotel holds leading-edge 4G and 5G LTE spectrum capability which is being configured to carry video content.

Rather than building its own VOD business, Econet Media has taken a different approach and invested in building the best platform to house some of the biggest names in VOD globally.

Kwesé is the exclusive African partner for Roku and will provide an own-branded Roku box to South African customers.

It also launched a Roku box bundled with Netflix.

The custom-built Roku is priced at R1,599.

It is already available from Liquid Telecom, Cellucity, FNB, Incredible Connection and Vox.

Kwesé Play is now available across South Africa through leading retailers
Kwesé Play is now available across South Africa through leading retailers

Kwesé Play is targeted mainly at fibre-to-the-home broadband users.

Each Kwesé Play Roku also includes a 3-month subscription to Netflix’s standard plan.

The company has streaming deals with RedBull TV, TED, YouTube, etc and provides more than 100 Video on Demand services.

Kwesé Play is now available across South Africa through leading retailers
Kwesé Play is now available across South Africa through leading retailers

Kwesé also announced the launch of a long-term partnership with Netflix for Sub-Saharan Africa, leveraging Kwesé’s pan-African reach to help make it easier for African consumers to enjoy Netflix.

“Our strategy is to provide the best in VOD via a superior network. We’ve partnered with the best in IPTV hardware and content to offer our viewers world-class programming through our fibre network infrastructure,” said Joseph Hundah, Econet Media’s president and CEO.

This South African Startup Wants to Challenge Twitter, Facebook’s Dominance

0

Queenstown born entrepreneur Siviwe Mgolodela, who is a BCom student at Stellenbosch University majoring in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, is the brains behind Unorthodox, a start-up company.

Unorthodox aims to take on popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

“Presently, people are under so much pressure to look, feel and think a certain way to impress their friends and their followers. As a result, people end up unconsciously communicating lies,” Mgolodela, the founder of Unorthodox, told Techfinancials in an interview over the phone.

“Unorthodox is the alternative to existing platforms in that all that pressure is taken away”.

Queenstown born entrepreneur Siviwe Mgolodela
Queenstown born entrepreneur Siviwe Mgolodela (Photo Credit” Siviwe)

Mgolodela promises “freedoms” that he said were not available on social media platforms.

Rather than worrying about what other people will think, Unorthodox wants its users to express themselves and talk about topics and their emotions freely.

“100% anonymity equates to 0% shame,” Mgolodela explains.

“Where else will users get a chance to anonymously share their raw emotions, problems and candid views on a social networking platform? Certainly not on Facebook or LinkedIn.”

Unorthodox launches on Wednesday next week, 20 September 2017.

Mgolodela said his Unorthodox concept has been tested with a few of his friends to find out what they think about the social network.

He said a live demo of the Unorthodox social network will be released on Friday, 15 September to a select few “to test” it out before the launch.

The ambitious student entrepreneur said his anonymous social platform will, at present, focus on the South African market.

“I plan on targeting Africa in the upcoming year or two, and only after conquering the African continent, will I then target the rest of the world”.

Asked about the choice of the name “Unorthodox”, the Stellenbosch student said: “The word stems from the message behind the social network – that it is okay to be different; to think different; to feel different; essentially it is okay to be unorthodox”.

Unorthodox logo
Unorthodox logo (Photo Credit: Siviwe Mgolodela)

He said the inspiration behind this social network came from his belief that “people unconsciously communicating lies” on social networks.

Unorthodox is being developed by Klensch Lucas.

Mgolodela is relying on a lot of bootstrapping mechanisms to get this project off the ground.

“For instance, instead of hiring an experienced web developer or outsourcing the project to a web developing company, I chose to hire an underdog whose talent I believed in,” said Mgolodela.

“As a result, the cost of developing the social network was not as high as one would expect.

“Once the social network traffic increases exponentially, I will make use of other forms of funding, such as approaching venture capitalists.

“However, bootstrapping is still a strategy that I intend on utilizing for a while”.

He said Unorthodox will “liberate people to be their true selves”.

Facebook
Facebook (Photo Credit: https://www.shutterstock.com)

Users will be able to express their true emotions and thoughts, as opposed to acting all cool for the sake of garnering likes and followers.

“I want people to realise that there is more to them than a mere selfie; that we are more alike than we are different,” said Mgolodela.

“I want people to share their life experiences by seeing the world through the eyes of someone else without any of the pretense of trying to impress anyone.

“Social media is presently ruining our emotional intelligence.”

He said Unorthodox wants to make it cool for people to talk about their real emotions on its social network.

“Presently, we see that with the emphasis being placed on selfies and filters, our emotions seem to be chucked away in a box somewhere with this huge stigma that it is not cool to feel,” said Mgolodela.

“Ultimately, I want my users to feel empowered in knowing that they are not alone and that they are not freaks for being unorthodox; that if they are feeling or thinking a certain way, chances are someone out there can relate – that way we get to share our experiences in an authentic manner.

“I wanted to address topics that mainstream social media doesn’t always want to talk about – i.e. depression and anxiety.

“I would say that the message behind this social network is that it is okay to be different; to think different; to feel different. I want people to share in their varied emotions; opinions; views and problems.”

Unorthodox hopes to entice millions of users.

martphone open Twitter application
Smartphone open Twitter application (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

One wonders whether it will be easy for the local startup to challenge the global giants of social media platforms that are loved by many in our country.

But, Mgolodela is unfazed by the popularity of the big social networks.

“I absolutely think (it will be easy to attract new users), because people are becoming increasingly annoyed with the perfect illusion created by social media because none of it is real. People are yearning for actual social interaction, as opposed to mere selfie and video sharing,” he explains.

“I think people would appreciate a platform to just vent about their relationship problems, their pain, anger, sadness, and frustration.

“A platform to confess their secrets and to converse openly about topics that mainstream social media doesn’t always want to talk about, i.e. depression and anxiety.”

The question remains will Unorthodox be a hit with local users?

The Connected Things: SA’s Battle to Deliver Internet of Things Solutions

0

by Gugu Lourie

The stage to do battle for a connected user is being laid by tech firms – Comsol, Sigfox and Vula Telematix – in a lucrative race to connect homes, farmers, doctors, patients, cars, utilities, and other everyday devices such as fridges and washing machines, etc. to smartphones.

In the meantime, telco’s are setting up their Internet of Things (IoT) platforms to lure customers.

IoT, previously machine-to-machine (M2M), is a concept of connecting devices – ranging from refrigerators, geysers, smart electric meters, coffee makers, etc. – to the internet. Our smartphones, tablets, laptops and even refrigerators make up the Internet of Things. In fact, any device which is connected to the internet makes up the Internet of Things.

IoT is likely to expedite the next industrial transformation.

For years, South Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator Vodacom and rival MTN have led the charge for IoT or M2M solutions that led to the development of the telematics industry in the country with global players such as Mix Telematics. For more read: Mix Telematics’ Subscriber Growth is not Showing Signs of Slowing Down.

To top it all the concept of placing a SIM card into a vehicle to track its performance was born in South Africa.

With the growth of digital services and the hunt for new revenue streams, operators need to maintain their relevance and are seeking compelling services around mobile money, IoT and big data.

Smart home control concept. Modern kitchen interior with white furniture
Smart home control concept. Modern kitchen interior with white furniture (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

After investments of mobile money, IoT has been seen the best way by telcos to enhance their digital services and significantly bolster their digital services revenues.

Estimates are that by 2020, there will be 50 billion things or IoT devices – smart cars, smart parking, smart shoes, smart fridges, smart toasters, smart streetlights, heart monitors, etc. – connected to the Internet. But some of this is not hot air, some companies are already deploying IoT solutions that save lives and empowering farmers to make money across the country.

The South African IoT market, which is mostly dominated by enterprises, is believed to worth about R300 billion, according to a recent report by Vodacom.

But connecting these billions of devices is a challenge for traditional networks as many don’t have the reach to cover vast geographical areas, and most involve high costs.

Developing IoT network infrastructure

Several technology firms are looking at IoT as a lucrative space and are investing time and money to build the sector’s ecosystem and position themselves either as enablers of the market or players providing solutions.

Man uses his smartphone to set up the fridge
Man uses his smartphone to set up the fridge (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

“IoT offers solutions for smart cities, smart businesses, and even many of the challenges we face as a society, for example managing scarce resources like water. By enabling smart tracking, smart perimeter control, smart agriculture, smart buildings, as well as smart city applications like metering and manhole cover monitoring, IoT is already fundamentally changing how we live,” Iain Stevenson, CEO of Comsol, said recently.

“We are proud to introduce the network that is going to empower African utilities, businesses, and individuals to gain the benefits the IoT offers.”

South Africa’s Comsol is deploying IoT network on the back of its R1.5 billion open access layer 2 national network investment and is expected to be available for sensor service termination this month in the major metros. The network is backed by a global alliance and driven by global tech giants Cisco and IBM.

Another player is also developing IoT network in South Africa.

SqwidNet (a wholly owned subsidiary of DFA), is deploying and operating Sigfox’s network nationwide and distribute the IoT connectivity services and solutions to its partner channels. Sigfox is a global provider of a global communication solution powering the IoT.

The roll-out of the Sigfox network in South Africa will initially be in the key metros starting with Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, and Durban, with full national coverage to be completed by 2018.

Internet of Things
Internet of Things (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

While local firm Vula Telematix is rolling out the Machine Network SA, the country’s first public wireless telecommunications network dedicated to M2M communications.

The Machine Network SA is powered by Ingenu’s patented Random Phase Multiple Access technology, which allows Vula Telematix to guarantee that its customers’ devices will work on the network for over 20 years. The Machine Network SA also covers areas that cellular and other network providers are unable or unwilling to, and coverage is consistent, regardless of where devices are located.

This network will benefit mostly our metros and municipalities.

Telco’s invest in Narrowband IoT services

Telco’s are also building their own Narrowband (NB) IoT network as a strategy to counter the new players such as Comsol, Sigfox and Vula Telematics.

Both Vodacom and MTN are deploying their own NB-IoT services to leverage their existing cell phone network infrastructure instead of investing in a costly IoT network.

The NB-IoT services is championed by Vodafone, British mobile giant and owner of Vodacom, and is a better alternative to the likes of LoRa and Sigfox that utilises unlicensed spectrum.

While Comsol, Sigfox and Vula Telematics are busy building their networks, both Vodacom and MTN are sharpening their IoT’s artillery by deploying IoT solutions.

Vodacom NB-IoT platform – launched this week – demonstrate that the telco is deepening its strategic focus on IoT. The platform could be used to nurture an ecosystem of developers, software engineers and start-ups for NB-IoT applications.

The firm also has indicated that it takes IoT seriously as a new source of revenue by developing a dedicated IoT business led by Deon Liebenberg.

The NB-IoT platform provides solutions such as stock visibility solution that enables health clinic dispensaries to report on stock levels on the shelves through a custom-built mobile app. Based on data reported from the clinics, the solution then automates reporting via SMS and e-mail to sub-district and provincial management. For more solutions, visit Vodacom’s NB-IoT platform here.

Vodacom also launched a connected farmer solution, please read:  The Connected Farmer: How Vodacom is Making Farming Cool.

While in 2015 MTN Business unveiled its Pan African IoT platform.

“To ensure a seamless customer experience for our customers, wherever MTN has a presence, the IoT platform has a dedicated network, separate from the consumer network, for operational and business systems support. As a result, the platform is dedicated to managing all MTN’s machine-to-machine functions,” Mteto Nyati, MTN SA CEO, said in 2015.

Through its partnership with Huawei, MTN is using NB-IoT services to target much-needed applications such as smart parking, smart farms, smart homes, smart meters, wildlife tracking. They have already developed joint solutions for the local market.

Smart City (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)
Smart City (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

Making acquisitions to bolster IoT ecosystem

To intensify its role in the IoT ecosystem Vodacom last year acquired 100% of local IoT player X-Link Communications. For more read: Vodacom bets big on Internet of Things, increase its stake to 100% in X-Link.

The IoT market is not short of deals aimed at positioning players to take part in this lucrative space. Recently, Stellenbosch-based antenna engineering firm EMSS Group made inroads into the IoT space by making an investment into IoT player Polymorph, which develops mobile and IoT apps.

“The deal brings together an established engineering company and a youthful start-up and fits perfectly into our vision for the development of new hardware and software product lines. In addition, it fast-tracks our entry into the IoT industry by at least three to four years,” EMSS co-founder and group director Frans Meyer, said recently.

That said, with new players such as Comsol, Sigfox and Vula Telematix investing in new IoT networks in South Africa may mean that both Vodacom and MTN are not in a prime position to tackle the IoT space.

Not to be left behind in the lucrative connected car space, both Vodacom and MTN are playing big. Read more: Vodacom, MTN wants to turn your car into “smartphone on wheels”.

Connected Car
Connected Car (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

They are stepping up their participation in the IoT ecosystem to ensure that they are not being pushed to the margins as simple providers of the infrastructure.

Both Vodacom and MTN are also eyeing to deploy IoT solutions to utilities and municipalities, hoping to capitalise on the growth of smart cities and homes. A telco that will strike a deal with metros such as Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, etc. to deploy smart city services will smile all the way to the bank.

While telcos are all about enhancing their digital services, and finding new revenue streams through deployment of IoT services, let’s hope that predictions by research firm Capegemini comes to fruition. The research firm argues: “The growth of IoT is set to disrupt the ‘established value chains and stable industrial structures’ through new players the way we see it – who are competent enough to innovate and exploit networks and digitization – changing various industries forever.”

This story was first published in Talk IoT for original story click here.

Is Cell C Sustainable?

0

by Gugu Lourie

Common sense tells me that Cell C cannot survive much longer without being profitable, the more so if it continues to play hide and seek with the market over its finances.

The signs are everywhere that Cell C is struggling – its public relations efforts are not exactly masking the problem.

Last week, the company disclosed that in December it had lodged papers requesting the Gauteng High Court to review call termination regulations. Cell C was also quoted by Business Day as saying that it would “vigorously challenge” Vodacom’s planned R7bn acquisition of Neotel, and would pursue every legal avenue to stop the deal.

Perhaps the problem is that the third-biggest mobile operator is trying too hard to punch above its weight.

There is also an unstated assumption that its customers fully understand what “drop calls” are.

However, one thing I do know is that Cell C’s balance sheet is shielded from public scrutiny because it is not a listed entity, and therefore not compelled to disclose its finances.

That said, this week City Press published a report which places the spotlight firmly on Cell C’s financial health.

Saudi Telecom Company, which indirectly owns a significant stake in Cell C, has reportedly reduced its investment in the mobile operator by a whopping R1.2bn.

The newspaper also added that Reuters reported that Abdulaziz al-Sugair, Saudi Telecom Company’s chairperson, said the firm was “evaluating options” over its international portfolio.

But Cell C’s boss, Jose Dos Santos, insists that his company is not about to go under. He told the newspaper that he was neither concerned about the Saudi Telecom chairperson’s remarks, nor about the impairment.

I am willing to bet that if Cell C fully disclosed its financial statements of its operations over the last 14 years, one would not find a healthy state of affairs.

The comments made by Dos Santos remind me of similar sentiments made by Leo Kirkinis when he was chief executive of African Bank.

Amid reports of serious financial challenges, Kirkinis always urged investors and shareholders to remain confident about African Bank and its prospects for success.

The ensuing disaster that unfolded at African Bank is well documented. Despite Kirkinis’ assurances, the bank let down numerous investors and customers. It also failed the banking sector and the country as a whole.

It feels like déjà vu – Dos Santos still wants to convince everyone who cares to listen that things are hunky-dory at Cell C.

Not even this major decision by the company’s strategic shareholder to write down the asset seems to bother Dos Santos. He also seems oblivious to the veiled threat by Saudi Telecom to take its business elsewhere.

This surely must be a red flag, which points to the possibility that the financial viability of Cell C is not on stable footing.

For now Cell C continues to flex its muscles by taking the industry regulator and disgruntled customers to court. It’s a pity that the public is not privy to the details of the Saudi Telecom write-down.

We can, in the circumstances, speculate that Saudi Telecom wants to disengage from the not-so-profitable Cell C.

It is unlikely that Cell C will reveal its numbers in the coming weeks.

It is predictable that when Cell C publishes its financial figures the market will have access to statistics about subscriber numbers, market share, new products and how the business continues to place the customer at the centre of everything it does.

It would be a mistake, however, to stop questioning the executives of Cell C about the sustainability of the business.

The write-down could be a sign of a restless shareholder.

If Cell C was a listed entitled on the Johannesburg bourse I estimate that its share price would be in the range of 1c to 10c a share – so low that many fund managers would simply ignore it.

But South Africans can’t afford to ignore Cell C. It employs thousands of people and supports numerous suppliers in its value chain.
The challenge to Cell C would be to quickly find a shareholder with big pockets to take it forward – that is, if Saudi Telecom completely disengages.

Evidently, what subscribers want is to know is why they should continue to trust Cell C.

Are Dos Santos’ verbal assurances enough? That is the question.

SA’s Digital Heritage: Keeping Us Globally Relevant

0
Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan.
Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan.

South Africa’s heritage is not just physical. It is intimately part of the digital world. Digital connectively can enhance the value of that heritage, preserve it – and ensure we remain significant players on the world stage

There can be few South African music fans who have not felt a glow of pride to see the worldwide success of Master KG’s smash dance hit Jerusalema on dancefloors across the planet. The irresistible song is a shining example of one of South Africa’s most precious resources – our digital heritage.

Social media has exploded with clips of dancers from Paris to Puerto Rico showing their line-dancing prowess on the South African house classic. Incredibly, the video has amassed more than 150 million views on YouTube.

At present, Jerusalema may be our country’s greatest cultural export – fittingly, it was chosen by President Cyril Ramaphosa for South Africa’s Heritage Day dance challenge! This raises a critical issue in Heritage Month: it is time to view our heritage through a digital lens.

Today, most aspects of humanity’s heritage – historical, artistic, archaeological, musical and natural – are being shared and preserved in the digital realm.

Even traditional cultural experiences are now digital. Many of us may have taken ourselves or our children on a virtual museum tour, or to a digital art gallery. Such tours are no longer just a surrogate for the real thing. They are the way many of us get to know our heritage. It is high time that we consider ways of integrating the physical and digital worlds to help us understand our world, our society and our place in it.

Digital tools can significantly enhance our understanding of cultural assets. Take, for example, Mapungubwe, site of an ancient Southern African civilisation. The site itself resembles little more than a large hill. However, by interpreting and explaining such a historical asset using digital tools – augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) – it can be understood so much better.

Sound, video, graphics and data can all similarly be superimposed onto the contemporary world to help our understanding.

There can be interactive tools that allow explanation and deeper understanding. The gamification of historical and natural assets can also help us to understand what past worlds must have been like – as anyone who has played Assassin’s Creed will know.

In the environmental space, most of us have visited webcams that share the beauty and animal life of a waterhole, or a bird hide at a popular nature reserve.

Sharing heritage digitally offers great opportunities to spread knowledge and awareness about a society and its culture – in this sense, Mapungubwe stands alongside Jerusalema as part of South Africa’s rich, proud digital heritage.

Sharing digital heritage with the world depends on internet access. The emerging mass, high-speed connectivity promised by the roll-out of 5G networks is the perfect platform on which to do this.

It’s about narrowing the digital divide, and giving more people access to the mobile internet. In South Africa, the Minister for Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams recently said government would continue efforts to cover some 20 million unconnected South Africans. We applaud this news.

Connectivity is knowledge, and as we grow the numbers of mobile internet users, we give those people access to the entire body of human knowledge, as well as our cultural and natural heritage.

Unesco, (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has noted that “making sure this burgeoning digital heritage remains available is … a global issue relevant to all countries and communities”.

Although our tourism sector is returning to operation after the lockdown, it will be some time before we are all travelling as often as before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In the meantime, the perfect way to share South Africa’s heritage is digitally, online.

In a world where the Kruger Park webcam is as much part of our digital heritage as Jerusalema, cultural assets must compete to attract financial support – whether in the form of a safari visit by interested tourists, or a few million record streams for Master KG. But today, it all starts online.

If we want our heritage to survive and thrive, we need to think of it digitally. We need to connect South Africa’s rich culture to the world, in digital form – whether it’s an ancient civilisation, or a catchy house-music hit.

  • Huawei South Africa CEO Spawn Fan

How is Huawei Powering Digital Inclusion with Technology in Africa?

0
Huawei launched the DigiSchool project
Huawei launched the DigiSchool project

Huawei believes that no one should be left behind in the digital world, so the Chinese telecoms giant developed TECH4ALL.

TECH4ALL is a long-term, digital inclusion initiative for using technology, applications and skills to empower people and organizations everywhere.

At Huawei Connect 2020, which kicked off today, Kevin Zhang, Chief Marketing Officer of Huawei ICT Infrastructure, addressed the online summit “TECH4ALL: Powering Digital Inclusion with Technology”.

He pointed out that Huawei is willing to work with global partners to promote digital inclusion in fields like education and environmental protection through technology, applications, and skills.

Driving Inclusive Education with Technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the digital divide between the world’s online and offline populations. Up to 1.6 billion students from 106 countries have been affected by school closures, widening the gaps in educational equity and quality.

Huawei launched the DigiSchool project
Huawei launched the DigiSchool project

To help address this issue, Huawei’s TECH4ALL initiative focuses on driving equity and quality in education with technology. As the pandemic continues to spread, Huawei has been working with partners to ensure that learning does not stop for students.

Basic Knowledge Is Critical for Continued Study

According to a study by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), 78% of grade four children in South Africa lack basic English reading comprehension skills as a result of underperformance during the literacy foundation phase from grades one to three.

Closing the Education Gap through Technology

In South Africa, Huawei launched in July 2020 the DigiSchool project in partnership with local operator Rain and the educational non-profit organization Click Foundation.

The project is in response to the South African government’s call to ensure that all children can read fluently – and understand what they are reading – by the end of grade three.
With digital education, we’re not only addressing the literacy crisis, but also equipping young learners with the digital skills required for future success,” said Nicola Harris, CEO of Click Foundation.

The partners are aiming to achieve this by connecting more than 100 urban and rural primary schools to the Internet over the next year. Huawei is providing the Click Foundation with connectivity equipment and the funding to provide high-quality learning resources for the schools, while Rain will get them online with its 4G and 5G networks.

“I’ve seen the value the program is adding to the curriculum. Our learners are able to read, our learners are to interpret pictures, we have a high level of learners participating in literacy activities,” said Principal Maile, Phakani Primary School, Mpumalanga, South Africa.

At the end of his speech, Kevin Zhang called on more partners to join the TECH4ALL program to jointly promote digital inclusion in new ways so that no one will be left behind in the digital world.

Uber Eats Releases South Africa’s Most Loved Traditional Orders

0
Uber Eats
Uber Eats

The term local is lekker always rings true in a country as diverse as South Africa, where one is always guaranteed a taste extravaganza. As citizens prepare to celebrate Heritage Day this week, Uber Eats has unveiled some of the most loved, tried and tested traditional tastes that Mzansi has come to love.

Favourite flavours

Here in the land of ama-piano, basic does not cut it. What does get cut (into 8), is a flame-grilled chicken, with the most requested being the thigh and breast piece, even if the wing still remains the most popular single-order on the Uber Eats app.

While traditional starch like rice, was most commonly swapped out for pap, as the app has seen a growing demand for the daily staple. Achar remains the most ordered traditional extra with orders including russians, viennas  braaied meat, and kotas.

Made for Mzansi

Being a global app, Uber Eats understands its duty to local restaurants and onboarding traditional, local and kasi-styled eateries has always been a priority. While the app was the first of its kind to launch in the township, Soweto, it provided a key opportunity to give traditional flavours an international platform.

With a growing demand from South Africans to have their favourite local eateries available, Uber Eats has been actively increasing the availability of these restaurants on the app.  Magodu was ordered 3x times more than last year! Bunny chows and curries reigned supreme in traditional cuisine, followed by Chinese stir-fries and Thai-infused woks.

Homegrown is hot and healthy

What is a curry without its masala or a chakalaka minus the chilli? If it’s one thing that gets a dis lekker response is anything with spice. Hot was again the most requested flavour for any meal-type, while medium to mild were less loved but still appreciated.

Quite a few South Africans requested extra hot, with one eater going as far as requesting “Please make sure it is extra hot with extra chilli. Also, please add in extra serviettes as I’m going to be wiping my forehead with this!”

Throughout the nationwide lockdown, Uber Eats reports that there has been a stark increase in those who are ordering healthier meals and alternatives. The keyword ‘healthy’ grew by 82% and healthy orders have increased by 71% locally. In true South African style, as the days get hotter, so should the beach-ready bodies.

Manners is a must

While food flavours may differ from culture to culture, everyone knows that respect is the local language spoken. No home is without love and common courtesy as South Africans pride themselves on being warm and welcoming. So much so, the country placed at number 3 globally on the app’s statistics when it comes to using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ on any special order requests.

Heritage Day is about honouring homegrown roots in cuisine, clothing and celebrations. It’s a day where the country embodies what it is to be a rainbow nation.

2021 BMW M3 Competition Sedan and M4 Competition Coupe Revealed

0
BMW M3 and BMW M4
BMW M3 and BMW M4

BMW has finally revealed its new M3 and M4 Coupe models that are likely to launch locally towards the middle of 2021.

South Africans are not getting the standard M3 and M4 Coupe models as well as the manual gearbox.

Only the BMW M3 Competition Sedan and the BMW M4 Competition Coupe will be introduced to the South African market.
BMW M3
BMW M3
Both models will be introduced in the first half of 2021.
BMW M3 Competition Sedan and BMW M4 Competition Coupé with eight-speed M Steptronic transmission.
Competition models also available with M xDrive all-wheel-drive system for the first time, est. from summer 2021.
M xDrive links up with Active M Differential, rear-wheel-biased setup, three selectable modes: 4WD, 4WD Sport and 2WD for pure rear‑wheel drive and deactivated stability control.

Cape Town Municipal Tribunal Gives Go-Ahead To Mega-Development at Two Rivers Urban Park

0
The River Club,
The River Club, currently a nine-hole golf course, is to be rezoned and will house new headquarters for giant multi-national company Amazon, following a decision by the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal on Friday. Photo: Steve Kretzmann
  • A city tribunal has made way for Amazon to move in to River Club mega-development in Cape Town.
  • The rezoning was decided in the face of 180 heritage and environmental objections.
  • Buildings up to 11-storeys high are to be constructed on a First Nation site.
  • Amazon’s presence is a “major breakthrough”, according to the chair of the tribunal.

By 

The rezoning of the River Club property in Observatory to allow a R4.5bn mega-development including headquarters for Amazon was given the go-ahead by the City of Cape Town’s Municipal Planning Tribunal on Friday 18 September.

Friday’s decision to rezone the area from Open Space to Business designations, came in the face of 180 objections from civil society bodies, activist organisations, First Nation groupings, and individuals. The development will result in infilling a floodplain, permanently erasing the original course of the Liesbeek River, and constructing buildings up to 11-storeys high on an area recognised as significant to First Nations.

An Environmental Authorisation which is a requirement for rezoning, was granted by the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on 20 August. But there were 40 objections, and an appeal process is underway. The deadline for appeals to be lodged was 10 September, and among the applicants are the City’s own Environmental Management Department, and Heritage Western Cape, both of whom say the province’s decision violates provisions of the National Heritage Resources Act and the National Environmental Management Act.

But just eight days after the deadline and without sight of the Environmental Authorisation appeals, the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal decided to rezone the site at the confluence of the Black and Liesbeek Rivers. The tribunal chairperson, David Daniels, favourably compared the proposed development to Century City.

Development on the 14.8ha River Club site, which is owned by Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust and currently features a nine-hole golf course, pub, conference venue and golf shop, has faced sustained civic opposition since the trust submitted a notice of intent to develop in July 2016. The land is in the Two Rivers Urban Park, seen to be South Africa’s first site of colonial dispossession by the Dutch as they forced the Khoi from their ancestral grazing lands.

In a bid to temporarily halt development in order to assess the heritage significance of the land, Heritage Western Cape invoked a two-year provisional protection order on the site in April 2018. This was appealed by the developer, backed by the City and two provincial departments. The appeal was rejected by the provincial appeals tribunal. The two year period of the protection order has since lapsed.

The Municipal Planning Tribunal on Friday stated it had not considered Heritage Western Cape’s, nor the City Environmental Management’s own 20-page appeal (excluding annexures) against the Environmental Authorisation on environmental and heritage grounds.

More than one objector noted in their presentations that this gave the impression that the Municipal Planning Tribunal was taking advantage of the Environmental Authorisation to push through the rezoning of the site.

Observatory Civic Association chairperson Leslie London, in his presentation, noted a number of issues which brought “procedural justice” into question.

London said since the initial advertisement for rezoning two years ago, Liesbeek Leisure Properties had inserted new information dealing with “substantial changes” to its application. London said there were eight new reports but the tribunal did not allow appellants to provide new information, such as the appeals that have been lodged against the Environmental Authorisation.

He said in order to make a fully informed decision, the tribunal needed to have sight of the appeals, yet appellants were not allowed to put this information before the tribunal.

London said the developers had been allowed to introduce a response by “the applicant’s heritage expert” dated 31 March 2020, “but bizarrely the actual Heritage Western Cape final comments” which were issued on 13 February 2020 and rejected the developer’s Heritage Impact Assessment was not included in documentation before the tribunal.

The tribunal “will misdirect itself if it is not provided with all the relevant information pertaining to this decision,” said London.

In the prelude to the tribunal hearing, one of the five tribunal members – who was not identified on the Skype broadcast – said the tribunal did “accept and understand and must accept that the environmental and heritage aspects are very important”. These aspects “will have to carry quite a considerable weight in the assessment”, the tribunal member said.

But in the final summation, Daniels rejected the environmental and impassioned heritage appeals presented.

He said the findings of the tribunal were unanimous. “I think there are more positives than negatives” regarding environmental impact.

He said with “the conservatism you see around us today I wonder if our environmentalists would ever have approved that wonderful restaurant at the tip of Cape Point that sits on the edge of a cliff, or that viewing deck we approved on the top of Table Mountain. You would struggle to get that approved now.”

He said none of the objections brought to light any conflict with the 2018 Metropolitan Spatial Development Framework, which is the planning policy the tribunal considered applicable.

“I think it (the River Club development) will be a destination like Century City is a destination,” said Daniels.

He was very impressed that Liesbeek Leisure Properties had secured Amazon as an anchor tenant. “That’s a major, major breakthrough for the economy of the Western Cape and for the brand of Cape Town. I think it’s a big deal.”

Liesbeek Leisure Properties Trust spokesperson Jody Aufrichtig called the decision an “unequivocal victory for the people of Cape Town” and a “major milestone in a comprehensive, open and transparent development approval process”.

MTN Launches Play Lotto Feature on MoMo App

0
MTN MoMo
MTN MoMo

MTN’s mobile money solution, MoMo, now features Play Lotto functionality, offering MoMo users a free-to-play, safe and convenient way to try their luck at the South African Lotto.

The MoMo advantage is that customers do not need a bank account to play, unlike traditional banking apps – they merely need to be registered on the MoMo app and have a positive balance in their MoMo Wallet. There is no transaction fee for Play Lotto, but once confirmed, the ticket purchase cannot be cancelled or reversed.

As in-store, tickets for both Lotto and Powerball games cost R5; if the Plus 1 option is selected, a further R2.50 will be deducted from the customer’s MoMo Wallet. If Plus 1 and Plus 2 are selected, an additional R5.00 will be deducted, and so on.

“MoMo is all about innovation, convenience and simplicity and the partnership with ITHUBA is part of our drive to keep expanding our digital channels and technological innovations with solutions that we know our customers want,” says Felix Kamenga, Chief Officer: MTN SA Mobile Financial Services.

MoMo Play Lotto players will be notified of any winnings via SMS within two business days following each draw. Winnings below R5000 will be paid into the player’s MoMo wallet straight away. For winnings of R5000 or above, customers will be required to go to ITHUBA’s offices with their MoMo statement, ticket reference number and identity document.

In addition to playing on the MoMo app, both MTN and non-MTN customers can Play Lotto through the MoMo USSD string at no cost by registering or dialling *120*151#. The MTN MoMo app is zero rated to MTN customers.

“Play Lotto is the latest in our range of customer-centric offers available on MoMo, which include vehicle license renewal, electricity payments, vouchers for stores and restaurants, municipal bills, donations to churches and charities, along with SABC and DSTV payments,” says Kamenga.

 

“MoMo is a simple, cost-effective and easy way to manage your money directly from your phone and we have a long list of exciting new solutions that we are adding every week.”

BMW 330is Edition Pays Tribute to BMW Gusheshe

0
bmw-330is-edition
bmw-330is-edition

This Heritage Month, BMW South Africa celebrates the life of the iconic Gusheshe, the ‘Grootman’ of BMW that will always be a mark of inspiration in Mzansi.

Back in the ’80s and ’90s South African, there was on particular BMW that won over the enthusiast fan-base — the E30 BMW 325is.

It won over the hearts of South African enthusiasts, even gaining the nickname “Gusheshe”, and is still beloved today.

Which is why BMW SA has created a special edition 3 Series to pay tribute to that car — the G20 BMW 330is Edition.

If you want a BMW 330is Edition, you’re going to have to hurry, as only 230 units will be made and they will each cost R899,000.

bmw-330is-edition
bmw-330is-edition

 

Why the South African Poker Scene is Thriving

0
Cape Town
Cape Town

At around 18 million visitors every year, South Africa is the second most popular tourist destination on the continent, second only to Morocco. Visitors come for many reasons and all year round Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are major tourist attractions.

The latter is especially popular for those who want to combine visiting a big city with a seaside break with its glorious Golden Mile. Giving off a distinctly Miami-like vibe with its mix of surfers and sunseekers on the beach against a high-rise backdrop, it’s undoubtedly one of the world’s great beaches.

Johannesburg, as well as being the country’s most populous city, is the starting point for many heading off on that other great attraction for visitors – the big game safari. Although the country’s most famous park, Kruger, is some 200 miles from the city there are numerous, smaller, parks nearby, all of which give visitors the opportunity to see “the Big Five” in the wild.

But, for a city that’s awe inspiring in itself, it has to be Cape Town. With Table Mountain looming above it, it’s surrounded on three sides by sea creating an almost island feel to it.

And, for all of its natural beauty and countless attractions for tourists, the country has been steadily gaining a global reputation of another kind – as the African Capital of Poker.

The players, the places, the tournaments

Poker
Poker

There are a number of reasons for this reputation to have developed and one of the main ones has to be the high profile of a couple of players on the professional circuit. The most famous is these is Raymond Rahme. In 2007 he made history by becoming the first ever African player to reach the final table of the biggest event in the game’s calendar, the World Series of Poker Main Event. Although he didn’t win, he did go on to come 4th taking home a very handy $3 million.

The second most famous player that the country has produced is Jarrod Solomon whose career earnings to date have amounted to around $1.6 million. Also well worthy of a mention is a great exponent of online poker, Ashlee de Lange whose official figures show he has won around $480,000 playing the game.

There is also a burgeoning tournament scene in the country with a number of WSOP events being held at various venues. A particular favourite is the Emerald Casino in Vanderbijlpark where the first was held in 2013. Since then, it has gone on to host its own Emerald Series attracting players both from South Africa and all round the world.

Another major venue for tournaments is the Rio Casino in Klerksdorp where these have become a big feature of their Sunday nights. The game is Texas Hold’em and, again, these events attract some pretty serious players.

The law as it stands in South Africa

From being one of the strictest countries in the world when it comes to gambling – up until 1996 the only form allowed was on horse racing – it has become considerably more liberal in recent times.

The relaxing of the laws came as a result of the number of illegal gambling operations which sprung up under the ban. The government recognized that the tens of thousands of these operating in the country represented millions of dollars of potential revenue being lost in the form of unpaid taxes.

So now all operators have to pay both for their licenses and in taxes on their profits creating a very valuable revenue estimated by management consultants PWC to reach around R.3.5 billion by 2021.

Something of a grey area, however, concerns the online poker sites that are so popular in the rest of the world. The government is unwilling to issue licenses for them to operate within the country but seems powerless to stop players from playing on them anyway. Back in 2008 plans were mooted that could have added poker to the group of permitted types of gambling online that included horse racing and sports betting generally. However there simply wasn’t enough momentum or support to help this to become law.

Popular poker venues for tourists

Tourism
Tourism

This shouldn’t be too disheartening for poker fans visiting the country as there are plenty of opportunities to visit casinos which host games of various levels.

One of the most popular among visitors to Cape Town is at the Grand West Casino. Here you’ll find no less than ten poker tables in operation all week round with the tournaments proving to be hugely popular. The buy-ins vary, meaning that even those who are just getting to grips with the rules of poker will find a game to suit them.

For an altogether more rural poker experience, then the Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club comes highly recommended. Although there are only four dedicated tables, the standard of play is always high in the cash games on offer.

Meanwhile, at Monetcasino in Sandton there are double the number of tables with both cash games and tournaments to choose from.

Home poker games are a growing trend in South Africa, with residents and tourists opting to play from home. It is important aspiring players make the right choice when it comes to buying a poker table, it can turn an amateur home game into a competitive event. Just a few years ago this wouldn’t have been a popular choice for many people, but the growth of the game has seen home games gain popularity.

Looking to the future

The ever-increasing popularity of poker in South Africa would seem, logically, to mean that more and more opportunities to play will emerge. However, there have been signs that new, more stringent, gambling legislation is being considered.

In all likelihood, this won’t affect poker directly and may well encourage an increasing number of players to take it up. And, for anyone who loves the mental challenge and potential rewards of playing, that has to be very good news indeed.

Why You Should Learn Information and Technology in University

0
Computer
Computer. Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

Nowadays, there are a lot of universities that prepare program graduates for Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology to find careers in the field of information and technology. One of the universities that offers such a program is Grand Canyon university. If you are interested in that particular field, then you can join their degree program to get a degree in information technology. For more information you can check degree programs.

As we all know that the IT industry is growing rapidly, thus the BSIT program is such an essential part in the upcoming technology’s training. Therefore, you should get your Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology, so you can get many benefits from it. This BS in Information and Technology also perfect for you who don’t want to enrol in a complicated degree. This program is transfer-friendly and created for conventional, online, and also evening cohort students. This program will make you learn many things about Technology and Information in the most enjoyable way possible. If you are having a doubt, you need to learn this below several reasons why you should get a BS in Information and Technology, and then you can decide whether or not you will enrol to this program.

Benefit of Learning Information and Technology

Bachelor of Science in Technology and Information offers you many benefits If you join the program. You will be able to get this kind of benefit when you graduate. Those benefits are including:

Learn What Works Today

When you graduate from the graduate program of BS in Technology and Information you will be able to gain some important skills in various areas of Information and Technology for entry level areas. Therefore, you can easily try to get your dream job, especially in the field of IT.

Improve Skills

You will also learn many new skills throughout the program. As a result you will be able to enter the field of Technology and Information, or you can also re-career. For example, if previously you are working in finance, you can leave your job and try to pursue a career in IT.

Strengthen job candidacy

This graduate program also is a good opportunity for you to improve your portfolio to strengthen job candidacy.

Before you enrol the program, you need to know what kind of course work that they will be given to you. Below are several coursework that you need to learn during the bachelor’s degree in information and technology degree:

  • Platform technology
  • Information assurance
  • Security and management
  • Networking
  • Fundamental in programing
  • Cloud computing
  • Date centres
  • Web systems and technologies

If you are accepted in the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program, then you should have decent knowledge in Algebra and you also should be comfortable in using common office software. Additionally, for eligible students there are some tech certifications that may be applied.

Apply Technology to Run and Support Organizations

The next reason why you should get your BS degree in Information and Technology is it can help you to manage and support your organization. When you have a degree in information and technology, surely you will be able to use your knowledge about technology to solve issues within the organizations. You will know how to use, configure, and run the local technology and cloud based applications. With your knowledge about technology, you will analyse and enhance the use of the present tools and platforms.

Additionally, as a Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology you will learn programming as a key element of your coursework. Later on, you will be able to create and execute functions in some kinds of programming languages. Furthermore, you will also learn exceptional communications skills in order to support the decision-making that surely you will do in the organization. You will also learn to recommend the right technology to use in order to meet the company and business needs.

Apart from above things, you will also learn and get hands-on lab experience. Those kinds of experiences include platform and network technologies, object-oriented programming for business, cloud based computing as well as cloud based systems, IT business case planning, service-oriented architecture especially for big data, and also security-driven systems administration. What do you think? Are you interested in joining the program?

Exciting Future with Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology

Another reason why you should get your degree in Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology is because you will be able to explore an exciting future. There is no doubt that, as a graduate of a BSIT program you will find many amazing opportunities ahead of you in the future. Based on the Bureau of Labour Statistics, there will be significant improvement in some jobs that are related to IT. It is predicted that will grow faster than any other field of work over the next 10-15 years.

If you are still wondering, what kind of job that you can be able to pursue after graduating this program, the answer is there are a lot of careers that you can pursue when you graduate from this program. Those kinds of careers include information system managers, information security specialists, managers for IT projects, Specialists for network systems, systems programmers, instructors for IT, system integrators, software developers, administrators to manage databases, and many more.

All in all, getting your degree in Bachelor of Science in Information and Technology can give you many benefits. Not only will you get abundant knowledge in technology, but you will also get the chance to pursue your career in the field of IT. Therefore, if you are passionate in creating and building a future in technology and information, a degree in IT and cybersecurity could be such a perfect choice for you. Moreover, this kind of program is transfer-friendly, and specifically created for conventional, online, and coherent students. The coursework that is offered is also exciting and meaningful, surely you will be able to learn new things in the most comfortable and enjoyable way possible.

 

Student Accommodation With Facial Recognition Biometric Systems

0
University House
University House

In an industry plagued with mediocrity, Brooklyn House delivers a world-class living experience to a thriving university campus.  It’s the first instalment of University Square, a holistic lifestyle development featuring student apartments, retail, restaurants, wellness and medical suites.

Brooklyn House is located 350 meters from the gates of the University of Pretoria (Tuks) and offers fully-furnished 1, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom apartments with high-end finishes and smartly designed space-optimised amenities.

Brooklyn House,
Brooklyn House,

To provide parents and students with complete peace-of-mind, access to Brooklyn House will be controlled by Covid-19 proof facial recognition technology, 24/7 CCTV monitored security, covered basement parking, armed response and access to an emergency medical line.

Residents have the use of a fully licensed restaurant/deli, an onsite laundry service, dedicated study studios and even bicycle parking bays for those more energetic.

With high-speed uncapped and unshaped Wi-Fi plus uninterrupted back-up power, days of candlelit study sessions and dongles are a thing of the past.

Brooklyn House,
Brooklyn House,

To complete the offering, the developers have created a unique rooftop lifestyle treasure for the students to enjoy. It has a professionally designed outdoor gym, stunning swimming pool and lounging area, braai facilities, chill-out and study spaces, dining tables and to top it off – an outdoor cinema screen.

“Brooklyn House has been created to cater for the discerning student, but equally important, for concerned parents too. Today, a contained lifestyle environment that boasts quality, yet affordable living and all the necessary amenities desired by students, has not been made available in South Africa, even the rest of the world – until now,” says Clifford Joffe, spokesperson for Mile Investments.

“Our comprehensive research into the needs and wants of parents and students provided the catalyst for us to transform student accommodation into something aspirational. Brooklyn House and the greater university square ticks those boxes.

“As a father myself, we believed we needed to raise the bar in student living that is safe, fun, exciting and quite simply – a home away from home.”