MTN slashes out-of-bundle and data prices

MTN slashes out-of-bundle and data prices

MTN slash out-of-bundle and data price.

On Thursday 30 November 2017, South African telecommunications company, MTN, announced two major developments which according to the company addresses the data price problem in South Africa.

The first announcement was the launch of a new prepaid 1GB data bundle priced at R50. This bundle will only be available through the MyMTN app.

The second revelation was the launch of a two-tier model for out-of-bundle pricing, which will offer low-usage subscribers a cheaper rate.

The model, which has been dubbed “Steppa”, will see subscribers who consistently use less than 5MB of out-of-bundle data per month pay a rate of R0.29 per MB. In addition, when you use more than 5MB of data, the rate increases to R0.60 per MB – provided a subscriber has opted in.

To opt in, subscribers must dial the USSD code *130*1#. This is a once-off procedure.

The new rates will become available from 1 December.

By Dean Workman
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Malawi Parliament calls for improved Mobile network coverage

Malawi Parliament calls for improved Mobile network coverage

Malawi Parliament calls for improved Mobile network coverage. (image: Whiteafrican)

Members of Parliament in Malawi have on Tuesday, 29 November 2017, called for improved mobile network coverage in areas of the country where coverage is limited. The members have condemned the irregular mobile network coverage in Malawi.

Parliamentarian, Philipo Chinkhondo, asked government to engage the network providers on roaming charges, especially around the border areas which he said was costing his constituents more than what others are paying for the same services.

Chinkhondo said in these areas, some mobile phone users use the Mozambican network which attracts roaming charges, especially for Airtel subscribers.

Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Nicholas Dausi, told the parliamentarians that government had already engaged the mobile network providers on the same and that it was looking forward to having the challenges sorted out. “My ministry has been engaging the network providers and we will ensure that such issues are handled said the minister.

There are two prominent mobile network providers in Malawi, Telekom Malawi and Airtel. In October 2017, Airtel made a commitment to address network problems. The telecom provider noted that slow internet speed is among the challenges subscribers have been facing and accepted that more work needs to be done to eliminate the problems.

Telecommunication firms were advised to take measures to make sure that they provide good network to all people in order for communication activities to be smooth in the country.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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African AI Revolution Challenge launched

African AI Revolution Challenge launched

African AI Revolution Challenge launched

On 30 November 2017, Sagarmatha Technologies announced that it will invest $1 Million in an African Artificial Intelligence startup as part of the AI Revolution Challenge.

The AI Revolution Challenge aims to promote artificial intelligence on the African continent and showcase emerging businesses and top talent working to build expertise in their countries. “Africa as a continent is creative and has unique perspectives, providing a fertile space for innovation and disruption,” says Paul Lamontagne, CEO at Sagarmatha Technologies.

A panel of seasoned investors and experts in Artificial Intelligence will offer their global and technology experience to select up to 20 startups to attend the final event. Finalists will be flown to South Africa in May 2018.

Sagarmatha Technologies will provide the $1 million in development funding and more than double that in marketing value-ads and prizes to the leading African AI startup.

“The business case for Africa is very strong and I see the continent at a tipping point if we embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution. There are trailblazing innovators and disruptors on the continent and we hope to shine the light on these pioneering entrepreneurs,” said Lamontagne.

Businesses who illustrate the following criteria will be considered:

  • Businesses that currently offer (or intend to) a product, service or platform that utilise AI techniques, as defined by relevant scientific research
  • The product or service demonstrates commercial applications worldwide
  • Have had a minimum investment of $25,000 at date of application, either in seed funding or sweat equity / loans.

Applications for the challenge close on 31 March 2018. Only companies registered and resident on the African continent may apply. Further information is available at www.airevolution.africa.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Automation – Creating the worker of tomorrow

Automation – Creating the worker of tomorrow

Andrew Hoseck, Chief Operating Officer at In2IT Technologies.

Job Simulator is a virtual reality game set in the future, where machines have replaced all human jobs. In this game, players can relive the “glory days” when people did regular work, such as being a chef, or working a 9-5, caffeine-fueled desk job. If research is to be believed, we are in the midst of a massive workforce transformation, and the world envisioned in Job Simulator isn’t too far off.

One of the largest takeaways from the predictions such as the claim that 47% of American jobs today will be automated by 2037, and PwC’s findings that 37% of today’s workforce are concerned about automation putting their jobs at risk, is that there exists a very strong likelihood that today’s jobs won’t exist some twenty years from now. So, what jobs will be in existence and, more importantly, what skills will be required in order to do them and how can organisations and individuals begin planning for the skills required to power their businesses in the not-too-distant future?

Tomorrow’s workplace is already emerging
Automation, particularly in manufacturing and production, is not a new concept, and technological advancements are fast absorbed into work environments to increase productivity and improve efficiency. However, technology can also open the door to new business opportunities.

Rapid developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing and data analytics have made it possible to take automation beyond operational improvement. We live in a world of instant gratification and the faster things happen, the faster we expect them to. As customer and business expectations evolve, technology rises to meet this evolution.

Omni-channel engagement and automation strategies are enabling consistent, real-time interactions and transactions, and have become business imperatives rather than competitive advantages. The concepts of business hours and location have all but evaporated. Technology is briskly nudging us through the door of workplace transformation, new job requirements and the host of new skills required to meet them.

Add urbanisation, increasing congestion, and rapidly improving connectivity and a new vista is presented. One where more and more business is conducted digitally, at any time of the day, with very little human interaction or intervention thanks to automated and integrated sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and sales processes. Where employees may work from anywhere, at any time. Where communication is via group chat and managers have never met their staff members face-to-face.

A world of new jobs and skills
Any job where productivity, efficiency or quality is constrained by the ability of a human to perform that task is a natural target for automation. What has changed though is that not only can machines work harder, faster and longer than people, now they can also work “smarter”, making decisions based on complex “thought processes” which opens up the opportunity to automate tasks currently performed by “knowledge workers”. However, automation doesn’t spell out the eradication of jobs but, rather, the creation of new career opportunities.

Automated processes need to be designed, developed, monitored and improved. This means a likely increase in demand for automation experts, business process specialists, subject matter experts, enterprise architects, process modelers, testing specialists, integration specialists, network and communication specialists, software developers, business analysts, etc. The common thread here is one of specialisation, either in a business field or in technology.

The requirement for human interaction will always be there and customers or partners expect to be able to contact a person if required. Very often, this will be when something goes wrong so communication skills, conflict handling and decision making remain valuable skills.

Anywhere, anytime operations require an advanced support infrastructure. Business, operational and technical roles will still be required, along with the prerequisite skills in people management, logistical support, operational management, HR, Finance etc.

Lastly, a great deal of technological awareness, flexibility and adaptability from staff will be required as the tempo of change increases. Knowledge, ideas, people skills and creativity is – and will be – of more value than the ability to do manual work, crunch numbers or shuffle papers.

Merging today and tomorrow
The current workforce spans multiple generations, is geographically dispersed and has varying degrees of technological enablement. Businesses need to adapt accordingly.

Instant gratification and immediacy extends internally as well. The business of the future will need to ensure that employee communication and engagement takes place consistently across multiple channels and should make use of automation to speed up traditional employee support processes.

Tomorrow’s workforce will require a flexible approach with respect to policy, process, communication, work hours, working environment, etc. Changing customer demands will inevitably fuel a change in employee demands, especially in an anywhere, anytime organisation. Employee support processes will be the glue that holds this together.

The future workplace is not one comprised entirely of robots and empty desks. Rather, it is an exciting collaboration of human creativity, thinking and innovation, enabled by technology and automation. Best we prepare ourselves, discard our human tendency to cling to the familiar, and embrace an evolving world of emerging, ever-shifting skills where specialised knowledge carries gravitas.

By Andrew Hoseck, Chief Operating Officer, In2IT Technologies

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Gemalto: Consumers will not forgive a data breach

Gemalto: Consumers will not forgive a data breach

Jason Hart CTO Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto.

On Tuesday 28 November 2017, digital security company, Gemalto, released the results of a survey it conducted on more than 10,000 consumers worldwide. The results revealed that a majority (70%) of consumers would stop doing business with a company if it experienced a data breach. In addition, it also revealed that seven in ten consumers (69%) feel businesses don’t take the security of customer data very seriously.

Despite these concerns, the Gemalto study found that consumers are failing to adequately secure themselves, with over half (56%) still using the same password for multiple online accounts. Even when businesses offer robust security solutions, such as two-factor authentication, two fifths (41%) of consumers admit to not using the technology to secure social media accounts, leaving them vulnerable to data breaches.

This may be because the majority of consumers (62%) believe the business holding their data is mostly responsible for its security. This is resulting in businesses being forced to take additional steps to protect consumers and enforce robust security measures, as well as educate them on the benefits of adopting these. Retailers (61%), banks (59%) and social media sites (58%) were found to have a lot of work to do, with these being sectors that consumers would leave if they suffered a breach.

“Consumers are evidently happy to relinquish the responsibility of protecting their data to a business, but are expecting it to be kept secure without any effort on their part,” says Jason Hart, CTO, Identity and Data Protection at Gemalto. “In the face of upcoming data regulations such as GDPR, it’s now up to businesses to ensure they are forcing security protocols on their customers to keep data secure. It’s no longer enough to offer these solutions as an option. These protocols must be mandatory from the start – otherwise businesses will face not only financial consequences, but also potentially legal action from consumers.”

Despite their behaviour, consumers’ security concerns are high, as two thirds (67%) worry they will be victims of a data breach in the near future. Consequently, consumers now hold businesses accountable – if their data is stolen, the majority (93%) of consumers would take or consider taking legal action against the compromised business.

Consumers Trust Some Industries More Than Others
When it comes to the businesses that consumers trust least, over half (58%) believe that social media sites are one of the biggest threats to their data, with one in five (20%) fearful of travel sites – worryingly, one in ten (9%) think no sites pose a risk to them.

On the other hand, a third (33%) of consumers trust banks the most with their personal data, despite them being frequent targets and victims of data breaches, with industry certified bodies (12%), device manufacturers (11%) and the government (10%) next on the list.

“It’s astonishing that consumers are now putting their own data at risk, by failing to use these measures, despite growing concerns around their security. It’s resulting in an alarming amount of breaches – 80% – being caused by weak or previously stolen credentials. Something has to change soon on both the business and consumer sides or this is only going to get worse,” concluded Hart.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Use Computer Security Day to strengthen business resilience

Use Computer Security Day to strengthen business resilience

Use Computer Security Day to strengthen business resilience.

All organisations should use Computer Security Day on the 30th November 2017 as an opportunity to improve their ability to recover from disaster, says Padma Naidoo, Head: Advisory Services, ContinuitySA.

“Computer Security Day was inaugurated in 1988 when computers were recognised as an important business tool—and thus vulnerable to disruption or criminal intent. This vulnerability has grown as technology has become the platform for business,” she says. “However, the growth of criminal syndicates targeting IT means that total security is not possible. The current focus on prevention must be complemented by effective disaster recovery and business continuity strategies.”

Ms Naidoo says that that the Business Continuity Institute’s 2017 Horizon Scan shows that the top three threats to business continuity relate to IT, in part due to the development of a well-resourced cyber-criminal network. Statistics vary, but all agree that cyber-crime of various forms is constantly increasing. In 2015, it was estimated that the global cost of cybercrime would be $500 billion by 2019, now the prediction is $2 trillion, a fourfold increase. IDG detected an increase of 36 percent in incidents of cybercrime between 2015 and 2016.

Alongside the threat posed by organised crime, organisations must also secure themselves against opportunistic crime resulting from poor security practices as well as fraud committed by employees.

“There is a direct correlation between technology and business success. It, therefore, makes excellent business sense to see computer security within the context of a broader drive to build business resilience, enhancing organisational capacity to identify and mitigate all risks and, crucially, to build the resilience to recover when a risk materialises, concludes Ms Naidoo. “Because the likelihood of a cyber breach is very high, organisations that know how to rapidly respond to and recover from an IT disaster will be the winners in the long run.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Google launches app to help Android users save mobile data

Google launches app to help Android users save mobile data

Google launches app to help Android users save mobile data.

Google has announced the launch of Datally, a smart and simple Android app that helps smartphone users understand, control, and save mobile data. Datally works on all smartphones running Android 5.0 (Lollipop) and higher, and is available on the Google Play Store globally.

Datally helps solve one of the biggest pain points for smartphone users around the world — worries about data usage. Google found during extensive global user research that many smartphone users worry about running out of data. This is an especially acute problem for the newest generation to come online, known as the “Next Billion Users.” Not only are these smartphone users constantly thinking about data balances, but they do not understand where their data is going, nor do they feel like they can control allocating data to the apps they really care about.

Datally empowers users to solve these problems with four key features:

  • Data Saver. Apps frequently use data in the background for updating content and information. Datally’s Data Saver feature lets users control data on an app-by-app basis, so that data only goes to apps they care about. People testing the app saved up to 30% of mobile data, depending on the way they used Datally.
  • Data Saver bubble. Once Data Saver is turned on, Datally’s Data Saver bubble will appear when a user goes into an app. Whenever that app uses data, the Data Saver bubble will show the current rate of data usage, and users can easily choose to block that app’s data use if things start to get out of control. The Data Saver bubble is like a speedometer for mobile data.
  • Personalised alerts. Datally alerts users when apps start consuming a lot of data, and it allows them to see how much data they’ve used on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
  • Wi-Fi finder. There are also times when users want to use more data than they have on their mobile plans, such as when they want to watch HD videos. Public Wi-Fi is an important access point for high-bandwidth connectivity, so Datally’s Find Wi-Fi feature reveals the networks nearby, rated by the Datally community. Once connected, users can rate the Wi-Fi networks based on their own experience.

Google tested Datally in the Philippines for most of 2017, and the insights from the product tests there shaped the final app.

“In many parts of the world, people feel constrained by the cost and availability of data. Managing and controlling data can feel daunting, and where data goes can seem like a ‘black box’,” says Google South Africa country director Luke Mckend. “Google’s research showed us that users in developing countries are data-constrained and spend less days connected to mobile data per-month than users in developed countries. Datally aims to help users be connected every day by increasing transparency on how data is used, enabling more control over their data usage to get the most out of their data plan, and finding good public WiFi.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Bytes Managed Solutions appoints new executive

Bytes Managed Solutions appoints new executive

Glen Riffel, newly appointed executive for Supply Chain, Bytes Managed Solutions.

Bytes Managed Solutions, part of JSE-listed Allied Electronics Corporation Limited (Altron), has expanded its expertise with the appointment of Glen Riffel as executive for Supply Chain.

Riffel spent 10 years as Franchise Technical and Supply Chain Manager at the Coca-Cola Company in South Africa and has previous work experience at KWV and The South African Breweries.

He holds an MSc Degree in Packaging & Material Science from Loughborough University in the UK, a Management Diploma from the Cape University of Technology, an Engineering Diploma, and has submitted his research project for his MBA through Mancosa(SA).

Bytes Managed Solutions MD Chad Baker says Riffel’s appointment is a coup for the group.

“As we prepare for growth, it is crucial that we put the focus on our logistics, warehousing locations, stock, and rework centre quality.”

Baker says Riffel brings huge experience into the company at a time when there is a need to split the current Operations Executive role into two because of the growth the company is experiencing.

Joe Barbosa will remain as Operations Executive, while Riffel will manage the Logistics, Warehousing and Supply Chain responsibilities, an area in which he is more than skilled.

“We believe, with this focus, we will improve our quality of work, ensure the correct stock is in the correct locations and manage our logistics more effectively. Africa is also in our expansion plans and these elements will become even more crucial as we start to plan to open up offices in Africa.”

Baker adds this appointment brings with it deep industry insights and expertise.

“This is important as we partner with our customers to deliver innovation that matters and create an environment that fosters collaboration and personal growth.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Netcare to use robots to fight off viruses and bacteria

Netcare to use robots to fight off viruses and bacteria

Netcare to use robots to fight off viruses and bacteria.

On Tuesday 28 November 2017, South African healthcare group, Netcare announced the adoption of new robots that seek and destroy viruses and bacteria within minutes. As healthcare facilities the world over face a daily challenge to prevent the spread of infections and, with increasing concern about antibiotic resistance, these new robots could really turn the tide in the battle against viruses and bacteria.

“Our new ‘allies’ in infection prevention and control have shown such impressive results internationally and during pilot trials at two of our hospitals, that Netcare recently ordered a second consignment of these highly advanced robots, manufactured by Xenex, to further bolster our comprehensive existing disinfection measures,” said Jacques du Plessis, managing director of Netcare’s hospital division.

Senior clinical advisor at Netcare, Dr Caroline Maslo, explains that the Xenex Pulsed Xenon UV Disinfection Robots were recently made available in Africa for the first time, but are becoming an established line of defence against bacteria, viruses and fungi in healthcare facilities across Europe and the United States.

“We initially tested the Xenex Pulsed UV Disinfection Robots at Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital and Netcare Pretoria East Hospital, where we found that they quickly and efficiently disinfected the areas where they were deployed. Having tested the robots in different settings in the two facilities in separate provinces, we found that the results lived up to the independent international studies endorsing this method of disinfection,” Dr Maslo observes.

“What we found particularly impressive is the fact that the pulsed high-intensity xenon ultraviolet [UV] light used by the robots is not only highly effective in destroying viruses, bacteria and fungal spores, but is also able to achieve thorough disinfection far more quickly than the other traditional methods, which we continued to use alongside the robots. In addition, the robots can be used 24 hours a day.

“This means that we are able to continually move the robots around within our facilities to apply this rigorous disinfection within minutes, with minimal disruption to busy hospital areas. We have also enlisted the robots for disinfecting Netcare 911 ambulances to excellent effect.”

The robots emit UV-C spectrum light, which destroys the DNA of bacteria, viruses and fungi to neutralise them and prevent them from replicating. The technology is entirely non-toxic, although the area must be vacated during the robot’s disinfection cycle, as our eyes are sensitive to the UV light.

“This form of disinfection is particularly useful against antibiotic resistant bacteria, commonly referred to as ‘superbugs’, and has the added benefit that it is non-toxic. It is environmentally friendly in that it requires no water during operation, thus rendering it optimally water-wise when compared with other forms of intensive disinfection. It furthermore uses minimal electricity,” Dr Maslo says.

Another important benefit is that the robots’ UV light does not result in any residue or potentially harmful by-products, which means it is totally safe for use in even the most sensitive environments, such as neonatal intensive care units where premature and other compromised babies are cared for.

“The robots are proving effective and efficient, while being tough on germs yet gentle on the environment. This new technology does not replace the infection risk management protocols and procedures we already have in place, but are certainly complementing them as an additional weapon in our arsenal against potentially harmful germs,” she says.

“Another benefit brought about by the arrival of the robots is that the cleaning staff responsible for operating this technology are acquiring new sets of skills. This is not a case of robots replacing human labour, but rather of robots empowering their human operators.”

“Introducing this new disinfection technology in Netcare hospitals is a significant step forward and is keeping our facilities abreast of the latest advances in the global fight against microbe resistance in healthcare facilities. We are very encouraged to see the results the robots have shown in Netcare hospitals,” concludes Du Plessis.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Barclays Digital Academy up-skills Africa’s young talent

Barclays Digital Academy up-skills Africa’s young talent

Barclays Digital Academy up-skills Africa’s young talent.

Barclays and the Digital Academy, an initiative that aims to equip young students with software development skills showcased the Barclays Digital Academy’s eighth intake of students on Wednesday, 29 November 2017. The collaboration between Barclays and the Digital Academy was launched in 2015 in a bid to turn raw software development talent into market-ready skills.

Each year, the Barclays Digital Academy hosts three intakes where they train 30 students for a period of four months. The initiative recruits young people who have web and software development skills and supports them in achieving their goal of solving challenges by building commercially-viable products for the African market.

The Digital Academy, Managing Director, Gary Bannatyne said, “Coding is something that you don’t have to go to an institution to learn, so the Digital Academy offers a work simulated environment. We are like the last mile of taking the students skills from having no relevance in the corporate space to making them relevant. It is very important for the African youth because this is the fastest moving industry and it is something that the students can relate to. All you need is connectivity, machine and access to content and you can learn.”

Gary says candidates go through a rigorous screening process and the Academy appoints individuals with “raw talent” who are passionate about digital and software development. He said, “There are a lot of people trying to get to our programme, it’s mostly word-of-mouth but we also try to get through to a lot of tertiary institutions. When an individual applies to the programme, there is a screening process. We see if the candidate has any sort of digital experience, they can be raw, but they have to have some sort of digital exposure. We take individuals who have a qualification or are self-taught and we up-skill them. We also try not to select people who have been in the market, we try and appeal to the mass market by appointing unemployed youth. We interview about 250 people every four months and we only select 30 every four months.”

The Digital Academy offers practical hands-on experience and has trained 263 people since it was launched. The internship initiative aims to meet the needs of the Academy’s collaborators as well as that of the broader African digital economy. The Academy is looking to offer paid-for programmes.

“We don’t think that some of the digital or technology courses at higher education institutes are appropriate, we don’t compete with them but we believe that doing practical is king. Theoretical work with young talent is not as important. We want young guys to learn by doing and not learn by learning. The Digital Academy paid-for model is an idea we’ve had to try appeal to a market that is looking for a course they are willing to pay for. We want to appeal to a wider audience and potentially expand our presence,” said Gary.

Speaking about expanding the initiative into the rest of the country and continent, Gary said, “We have had opportunities to go to Cape Town, opportunities with some brands to go to Durban, we would appreciate the expansion but it is a long and drawn out process. It would also take working with the corporates to try and try to align our vision. We are also interested in expanding into the rest of Africa. We got some interest from corporates in Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique.

Gary says most companies in Africa realise that digital and technology resources are a huge demand and they realise that importing them from other countries or sending requirements overseas is not the answer to solving some of our local challenges.

Barclays Africa has, and continue to upskill talented youth who have the potential but not the means to build a career in technology through Digital Academy initiative. The company has since trained 241 candidates through the Academy, of which 124 have been placed in internships with 66 of them employed on a permanent basis and 32 on fixed-term contracts.

Lee-Anne Wyman, head of Young Talent, Barclays Africa Group Technology division said, “Permanent placement works in terms of the intern’s overall performance during their work-based experience component.”

“The initial selection process is conducted mainly by the Digital Academy from a technical skills perspective, Barclays then engages closely with the interns during the internship process at the Academy then from there Barclays is able to identify top performance based on their culture fit as well as their technical skill. There are various assessments that are conducted at Digital Academy throughout the internship process to identify top talent. Towards the end of the four months at the Academy, Barclays comes in and sets up interviews to take place at ABSA. We constantly are looking for new talent,” said Lee-Anne.

“With this programme we are able to make a difference in the lives of our youth, we are able to upskill our youth and address unemployment within South Africa,” added Lee-Anne.

“At first, it was a bit overwhelming, having just graduated from school. It was exciting but at the same time, it was a bit of a shock. The staff at the Academy was so welcoming. We would sometimes spend the night at work but it never felt like we were at work,” said Lebohang, an Alumni of the Barclays Digital Academy.

Mark Godfrey Tau, an Alumni of the Academy said, “it was awesome being here and the transition from being a student to joining the job market was something that new and challenging for me. Although we were at work, it never really felt like work. We got a lot of support and training from the Academy, we are given room to make mistakes. We were taught to work hard and become innovative.”

“Our graduates are the future of the country and by investing in them, we are actually investing in the country. Barclays is passionate about upskilling the youth and we place great focus on making the programme sustainable and making sure we set our young talent for success, in the long run,” said Lee-Ann.

Students who want to become part of the initiative can go on to the academy’s website and apply.

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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