Kenya: Nairobi County partners Cisco for deployment of Digital Business Roadmap

Kenya: Nairobi County partners Cisco for deployment of Digital Business Roadmap

Kenya: Nairobi County partners Cisco for deployment of Digital Business Roadmap. (Image source: Google/newsroom.cisco.com)

Nairobi City County has announced the launch of its Digital Business Roadmap in partnership with Cisco for digital transformation of service delivery.

The initiative aims to drive better citizen experiences when engaging the county, better the County’s workforce environment and technology experience, drive operational efficiency in transport, Health, Education, and Agriculture; and reduce overall risk as a result of cyber threats.

The County confirmed on Wednesday, 13 December 2017 that it has deployed the first phase of the foundation technology solutions covered in the Digital Business Roadmap. Cisco is fast-tracking the Nairobi City County’s commitment to achieve affordable, accessible and sustainable quality service delivered and accelerated by digital transformation.

Speaking at the launch event, Cisco’s General Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, David Bunei said, “This is a very exciting time for Cisco as technology partner for the Nairobi City County contributing towards realisation of its vision of being the City of Choice to invest, work and live. The world we live in today is smart and it is important to adopt digitalization making county services more accessible to all. We also look forward to rolling similar solutions in more counties across Kenya.

As the Nairobi City County embarks on this digital transformation journey, it will require core areas of their operations to be equipped with a highly skilled workforce in order to achieve the full potential of the technology investment. To realise this, Cisco will also be providing a comprehensive Information Technology (IT) personnel capacity building program that will equip the County staff with the requisite skills to operate and support IT solutions that will deliver on the Nairobi County’s Digital Business Roadmap.

Cisco will be providing a comprehensive IT personnel capacity building program to train personnel in key courses that are recognised globally including: IT Management, Information Security, IP Network Management, IP Telephony/Video Conferencing, Access Control and Video Surveillance.

As a global technology company helping countries, Governments, Industries and people digitise through its innovative technology, Cisco has long been providing comprehensive ICT skills training that equips people with the right skills for this digital era. Through its Networking Academy, for instance, Cisco has been providing the workforce of East Africa with ICT skills development and training for the part 20 years, added Cisco’s General Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, David Bunei.

Cisco’s digital transformation strategy has been helping companies, countries, Governments, Industry and Academia grow GDP, create new jobs, provide innovation, meet service delivery demands, and improve the lives and businesses of people.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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What does it take to be a Cloud Climber?

What does it take to be a Cloud Climber?

Martin Walshaw, Senior Engineer at F5 Networks.

Being clever in the cloud is about transforming the way businesses deploy and manage applications. Firms that continually innovate and build a sustainable cloud strategy deliver significant value to customers and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.

So, how is it possible to effectively harness the cloud in all its incarnations? What does it take for an organisation to become a Cloud Climber? What does success look like?

Just ask First National Bank (FNB), which was recently named among the top 50 EMEA businesses innovating in the cloud, in the recent Top 50 EMEA Cloud Climbers Report.

It all starts by embracing effective cloud architecture methodologies to drive value across the business through to end customers, all while maintaining application security and data protection. Scalability, flexibility, automation and speed to market are just some of the attributes that define an organisation thriving at the forefront of cloud technology and demonstrating tangible, ongoing results.

FNB is delivering value to end customers through its free software-as-a-service (Saas) Instant Accounting offering, providing free accounting solutions to small and medium-sized business customers. First launched in 2013, FNB currently has more than 195,000 active Instant Accounting users and hopes to grow that to 500,000 users in the coming years.

A multi-cloud world
Businesses today need to move quickly and meet customer demand to be competitive. However, it is important to recognise while public cloud providers may guarantee the infrastructure security, it is the application owner that is responsible for data security. Some firms adopt a combination of on-premises, public cloud, private cloud, or SaaS to deliver applications. This approach offers greater flexibility but can also increase costs and management to secure applications across a wider range of environments.

In addition, enterprises need to avoid vendor lock-in to increase operational flexibility and make it much easier to build an effective cloud deployment strategy without having to change underlying network architecture. In this respect, many firms still struggle to achieve agility and efficiency or gain full control over IT and infrastructure.

According to a recent report by RightScale, 85 percent of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, up from 82 percent in 2016. Cloud architects typically use a unified platform to deliver and consistently manage application services and associated policies across different environments. This applies to existing applications, as well as new cloud-native applications – all without sacrificing visibility, security and control.

An entrepreneurial Cloud Climber can do this because they fully understand the options to develop the best cloud architecture solution to drive their business forward and by following some key disciplines:

Enforce application security anywhere

Security is the primary consideration when navigating the cloud. Identifying which applications to move and which to retain in the data centre is a fundamental decision. It is also vital to quickly identify if the cloud vendor’s native security is sufficiently effective.

FNB’s SaaS products are all developed and managed in-house, which reduces costs, simplifies security management and enables customisation. Since there is no reliance on third-party products – and because FNB’s SaaS hardware is also in-house – it was able to leverage the cloud to offer new levels of scalability and cost-efficiency, which supported its customer retention strategy.

Prioritise app migration

Prioritising and classifying commercial apps is central to an effective cloud migration strategy. Apps should be analysed and classified. Apps approaching expiration would most likely remain in-house until obsolete. Some apps need to be re-architected into a cloud-native form. Others must be moved through a hybrid “lift-and-shift” method to replicate the app in the cloud with minimal adjustments. Determining the right cloud environment with the right support services optimises app performance, increases protection and improves traffic management.

For FNB, the fact that it does not use third-party products has given it greater control over the apps, ensuring that the offerings synchronise with its overall goals and strategic vision.

Gain visibility and intelligence

At the infrastructure level, the cloud can be more secure than private data centres. However, it is essential to determine whether in-house IT can manage the complex security services or if off-the-shelf services by a cloud vendor is a better option. Achieving greater visibility and deeper intelligence into the traffic on your network and in the cloud requires effective analytical tools. In addition, a powerful, flexible and multi-environment WAF can deliver comprehensive app protection and provide access to the latest attack data, helping to ensure compliance.

Mitigate risk

Mitigate risk by using solutions providing dynamic, centralised and adaptive access control and cloud federation for all applications, wherever they reside. This enables customisable security policies that follow the apps, securing authentication for users anywhere, on any device. Protecting data with an easy-to-deploy next-generation DDoS solution guards against the most aggressive and targeted attacks.

FNB considered a non-cloud approach but realised that security would have been a challenge and costs would have been higher. Not only was it a natural decision to go for the cloud but it also allows users to gain secure access to the solutions from anywhere, at any time.

Build better teams

Successful Cloud Climbers unify departments with an integrated cloud strategy wherein architects, DevOps and NetOps work towards a common goal. A cloud architect, for example, may utilise tools that can help to automate IT infrastructure and train staff to be more efficient. Alternatively, adopting a DevOps model to collaborate with other teams can address issues facing many other areas of the business.

By changing working processes and procedures, organisations get the best from staff and maximise technology through their cloud projects. Devising a sustainable cloud training programme for key staff will make the cloud transition easier and arm decision-makers with better knowledge.

At FNB, a team of 25 developers, analysts and trainers work together to ensure successful integration with other business and banking systems, while all working towards a common goal and strategic vision.

Understand the threat landscape

Breaches pose the biggest threat to cloud infrastructure. By monitoring cyber threats, IT departments can immediately recognise a variegated and rapidly evolving threat landscape. They also build up a better understanding of attacker behaviour. Recognising the full security threat landscape must apply to all types of clouds, allowing staff to maintain access to SaaS, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) scenarios.

Implement robust solutions

Cloud Climbers invest in the best multi-cloud solutions that provide programmable application services capable of integrating into any public, private, hybrid or colocation cloud solution stack. Optimised tools deliver services in an automated, policy-driven manner that meet security and compliance requirements without slowing development teams.

Cloud-agnostic technologies can also span, provision, manage and scale in any of the existing leading cloud providers and the hybrid cloud. The best application delivery services are independent of the environment, precluding cloud lock-in, and can increase speed to market and reduce future switching costs.

Scale new heights
To be a Cloud Climber, you need to innovate and focus on return on investment. You need to have the skills to evaluate options and make complex systems function seamlessly. The right approach successfully completes ‘dev-and-test’ projects and expands operations into the cloud without sacrificing omnipresent application performance, control or security.

An effective cloud architecture strategy increases business agility and provides flexibility to scale based on shifting hardware, software and on-demand requirements. Meanwhile, application control, access and security ensure optimal service performance, availability and security. The right approach is a comprehensive multi-cloud solution that drives innovation and adds customer value. In an era of digital transformation, now is the time to start climbing.

By Martin Walshaw, Senior Systems Engineer at F5 Networks.

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Gemalto’s platform offers digital payment solutions

Gemalto’s platform offers digital payment solutions

David Noel Lardin, vice-president Digital Payment for CISMEA region at Gemalto.

Gemalto has announced that its Trusted Service Hub (TSH) can now offer a single gateway enabling issuers to connect to the Mastercard and Visa tokenization services. According to the company, this will simplify the way financial institutions can launch mobile payment services. Banks and other issuers are increasingly deploying multiple payment schemes for their mobile payment offering. Gemalto’s cloud-based solution can manage all their digital issuance needs from a single hub.

The Mastercard and Visa platforms manage the tokenization which is the process that converts cards’ sensitive data into a unique digital identifier (or token) that can be deployed more safely on smartphones and similar devices. The token allows payments to be processed without exposing actual account details that could potentially be compromised.

Card issuers, as well as wallet providers, can rely on Gemalto to help them launch rapidly and massively mobile payments without having to face different security frameworks or complex integration while benefiting from Mastercard and Visa’s tokenization services.

These connections enable:

Wallet providers – including OEMs, retailers, cars manufacturers, wearable makers – can benefit from Gemalto’s offering to launch their own mobile payment wallet, while accessing a growing number of issuers, to maximize consumer reach.

Card issuers – banks and processors – will transform traditional payments into convenient and secure mobile experiences by launching their own wallet or easily on-boarding with major wallet providers.

“Tokenization technology sits at the heart of Visa’s ability to connect billions of connected devices and mobile payment services through our network, representing the beginning of an era where nearly any connected object can be transformed into a simple way to pay,” said Jack Forestell, executive vice president, innovation and strategic partnerships, Visa. “Having Gemalto’s support as a partner to expand usage of the Visa Token Service through our Visa Ready for Tokenization program will only help to accelerate this new era for businesses and consumers alike.”

“Mastercard is the critical link between billions of consumers, thousands of financial institutions and millions of merchants, governments and businesses. As we are facing the next wave of transformation – which includes a fundamental shift to the world of digital and a more connected consumer – we want our customers and partners to be at the forefront of digital payments and take a partner-centric approach to everything that we do,” said Kiki Del Valle, senior vice president, Commerce for Every Device, Mastercard. “Tokenization is key to ensuring consumers put their trust in new digital payment services and as a Gold partner of our Mastercard Engage program, Gemalto can help Mastercard customers digitise their card portfolios faster and deploy their digital solutions.”

“Gemalto is already working with numerous banks and other key stakeholders worldwide to create and build flourishing digital payment ecosystems,” said David Noel Lardin, vice-president Digital Payment for CISMEA region at Gemalto. “Our new partnerships with Mastercard and Visa will strengthen these initiatives, and give clients faster and more efficient access to a global mobile payment market that is expected to be worth over $3 trillion by 2021.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Why it’s important to have cyber insurance

Why it’s important to have cyber insurance

Simon Campbell-Young from MyCyberCare

Global transportation technology company Uber Technologies has admitted it suffered a breach that saw hackers stealing the personal information of approximately 57 million customers and drivers.

So how did it happen? It was reported that two hackers gained access to a private area of the online resource for developers dubbed “Github”. From that point, the threat actors found the transport giant’s login credentials for Amazon Web Services (AWS) – a cloud computing platform used by myriad companies to store all sorts of data, including apps.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the company is now in hot water, as it failed to disclose the breach for nearly a year. It has also been claimed it paid off hackers to destroy the data. Uber is now facing a multimillion-dollar consumer protection lawsuit.

The breach exposed the names and driver’s license numbers of about 600 000 drivers in the US, and other personal information of all 57 million Uber users and drivers around the world, including names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers. The company insisted its forensics experts saw no evidence that trip location history, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, Social Security numbers or dates of birth were compromised, and said it is monitoring the affected accounts and has flagged them for extra fraud protection. It says it had notified affected drivers whose driver’s license numbers were compromised and is giving them free credit monitoring as well as identity theft protection.

Although Uber believes no action is needed, we still need to be aware of other factors when breaches of this scale take place. When well-known entities attract attention in the news, threat actors could try to use the conversation around these incidents to their advantage.

One way they could do this is through phishing attacks or emails that appear to come from Uber, in an effort to fool unwitting users into disclosing sensitive data, including account credentials or payment card information. In any event of this nature, it is advisable to go directly to the source and get updates only from the organisation’s official Web site. Be suspicious of mails claiming to be from Uber, and under no circumstances click on any links or attachments in the mails.

The bottom line is that Uber was not prepared, and didn’t handle the incident well. Even with the latest and most advanced threat protection technologies, no company’s data is safe. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to cybersecurity. Businesses have to ensure they are covered in the event of a data breach.

Had Uber had cyber insurance in place, it could have saved itself a whole world of pain. Cyber insurance is highly specialised, and designed specifically to help protect organisations, as well as help them recover in the event of a security incident. Cyber events come in all shapes and sizes and can be catastrophic for businesses.

Similarly, cyber insurance protects individuals. Should any Uber customers have money stolen out of their credit cards, the insurance would cover this.

Cyber insurance offers cover for hardware damage, data loss or corruption, cyber liability and crime, expenses covering recovery and loss of income. Moreover, it covers bringing in specialists to minimise damage to reputation and loss of confidence – something I bet Uber wishes it has now.

By Simon Campbell-Young, CEO, MyCybercare

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Huawei, Xpress Money partner to grow African mobile money footprint

Huawei, Xpress Money partner to grow African mobile money footprint

Huawei, Xpress Money partner to grow African mobile money footprint.

On 13 December 2017, ICT solutions provider, Huawei, announced a partnership with Xpress Money, a money transfer brands, to drive mobile money services to more of the worlds unbanked, with a focus placed on the African market.

The partnership will give the remittance firm access to Huawei’s mobile money service platform, which has over 100 million mobile money accounts globally.

Huawei’s mobile money services platform delivers basic banking transactions in developing countries. The technology is not restricted, and because it works on both smartphones and basic handsets, it has been particularly successful in developing markets.

Recipients of Xpress Money remittances can use the service to make online and offline payments, pay for essential services such as utilities and school fees, as well as financial services like loan applications, insurance and banking.

In 2016, the World Bank reported that two billion people across the globe had no access to formal Financial Services. This has resulted in mobile money fast becoming a safer alternative to cash.

“At Huawei, we want to bring the best remittance services to our network partners and their customers. Africa is a key market in the mobile money industry and it’s imperative we give our customers here access to the best services,” said David Chen, Director of Marketing & Solution Sales Huawei Southern Africa Region.

“For those that have limited access to formal banking services, mobile money is a critical technology. There are over 500 million mobile money accounts currently in use, and with Huawei servicing over 100 million of these, we’re confident this collaboration will improve the state of financial services for Africa’s unbanked,” said Sudhesh Giriyan, Chief Operating Officer of Xpress Money.

By growing Xpress Money’s mobile money footprint and strengthening Huawei’s international reach, this partnership will help reduce the cost of remittance services and drive financial inclusion for millions of mobile money users in Africa, according to Huawei.

Xpress Money’ has a global presence in more than 165 countries across 200,000 agent locations providing simple, fast and secure money transfer solutions to thousands of customers, every day. The company will be joining other Huawei mobile money partners in Africa, which include; Safaricom, Vodafone, Vodacom and Teasy Mobile in ten African countries; these include big markets like Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

“With Xpress Money’s strong customer base, we’re excited to see how this partnership will benefit our mobile money users across Africa to provide a more convenient and cheaper remittance service,” concluded Chen.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Microsoft launches Kaizala mobile app in Kenya

Microsoft launches Kaizala mobile app in Kenya

Microsoft launches Kaizala mobile app in Kenya.

Microsoft has launched Kaizala in Kenya, a mobile app designed for large group communication, work management, reporting and analytics integrated with Office 365. The app allows businesses to connect with large groups of people across their entire value chain, on a single platform on their mobile phone.

Sebuh Haileleul, Country General Manager for Microsoft East and Southern Africa, says the app addresses several challenges faced by most businesses in Africa who manage field staff remotely.

“Task workers working on construction sites, or in manufacturing plants, retail shops and other industries, typically don’t have a dedicated work space, computer or even email address. This makes it hard for managers to share and collect important information. Kaizala makes it easier and less time consuming for organisations to communicate, assign and track work in real-time, and create reports based on aggregated data,” says Haileleul.

The company officially launched the app on Friday, 8 December following a soft launch in the country in February 2017, where users were encouraged to review and provide feedback on the service.

During the soft launch, Unilever collaborated with Microsoft’s 4Afrika and Kaizala teams to pilot the app in its Nairobi factory, exploring the potential of going digital in their factories.

Based on their team’s experience, which saw improved staff engagement levels and reporting, Unilever is currently exploring other uses of Kaizala in its extended supply chain as a workforce management tool.

Haileleul adds that Kaizala extends beyond a communication function, enhancing business agility, collaboration and organisational productivity.

“As we launch Microsoft Kaizala in Kenya, we hope to help connect the complete value chain, including even the unconnected parts of organisations – from small businesses to large enterprises and governments who wants to connect with their citizens,” added Rajiv Kumar, Corporate Vice President, Office Product Group, Microsoft.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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7 business and tech trends to expect in 2018

7 business and tech trends to expect in 2018

Marcel Rossouw Design Director at Fjord in South Africa.

On 13 December 2017, Accenture released its Fjord Trends 2018, an annual report analysing the pressing forces acting internally and externally on organisations and society. Its 11th annual report examines seven emergent trends expected to impact business, technology and design in the year ahead.

Rapid technological advancements are altering the world we live in today, provoking both wonder and angst about the possibilities. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, computer vision or blockchain, emerging technologies are uprooting the digital and physical experiences of our everyday lives. These joint forces are simultaneously creating optimism and concern about the unprecedented wave of change that is unfolding.

“Each of our 2018 trends is born out of a fundamental tension — be it a shift, a collision or a parting of ways,” said Mark Curtis, co-founder and chief client officer at Fjord. “Digital versus physical, human versus machine, centralised versus decentralised, speed versus craft, automation versus control, traceability versus anonymity. Winners in 2018 will be those who best navigate these tensions and seize the opportunity to collectively design the world we’ll be living in.”

Fjord Trends 2018 suggests how organisations can navigate these currents and design for positive change. It examines seven trends expected to shape the next generation of experiences:

1) Physical Fights Back: Digital has had the limelight long enough – there are two brand experience headliners now. The time has come to blend the digital with the physical.

2) Computers Have Eyes: As well as comprehending our words, computers now understand images without any help from us. Imagine the exciting possibilities for next-generation digital services.

3) Slaves to the Algorithm: How do you design a marketing strategy to win over the algorithms – immune to conventional branding efforts – that sit between brands and their customers?

4) A Machine’s Search for Meaning: A.I. might change our jobs, but need not eliminate them. We can – and should – design our collaboration with the machines that will help us develop.

5) In Transparency We Trust: Blockchain has the potential to create transparency that will clear the fog of Internet ambiguity, regain lost trust, and repair relationships with the public.

6) The Ethics Economy: Organisations are feeling the heat to take stands on political and societal hot-button issues, whether they want to or not. And consumers are speaking with their dollars, choosing brands that align with their core beliefs.

7) Design Outside the Lines: Design’s rapid ascendancy and newfound respect within organisations is a win for all. But, in a world in which everyone thinks they’re a designer, today’s practitioners need to evolve – how they work, learn and differentiate themselves – if they are to continue having impact.

According to Marcel Rossouw, Design Director at Fjord in South Africa, the annual Fjord Trend Report for 2018 provides a view on how technologies and experiences are shaping the way we live and do business. “In South Africa, Blockchain has the power to create transparency that will clear the fog of internet ambiguity, win back lost trust, and repair relationships with the customers. Considering the local economic and political climate, the technology could be a real game changer to regain control and promote transparency. Automation and the rise of AI are also forcing organisations in the African continent to design for a seismic shift in the workplace,” said Rossouw.

“We believe this edition of Trends will provoke and inspire but, above all, provide actionable advice for organisations to prepare for the opportunities ahead,” said Baiju Shah, global co-lead, Fjord and managing director, Accenture Interactive. “Many of the thorny questions ahead of us revolve around human-machine interactions, the consequences of which will be profound for individuals, society and organizations of all kinds. As digital fades from being stand-alone to being embedded in our physical world, our relationships with everything around us will be redefined.”

Fjord Trends 2018 draws upon the collective thinking of Fjord’s 1,000+ designers and developers around the world. The annual report is based on first-hand observations, evidenced-based research and client work. This year, for the first time, it also drew upon the individual insights and perspectives from 85 clients across five continents, whose views inspired the report.

Edited by Dean Workman
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Safaricom expands 4G coverage across Kenya

Safaricom expands 4G coverage across Kenya

Safaricom expands 4G coverage across Kenya.(Source: Vanu)

Kenya’s mobile network operator, Safaricom has announced that 4G network will now be available across all 47 counties. According to the company, there are now one million customers enjoying 4G in Kenya. Safaricom said the milestone was achieved on the back of an expanding 4G network, increased the affordability of 4G smartphones and more affordable data bundles.

“The country has consistently stood out as a global innovation powerhouse and a leader in global mobile technology adoption. This milestone further cements Kenya’s position and establishes a strong foundation for future innovation,” said Joseph Ogutu, Director – Strategy, Safaricom.

Safaricom was the first operator to roll out 4G network in December 2014. Last year, the firm began an accelerated 4G network expansion across key towns in the country, coupled with the rollout of the enhanced 4G+ technology. 4G+ sites allow customers to experience speeds in excess of 150 Megabits per second (Mbps).

As a result of this accelerated expansion, Safaricom now has more than 1,400 4G sites reaching more than 33 percent of the country’s population.

The company also says more than 16 percent of its 4G sites are on 4G+ or LTE Carrier Aggregation Technology.

More Kenyans can now afford 4G devices with the price has dropped to as low as Sh. 6,000. Data prices on Safaricom have also reduced by an aggregate of 29 percent, leading to increased usage.

In December 2017, the company will be rewarding its 4G customers by offering a free data bundle equivalent to every monthly bundle purchased.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Transforming global education with dynamic, future-focused digital solutions

Transforming global education with dynamic, future-focused digital solutions

Angela Schaerer, Teacher Engagement Manager for Microsoft South Africa.

From South Africa to South America, education is in a critical state of flux. Young learners are failing to emerge from their traditional schooling with the skills needed for a digitally driven world of work, and tertiary institutions are battling to stay relevant amidst ongoing technology-fuelled disruption. The result, which is already playing out in companies across the world, is that employers are struggling to find people with the digital and 21st-century skillsets needed to succeed today.

In 2016, a Digital Skills for the UK Economy report released by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills found that across the board of businesses in all sectors, 72 percent of large companies and 49 percent of SMEs are suffering from an IT skills gap. In South Africa, the situation is arguably even more challenging.

Adrian Schofield, Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) manager of Applied Research and author of the JCSE Skills Survey 2016 report, has stated: “There is an immediate unsatisfied need for skills in the ICT sector that is only going to get worse in the medium and long term. Significant and sustained investment in education and training is required to have any hope of alleviating the skills gap.”

Encouragingly, however, a new wave of digital learning solutions is beginning to emerge, with technology companies and educators pioneering different ways of engaging learners at all levels. From coding initiatives to compelling online games, there are undoubtedly pockets of innovation within the global education landscape.

Introducing Creative Learning Solutions

In South Africa, for example, technology provider Microsoft is placing a strong emphasis on learning to code – and supports multiple programmes that foster computer science and digital literacy skills. One such initiative is Computer Science Education Week, which includes participating in an Hour of Code.

Minecraft is a fun and highly compelling game used in classrooms both locally and around the world – and gives teachers a unique opportunity to learn the basics of coding. Children learn naturally through a combination of observation, trial and error, and play-based practice. An open-learning environment like Minecraft allows students the freedom to experiment and challenge themselves. Much like real life, there are no step-by-step instructions — students must try, fail, and try again to achieve the result they want.

The impact of this game has been significant: in just one year since launching, Minecraft: Education Edition has more than two million licensed users in 115 countries around the world who are able to use the Code Builder extension to teach the basics of coding to their students. Remarkably, to date, nearly 70 million people have used this programme’s tutorials to learn the basics of coding.

Boosting Diversity within STEM-subjects

In addition to teaching learners of all ages how to code, it is becoming imperative to find ways to attract more females to STEM-related subjects, and in turn, workplaces. This will be fundamental to addressing the local IT skills gap.

Traditionally, young girls have steered away from these subjects in school, resulting in a lack of female professionals in the fields of mathematics, computer science, engineering, and IT, among others.

Interestingly, however, an in-depth study of 11,500 young women found that creativity and hands-on practical experience plays a key role in encouraging more young women to pursue STEM subjects and careers. More specifically, the findings revealed that STEM subjects, STEM careers and self-reported creativity are ‘closely linked’.

With this in mind, creativity should be fostered at a young age – by using tools that teach the application of creativity to real-world problems and support computational thinking. Encouragingly, STEM subjects are starting to be taught with more creativity and are becoming more interactive and accessible. Platforms such as Minecraft Education Edition allow students to create and explore STEM lessons in a compelling way, applying their natural creativity to problem-solving.

Addressing Three Major Education Gaps

While interactive and virtual learning solutions platforms are beginning to have a positive impact, wider systemic change is still necessary. According to recent research by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), there are three critical education gaps that need to be addressed in order to position global education for a bright future.

Firstly, there is the perspective gap. Today, education systems are primarily focused on learning in schools (nursery school through to university) instead of placing emphasis on learning as a continuous process from birth to the end of life. Next, there is the capabilities gap. This refers to lecture-based learning as the primary mode of instruction, despite the availability of new and sophisticated technology. Today, there are limited places of innovation that teach the skills needed to succeed in a digital-first era. Finally, there is the agility gap. Despite many efforts at reform, the global education sector remains one of the most difficult in which to make sustainable local and systemic change.

Harnessing Technology in Formal Learning Environments

Although there are multiple challenges and obstacles to re-imagining and re-designing education, the opportunities are enormous. Increasingly, those opportunities can be found in savvy technology solutions that reflect an emerging philosophy around learning.

For example, BCG has found that the focus needs to shift to promoting life-long learning opportunities and to developing career connections very early on. Also, it is necessary to examine how and what we learn. Increasingly, research suggests we must integrate brain science, and place emphasis on higher-order skills. This will require the introducing innovative pedagogical methods, embedding social and emotional learning and expanding student assessments.

Looking ahead, it is imperative that educators, leaders and policymakers begin to implement key changes and harness technology that will pave the way for future-focused, high-quality education that is accessible to learners everywhere.

By Angela Schaerer, Teacher Engagement Manager for Microsoft South Africa

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Raja Moudgil named new Country Manager of Phillips Lighting

Raja Moudgil named new Country Manager of Phillips Lighting

Philips head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

On Tuesday 12 December 2017, Philips Lighting Southern Africa announced the appointment of Raja Moudgil as the new Country Manager Southern Africa. Raja Moudgil has been promoted to the position, after much success in his previous role as National Sales Manager at Philips Lighting India.

He is replacing Reggie Nxumalo, who served as the General Manager of Philips Lighting Southern Africa for two and a half years. Following a successful stint at the company, Nxumalo left to pursue opportunities in the management consulting space, outside of Philips.

Moudgil has nearly 18 years’ worth of experience in high impact commercial roles. He has worked extensively in regional and national assignments, and his experience spans seven different roles across Marketing, Sales (B2C, B2B, B2G, OEM as well as Mass Market) and across four different geographies, including India, and Product Management teams.

Some of his more recent achievements include expanding the footprint of Philips Light Lounges from 110 stores in 50 cities to 180 stores in 100 cities, and building two new businesses (Premier Retail and Switches) from scratch. This was done by establishing the go-to market business model, channel policy, and establishing the teams to ultimately turn both businesses into growth engines for the Consumer Channel.

Speaking on his appointment during a media event in Johannesburg South Africa, Moudgil said “I think there similarities between the Indian market and that of South Africa. They are both part of BRICS, both have suffered hardship, have similar infrastructures and struggle with unemployment. I think this is why management decided to select me for the position.”

Moudgil also revealed that he intends to bring new technology, such as Hue lighting, into South Africa as one of his initiatives. A focus on public education around the effectiveness and cost-saving potential of LED’s will also form a part of his strategic plan.

Moudgil joined Philips Lighting in December 1999 and has since then acquired significant strategy and business management experience across a number of the company’s sales and product divisions. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Delhi University as well as an MBA from Apeejay School of Management.

He will be based at Johannesburg and will report to Tamer Abol Ghar, Market Leader Africa.

Edited by Dean Workman
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