New research reveals how Africa is using the Cloud

New research reveals how Africa is using the Cloud

New research reveals how Africa is using the Cloud.

Cloud computing has taken off dramatically across Africa’s major markets, but its benefits are experienced very differently in each region – as are its budget allocations.

These were some of the key findings of Cloud Africa 2018, a research project conducted by World Wide Worx for global networking application company F5 Networks, across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year. Decision-makers at 300 medium and large organisations were interviewed about cloud computing usage, benefits and intentions.

“It is no longer about whether to use the cloud, but what benefits are being gained from the cloud,” says Matthew Barker, F5 Networks’ divisional sales manager for Sub-Saharan Africa. “These depend heavily on the dynamics of each market, so we were not surprised to see that businesses in each country emphasised different benefits.”

“Over the five years since World Wide Worx conducted equivalent research, use of the cloud among medium and large organisations has more than doubled, from less than 50% using it in 2013 to pervasive use in 2018”, says World Wide Worx managing director, Arthur Goldstuck.

Respondents in Nigeria and Kenya named business efficiency and scalability by far the most important benefit of cloud computing, with 80% and 75%, respectively, selecting it as an advantage, compared to 61% of South African respondents.

For South Africans, time-to-market or speed of deployment came in as the most prominent benefit, as cited by 68% of respondents. In contrast, only 48% of companies in Kenya and 28% in Nigeria named this as a key benefit.

Barker believes this is a result of the infrastructure challenges in developing information technology markets like Nigeria and Kenya, where the cloud is used to overcome the obstacles that get in the way of efficiency.

“In South Africa, with a more mature IT landscape, the focus is on the competition rather than the business itself,” he says.

This is borne out by the fact that almost a quarter (23%) of South African respondents see the cloud as a platform for international expansion, whereas this figure drops below one in five in Kenya (17%) and below one in ten in Nigeria (6%). The one area where all three countries are level – using the cloud as a platform for service innovation – is ranked exceptionally low, at around 15% across these markets.
“Internationally, it is taken for granted that the cloud is an ideal platform for both innovation and for establishing a global footprint,” says Goldstuck. “In these three markets, these are benefits that are only now beginning to be recognised but are still a long way from being a priority. The cloud is here but its full benefits have not yet arrived.”

Key findings

Business impact:

  • 82% of respondents in Nigeria have seen an impact from cloud computing on market share, with 48% seeing a high or very high impact.
  • In Kenya, 69% have seen an overall positive impact, while 48% had seen a high or very high impact on market share.
  • In South Africa, 66% had seen a positive impact but only 33% had seen a high or very high impact.
  • Innovation within the organisation saw an equally high impact in all markets, with 100% positive impact in Nigeria, 98% in Kenya and 88% in South Africa.
  • The cloud has had a similar impact on brand perception, at 100% in Nigeria, 98% in Kenya and 85% in South Africa.
  • The cloud has also had a high impact on customer experience, at 96% in Nigeria, 85% in Kenya and 81% in South Africa.

Cloud budgets:

Nine out of ten (90%) companies in South Africa said they had increased spending on cloud computing last year, and 83% said they would increase these budgets in 2018. In Nigeria, 78% said they had increased budgets last year, and 94% said they would increase their spending this year. The biggest increase comes from Kenya, however, with 74% of companies having increased cloud budgets in 2017, rising to a massive 98% in 2018.

A minimal proportion of respondents – not more than 2% in any of the countries surveyed – said they had decreased cloud spending last year. For 2018, no companies in Kenya or Nigeria said they would decrease spending, although 5% of South African respondents said they would.

Broken down by industry in South Africa, the highest proportion of increased budgeting for 2018 was reported by IT software and services companies, at 92%, followed by Mining at 85% and Retail trade at 83%. The biggest drop in cloud budgeting was expected by the Engineering sector, with 13% declining in planned spending.

Apps:

When asked which apps were critical to organisations, 68% of Nigerian and 67% of Kenyan companies said Service apps were critical, while only 40% of South African respondents named these as key.

On the other hand, South African companies were far more likely than those in the other countries to regard human resources apps as important: 43% of South African respondents named HR apps as critical to business, compared to 19% in Kenya and 10% in Nigeria.

“It is clear that more attention is paid to internally-focused apps in South Africa than in the other markets,” says Barker. “In Nigeria and Kenya, on the other hand, customer-facing apps get the closest attention.”

A further indication of the low emphasis on internal apps is the rating of operational apps, which are seen as critical by only 15% of respondents in Kenya and 10% in Nigeria. While still low in South Africa, at 30%, it was more than double the proportion of the other two countries combined.

One area where all markets are equal, however, is in business apps, with only small variations between the three countries measured. Nigerian respondents took them slightly more seriously than the rest, with 76% seeing them as critical, while 72% of South African companies and 67% of those in Kenya agreed.

“Ultimately, the cloud is about better ways of doing business,” says Goldstuck. “That is reflected in cloud priorities and budgets across Africa.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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EU probes Apple plan to buy music app Shazam

The EU on Monday launched an in-depth probe of tech giant Apple’s plan to buy leading song-recognition app Shazam because of fears the deal may reduce choice for consumers.

Apple announced the deal with London-based Shazam, worth a reported $400 million, in December last year in a fresh bid to secure an edge in the intensifying battle of streaming services in which Sweden-based Spotify dominates.

The investigation of Apple’s Shazam buyout becomes yet another source of contention between Brussels and Silicon Valley as the European Union adopts tougher regulation of the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon.

The European Commission said in February it would consider an inquiry into Shazam at the request of EU states Austria, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden, and non-EU Norway and Iceland, which form part of the affiliated European Economic Area.

“The Commission is concerned that the merger could reduce choice for users of music streaming services,” it said in a statement.

On its own, the deal was too small for the European Commission — the EU’s executive arm and anti-trust enforcer — to launch a probe by itself.

Instead it had to wait for Austria to lodge an initial request, which was followed by the other states.

The commission said it was concerned that the takeover would allow Apple to gain access to commercially sensitive data about customers of its rivals.

Apple could then use this data to better target customers of other streaming services and help develop its own offer, which has struggled to gain traction since launching to great fanfare in 2015.

In addition, the EU will also investigate whether Apple Music’s competitors would be harmed if Apple were to discontinue links from the Shazam app to rivals.

Shazam, which was founded in 1999 in the early age of online music, has offered a solution to a longtime agony of listeners — putting a name to elusive songs. With a click, the app identifies tracks playing on the radio, at parties or as background music.

But Shazam has struggled to find a way to make money off its technology, even as it said that it had reached one billion downloads on smartphones last year.

Shazam only recently announced it had become profitable, thanks to advertising and steering traffic to other sites such as Spotify and Apple Music.

The technology is also no longer quite as novel, with Shazam facing rivals such as SoundHound and with smartphones capable of ever more advanced recognition functions.

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IoT security comes of age

IoT security comes of age

Internet of Things security comes of age

The Internet of Things (IoT) has long been a game of rush-to-market, with production speed trumping security in the stampede, says ESET Southern Africa.

Securing millions of non-standard devices as disparate as home thermometers, smart TVs and cars is no trivial task. It is somewhat simpler if they have simple stripped down embedded processors, but often they contain full-fledged and powerful network-connected operating systems, with all the security problems those present.

In previous years, it was non-obvious whether vendors were attempting to create security solutions without a corresponding real world threat. But as we see Android-related malware numbers steadily climb, it is no longer rare to spot scams or worse, on the platform. Additionally, as the importance and placement of IoT devices in more critical applications increases (think: “cars”), keeping rogue processes contained – regardless of their origin – seems wise.

One approach is to make each operating process mutually suspicious, containerize ed and separate from each other. But development is slower than just bolting on a standard OS like Android and shipping the product.

The good news is that Android security vendors here are implementing increasingly secure environments, but the rate of adoption is still far outpaced by the number of new devices hitting the market with unknown and unproven security chops.

Back to the mutually suspicious, or trusted computing platforms. While more difficult to develop against, they are typically far more resistant to attack. This has garnered the attention specifically of the automotive, government, and critical infrastructure market segments.

For some companies such as Lynx Software Technologies have been at it for some time now, and offer unique ways to approach the problem, with everything isolated – cores, memory, application, system and other resources – to form a very breach-resistant constellation of digital barriers that would curb the spread of nasty things. This sort of “paranoia” is most welcome in applications like avionics or medical devices, where no one wants to see “bad things” happen, and fundamentally, no-one wants. Prevention is better than detection.

Also, the network security folks have focused squarely on defending against rogue threats found on networks you might not think to look at, like CAN bus on automotive, or even ICS-related protocols like Modbus, which have been lightly defended (if at all) for decades.

As the importance and popularity of IoT continues to escalate and people place more valuable information thereupon, scammers and more hardened cybercriminals, will continue to look for new ways of attacking and compromising the swarm of devices which now surround us.

Edited by: Neo Sesinye
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Facebook launches #SheMeansBusiness in Nigeria

Facebook launches #SheMeansBusiness in Nigeria

Facebook launches #SheMeansBusiness in Nigeria

According to Technology Times Nigeria, SheMeansBusiness, a platform launched by Facebook, aims to train Nigerian female entrepreneurs and help them grow their businesses.

Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for Africa, said that SheMeansBusiness was designed to inspire women to start and grow their own businesses.

A study conducted by Development Economics on behalf of Facebook shows that businesses set up by women in Nigeria, over the next five years, will bring in N19.7 billion into the Nigerian economy, and create 8.9 million jobs.

The Nigeria launch was the first in Africa, while SheMeansBusiness had been launched in Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Mexico, among other countries.

“SheMeansBusiness aims to train 50,000 female small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) and create opportunities that would inspire and empower others,”said Sherry Dzinoreva, Policy Programmes Manager, EMEA at Facebook. The goal is to instil in women a desire to do more through making money and creating jobs, it is therefore very important for women to be connected to people who will provide the motivation necessary to accomplish this. This is how they will bridge the confidence gap.

Afua Osei, co-founder of ‘She Leads Africa’, said that her organisation was partnering with Facebook to train women in SME’to grow their businesses. With the right digital tools and support, African women would be able to compete on a global level.

SheMeansBusiness will bring together female entrepreneurs in a series of workshops and training sessions across six cities in Nigeria – Lagos, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Abuja, and Osei.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger

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MainOne’s West Africa expansion gets boost with Cote d’Ivoire license

MainOne’s West Africa expansion gets boost with Cote d’Ivoire license

MainOne’s West Africa expansion gets boost with Cote d’Ivoire license

As part of its West Africa expansion, connectivity and data centre solutions operator MainOne has secured a license to expand national and international connectivity services in Cote d’Ivoire.

The C1B license received from Minister Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services, will enable MainOne to install its trans-Atlantic submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Cote d’Ivoire, to strengthen connectivity, reduce international capacity costs and support wholesale customers, major operators and Internet Service Providers.

Cote d’Ivoire authorities believe that the construction of a fourth cable authorised by the government will improve the international connectivity of the country and will provide a lot more opportunities for the national market while increasing competition.

“We have just taken an important step through this authorisation for the improvement of the telecommunication infrastructure of our country, specifically the improvement of international connectivity. MainOne cable will have an impact on price and quality and will strengthen the security of our infrastructure”, declared Minister Bruno Koné.

The entry of MainOne, an open-access connectivity services provider will further democratize the international bandwidth market in Cote d’Ivoire and neighbouring countries and drive down bandwidth costs for local Internet Service Providers, Telcos and indigenous businesses.

“Cote d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and a very important hub for business and transport in West Africa. The dynamism of the national economy and accelerated development of the digital economy in Cote d’Ivoire as well as its regional leadership makes it a natural hub for the West African region and guided MainOne’s decision to invest in Cote d’Ivoire”, said Funke Opeke, Chief Executive Officer of MainOne.

As part of an overarching plan to invest close to $20m in Cote d’Ivoire with a focus on the provision of wholesale connectivity services, MainOne has obtained the license and will commence the construction of its digital transmission cable in June 2018, to be concluded in the second half of 2019. Its cable landing will provide open-access infrastructure within Cote d’Ivoire and other WAEMU countries to expand internet access for all users in the region and support rapid development as well as facilitate increased non-resources trade and improve public services to aid the evolution of regional businesses.

“By investing and encouraging the business ecosystem within West Africa, we hope to bring meaningful technology solutions to businesses, to enable them in their quest for improved productivity and efficiency through dedicated and reliable connectivity services. We are prepared to collaborate with incumbent operators towards enhancing regional integration and global access,” Ms. Opeke concluded.

MainOne is committed to deepening broadband access via fibre infrastructure and data centres across West Africa. With service delivery in 10 countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Cameroun, Benin, Niger, Senegal and Chad, MainOne operates a 100G international submarine cable system which guarantees highly reliable connectivity to support the growing demand for Internet access and bandwidth-intensive applications such as eCommerce, Content providers, OTT players and electronic banking and payment services via 3/4G mobile networks.

The MainOne Submarine cable was the first privately owned cable in West Africa spanning 7000KM with a capacity of 4.96 TBPS to connect West Africa to Europe via a landing in Portugal and multiple routes to London, Paris and Amsterdam.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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Digital Eco-system launches in Nigeria

Digital Eco-system launches in Nigeria

The digital eco-system has launched products that are used in business, entertainment and learning.

Hubs.ng is Nigeria’s first digital ecosystem founded by ItopaKing David, it is aimed to create a sustainable platform where Nigeria’s digital future and transitioning can be catalysed.

The digital eco-system has launched products that are used in business, entertainment and learning. Now it is launching its first products to contribute its quota to better social standards in Nigeria.

A service to fight human rights abuses

HRSS is created by the hubs.ng team to address the increasing need for the report, record and tracking of human rights-related crimes. Nigeria’s human rights NGO, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER) has already signed up as the first launch service provider for submitted report. HRSS is a platform that allows users with a hubs.ng account (or can create one) to submit a report of all human rights violation throughout the country. The steps available guides the user on how to create, select a category, fill in details and also attach files if necessary before submitting a report. Submitted report would be followed up by NGO attending to the report and give response due to the submitted report so the user is updated on the process. Citizens can create as many reports as need be.

CASER has been an active player in the fight for human rights since founded till date. The collaboration of these two socially involved entities is promised to Nigerians that have desired succour from human rights abuse. The service will also provide access to databases of human rights crimes and incidences.

A service to promote freelancers and provide new opportunity

Gigs hub is a service marketplace for freelancers of all class. The service was created to provide new opportunities for users with creative skill set that can market their service online within stipulated period of time and deliver to client an excellent job.

Gigs hubs work with a credit system for security and transparency between clients and freelancers on the system. Freelancers registered on the system can create a micro-job with details on what service they’ll offer within a set time and price, on the other hand, clients can search for services offered by freelancers and select their choice from the search result. The category of freelance service offered ranges from design and creativity down to admin support, customer service and so forth.

Hubs.ng – The Digital Nigeria; has been made available in an all in one application for Android users (available on play store) to access every service using one synchronised ID throughout the ecosystem.

Edited by: Neo Sesinye
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Digital trends driving insurance in Africa

Digital trends driving insurance in Africa

Ashok Shah, Group CEO of APA Apollo.

The past few months have seen digital becoming more integrated with industry sectors across Africa. But it is the data-rich environment of insurance that has especially benefitted from this with several trends emerging that impact on the effectiveness of its delivery in the continent.

Enter the omni-channel

One of the most significant of these is the move towards the omni-channel. But much like the paperless office, this has become one of those technology phrases that many believe will never happen. However, consumers today are naturally omni-channel. They research products online, recommend and talk about them with their friends and contacts on social networks, and purchase them either via mobile apps or at brick-and-mortar retail stores.

This integrated product approach points to the need for insurers to present customers with a range of options to engage. These can include text messages, emails, Web chats, telephones, and in-person discussions. And with artificial intelligence (machine-learning) rapidly becoming part of this environment, insurers have a variety of platforms to create a better omni-channel environment for customers.

By being able to use all these channels of communication, insurers will have a better all-round view of what the immediate customer priorities are. This will enable them to place new products in front of potential customers sooner and more directly than in the past as well as provide more bespoke offerings to existing customers.

Connecting everything

Last year, Gartner stated that there will be 8.4 billion connected things in use by the end of 2017 with total spending on endpoints and services reaching almost $2 trillion. The market for this Internet of Things (IoT) clearly illustrates the new competitive fronts and partnership opportunities for insurers.

Already, leading technology and consumer electronics providers have a head start in engaging consumers via the likes of smartphones, tables, and appliances. All is not lost for insurers. We are seeing how telemetry data in vehicles and diagnostic data in pacemakers are used by some insurance companies and healthcare providers to customise premiums based on driver behaviour and even personal health.

With IoT devices generating significant data, fast-moving insurtechs have been quick to extract meaningful insights and use them for customised solutions. The more traditionally-minded insurance providers must follow suit as user expectations require this more tailored approach.

Market opportunities

By understanding the near‐term value potential of initial data and technology investments, insurers can chart a clear and self‐funding course on their transformation journeys and become truly digital in their strategies, operations, and cultures.

With an array of innovation, the Kenyan insurance landscape has the potential for a sizable expansion of domestic market penetration. The country also presents a solid base for reaching other African markets, which in turn, will attract interest from further international investment.

Digital is charting the path for insurers in Africa. The success or failure of this will be governed by the willingness of the insurer to embrace this [digital] future.

By Ashok Shah, Group CEO of APA Apollo

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New anti-gravity tech explodes on Kickstarter

New anti-gravity tech explodes on Kickstarter

Flipstik – World’s 1st Reusable Wall Mount! (Image sourced from Youtube)

Anti-gravity tech, flipstik, reached its funding goal on Kickstarter in less than 24 hours.

flipstik allows users to stick and mount anything everywhere. It uses a trademarked technology called Synthetic Setae.

Synthetic Setae is a reusable adhesive that mimics the natural setae on the feet of geckos. This process, known as allows you to adhere nearly any device to nearly any service.

The patent pending Synthetic Setae is completely reusable, allowing you to simply wash it with warm water to regain its adhesive nature. According to reviews it can be used 1000s of times. During the flipstik kickstarter campaign you can purchase a flipstik for as little as $6.

flipstik comes in a number of design styles similar to that of another phone accessory, popsocket. But the flipstik designs seem fresh and new. From Wild animals in their natural habitat, to stones and metals, to zodiac signs dripping in beautiful galaxies. There is something for everyone.

The flipstik team has also committed to donate 3% of their profits to charities and is encouraging other companies to do the same.

Check out the Kickstarter video:

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger

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Abuja hosts Africa at the 2018 Internet Freedom Forum

Abuja hosts Africa at the 2018 Internet Freedom Forum

From April 24 to April 26, 2018, the city of Abuja will play host to the annual Internet Freedom Forum organized by Paradigm Initiative. The forum comes at an important time when many Africans fear for their freedom online. According to Paradigm Initiative, the Lagos-based organisers of the Forum, “the Forum helps bring attention to important issues confronting digital rights such as data privacy, internet shutdown, access to the internet, among others”

The Forum, over the years, has gained the reputation as the platform where experts deliberate on issues relating to digital rights and inclusion. The Forum, now in its the sixth edition, will welcome delegates from some thirty countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Cameroon, Togo, United Kingdom and the United States. The Forum will also be live-streamed to the whole world to encourage virtual participation.

Speakers at the Forum will include Ayisha Osori, the author of Love Does not Win Elections, Tolu Ogunlesi, Nigerian President’s Special Assistant on Digital Media, and Titi Akinsanmi, Head, Government Relations and Public Policy at Google. Others are Dapo Olorunyomi, the publisher of Premium Times, Akua Gyekye, Facebook’s Public Policy Manager, and Afef Abrougui of Ranking Digital Rights.

According to Tope Ogundipe, the Director of Programs of Paradigm Initiative, “IFF2018 provides an important platform to discuss issues that bother many Africans. The sessions and side-sessions at IFF 2018 cover some of the most pertinent themes relating to digital rights and inclusion in Africa. These include, “How to Ruin Elections in Africa”, “Cybercrime Laws and Freedom of Expression”, “Bridging Gender Knowledge Gap in Wikipedia”.”

“The forum will also discuss the state of internet in various African countries with report from scores of , “Gender, Open Data and AI: Intersecting for Digital Equality”, “Empowering Human Rights Defenders in Digital Era In Africa” and “Building a Healthy Internet in Africa.”

The Forum, which holds at NAF Conference Centre, Abuja, is supported by organizations including Microsoft, Ford Foundation, Google, Facebook, Premium Times, The Guardian and Civicus. Session organisers at the Forum include Amnesty International, Web Foundation, BudgIT, and Mozilla.

“The range and depth of the discussions which have taken place at previous editions of the IFF has positioned the IFF as one of the premier platforms for shaping the conversations and policy outcomes on the Internet in Africa. The diversity of conversations also caters for the diverse range of participants within the continent and beyond, and across civil society, private sector, academia, government and other stakeholders,” Ogundipe concluded.

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Investing in STEM skills crucial to South Africa’s development

Investing in STEM skills crucial to South Africa’s development

Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings.

The basic education sector in South Africa needs to increase the number of institutions that focus on critical subjects such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM). So says Richard Firth, CEO of MIP Holdings, adding that it is crucial for South Africa to change its education strategy from one where pupils get a diploma after grade 12, to one where pupils get a job.

“Improving STEM and computer subjects is essential, and we need to look at what can be done to fast-track growth in the economy. At the moment, there is no means of easily getting employment for matriculants because the needs of the real world and their skills are miles apart.”

To change this, we simply must create a generation of workers that can enable a knowledge economy, Firth says. “The 4th Industrial Revolution is leaving us no choice but to acknowledge and plan for the loss of unskilled jobs. Unfortunately, our education sector isn’t doing enough to advance subjects that will enable learners to get jobs in the ICT sector. The declining pass rate in these subjects isn’t helping matters either.”

He adds that universities and companies alike are introducing separate admission tests called NBTs (National Bench Tests) or evaluation methods to sift out youth fresh out of schools who have not got the relevant education. “We accept new lower pass rates for youth which land up producing the wrong workforce for current business demand. When does reality set in?”

He says another issue is that STEM subjects aren’t terribly popular and are viewed as difficult by students and teachers alike. “They are also thought of as ‘male’ subjects, another perception that needs to change. These perceptions perpetuate the cycle of poor performance and dismal pass rates in these subjects. We see the result of these perceptions in the low numbers of women entering the tech arena.”

He adds that it is widely known that people and skills are one of the most crucial factors in growing a country and its economy. “And it has a follow-on effect. Today’s generation will pass skills onto, and boost the productivity, of future generations to come. Skills and education have a real impact on innovation, and growth and development are dependent on a supply of knowledgeable and skilled workers.”

South Africa, he says, is lagging behind due to the poor delivery and adoption of STEM subjects, and what is needed to meet these educational challenges is collaboration between government, educational bodies and the private sector.

“Investing in our youth is the way forward, and to do that, we need to invest in STEM skills. To do that, we need to deliver high-quality education. Education that will see learners walking into jobs and building up our tech sector. This is what will guarantee that our youth will grow up to be valuable, contributing members of society,” Firth says.

“Why can’t successful companies’ executives participate on disadvantaged school’s boards in exchange for BBBEE points? This will force a level of business participation that will really bring business into the fold to grow our youth and improve education. Schools are all just businesses at the end of the day. It may just be time that we stop seeing executives or capitalists as the enemy but rather enablers of a new education ecosystem. So many of the current BBBEE levels for companies have nothing to do with addressing the single most important issue we have as a country: Youth unemployment or lack of the right skills for our youth to participate in the 4th Industrial Revolution.”

There’s no doubt that innovation comes from STEM, and our learners today will be doing jobs we haven’t even imagined yet, Firth adds. “We need to remember that STEM is ever-changing, and will never stop growing. The umbrella under which STEM subjects fall keeps on getting bigger. Think about big data, the IOT, cloud and mobility. Not to mention artificial intelligence, and information security. All these were merely ideas not too many years ago, and now they are the hottest trends.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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