Accelerating your Digital Transformation

Accelerating your Digital Transformation

Greg McDonald, Sales Engineering Director at Dell EMC.

Businesses that harness the power of digital are experiencing massive advantages, with growth and efficiency benchmarks often leaping by double- and even triple-digit advances. But while the attainment of digital clearly bears a lot of fruit, getting to that stage is proving to be very difficult. Only five percent of companies believe they fully realised their goal of becoming digital businesses.

Why is this happening? Greg McDonald, Sales Engineering Director at Dell EMC, has worked with customer companies of various sizes and at different stages of their digital projects. While attending the recent Dell EMC Forum, held in Johannesburg’s vibrant business hub Sandton, he addressed that very question: why are so many companies not getting digital right?

“Organisations are struggling with legacy in their data centres. Think about large corporations that have been around for many years. They have IT baggage that came along the way. That baggage has been one of the reasons why they haven’t been able to progress. When I talk about cloud-native workloads and digital transformation, this is about putting platforms down for customers that allow them to build the next wave of software, which is completely different from anything we’ve seen in the past.”

Workforce enablement sits at the heart of this transition. Technology is no longer the sole domain of IT. Other parts of the business have started taking control of technology for their own development. When left without the right tools, people start looking elsewhere, leading to the phenomenon of shadow IT. Technology appeals to both established employees and newcomers to the workforce.

“If you aren’t ready to adopt the next wave of people coming to your organisation and help develop the applications they need, you may become irrelevant in the next couple of years. That’s a daunting task for CEOs to think about. To complicate matters for the CEO, they are also facing similar challenges in developing the next wave of application for their customers.”

The truth is that IT transformation revitalises the tools that can be used, while security ensures those tools can be reliably placed in the hands of employees. This triad – modern IT platforms, secure access and a willing workforce – is the secret recipe for digital success. Neglecting any of the three is what often brings transformation to a halt. “Getting the three areas to work with each other is tricky, to say the least,” said Greg “It’s not a journey that should be taken alone. I think companies underestimate the revolutionary nature of digital transformation and how much goes into making it happen. This is why Dell Technologies was created: to bring together all the right concepts and platforms in one place, so our customers can have conversations with a single source and as such create their own single voice.”

The details depend on the organisation and its culture. For some, it starts by understanding and embracing cloud. For others, the crucial steps come in training developers in new platform tools. But without synergy between employees (armed with skills and tools that drive change), IT (adopting new platforms and modernising legacy investments) and security (keep the crown jewels safe without hindering the workforce), digital transformation will fail.

It’s a difficult balance to strike, which explains why so few companies feel they truly succeed in being digital. But this revolution is still happening and many more companies are closing in on this new competitive landscape.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Untapped opportunity in Africa’s emerging startup hubs

Untapped opportunity in Africa’s emerging startup hubs

Abu Cassim, founder and director of Jozi Angels

African startups are in a unique position to leverage innovation to answer some of the continent’s most pressing challenges. To achieve this, an enabling environment is mission critical, according to Abu Cassim, founder and director of Jozi Angels, an angel network that invests in early stage startups.

Growing venture capital (VC) in Africa was a focal point of discussions at the recent Africa Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. “Exciting opportunities exist in VC frontier markets like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria along with other international emerging markets such as Indonesia, Poland, Mexico and the UAE,” notes Cassim.

Successfully developing Africa’s VC sector hinges on a number of factors including identifying additional sources of funding for co-investment, for example, suitable combinations of government and corporate funding. Cassim went on to state “Startups stand to benefit enormously if we begin to align our efforts and pool our resources from across all corners of the continent. Forums like the Africa Innovation Summit bring the continent’s pioneers together. Relationships developed here will go a long way to developing common objectives and pan-African networks that will benefit the investment and startup communities.”

Cassim adds that regulatory and tax reform has the potential to give the continent’s investment landscape a much-needed boost. “Changes made to South African legislation are a good example of what is possible. In 2009 the government introduced amendments to the Income Tax Act, with further amendments in 2014. These changes established tax incentives for investors who can claim deductions for funds invested in approved venture capital funds. As at the end of November 2017 there were over 60 registered S12J venture capital funds in South Africa and investment by the VC sector is growing at an impressive 23 percent annually.”

Discussion contributors also included Nairobi-based Héloïse Zimmermann from I-DEV International “Sharing success stories will assist in attracting more capital to the continent. While leveraging local investors will allow the ecosystem to benefit from business networks that each investor brings to the table.”

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger

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Global Industrial Distributor launches e-commerce website for Sub-Saharan Africa

Global Industrial Distributor launches e-commerce website for Sub-Saharan Africa

RS South Africa opened its doors in 1996, the flagship operation in Africa with 22 years of experience distributing products and components to engineers around the African continent.

RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), the global distributor for engineers was founded as Radiospares, in 1937.

The company started as a supplier of parts to the burgeoning radio market that has evolved into a global distribution enterprise, with operations in Europe, North America, Asia and now Africa offering a diverse portfolio of more than 500,000 industrial, maintenance and electronic components across 2500 global brands.

RS is globally renowned as one of the first industrial distributors to successfully transition into an e-commerce business within the B2B space and continues to win awards for innovation and supplier development.

RS South Africa opened its doors in 1996, the flagship operation in Africa with 22 years of experience distributing products and components to engineers around the African continent. RS South Africa recently launched the Africa website www.rsonline.africa geared to meet the requirements of a growing continent with demand from various industries such as manufacturing, mining, automotive, utilities, electronics, and industrial IOT.

“Customers in Africa had access to our products prior to the website, however there were long lead times and higher freight costs depending on location. With the new website customers receive their products much quicker and we can give additional markets in Africa access to our range through our e-commerce platform where they can pay via credit card. There is also an improved customer experience with our French and Portuguese speaking sales agents, so that customers can comfortably engage in their language of preference. So much is happening in Africa – we want our engineers, makers and maintenance professionals to have access to the widest range of products and the latest technologies to achieve their goals and to develop the products and solutions of the future. The rest of the world has easy access to these goods, now so does Africa,” said Brian Andrew, Managing Director of RS South Africa.

RS is passionate about STEM education and globally supports a number of initiatives aimed at upskilling the next generation of engineers and technicians. This includes being a global distributor for Raspberry Pi (a credit card size single board computer at $35) which essential functions as a PC and has sold over 15 million units worldwide. RS also supports numerous engineering endeavours such as Solar Car Challenges, the SpaceX – Hyperloop challenge, Development of 3D prosthetics, various robot prototypes, and initiatives that develop and improve satellite technology for space.

The new RS Africa website currently services the following countries Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe with more to follow in the future.

RS will be exhibiting at the Manufacturing Indaba taking place on 19-20 June 2018 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Manufacturing Indaba is the leading manufacturing event in Sub-Saharan Africa where manufacturing leaders and experts explore opportunities to improve and grow their manufacturing operations. RS will be showcasing some of its Industrial IoT products used in Industry 4.0 applications as well as the latest technologies used in automation.

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How automation can help corporate finance in West Africa

How automation can help corporate finance in West Africa

Theuns Holtshousen, Business Leader, CaseWare Africa.

The recent announcement by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) that listed companies would have to submit financial reports four times a year, rather than annually, marks a significant milestone in the region’s drive to prime its economy for international competitiveness. Automating the creation of corporate financials will be essential in helping Nigerian companies comply with the NSE’s mandate without creating a huge administrative burden, and enable them to get the most out the data.

“The NSE’s move is one of many signs that West Africa is open for business, and is determined to compete effectively. However, it is critical that companies use technology effectively to ensure that these new requirements do not take their focus away from their core business,” says Theuns Holtshousen, Business Leader, CaseWare Africa. “Automation is essential in helping companies to generate financials at the click of a button. At the same time, automation allows finance staff to spend less time compiling reports and more time analysing them to support smart business decision-making.”

Holtshousen says the NSE’s move should be seen within the context of a sustained trend across West African and African economies towards a culture of compliance in order to reduce corruption and promote effective business. Automating both the financial reporting and auditing processes has a key role to play in this regard because it provides complete transparency while reducing the administrative burden on finance departments. At the same time, automation produces highly credible data because information is only inputted once, reducing human error, and an electronic audit trail eliminates fraud.

In addition, using CaseWare’s templates means that companies and public entities report using global frameworks such as IFRS and IFRS for SMEs in the private sector, and IPSAS Accrual and IPSAS Cash in the public sector.

“Clearly, it is highly beneficial to use globally recognised accounting and auditing frameworks in order to promote foreign investment and build trust with international trading partners—but localisation is equally important,” argues Mr Holtshousen. “CaseWare Africa thus invests hugely in localising the global templates in line with local legislation and to accommodate local currencies. We are also expanding our local presence to serve the West African market better—we recently opened an office in Lagos and we soon will announce our local presence in Accra.”

He says that the acquisition of CaseWare Africa by AdaptIT, a South Africa-based ICT company, has strengthened CaseWare Africa’s ability to service its customers. AdaptIT’s African footprint provides a solid infrastructural framework for CaseWare Africa, and its resources support the investment in localising global templates.

“Automation using the power of the cloud is the way of the future, and Africa’s path to global competitiveness,” concludes Holtshousen. “CaseWare Africa is committed to helping it achieve this.”

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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African post offices at the forefront of financial solutions in rural areas

African post offices at the forefront of financial solutions in rural areas

According to De Vasconcelos, the strong presence of post offices in remote and rural areas is extremely valuable.

Postal services can play a pivotal role in delivering remittances, lowering the transfer costs and providing access to basic financial services in Africa, according to a report released today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Commission (EC) on the occasion of the International Day of Family Remittances to be observed tomorrow.

The report, A success story on remittances at the post office in Africa, analyses the results achieved by African Postal Financial Services Initiative (APFSI), a joint programme led by IFAD and financed by the European Union (EU). The programme has been implemented in 11 African countries in cooperation with the World Bank, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the Universal Postal Union and the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute.

The APFSI joint programme has helped post offices develop more effective business models, upgrade their computer technology and connectivity, and improve their expertise in order to process real-time payments and offer and manage financial services.

“The remittance market is changing at a rapid pace,” said Pedro De Vasconcelos, Coordinator of the Financing Facility for Remittances at IFAD. “Technology is transforming the payment systems and digitalized financial services are creating new opportunities. In this context, postal operators play a prominent role in delivering remittances to rural migrant families, providing them with financial services they rarely had access to.”

According to De Vasconcelos, the strong presence of post offices in remote and rural areas is extremely valuable. Their historic footprint helps build trust in the provision of rural financial services.

In 2017 alone, African migrant workers sent over US$70 billion to their families back home, representing an increase of more than 10 per cent from 2016 and more than 36 per cent over the past decade.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region in the world to send money home. In 2017 the average cost was 9.3 per cent of the amount sent.

As a result of the AFPSI joint programme, which has been implemented over the last five years, the cost of receiving remittances via post offices in four pilot countries, Benin, Ghana, Madagascar and Senegal, decreased by 42 per cent and post offices delivered remittance services at an average cost of less than 5 per cent. This means an additional $35 million were available to migrant families between 2014 and 2016.

“The EU is committed to work with partners to lower the cost of remittances and promote faster, cheaper and safer transfers. Our collective objective is to reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs and eliminate remittance corridors with transfer costs higher than 5 per cent, as stated in the 2030 Agenda and the European Consensus for Development,” said Stefano Signore, Head of Unit in charge of Migration and Employment in the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development at the EC.

Financial inclusion remains a challenge in Africa. According to recent estimates, only 41 per cent of the population above 15 years of age has an account and access to formal financial services. In this context, postal operators have an important role to play, especially in rural areas. As a result of the joint programme, at least 100,000 adults opened new postal accounts accessing financial services for the first time.

“Having a savings account and access to credit is fundamental for families to invest in income-generating activities and build their future,” said Mauro Martini, an IFAD expert on remittances and migrants’ investments and co-author of the report. “Remittances can be an engine for development.”

Estimates show that while 75 per cent of remittances are generally spent on basic needs such as food, housing, health and education, another 25 per cent can be invested in asset-building or activities that generate income and jobs and transform economies, in particular in rural areas.

The EC began collaborating with IFAD in 2004, with the intention of increasing the development impact of remittances while enabling poor households in rural areas to access financial services. Since 2005, the EC has mobilized euro 9.5 million for IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances, including the APFSI. A new euro 15 million programme focusing on Africa will be launched soon to reduce costs further and improve financial inclusion and impact for development.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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The EU’s renewable energy ambitions: Bioenergy from forests is not always carbon neutral

The EU’s renewable energy ambitions: Bioenergy from forests is not always carbon neutral

The EU’s renewable energy ambitions: Bioenergy from forests is not always carbon neutral

Since the launching of the EU’s clean energy package in November 2016, the European institutions and many Member States have emphasised their renewable energy ambitions, which culminated in political agreement on the recast of the renewable energy directive on 14 June 2018.  During the past year, EASAC has worked to draw the attention of policy makers to a glaring oversight in this ambition: the EU and its Member States continue to classify all biomass from forests as carbon neutral, renewable energy. It is simplistic and misleading to classify all types of biomass from forests as sources of carbon neutral renewable energy as explained in the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) report published in April 2017.

 

Today, EASAC is releasing a commentary to re-emphasise its original points and to strongly encourage policy-makers to reconsider their approach to the use of forest biomass for energy.  Whilst it may be too late to change the text of the directive itself, policy makers in the Member States could and should implement it in ways which reflect these scientific realities, and which will contribute positively to their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

 

It is often claimed that the carbon released by burning wood and other forest biomass is removed from the atmosphere when the vegetation grows back. This may be true in the long term, but policy-makers may not realise how much time is needed for this to happen. At the very least, it takes many decades, and in some cases, it will take hundreds of years for the carbon to be absorbed by new vegetation. In the meantime, the released carbon will contribute to climate change just as much as burning coal or oil.

 

The carbon neutrality argument – that the carbon dioxide emitted when biomass is burnt is fully compensated for by uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere due to plant growth – has given a strong boost to policies that aim to increase the use of forests as a source of bioenergy and as a substitute for fossil energy. Forest biomass is classified as renewable, and currently contributes substantially to the EU’s renewable energy targets. However, in reality, carbon emissions per unit of electricity generated from forest biomass are higher than from coal. In addition, when one harvests trees that have a large, ongoing carbon storage potential, then the emissions from burning the biomass are associated with the loss of a carbon sink, and the net effect on the climate is likely to be negative.

 

The oversimplified concept of carbon neutrality leads many to think that use of biomass is automatically ‘renewable’ and can be counted towards GHG emission reduction targets on an equal level with wind and solar.  Achieving carbon neutrality involves potentially long time periods and, in the context of the timescales relevant to Paris Agreement commitments, climate impacts range from positive to negative depending on the nature of the forest biomass used and post-harvest land use. Climate impacts from using forest biomass for energy must therefore be considered on a case-by-case basis together with the sustainability of forestry in EU climate and energy policy.

 

“There are significant dangers of shooting ourselves in the climate foot if we do not differentiate effectively between climate positive and climate negative uses of forest biomass”, said Professor Michael Norton, EASAC’s Environment Programme Director.

 

“As our recent report on negative emissions has shown, we are already in danger of not meeting the Paris Agreement targets. If the EU and Member States continue to count all forest biomass as renewable energy, and not validate their climate impacts on a case-by-case basis, we may even be increasing the EU’s carbon emissions through our ‘renewable’ energy policies”, he added.

 

“Renewable energy policies in the European Union are increasingly ambitious, which is a positive trend. But policy-makers must ensure that renewable energy is truly renewable within the relevant policy timeframe. Bioenergy from forest biomass with long carbon payback periods is not renewable in the context of the EU’s Paris commitments,” noted Dr. William Gillett, EASAC’s Energy Programme Director.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger

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The Top 10 iOS 12 features announced at WWDC 2018

The Top 10 iOS 12 features announced at WWDC 2018

The Top 10 iOS 12 features announced at WWDC 2018 (Image from www.digitaltrends.com)

Apple announced a range of new developments at their annual Worldwide Developers Conference last week, some of which included the new operating system for Mac, macOS Mojave, and a bunch of new fitness-related features on watchOS 5. Of all the announcements, that of iOS 12 was probably the most anticipated because it would affect anyone with an iPhone or iPad. With iOS 12 announced to drop in October of this year, here are the top ten new features to look forward to.

1. Better performance
Apple made it very clear that their priority above all else with the new operating system was performance. They keep working to make iOS feel faster and smoother than ever before. iOS has been overhauled for improved performance on devices as far back as iPhone 5s and iPad Air. Fans of the brand can look forward to up to 40% faster app launch, a 70% faster swipe to Camera from the Lock screen, 50% faster keyboard display and typing is more responsive, even when you’re pushing your iOS device to the limit, like multitasking between lots of apps, they will still launch up to 2x faster.

2. Screen Time
Apple has made it clear that they’re aiming to foster healthier relationships between users and their phones, so in an attempt to curb device addiction they’ve created a feature called Screen Time that helps you keep track of the time spent on your phone. It monitors the time spent on your device, on what apps, and it even lets you set limits with a timer. The additional “allowances” feature lets you manage your kids’ time on their devices as well. You’ll get a weekly summary of your activities and be able to adjust from there.

3. Memoji
In iOS 12, you’ll be able to create your own personalised Animoji, letting you choose skin color, hairstyle, and outfitting your Memoji with accessories, a function akin to Nintendo’s Mii characters. This new tool allows for almost endless customization. Alongside this, Animoji will be able to detect when you’re sticking out your tongue or winking and be able to mimic that. You can even use your new Memoji inside FaceTime.

4. Notifications
Notifications will now be way less messy and more manageable. Message threads and notification topics are grouped together, so it’s easier to see what’s important with just a glance at your iPhone or iPad. These grouped notifications also show up in a stack to give you a sense of how many are waiting for you. There’s also the ability to tweak notifications as they come in with the new Instant Tuning feature and you can do all of that without dropping what you’re doing.

5. Siri Shortcuts
In iOS 12, Apple incorporated the Workflow app that it purchased in 2017 into Siri. With the new Siri Shortcuts feature, you can create or customize your own shortcuts to run multiple steps at once. For example, Siri can let your family know you’re on your way home with the Messages app, turn on the lights at home through Homekit and open up the Maps app with directions home just by giving Siri the “I’m going home” command. You can add these kinds of shortcuts to Siri to run them with your voice on your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, or HomePod.

6. Group Facetime
Facetime can do more than host one-on-one conversations now. Group Facetime can facilitate conversations of up to 32 people and it will be supported across iOS and macOS. When multiple people are on a call, the video windows will adjust according to who’s talking, i.e. they will get larger when the person is speaking and shrink when they’re not.

7. ARKit
Apple is trying to establish itself in the augmented reality sphere and they’re doing this by updating their ARKit framework and giving developers the ability to create shared experiences. The company is creating persistent, multi-user experiences that can be shared across time and fixed to real-world locations, so you can create a piece of AR art that can be viewed later in the same place by someone else. ARKit 2 recognizes objects and how your device is oriented to them and can use that information to trigger AR experiences.

8. Measure app
As part of the new AR framework, Apple released the Measure App. The app automatically measures flat rectangular surfaces and draws lines across flat surfaces to measure distances with your iPhone or iPad camera. You put the object in the camera frame, tap and drag out a line, and it measures it.

9. Camera
Apple made a few key improvements to the Camera app in iOS 12. Portrait Lighting features on compatible devices are much better thanks to the Camera’s ability to separate a person from a scene by generating a mask when it detects a person. QR codes are also easier to read thanks to a feature that highlights QR codes in the frame.

10. Photos
The new For You tab includes featured photos, effect suggestions, and sharing suggestions. The tab displays great moments from your photo library and intelligently suggests sharing photos with the people in them. Searching for photos is also smarter and more intuitive. Before you start typing, you’ll see suggestions for recent events, people, and places. The For You tab will also suggest filters and effects you might want to apply to images you’ve taken.

 

By Daniëlle Kruger

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How digital transformation can drive growth and job creation across emerging economies

How digital transformation can drive growth and job creation across emerging economies

the next wave of incubators are arriving from new ecosystem cities in North Africa.

Innovation and entrepreneurship play an ever-increasing role in growing Africa’s emerging technology ecosystem.

According to research by the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator, over the past two years alone, Africa has seen the number of innovation hubs double.

Whilst the big 3 cities – Nairobi, Lagos, Cape Town – have been dominating the Sub-Saharan growth narrative, the next wave of incubators are arriving from new ecosystem cities in North Africa. And the cities driving this growth, Casablanca, Cairo, Sousse and Algiers, are serious about generating sustainable operating models in the fast evolving ICT landscape to overcome core business challenges around viability, future-proofing the business and most importantly, producing continuous success stories.

Funding in North Africa is shifting from relying on public spending

According to the Disrupt Africa Tech Start-ups Funding Report 2017 , funding in African tech start-ups surged 51% to reach $195 million in 2017, as compared to figures of the same period in 2016. When it comes to funding, the majority of Africa’s tech hubs are grant funded by Governments and foundations, however there has been a growth of social ventures and a trend toward for profit and self-funded endeavours to fast track growth.

Rabeh Arezki, Chief Economist for Middle East and North Africa Region (MNA) at the World Bank stated, “When it comes to sustainable funding, African tech hubs tend to focus on demand-driven service models that solve problems and support the specific needs of an ecosystem. To succeed, a modern innovation hub needs to pinpoint a niche in growth areas and deliver that proposition. Key areas ripe for development are start-ups looking at improving Internet infrastructure, payment systems and education. These are the types of businesses we see succeeding.”

Eric Chan, Digital Investment Expert, Xona Partners remarked, ‘What’s important is that we are seeing the gaps in infrastructure that impact technology development, digital entrepreneurship, and innovation closing. What’s powerful is that technology hubs are facilitating the development of that infrastructure. A lot of hubs are driven by forward thinking, young entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their skillset. The hubs are filling those skill gaps which will only continue to progress the development of the local ecosystem in a positive way.’

Algiers has been claiming a highly favourable investment climate and hosting major regional events like the upcoming Global Smart Cities Technology and Investment Summit on June 27-28 2018, where 4,000 smart city leaders from around the world will discuss how smart technology and ecosystems, smart data and sustainability and the Government’s role in stimulating new technology are changing the landscape. Founder of Smart City Algiers, Fatiha Slimani said “Algiers smart city project is in a way our commitment to develop our city based on principles of durability, sustainability and innovation. We’re trying to find solution to what we call – the cascading technology trap – where technology moves way faster than policy makers’ decision making.”

Innovation hubs are diversifying their scope

We are also seeing the new innovation hubs adopting hybrid systems to enable sustainability. Many choose a mix of community tech space and ‘paid-for’ co-working space, though corporate partnerships are increasingly becoming more common, especially though mobile operators. Over 14% of active tech hubs in Africa now supported by mobile operators like MNT, due to the opportunity to scale quickly. Examples of this include Orange–Start on in Morocco and Djezzy’s ENP Incubator Algeria. Others create their own private funds by taking equity in early stage start-ups whilst offering business support.

Collaboration is key for growth

What’s significantly changing is that collaboration is pushing the agenda forward. This coming together is fuelled by the increasing awareness that start-ups in Africa will play a key role in the development of the continent’s societies and economies.

Investors, educational institutions, tech giants and mobile operators, have started exploring synergies in helping to shaping the local ecosystems. Open innovation, industrialists, telecommunication companies and financial institutions will soon be able to sponsor the creation of startups that can effectively respond to any technological problem within their organisations in the future. Faten Aissi Zardi, CEO of Meraki Consulting, previously CEO of Sousse, Tunisia’s first start up Incubator, echoes the sentiment. ‘Culture is by far the most critical asset of an ecosystem.’

The challenging economical landscape

Africa’s informal economy combined with multiple local stakeholder and restrictive regulations make expansion across more than one region a significant test. In many cases it takes a local ecosystem that can promote growth and social development to expand a business’ impact and by investing in a good ecosystem can be a source of competitive advantage.

As innovation hubs transform, industry experts see the role of catalyst helping the Government and private sectors pushing the local technology ecosystems forward.

Fatiha Slimani from Smart City Algiers believes that their approach is to ‘proactively federate the Algiers based technology ecosystem and speed up the emergence of technology champions. The goal is to have it become a catalyst for strategic initiatives and contribute to develop synergies between all the actors in the value chain.’

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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Tackling the pertinent aspects of GDPR

Tackling the pertinent aspects of GDPR

Records and processes are a very big part of GDPR.

For businesses around the world, including Africa, the implementation of the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is particularly pertinent. This is because the GDPR applies not only to all states in the EU, but more especially to any companies that market goods or services to EU residents. Without GDPR-compliance, which was widely enforced on 25 May 2018, these organisations risk losing business opportunities.

According to David Warburton, senior systems engineer, F5 Networks, a cloud and security solutions provider represented locally by value-added distributor Networks Unlimited, the GDPR simply cannot be avoided.

Speaking during an EMEA webinar presentation, Addressing the Overlooked Aspects of GDPR, Warburton noted that F5 has certain ideas on how to start the compliance process and is also able to provide solutions that will assist.
“There is not only one thing for companies to do to become GDPR-compliant – it is very much a multi-disciplinary project involving functions across the business, from HR to legal to finance to IT, security and so on,” he said. “GDPR fundamentally tries to change the way that organisations think about personal data, and how it is treated. GDPR is as much about the people and processes as it is about the technology.”

Key considerations of the GDPR

Warburton noted that key considerations within the GDPR include the following:

Reviewing/updating of consent options around data, both opt-in and opt-out.
Data subject rights are key: this includes the ability to give users the option to be forgotten by any particular service.

Breach notification should not necessarily be given to all customers or the public but must be given to the data protection authority as the first port of call.

Any organisation with over 250 employees will need to maintain the records of processing. Records and processes are a very big part of GDPR. Your suppliers will need to be compliant and this should be contracted in.

Big data and IoT

Warburton pointed out that the increasing number of Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices may contain personal information such as an individual’s name and address; GPS location history; health records including weight, height, pulse and heart rate; audio/video recordings; and access to the home and other networks.

“All this information is being collected and to make it useful, it’s being made available on the web. And so we need to think about how this big data is used and processed, and how it impacts on GDPR compliance going forward.”

Secure processing

The GDPR regulations observe that the controller and processor of data shall implement appropriate technical and organisational measures to ensure a level of security appropriate to the risk. “When it comes to security of processing, everything talks about risk,” said Warburton, “and now ‘state of the art’ required by default refers to risk benefit analysis. So it’s important here to keep an eye on costs, because as technology solutions costs go down, it may mean that a solution that had initially seemed prohibitive may become cost-justifiable compared to the risk involved in terms of data breaches in terms of some very personal information.”

Privacy impact assessments

“A privacy impact assessment is a sub-set of a larger risk assessment,” Warburton continued. “We need to identify and minimise the privacy risks of any new projects and policies that are put into place. This helps us to identify potential problems at an early stage to try and minimise them, allowing for a better and cheaper solution in the long run to produce better policies and increase the trust between ourselves and our customer base going forward.”

Warburton summarised three key areas of importance in a privacy impact assessment, as follows: identify and minimise the privacy risks of new projects or policies; work with internal and external resources to minimise harm; and create better policies, reduce risk and increase trust. He says it’s important to ask questions such as, “Are we collecting new information, or using information in a way that it wasn’t used before? Are we using new technology, for example introducing biometrics in to the workflow?”

The seven steps of a privacy impact assessment were outlined as follows:

Identify the need for a privacy impact assessment.
Describe the information flows.
Identify the privacy and related risks.
Ascertain and evaluate the privacy solutions.
Sign off and record the privacy impact assessment outcomes.
Integrate the outcomes in the project plan.
Consult with internal and external stakeholders as needed.

“Once you’ve recognised the need for a privacy impact assessment, it’s important to identify the data flow. This includes tracking the archiving and destruction of the data at the end of the cycle – does this comply with GDPR requirements? All these things need to be considered together. If we look at the increase into the cloud, this too has an impact on the data cycle.”

Warburton outlined privacy issues, risk to individuals, compliance risk and associated corporate risk while identifying the privacy and related risks of a privacy impact assessment. “What is the risk to the individual of the data breach – credit card information, reputation damage? The cost to the corporate, in the event of a breach, comes with risks such as reputational and brand damage and the costs of a clean-up.”

In terms of integrating the privacy impact assessment, Warburton advised leveraging existing project and risk management frameworks such as Agile, PRINCE2, COBIT, Orange Book and ISO31000:2009 and ISO27005:2011, to name but a few. As regards risk assessment frameworks, he noted that this is a cyclical process. “Choose a risk assessment framework that best fits your business,” he advised, adding further that when carrying out a risk assessment overview, it is important to be able to measure your risk assessments, allowing you to show improvement and also for audit purposes.

Who owns the data – who owns the risk?

Warburton explained that information flow contained within the cloud can help organisations to increase their security posture depending on various factors, but he warns that, “You can never remove risk completely. You always own the risk, regardless of where that data is – it’s your data and you own it. You can share the risk, which is what is happening in the cloud, but you have a shared responsibility model.”

Solutions

Warburton mentioned the importance of access protection, saying that unauthorised access, affecting confidentiality and integrity of data, is caused by such causes as user password fatigue, lack of endpoint visibility, phishing attacks, malware and botnet disruption. Solutions to this include secure authentication, granular and context aware access, encryption, single sign on and endpoint detection and protection.

In terms of application protection, Warburton said that cyber attacks on vulnerable web apps affect confidentiality, integrity and availability. He suggested advanced web application firewalls (WAFs) as the solution here and says the chosen WAF should be cross-platform. As regards Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, he recommended multi-layered, application aware DDoS mitigation.

Speaking on single cloud providers, he noted the risk of a lack of resilience, and that the catastrophic failure of such a cloud provider could risks data loss. “Multi-cloud architecture is preferable, deploying apps and data across multiple cloud providers in order to maintain constant application delivery and security policies, and offer automated failover and server/container scale out.

“Security of processing as per GDPR requirements also needs to include the ability to restore the availability and access to personal data in a timely manner in the event of a physical or technical incident.”

Breach visibility and reporting

“Breach visibility and reporting is one of the most crucial points of the technical aspects of secure and safe processing of data,” advised Warburton. “Organisations must report a breach within 72 hours and yet sometimes, encrypted traffic can limit visibility into a breach, acting as a double-edged sword. Having a solution that can centrally decrypt this traffic – namely, SSL orchestrating architecture – and then send it off to different security appliance will improve our visibility for both attack and genuine traffic but also lets us sort out the solution accordingly.”

Conclusion

Simon McCullough, major channel account manager at F5 in South Africa, says, “As David Warburton points out, the GDPR legislation is pragmatic in terms of what it expects. Companies are required to consider the risks associated with their data, and have processes in place, including documentation. Company size is not a factor in whether you do or don’t comply – for example, a doctor could employ a staff of six and his practice could hold incredibly sensitive information, which absolutely requires him to be GDPR compliant. The concept of personal data protection is fascinating in its possibilities.”

Anton Jacobsz, managing director at Networks Unlimited, concludes, “The more the world’s population carries out activities online, the more important it becomes for individuals to have their data privacy. The key to GDPR is giving control of that privacy to the data subject – to the individual. The EU is trying to change the way that we think about protection of data – it shouldn’t be an after-thought, and we welcome the way that the EU is championing the importance of data privacy. The technological processes are challenging but most certainly doable with the correct partner.”

Staff Writer 

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Thomson Reuters expands sentiment data to track Top 100 Cryptocurrencies

Thomson Reuters expands sentiment data to track Top 100 Cryptocurrencies

Thomson Reuters expands sentiment data to track Top 100 Cryptocurrencies

Thomson Reuters has expanded its sentiment data offerings to track the top 100 cryptocurrencies through its partnership with MarketPsych Data LLC, a market leader in quantitative behavioral science. This new MarketPsych Indices (TRMI) package uses machine learning and natural language processing to measure a breadth of emotional and topical items across news and social media sites that may drive market participant behavior in cryptocurrency markets.

According to a Thomson Reuters survey released in April 2018, approximately 20% of financial firms indicated they are considering trading cryptocurrency over the next 3-12 months. However, providing trading insight to the cryptocurrency market is unique, as online communications and information flow are significant drivers of cryptocurrency values, in comparison to traditional financial services assets. Sentiment analysis of this market therefore often requires understanding the top cryptocurrencies at any given time, where individuals get their information, which digital platforms are used for communication, and how specific language or terms used may signify future trends (for example: FOMO, HODL, etc.).

Following the successful launch of bitcoin sentiment data in March 2018, Thomson Reuters has now created a dedicated TRMI Cryptocurrency Sentiment package (TRMI 3.1). TRMI 3.1 monitors more than 2,000 global news and 800 social media sites in real-time, yielding 43 themes and sentiments on the top 100 cryptocurrencies. Historical data dates back to 2009. To help identify the predictive value in this data, TRMI 3.1 is accompanied by visualization tools and a suite of quantitative research results developed by MarketPsych, including regression and cross-sectional rotation models, to help traders identify influential themes and more rapidly develop actionable strategies.

“The Thomson Reuters cryptocurrency survey revealed a shift in the market, with cryptocurrencies gaining some mainstream acceptance and financial institutions looking to start trading them over the coming months,” said Pradeep Menon, Managing Director, Global Head of Investing and Advisory, Thomson Reuters. “Adding a cryptocurrency-focused sentiment feed to our suite of cross-asset solutions has therefore enabled us to provide our customers with invaluable insights that may help them make strategic investment decisions.”

TRMI 3.1 is part of the comprehensive suite of cross-asset solutions and end-to-end trading insights that Thomson Reuters is delivering to customers for both traditional and emerging asset classes like cryptocurrencies. Earlier this year, Thomson Reuters introduced cryptocurrency trading capabilities on Thomson Reuters REDI, its execution management system, allowing users to trade CBOE and CME Group Bitcoin futures with full price discovery and charting capabilities. REDI is interoperable with Eikon’s pre-trade content and functionality that supports an integrated and seamless trading workflow. Thomson Reuters currently provides prices for various cryptocurrencies via Eikon, and new Cryptocurrency Real Time Rates are accessible via Elektron Data Platform and through a customized API on Eikon.

 

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger

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