Nerd academy programme launches in the Karoo

Nerd academy programme launches in the Karoo

Nerd academy programme launches in the Karoo

A nerd alert has been issued by the Karoo Tech Hub, an initiative run by video production company in collaboration with

With an estimated 45% unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape, the tech hub has launched a free programme called the Nerd Academy aimed to uplift the platteland community.

By offering online studying opportunities and training in terms of pitching to foreign businesses, Priscilla Kennedy, founder of, says that the Nerd Academy is one way that the jobless are able to find new and seemingly improbable ways to solve unemployment in the Karoo.

“Education at university level is not always possible for families in the Karoo. It places untenable pressure on the family, and if in rare cases they do complete a course, finding a job is near impossible. The Nerd Academy is one way in which we can assist to upskill unemployed people of any age, and then assist them to market themselves successfully,” says Kennedy.

She says that the programme caters for technical as well as creative skill sets. Creatively driven individuals often don’t believe there are viable careers available and part of the Nerd Academy approach is to assist those who display creative potential to find a way to build a career using that same talent: “We are currently working with three young people who are good at drawing, so we are coaching them to become storyboard sketch artists, while also putting them onto Photoshop and other design courses, with the ultimate goal being animation.” and predominately service international clients from Somerset East and are encouraging participants from the Nerd Academy to pursue careers working with international companies while based in the Karoo. A rising global trend, these candidates would become part of the Gig Economy, a new approach that is growing the number of self-employed freelancers worldwide. “We believe in earning dollars, spending rands”, says Kennedy.

“Independent workers are on the increase, alone advertises over 10,000 jobs for ‘medium-skilled’ projects, while writing and content creation lists nearly 33,000 opportunities. By turning our Karoo Tech Hub into a Tech Campus we can assist in developing the right skills and then empowering these individuals to canvas for work across Europe, the United States and Asia,” says Kennedy.

Believing in earning Dollars and spending Rands, Kennedy says works with over 400 global brands and majority of the roles they have fulfilled have been fully trained without any previous experience. She says that using this as a backdrop, the Karoo Tech Hub has already assisted in uplifting more than 20 individuals: “The model works and we are working towards making it more sustainable. We have experience and are passionate about transferring our skills and creating a pipeline of talented youth with sought-after skills in project management, online marketing, pitching, brand management as well as basic English and computing skills.”

The Nerd Academy was recently visited and endorsed by Athol Trollip, Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay.

Quoting the initiative as ‘mind-blowing’ Trollip was impressed by the Nerd Academy: “Visiting in Somerset East has been mind-blowing. These guys are creating jobs from this small Karoo town where smart local talent is conducting online international business. They are bringing money and opportunity into the platteland. Well done.”

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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EARTHLOCK demo now available on Steam

EARTHLOCK demo now available on Steam

EARTHLOCK demo now available on Steam

Indie studio Snowcastle Games announced the release of a free EARTHLOCK Steam demo for PC and Mac players.

Available through the EARTHLOCK Steam page, the demo allows players to explore the beautiful surroundings of Umbra, a harsh planet that stopped spinning thousands of cycles ago. Inspired by the classic 3D Japanese RPGs of the late 90s, EARTHLOCK boasts a fresh spin on turn-based combat and character progression. Players enter a beautiful world haunted by a fateful past and join a party of unlikely heroes on their journey to rescue Amon’s uncle from an ancient cult. Only then might they uncover the secrets of EARTHLOCK.

“Since launching on Steam, we’ve had multiple request from the adventure RPG community to release an EARTHLOCK demo,” said Bendik Stang, CEO at Snowcastle Games. “In the try before you buy demo, all progress that you have made in your two hour playthrough automatically transfers over to the full game. You’ll able to take off right where your demo finished.”

EARTHLOCK takes the rich, linear story and turn-based combat of JRPGs and presents a gorgeously realised, unique world, rich with history and lore. Battles are challenging, highly strategic affairs, whilst the game’s extensive crafting and perk system is crucial to success. The demo puts players in control of 6 different characters across its run-time, guiding them through the early stages of character building and team management. You begin playing as Ive, accompanied by her storm dog, Taika, before taking control of Amon and a few other unforgettable characters, each with their own unique abilities.

Watch the launch trailer below:

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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African businesses benefit from late mover advantage in the cloud

African businesses benefit from late mover advantage in the cloud

Matthew Barker, divisional sales manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks.

Established information technology markets – like the UK, Europe and even South Africa – often take cloud computing for granted as the ideal platform for innovation and global expansion.

One reason could be that these markets gradually adopted cloud computing as and when their legacy infrastructure and budgets allowed them to. The slow creep of cloud into the organisation meant they could innovate in increments, perhaps starting with collaboration and then offering their services as APIs. Now, it’s just business as usual.

Cloud through new eyes

They say that if you want to rediscover the joy of something, you should watch a child experience it for the first time. Children don’t have preconceived notions about anything – they play and explore and are curious about how things work and how they can be manipulated to their advantage.

In a sense, Nigeria, Kenya and – to a lesser degree – South Africa, are the children experiencing the wonder of cloud computing for the first time. There’s no legacy infrastructure holding them back and, because cloud is more affordable and accessible than when established markets first dabbled in it, they can jump in with both feet and see how big of a splash they can make.

This was one of the key findings of Cloud Africa 2018, a research project we conducted with World Wide Worx across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year, where we asked decision-makers at 300 medium and large organisations about their cloud computing usage, benefits and intentions.

While the full benefits of cloud have not yet arrived in these markets, the fact that they can leapfrog traditional technology means they’re seeing an instant impact from their cloud investments – and Nigeria seems to be making the biggest splash.

Positive impact

Even though Nigeria was late in its cloud uptake, 100% of respondents report seeing a positive impact on innovation and brand perception. This isn’t surprising, considering the two are closely related.

In Nigeria and Kenya, businesses use the cloud to overcome obstacles that get in the way of efficiency. These obstacles are usually caused by infrastructure challenges, which are the enemy of innovation. But, with the cloud, they can break down technology barriers, improve integration and, essentially, pick and choose from a menu of digital services to build entirely new infrastructures with the ability to scale.

So, it’s also not surprising that business efficiency and scalability were ranked as the most important cloud benefits in these markets, with 80% of respondents in Nigeria and 75% in Kenya selecting it as an advantage.

Africa vs the world

It was fascinating to see how vastly different the South African market was in terms of cloud computing benefits, compared to Kenya and Nigeria. In South Africa, which has a more mature IT landscape, organisations tended to focus more on what their competitors were doing than on what they themselves were doing.

While Nigeria and Kenya placed massive importance on innovation in the cloud, South African businesses regarded it more as a platform for global expansion, with the most important benefit being speed of deployment of new products and services, as cited by 68% of respondents. In contrast, only 48% of companies in Kenya and 28% in Nigeria named this as a key benefit.

It seems that, for now at least, organisations in Kenya and Nigeria are focused on getting their infrastructure and customer service right in their home markets before considering global expansion – fewer than one in five Kenyan organisations and one in 10 Nigerian organisations are even considering taking on the world.

One step at a time

Here’s the conundrum from the study: while Nigerian respondents were unanimous in their use of cloud to innovate, the one area were all three countries were level was in using the cloud as a platform for service innovation, which came in exceptionally low, at around 15% across all markets. This was despite all three markets reporting a high impact on the customer experience, ranging from 81% in South Africa to 96% in Nigeria.

The cloud has made it easier than ever to gather information about customers, to understand how they use a product or service and to offer them more relevant products and services. This is what service innovation is all about. Yet, none of the markets surveyed saw this as a major benefit yet.

Unlike in established markets, where customer experience is closely tied to service innovation, in Africa, customer service appears to go hand-in-hand with brand perception. In these markets, customers and organisations are not yet fully benefitting from the likes of the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, and still find services like mobile integration novel.

With the rapid advancement and uptake of cloud in these markets – which has seen cloud use more than double from less than 50% of organisations using it in 2013, to pervasive use in 2018 – we expect these benefits to look vastly different five years from now. This is especially true as more services become available exclusively through the cloud, with no option to use them on-premises.

If they want to stay relevant and expand outside their borders, African organisations have little choice but to be disrupted. But, with the late mover’s advantage, they won’t be making the same mistakes established markets made in their journeys to the cloud and they’re already reaping massive benefits.

By Matthew Barker, divisional sales manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks

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SqwidNet launches  Universities Challenge in South Africa

SqwidNet launches Universities Challenge in South Africa

SqwidNet launches Universities Challenge in South Africa.

SqwidNet, the licensed SIGFOX IoT network operator in South Africa, has on Wednesday, 25 April 2018, announced the launch of its new technology competition for university students across South Africa. The challenge will kick-off on 25 April, with entries being accepted until 25 July 2018.

This nationwide competition has been designed to challenge students to develop and create innovative projects focused on building solutions that make use of SqwidNet / SIGFOX technology. The applications of IoT have been seen in a number of industries and SqwidNet would like to see young South African minds using this technology to address African socio-economic problems.

According to Phathizwe Malinga, Acting CEO of SqwidNet, “statistics show that the IoT market opportunity for the Middle East and Africa region is poised to grow by 10% CAGR from $85.1 billion in 2017 to $114.4 billion by 2020. Meaning – the market is ripe with opportunities and these young students and graduates from across the country are welcome to submit the ideas for their projects focusing on environmental and animal protection, energy, health, transportation, and any other areas of sustainable development.”

All qualifying entries will be afforded the opportunity to have their designs seen by SqwidNet partners, with the possibility of commercialising successful solutions. In addition, SqwidNet will offer participants access to their entrepreneurship programme, (IOT)E. The participants will also be given the opportunity to register as a SIGFOX University Partner, which will give them access to dedicated content.

Winners will be announced on 01 August 2018, with the winning entry standing to win cash prizes for their team and institution faculty. The winners will also get a chance to present their design in IoT Valley in Toulouse, France. All participants will be provided with hardware and software development kits, free access to SqwidNet’s IoT network and API access, and mentoring /support both from SqwidNet’s South African team, in relation with the Sigfox Adoption & Evangelisation team.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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As AI shapes the Future of Work, employers focus on human skills

As AI shapes the Future of Work, employers focus on human skills

As AI shapes the Future of Work, employers focus on human skills.

After years of talking about disruption, executives are determined to turn talk into action. According to Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age, 88% of companies in South Africa have innovation on their core agenda this year and 96% are planning organisation design changes. At the same time, employees are seeking control of their personal and professional lives, with 62% asking for more flexible work options. As the ability to change becomes a key differentiator for success in a competitive global climate, the challenge for organizations is to bring their people along on the journey, especially as the top ask from employees is for leaders who set clear direction.

“This year we saw palpable excitement from executives about shifting to the new world of work. They are pursuing an agenda of continuous evolution – rather than episodic transformation – to remain competitive,” said Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business. “They recognise that it’s the combination of human skills plus advanced digital technology that will drive their business forward.”

In pursuit of new technologies, executives must focus on the “human operating system” to power their organisation. Mercer’s study identified five workforce trends for 2018: Change@Speed, Working with Purpose, Permanent Flexibility, Platform for Talent, and Digital from the Inside Out.

Change@Speed: How companies prepare for the future of work depends on the degree of disruption anticipated. Those expecting the most disruption are working agility into their model and placing bets on flatter, more networked structures (36% are forming more holacratic work teams). Placing power in the hands of individuals makes it critical to build capacity and readiness early. However, HR leaders feel less prepared to reskill existing employees (46% are confident that they can do this well) than to hire from the outside (57%).

As more than half of South African executives predict at least one in five roles in their organisation will cease to exist in the next five years, being prepared for job displacement and reskilling is critical for organizational survival. Yet, only 48% of companies are increasing access to online learning courses and even fewer (32%) are actively rotating talent within the business.

Working with Purpose: Three-quarters (75%) of thriving employees globally, those who feel fulfilled personally and professionally, say their company has a strong sense of purpose. To find purpose, employees crave movement, learning, and experimentation. If not received, they will look for it elsewhere – 39% of South African employees satisfied in their current job still plan to leave due to a perceived lack of career opportunity. In addition to purpose, the new value proposition includes health and financial wellbeing. Employees on average spend almost 11 work hours per week worrying about financial matters, yet only 36% of companies have policies in place to address financial health. Fairness in rewards and succession practices are also top of mind – only 42% of employees say their company ensures equity in pay and promotion decisions. “Organisations that help employees worry less about basic security needs and invest more energy on their career aspirations will be rewarded with a workforce that has more pride, passion, and purpose,” said Bonic.

Permanent Flexibility: Individuals are vocal in their expectations of work arrangements that put them in control of their personal and professional lives. Employees want more flexible work options, and organisations are listening – 82% of executives view flexible working as a core part of their value proposition. Only 4% of executives consider themselves industry leaders when it comes to enabling flexibility and 43% of employees fear that choosing flexible work arrangements will impact their promotion prospects. “The lack of flexible work arrangements hurts women and older workers disproportionally, leading to absenteeism, lower energy levels, and burnout,” said Bonic. “As the skills gap widens and human competencies become more important, making sure that a diverse pool of talent can participate in the workforce at all life stages is both a business and a societal imperative.”

Platform for Talent: Given 90% of executives expect an increase in the competition for talent, organizations realize they must expand their talent ecosystem and update their HR models for a digital age. The time is now – nearly one in three companies plan to “borrow” more talent in 2018 and 81% of employees would consider working on a freelance basis. “Gaining greater access to talent through a broader ecosystem is part of the solution. Companies also need to deploy talent faster and with precision to unlock the potential of their workforce,” said Kate Bravery, Global Practices Leader in Mercer’s Career business. “Adopting a platform mentality to talent requires a radical mindset shift, embracing the notion that talent can be accessed for the benefit of all rather than ‘owned’ by one manager, department, function, or even organisation.”

Digital from the Inside Out: Despite improvement over last year, companies lag on delivering a consumer-grade experience – only 16% consider themselves a digital organisation today. While 66% of employees say that state-of-the-art tools are important for success, less than half (47%) say they have the digital tools necessary to do their job and only 44% have digital interactions with HR. Executives are starting to put this on their agenda, reporting that enhancing the employee experience would have the most significant impact on business performance this year. Business leaders are confident in HR’s ability to be a strategic partner in setting the course for the future, with 72% of executives reporting that HR aligns people strategy with the strategic priorities of the business. “In turbulent times there is a tendency to hold on to the rafters. Intuitively, we know success involves riding the crest of change and this requires a healthy risk appetite and a willingness to break and re-make talent models,” said Bravery. “When we are living digitally, working flexibly, and being rewarded uniquely, we will unlock growth in the Human Age.”

Mercer’s study shares insights from over 7,600 senior business executives, HR leaders, and employees from 21 industries and 44 countries around the world. The report assesses the new drivers of the future of work, identifies critical disconnects concerning change, and makes powerful recommendations to capture growth in 2018.

“Given the heightened focus on innovation and skills development, we find that most HR teams, especially in the emerging economies, recognize the need for a “build” strategy to drive growth. We will see an increasing number of organizations investing in online learning technologies as a way to raise their collective digital competence. The concept of “managing a pipeline of talent” is wearing thin; a platform approach offers an aspirational alternative by creating skill demand that aligns with where the business wants to be in the future.” added Puneet Swani, growth markets business leader for Mercer’s Career business.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Creating an e-learning strategy that works

Creating an e-learning strategy that works

Creating an e-learning strategy that works

In a fast-paced digital world, the adoption of technology devices in African schools is at an all-time high.

With education being a key foundation for Africa’s development, progress has been made over the past decade and according to a recent report by Ambient Insight, Africa has the highest growth rates in e-learning in the world.

Despite the progress, there is still a need for careful consideration in the implementation of e-learning strategy in schools. Factors including; costs, internet access, connectivity, availability of locally developed content, online curricula and even training and professional development are some issues that need to be accounted for.

For South Africa, Gauteng’s Education MEC (Member of the Executive Council), Panyaza Lesufi has begun building a socially cohesive education system; introducing smart paperless classrooms to ensure that all learners and teachers have progressive access to innovative learning and teaching tools which will enable learners to meaningfully participate in the economies of the future.

The Department conducted a province wide ICT Audit to identify resources and interventions required in schools to support the use of ICT to attain effective teaching and learning. Based on these findings and the province’s e-learning strategy, the department plans to develop a fully costed business case to secure the necessary resources for successful rollout.

Unpacking this topic and giving in-depth insight is the Education Innovation Summit set to take place on 31 May 2018 at the Hilton, Sandton in Johannesburg, South Africa. The summit will provide discussion topics about cutting-edge education technology challenges facing the industry today. Moreover, the summit will explore technology innovations that will enhance teaching and learning in academic institutions.

Key topics to be discussed:

• How assistive technology is changing special education.
• Overcoming barriers to tech adoption in education.
• Change management: administrators and educational technologies- narrowing the divide.
• Fostering creativity through introducing design thinking to the educational process.
• Practical challenges of digital learning: getting the balance right for future-thinking.
• Transforming education: the power of ICT policies.
• Navigating the road blocks to innovation in education.
• Transforming Education: The power of ICT Policies.
• Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education.
• Innovation in Education: what works, what doesn’t, and what to do about it?
• ICT Integration in Education – Incorporation for Teaching & Learning Improvement.
• Creating an e-learning strategy that works.

Speakers at this year’s event include:

• Riaan Van Der Bergh, Technology Manager Education Lead, FEDSAS
• Anele Davids, Director, Ict And Teacher Development, Sci-Bono, Discovery Centre
• Dr James Keevy, Ceo, Jet Education Services
• Michelle Lissoos, Managing Director, Think Ahead Education Solutions
• Michele Botha, Assessment Specialist: Primary Schools: Independent Examination Board (IEB)
• Prof Duan Vd Westhuizen, Professor: Learning Technologies, University of Johannesburg
• Tom Parry, Co-Founder and MD South Africa, Instill Education

For more information regarding the summit, visit: />
Sponsorships & Exhibitions:
[t]: 011 026 0981/2 [e]:


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Nokia launches cloud data center solution for the 5G era

Nokia launches cloud data center solution for the 5G era

Launch expands Nokia 5G Future X and AirFrame portfolio to deliver a layered data center architecture allowing operators to efficiently manage all data demands

Nokia has launched the industry’s first Edge Cloud data center solution to meet the stringent and diverse low-latency data processing demands of Cloud RAN and advanced applications for consumers and industries.

The Nokia AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure expands the Nokia AirFrame portfolio to deliver a layered network architecture that optimizes performance and operator costs as they evolve their networks and prepare for 5G.

The AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure has been developed for the 5G era, as the next generation wireless technology will create opportunities for operators to support advanced applications for consumers and industries, such as virtual and augmented reality video and real-time industry automation. Technologies such as Cloud RAN will be key to deliver on the 5G promise of ultra-low latency and massive data throughput, and will need to be supported by a highly efficient cloud infrastructure solution.

To balance costs and functionality, 5G will encourage operators to implement a layered cloud architecture. This will include centralized and regional data centers as well as high-processing capabilities deployed at the network edge – closer to where traffic is generated and where space is traditionally limited.

The Nokia AirFrame Open Edge server, which will begin shipping during the third quarter of 2018, extends the Nokia AirFrame data center solution portfolio to make these edge deployments a reality. Designed in an ultra-compact size for deployment even at base station sites, the Nokia AirFrame open edge server will meet the most stringent end-customer data demands. Nokia’s comprehensive portfolio of AirFrame data center solutions enables operators to optimize network resources and intelligently distribute workload across the network, based on the type of data traffic as well as latency and throughput needs.

The hardware solution is complemented with a real-time, Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV)-compatible, OpenStack-distribution built to run in small data centers while providing the performance and low latency required by the edge environment. In addition, Nokia cloud-wise services and Cloud Collaboration Hubs will help operators successfully plan and execute their edge cloud deployments.

Dimitris Mavrakis, Research Director at ABI Research said: “The requirement for edge computing in telecom networks is rapidly changing, as use case, application and 5G requirements continuously increase. Nokia’s AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure distributes established AirFrame capabilities to the edge and offers a graceful introduction of edge computing. Its orchestration and feature compatibility with existing Nokia products will provide for a lower friction transition to a distributed environment.”

Dan Rodriguez, Vice President, Data Center Group; General Manager, Communications Infrastructure Division at Intel, said: “The edge cloud is an integral part of 5G network architecture, bringing more processing capabilities closer to where data is generated and consumed. Nokia’s new AirFrame open edge solution is built on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, which offer the needed balance of compute, I/O and memory capacity for the edge cloud to work seamlessly across the wide range of workloads deployed on the edge. With AirFrame, Nokia and Intel are bringing the performance and capabilities of Intel architecture-based cloud data centers to the edge to deliver the optimal end user experience for 5G deployments including virtual reality, augmented reality and industrial automation.”

Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “The edge cloud will play an essential role in delivering the compute power required for 5G. By expanding our AirFrame and 5G Future X portfolio we can provide a network architecture that meets the needs of any operator and their customers. Used with the Nokia ReefShark chipset and our real-time cloud infrastructure software, the Nokia AirFrame open edge server will deliver the right decentralization of 4G and 5G networks. We can work with operators to ensure that data center capabilities are deployed exactly where they are needed to manage demands as they expand their service offering.”

Edited by: Neo Sesinye
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Digital Identity: Defining ourselves in a virtual world

Digital Identity: Defining ourselves in a virtual world

SAP Africa’s Head of Innovation and South Africa’s Mars One candidate, Dr Adriana Marais

For four billion years, the genetic code has been life’s data store- containing not only instructions for but also the lineage of all terrestrial life. Over the past few hundred thousand years, a new species has emerged, one that is rapidly and inexhaustibly producing huge volumes of data of their own: humans.


A brief history of humanity’s data affair

We have observed the world and made sense of it through language for as long as we’ve existed. Armed with the technologies we developed, we peered inside atoms and learned something about the behaviour of the fundamental particles including electrons and photons that we have found there. Developing capabilities to manipulate collections of these units of electricity and light has led to a series of technological revolutions that has had a fundamental impact on how we store, analyse and communicate information about our world.

The network of networks, the Internet, has evolved over time from a range of contributing developments by mathematicians, scientists and engineers. In each decade from the 1940s inventions included the transistor, the computer, computer networks, remote access to computing power, software and documents, and finally by the mid-1990s, commercial service providers ensured increasingly global connectivity. Near-instant text and audio-visual communication, and the emergence of social media and online services across industries, have vastly transformed our society in a remarkably short space of time.

The benefits of increased connectivity come with the associated risk around how the information that we create, communicate and store can be intercepted, sometimes with malicious intent. Cryptography is the ancient art of achieving confidentiality by transforming a message such that is only intelligible to someone in possession of a key. Since the emergence of the Internet, a multitude of algorithms for data security have been developed, and global standards for encryption protocols provide some level of communications security over our computer networks.

Just months after the financial crash of 2008, the first digital currency to employ cryptography to solve the problem of double-spending without the requirement for a central trusted third party was proposed. That currency was Bitcoin, now valued at over USD 100 billion, and one of over 1000 different crypto-currencies. The technology underlying this decentralised capability is a distributed ledger, or blockchain. Transactions are recorded in blocks that are linked and secured by cryptography, these records are verified and stored across a network making the ledger resistant to modification.

The really interesting part is that blockchain, this combination of capabilities in computing, connectivity and cryptography, has applications not only in the financial world, but in any transactional environment, including for a decentralised personal data management system that ensures users own and control their data.

Ups and downs: the risks of exponential data

As of this year, the digital world’s data content is estimated at billions of terabytes, or zettabytes, 90% of which has been created since 2016. Information is an increasingly valuable commodity, and its acquisition, analysis and trade plays an important role across industries. And with one quarter of the world’s population using Facebook every month in 2017, a lot of this data is personal.

The rise of social media has led to new conceptualisations and discussions around identity, as we build representations of ourselves online. On the other hand, information about ourselves that we did not intend to be shared or distributed is also contributing to our digital profiles. Any organisation with stores of personal data can be hacked, be negligent, or even sell this data to external parties for profit, resulting in outcomes that range from spam to identity theft.

In 2013 and 2014, three billion Yahoo! accounts were hacked in what was the highest-profile digital identity breach at the time. In South Africa, more than 30 million identity numbers and other associated financial information was leaked online only last year. Regulators have been swift in their response: personal data protection regulations such as the European GDPR or South African POPI Act carry severe penalties to companies who act recklessly or even negligently with personal data.

Stunning revelations surrounding Facebook’s sharing of up to 87 million members’ data to a third party in the service of the last US presidential election has caused shockwaves across the world, wiping $100-billion off its market capitalisation and leading some analysts to speculate around fines that could amount to $2-trillion – 100 times larger than the biggest corporate fine in history.

One definition of personal data is an economic asset generated by the identities and behaviours of individuals, and the monetisation potential of its (mis)use is astounding. Services like messaging, search and navigation may appear free to use, but they actually come at a cost: your personal data, or perhaps more aptly called your consumer data. Because as has been said, if you’re not paying, you’re not the customer; you’re the product. The question of how to verify, secure and manage identity and personal data online is more pertinent today than ever before.


The strongest link in the (block)chain

Identification provides a foundation for human rights. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot officially prove their identity, and we simply don’t know how many of the world’s more than 200 million migrants, 21.3 million refugees, or 10 million stateless persons have some form of identification. The World Bank estimates that 78% of these unidentified people are from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The recent Blockchain Africa Conference in Johannesburg brought together like-minded innovators. Global Consent, based in Cape Town, is one such local player doing exciting things in the identity space. Consent is developing a blockchain-based trust protocol to independently authenticate identity and selectively exchange personal information. Consent is also the first Sovrin steward in Africa. Sovrin is the world’s first publicly available distributed ledger dedicated to digital identity. The code base of Sovrin is part of the open source Hyperledger project, which is governed by the Linux Foundation and backed by corporates including SAP, IBM, NTT and Intel. The infrastructure for ensuring consensus, security and trust around identity transactions on the Sovrin network is provided by globally distributed stewards like Consent, who independently own and operate nodes on the network.

Blockchain has impressive applications in a transactional environment, in this context enabling individuals to own and control their identities online in a decentralised personal data management system where records are verified and stored across a network making the ledger resistant to modification. Like any network, the strength of a blockchain-enabled personal data management system depends in part on its size. And given the size of the problem of personal identification in Africa, both online and off, we can look forward to ongoing discussion and adoption of technologies like blockchain to meet this challenge going forward.

So… Developments in computing, connectivity and cryptography, have resulted in blockchain, the technological confluence of the three, with exciting applications in identification and securing personal data online. However, we live in the physical world, and biometric data will need to support the initial registration of an individual on such a system. A candidate for advanced biometric identity verification is a naturally occurring structure, which could also be the future of data storage, with a remarkable 700 terabyte capacity per gram- the ultimate unique identifier.

This structure is the DNA molecule, and despite significant achievements like determining its structure and sequence, science continues to grapple with the computational complexity of understanding life. The role of large portions of determined sequences remain a complete mystery. Life, and in particular humanity, is arguably the most mysterious phenomenon we have ever encountered, and we have a long way to go in terms of fully understanding ourselves. One thing we have arrived at, is a solution to taking back ownership of our identities in the digital world we are creating, through the compelling application of blockchain in the digital identity space.

by Adriana Marais, Head of Innovation at SAP Africa

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Connecting Africa: challenges and solutions for evolving networks

Connecting Africa: challenges and solutions for evolving networks

While fibre has revolutionised connectivity for billions of people across the world, working with fibre optics requires a different skill set than traditional copper cables.

As the world’s second largest and most populous continent, Africa offers an abundance of untapped resources, which is one of the reasons it has drawn attention from big tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon.

Yet until now, most of Africa’s half a billion mobile users have relied solely on cellular networks with operators hesitant to consider the longer-term investment of fibre to the home (FTTH).

The continent cannot exist on dated cellular networks alone; they must evolve to support emerging technologies, applications, and services. For businesses and people in Africa to thrive in our increasingly connected world, they need a reliable, sustainable, and affordable high-speed fibre network – and investors who are willing to implement it. While investment in the region has picked up considerably over the past decade, many challenges remain.

Fortunately, pre-connectorised solutions can help address many of the challenges including cost, diversity, and security, while quickly and efficiently building a strong fibre network.

“Removing the technical complexity from a large portion of the fibre network means that a larger pool of technical resources can be more speedily developed and made available,” says Rufus Andrew, Corning International Business Development Director, Africa. “This results in a faster rate of homes connected and a more cost-effective rollout. Revenues from potential FTTH subscribers can be realised much quicker, thereby improving the overall business case for the deployment of FTTH networks.”

Costs and investment

While fibre has revolutionised connectivity for billions of people across the world, working with fibre optics requires a different skill set than traditional copper cables. In contrast to copper, fibre must be spliced, and there is a lot of fibre to be spliced in rolling out an FTTH network. Splicing requires a lot of time and expensive equipment, and it also requires a significant amount of skill. Technicians trained in fusion splicing are unfortunately in short supply and those that have specialised in this field can be hard to source from different regions on a continent as large as Africa. An adequate number of experienced technicians can become even more difficult to source during major deployments.

Connectors however don’t require specially trained splicers. With pre-connectorised FTTH solutions, what was once a process only carried out by a skilled craftsman becomes as easy as screwing in a lightbulb. Unskilled technicians can use connectors to more quickly and efficiently connect households with fewer installation teams than before, and the process is less disruptive to residential customers. Since all components and equipment are assembled and tested in factory-controlled conditions, they are consistent and reliable and can stand up to tough environmental conditions, a critical factor for networks in Africa.

Pre-connectorised solutions are also flexible in design, which means each module can be easily upgraded or expanded. This flexibility allows for simple and cost-efficient scalability. And while pre-connectorised methods do require greater up-front costs than splicing, they break even and proceed to save money at a take rate of only 6 percent.

Diversity and Infrastructure

Africa is home to more than 3,000 ethnic groups that speak over 2,000 different languages, but this diversity extends beyond cultural and ethnic differences. Operators need to deploy their networks in all kinds of environments, from booming metropolises to isolated, rural towns where they may be faced with underdeveloped civil infrastructures.

As civil costs can account for up to 80 percent of an overall network build, it is essential to exploit existing infrastructure – so flexibility is key. Across the continent, a wide variety of methods are in use, from aerial to underground, deployed in ducts or buried directly in the ground … wherever installation was possible.

In rural regions especially, aerial deployment has been frequently used. Fibre can be deployed anywhere, but as digging becomes more and more expensive and disruptive, aerial installation is becoming the preferred option in the region. Drop cables allow operators to easily install, access, and upgrade these kinds of networks, and there is already a variety of flexible solutions available to fit any network configuration.

Environmental resilience

For a successful deployment, products must meet universal application standards and be able to withstand the harshest and most variable environments. Optical outside plant hardware typically has an IP68 rating, meaning it is dustproof and specified for use in water up to 1 metre.

However, telecommunications standards for hardened fibre optic connectors go a step further with Telcordia specifications for connectors (GR-3120) as well as closures and terminals (GR-771). These measures are especially important in a region that encompasses varying climates from arid desert to tropical monsoon climate, and many in between.


While environmental conditions are a huge consideration, the network and the installers deploying it must also be protected from outside security threats. Over the past several years, the fibre industry in Africa has been the target of crime, theft, and hijacking attempts – some even escalating to violence.

Since criminals recognise fibre splicing equipment as a valuable asset, installation teams are regularly put at risk as well as the equipment itself. The FTTH Council Africa has begun combating this problem by establishing an equipment database and opening a line of communication between all of the parties affected by theft.

Yet pre-connectorised solutions go even further by eliminating the need for fusion splicers and other expensive tools in the first place, reducing the incentives for criminals. Here’s another security benefit: pre-connectorised solutions can dramatically reduce – by half! – the total time technicians (and their equipment) spend in the field at each network access point.


According to reports from Research & Markets, the number of homes and premises passed by fibre has more than tripled since 2014 and is expected to continue growing. As the continent becomes more and more connected with reliable, high-speed broadband, it will become more attractive to foreign and domestic investors. But there are still hurdles to overcome.

Costs, diversity, and security are three issues that may deter investors from the region, but Africa offers significant opportunities for those willing to face the challenges. The key to success in this diverse and rapidly changing region is to embrace existing infrastructure and leverage new technologies that combat the shortage of skilled labour, while protecting equipment and installers alike.

Pre-connectorised solutions do all of the above. And with a slightly larger initial investment compared with traditional deployment methods, now operators can roll out high-speed broadband networks across Africa more quickly, safely, and profitably.

Edited by: Neo Sesinye
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South Park: The Fractured But Whole now available on Nintendo Switch

South Park: The Fractured But Whole now available on Nintendo Switch

South Park: The Fractured But Whole now available on Nintendo Switch

Ubisoft and South Park Digital Studios announced that South Park: The Fractured But Whole is available now on Nintendo Switch. Created, written and directed by Trey Parker and Matt Stone and developed by Ubisoft San Francisco, South Park: The Fractured But Whole is an outrageously offensive superhero adventure that players can now experience anywhere, anytime on the Nintendo Switch.

In addition to the base game, the first two pieces of add-on content, “Danger Deck” and “From Dusk Till Casa Bonita”, will be available for purchase either separately or as part of the season pass. The third piece of add-on content, “Bring the Crunch”, will also come to the Nintendo Switch when it releases this summer.

In The Fractured But Whole, crime is on the rise in South Park, and the streets have never been more dangerous. As the sun sets on the quiet Colorado town, terror, havoc, and chaos are unleashed as the seedy underbelly of the city comes alive. The town needs new heroes to come to the rescue. Eric Cartman seizes the opportunity to save the town and create the best superhero franchise ever, his own Coon and Friends, with himself, The Coon, as the leader.

In Danger Deck, players will be teleported to never-before-seen locations throughout South Park to fight enemy encounters custom-crafted by the Freedom Pals. These increasingly difficult encounters will test and push the limits of any superhero.

In From Dusk Till Casa Bonita, Mysterion’s sister is in trouble. She’s fallen in with the Vamp Kids of South Park, who have descended upon Cartman’s favorite restaurant, Casa Bonita. Players will need to fight darkness with darkness and embrace the new Netherborn class, which offers four new occult powers. Enter the battle alongside a new buddy, Henrietta the Goth.

South Park: The Fractured But Whole is rated PEGI 18.

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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