Google To Grant SA and Nigerian Startups $2.5 Million

Google To Grant SA and Nigerian Startups $2.5 Million

Google have commited to provide Africa with $20 million in NPO funding.

Google reaffirmed its commitment to their non-profit arm, Google.org, on Thursday by announcing that the company will provide nonprofit organisations with up to $50 million in funding. Out of this $50 million, $20 million has been set aside for African nonprofits to try and better prepare people for the coming shift in the nature of work which is likely to be brought about by new technological innovations.

The company also announced that initial grants of $2.5 million will be given to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula. The two startups have been identified to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in Nigeria and South Africa.

Nigerian startup Gidimo, which was created by mobile technology enterprise Gidi Mobile Ltd, is Africa’s first mobile learning and personal advancement platform. The startup is on a mission to inspire and enable Africans to achieve their personal advancement goals.

Siyavula on the other hand is a startup that enables educators to create, share, and adapt freely accessible and openly-licensed Open Education Resources (OERs) which are aligned to the South African school Mathematics and Science curricula. What makes this startup different to others is that unlike the vast majority of material which is under a traditional, restrictive copyright license, Siyavula material can be adapted to ensure cultural relevance or refreshed without incurring costs. In addition to the online, printable resources, Siyavula publishes a range of free Mathematics and Science textbooks.

“Our charitable arm, Google.org, is committing $20 million over the next five years to nonprofits that are working to improve lives across Africa.” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google, whilst speaking at a Google event in Lagos.

“We’re giving $2.5 million in initial grants to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. The grantees will also develop new digital learning materials that will be free for anyone to use.

“We also want to invite nonprofits from across the continent to share their ideas for how they could impact their community and beyond. So we’re launching a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5 million in grants”, he said.

Pichai concluded by emphasising that any eligible nonprofit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.

Staff Writer

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TSA: Why government needs to advance fintech agenda

Before the implementation of the Treasury Single Account policy (TSA) of the Federal Government in 2015, it was common practice for some commercial banks to use government funds in their coffers to purchase government debt instruments. By ‘ploughing back’ these funds into the short end of the government debt market, these banks made ‘quick profit’ at the expense of government.
Back then, it was impossible to say with absolute certainty what government was worth in terms of its deposits with the commercial banks. This was because even some federal universities had as many as 120 known bank accounts, while other accounts, with heavy balances, were kept under wraps. By mid-2015, it was estimated that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) operated as many as 17,000 bank accounts scattered across commercial banks. This complicated shadowy maze fuelled corruption, cost government N4billion monthly in account management fees, and resulted in unremitted funds, which often went unaccounted for.
 
With the implementation of TSA, the myriad of accounts was collapsed into one account, domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. In the last 22 months of the implementation of the policy, it has not only engendered greater transparency but government is better able to keep tabs on its income, thanks to the ingenuity of SystemSpecs’ Remita which is responsible for synchronising the funds into the single account. As of March 2017, the TSA had more than proved its mettle as it had efficiently handled government transactions to the tune of N7trillion.
But the implementation of TSA, which is also practised by countries like Sweden, Brazil, France, and the United Kingdom, has done more than boost accountability and transparency. It has also engendered ease of payment for government-related transactions, improved financial inclusion and drawn attention to the place of indigenous platforms in managing large-scale complex transactions.
In more developed climes, successes such as the one recorded by the TSA would most likely have inspired the authorities to make fintech start-ups play bigger roles in the financial services space either as entities distinct from or in collaboration with banks. For instance, in its latest innovative move, the Bank of England is giving fintech start-ups direct access to the UK’s Real-Time Gross Settlements systems (RTGS), the British equivalent of TSA.
According to Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, this is being done to stimulate competition and innovation in payment services. The British apex bank expects that the first non-bank or payment service provider will have access, subject to legislation making its way through parliament and coming into force, by 2018.
With the new development, tech companies will no longer have to go through selected banks and other providers for a settlement account with the Bank of England which allows them to transfer money between different institutions on behalf of customers. As a precondition for participation, however, fintech companies have to demonstrate compliance with an established risk management framework. This is the way to go even in Nigeria as this would further support financial stability through greater diversity and risk-reducing payment technologies. But what do we have instead? At present no one person in government is exactly a poster child for the TSA, except maybe the President and Vice President. Small wonder, then, that we have been witnessing pockets of defaults regarding remittances into the account by some government agencies since the president took ill.
Meanwhile, a World Bank paper suggests that the TSA “has become the international good practice to include as many government-controlled trust funds and Extra-budgetary Fund within the TSA as legally possible.
“The main argument is that the government is—or should be—considered to have the highest creditworthiness in the country, and that an alternative place to hold trust fund assets is thus sub-optimal. Indeed, many countries have laws which insist that certain trust assets can only be invested in government obligations.”
But there are cases in Nigeria where funds are still not remitted to TSA as and when due. Recently, a Federal High court in Lagos granted an interim order for seven commercial banks to remit the sum of $793million, allegedly hidden with them in violation of the TSA policy. The action of the agencies and banks directly undermines the success of the policy, even though some of the banks have made attempts to clear their names.
The Federal Government needs to push ahead with the TSA policy against all odds and enforce compliance amongst defaulting parastatals/private sector entities such as the NPA, commercial banks, NHIS, etc that have declined to remit funds in their custody. This is because if left unaddressed, these pockets of non-compliance could soon become a tsunami and ultimately undermine and destroy the policy completely.
Strong deterrents including appropriate sanction, through fines, suspensions and other measures should be applied on erring companies or government agencies that totally or partially flout TSA directives.
The bold and decisive implementation of the TSA policy is one of the major achievements of the Buhari led federal government. Even when pessimists feared that the policy would adversely affect the banking system, those fears have been proved wrong so far as the policy has resulted in massive savings for government.
There have been attempts to underscore the key gains of TSA for economic growth but the administration has to better communicate them to the Nigerian people. Certainly, TSA frees up more funds for developmental projects. However, World Bank literature suggests that there are eight other major gains from a well implemented TSA policy.
 
A well implemented TSA policy, according to the World Bank, ultimately improves appropriation control, reduces bank fees and transaction costs, improves operational control during budget execution, enables efficient cash management, facilitates efficient payment mechanisms, improves bank reconciliation and quality of fiscal data, lowers liquidity reserve needs and allows complete and timely information on government cash resources.
Most of these have been achieved through the Nigerian experience. And because of this success it behoves the government not only to strengthen the policy but also to see to it that other African countries adopt it. Because that is the logical thing to do to improve transparency on the African continent.
Ejiofor is a public affairs analyst based in Benin City

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ezTalks Meetings: Robust Video Conferencing & Web Conferencing

ezTalks Meetings: Robust Video Conferencing & Web Conferencing

ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd launched ezTalks Meetings a video conferencing software integrated with HD video conferencing.

Popular online video conferencing providers, ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd enables users to connect with individuals anytime anywhere. The company is dedicated to providing one-stop video conferencing solutions to make businesses of any size communicate and collaborate in a more productive and effective way.

ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd launched a video conferencing software that is integrated with HD video conferencing, screen sharing, remote control along with other robust features. The platform is applied extensively by all industries for online video meetings, presentations and webinars, etc. In the following, we will have a full review of ezTalks Meetings, exploring its key features and main advantages.

There are several robust features that come with this software, making it powerful and easy to use for you.

Key Features of ezTalks Meetings

1. Quick Access to Meeting

It is really easy to join a meeting using this amazing software. In fact, whenever an invitation is sent the customers to join the conference, they simply need to enter the meeting number along with their names and within just one minute they will be able to enter ezTalks Meetings.

2. Fantastic HD Video and Audio Quality

We are all aware of the fact that audio and video quality plays an essential role for any online conference and fortunately both of these are satisfied by ezTalks Meetings. As a matter of fact, 1920 * 1080p HD resolution is offered by the application, which provides awesome audio and video transmissions. However, it also offers other resolutions for you to choose one that will satisfy your requirements depending on your bandwidth.

3. Useful Screen Sharing

This is yet another feature that makes this software really outstanding by enhancing its productivity. You might want to present PowerPoint, PDF and Word files to your colleagues after working out a proposal draft, in order to get their ideas on finalizing them. All you will need is to start the incredible ezTalks Meetings, and then present your ideas to your co-workers and discuss with them. Also, you can find more screen sharing software for easy collaboration recommended by ezTalks.

4. Record the Conferences

ezTalks Meetings is capable of recording the whole meetings for you to check the details afterwards. After the conference is completed, you just need to click the “Stop” button and the video is going to be saved to your computer automatically. Following this, you can always send the video to the other participants whenever you feel like.

Although we do not have any idea regarding the maximum recorded time permitted, in case the meeting is quite long it will be saved automatically to different files. Therefore, ezTalks Meetings eliminates any reason to worry about the recording time.

5. Schedule Meetings

This amazing software makes it possible to organize a meeting beforehand and send an invitation to the participants. This will help to make sure that everybody has some sort of idea regarding the meeting beforehand. The organizer can also confirm those who are going to be the participants in the video conference.

When you click on “Schedule”, an email with the information regarding the meeting will be sent out to the participants. They will be able to understand everything regarding the conference by going through that email. You might select the participants from your “Contact” list or just enter any new email address directly.

6. Text Live Chat

Although it might appear that a video conferencing software will only require speaking face to face, sometimes text live chat is also required. It might happen that you need to send out several URLs or even text somebody in the conference privately without causing any disturbance to others. In that case, you need to text publicly or even privately to the participants.

7. Control Meeting Settings

Being the host of the conference, you have got the right to control it, lock it, mute anybody or even kick somebody out. Moreover, you can also use another person as a presenter when you require him to share the screen or the files from his end. All these features help to make ezTalks Meetings immensely popular at present.

Why ezTalks Meetings?
As a professional video conferencing solutions provider, ezTalks has made its software outstanding, ezTalks Meetings is one of them and it has increasingly gained popularity among business of all sizes. The software offers HD video conferencing plus unlimited meetings to remote colleagues, customers and suppliers. Irrespective of your devices, it is possible to connect to a video or audio conference call from a Mac, PC, Android or iOS gadget. Apart from these, there are still some other unique advantages of using ezTalks Meetings.

First, this breathtaking web conferencing software offers a free service with up to 100 participants, which makes it the first SaaS free service with such a large number of attendees in the market.

Second, since the service is absolutely free, you do not need to shell out any cash to try it out. In case you would like to have some more participants, there is the Premium plan available for you. This plan comes with different options for you to select, which is scalable to the growth of your business.

Last but not the least, ezTalks Meetings offers so many powerful features as we analysed above, but it has a relatively lower price. Besides its free service, the Premium plan is only starting at $12.99, with more robust video conferencing features than the Free plan. In this way, ezTalks Meetings is highly cost-effective, which is beneficial to enterprises, especially for startups or small businesses.

The review can be concluded by mentioning that ezTalks Meetings is undoubtedly one of the most effective and easy-to-use video conferencing applications on the market. This particular software will allow you to start or join a conference quickly and conveniently. Businesses of any level will absolutely enjoy a smoother communication and improved collaboration and by using ezTalks Meetings. If you are looking for any web conferencing tool, don’t think twice and go for ezTalks Meetings which will surely not disappoint you.

Staff Writer

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Yoco CEO, Katlego Maphai talks about empowering SME growth

Yoco CEO, Katlego Maphai talks about empowering SME growth

Yoco, CEO, Katlego Maphai.

South African fintech startup, Yoco has, in just over two years managed to offer a large number of businesses access to card payment facilities and their trading history online.

Yoco was founded by four friends, Katlego Maphai, Carl Wazen, Bradley Wattrus and Lungisa Matshoba who share a passion for technology and helping small business owners.

The company’s aim is to expand access to card payments to all types of SMEs, regardless of size, industry and even location. They offer mobile card readers that can be used to accept payments both at the store and on the go, with an application process that takes a few minutes online.

Yoco CEO and Co-Founder, Katlego Maphai says that in order for the SME sector to grow, financial institutions need to match the needs of small businesses, and it cannot remain business as usual because the very criteria set by financial institutions to manage risk when providing these services, are sometimes hindrances to access for small businesses.

IT News Africa interviewed Maphai to find out more about the growth of small businesses and how that could impact the economy.

1. With the growth of mobile penetration in Africa, how can small business owners leverage digital payment solutions?
Small business owners can do a number of things that will help them grow through electronic or digital payments. The advantages of digital payments are many. To give an example, payments solutions for SMEs aren’t just about the money, and should no longer be seen as a standalone aspect of a business. Payment solutions can help entrepreneurs mine marketing data, enhance customer satisfaction, help with forecasting and cut down on admin and costs.

Electronic payment solutions can also help small business owners to better manage their cash flows. Being in control of your cash flow as a small business owner ultimately gives you more control over your business. Not only can you pay your staff and suppliers on time, but you can make better decisions a lot faster and with more confidence.

2. How does accepting card payments or not accepting card payments affect SMEs?
Getting a card machine can often seem like a daunting task, especially for small and new businesses. Many entrepreneurs question if it’s worth their while, but once businesses start using them the benefits become clear.

Being able to process card payments can be the difference between success and failure for a business. Today’s customers prefer to pay by card and therefore don’t always carry cash. There are a few reasons for this, 1) it’s safer, 2) they can better track their finances, 3) cards are usually linked to loyalty programs, and 4) cards are convenient because one doesn’t need to queue at ATMs.

Also, customers usually spend more at your business when they’re paying with a card, which means you sell more. A study by Dun & Bradstreet found that customers spend 12 – 18% more when paying by credit card than when paying with cash. This is because paying by card means easier access to capital on the spot, which means it’s easier to spend money.

3. With so much success in South Africa, Is Yoco looking to expand further into Africa?
We believe that enabling card payments is transformative and we want to do that for African SMEs. Yoco operates in Cape Town and Johannesburg and we are planning to expand into the rest of Africa.

4. SMEs have the potential to contribute vastly to the economy, how is not being able to accept payments affecting this?
SMEs contribute close to 50% to GDP and drive around 60% of employment. However, due to their small size, fragmented nature and general unpredictability, they remain overlooked by large financial institutions because it hasn’t been economically viable to reach them from a cost and risk standpoint. The difficulty in accessing financial services for SMEs is a real impediment of growth for the sector.

Access to financial services for these businesses usually means survival or collapse of these businesses. A healthy SME sector is considered the cornerstone for reducing unemployment, increasing productivity in the economy and catalysing innovation.

The challenging economic environment in South Africa creates an opportunity for SMEs to play a vital role in resuscitating the country’s economy. SMEs are the future of commerce in South Africa and across the continent, and if not supported, we might not realise the South Africa we want to see in the future: a South Africa free of poverty and unemployment.

5. How has being listed as one of 250 most promising fintech organisations by Insight impacted Yoco?
We are grateful, and encouraged to work even harder for being recognised as one of the top 250 most promising fintech companies in the world, by global research company CB Insights. We were one of only five African fintech companies that made it onto this prestigious list, that means we are doing something right.

Fundisiwe Maseko

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Telkom introduces Unlimited Data and Voice

Telkom introduces Unlimited Data and Voice

Telkom today announced an overhaul of its fixed line product offering with the launch of Unlimited Home Internet and voice plans. (Image source: File)

Telkom today announced an overhaul of its fixed line offering with the launch of Unlimited Home Internet and voice plans.

For the first time, fixed line consumers are now able to choose their internet speeds and get uncapped data and unlimited anytime Telkom voice calls for free. This includes calls to over 6 million Telkom fixed and mobile numbers, and discounted calls to the top 30 international destinations.

In addition, consumers will also receive at least 1GB of mobile data per month, to stay connected while on the move.

Telkom has been taking a stand against the high cost of broadband for some time now with ground-breaking packages such as FreeMe and FreeMe Family mobile offerings and now Unlimited Home for fixed-line customers.

“South Africans want more affordable data and that’s what we are giving them. We are reducing the cost to communicate and making the internet more accessible,” said Telkom Consumer CEO Attila Vitai.

“Our FreeMe and FreeMe Family products gave South Africans the freedom they needed to communicate conveniently and cost-effectively. Unlimited Home extends our commitment to affordability to our fixed line customers too. We are at the forefront of reducing communication costs and Telkom has taken another big step to making the internet more accessible,” he said.

From 31 August, existing uncapped customers will automatically be upgraded to the new Unlimited Home Plans at higher speeds. Customers will be upgraded from 2Mbps to 4Mbps and from 4Mbps to 8Mbps or 10Mbps respectively. Customers will enjoy double the broadband speed and experience much higher fair use policy values with minimal price increases compared to current packages. Significant price reductions have been applied to the 20, 40 and 100Mbps Unlimited Home Plans.

The Unlimited Home plans entry level speeds will now be 4Mbps going up to 100Mbps on fibre. The service offers uncapped data, with the industry’s most generous fair use policy yet announced. The policy will apply only after at least 360GB have been downloaded on the 4Mbps service and 6000GB on the 100Mbps service. Data downloaded between 12 midnight and 7am does not count towards the fair usage policy, which further increases the value.

The packages, which are competitively priced by global standards, will open new unlimited gaming, streaming and downloading opportunities for South Africans for a standard monthly cost.

Staff Writer

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UNICAF – Study Programmes That Work for You

UNICAF – Study Programmes That Work for You

UNICAF’s tailored study programmes.

Studying a specific subject no longer means that you just read books and learn material by heart. For today’s graduates, not comprehending the deeper meaning and the practical application of the information received, can result in entering the job arena unprepared and overwhelmed.

UNICAF focuses on working together with the student, to convey knowledge in a way that transforms it into something the student can immediately apply in real life. UNICAF tutors prepare modern, tailor-made study material, which is being made available through UNICAF’s state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), using videos, podcasts, research articles, e-books, topic overviews and other interactive tools, which stimulate the interest of students and encourage them to search even deeper in their quest for knowledge.

Dr Leonidas Efthymiou, UNICAF Tutor and Instructional Designer has recently described the interactive nature of UNICAF’s VLE: “Contemporary education is about thinking, brainstorming, formulating and executing, either on your own or as part of a team. Our students are provided with the means of interacting, networking, co-producing, negotiating, managing and establishing beneficial relationships.”

UNICAF students are also being challenged with weekly formative tasks, which include quizzes, discussions, polls and team projects. This way, students apply the taught material in the practical setting of their place of work, and can experience first-hand the actual results. Tutors provide continuous and detailed feedback, which helps to further clarify questions and make the material better understood.

Unlike traditional face-to-face delivery, the interactive online platform enables every student to study at their most convenient times, without compromising on their other duties or roles they may have in their professional and family lives. All study material and all student and tutor contributions are available in the UNICAF VLE 24/7.

“The philosophy of our delivery strategy aims at simulating the work environment and at helping students improve their skills, understand complex new opportunities and challenges, and instill in them professional and personal readiness”Dr Efthymiou added.

Preparing students to apply the theory learned in a practical manner requires one step at a time. This is being achieved by UNICAF’s sequential learning modules approach, which allows students to complete a module before moving on to the next one.

If you would like more information about UNICAF and its online and practical delivery approach to learning visit:  

Staff Writer

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‘AI is not a buzzword’- GIBS

‘AI is not a buzzword’- GIBS

Businesses don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to plotting a course through this new AI-enabled business landscape.

Accenture and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) have launched a whitepaper on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to impact the macro environment. Themed “Responsible AI,” the whitepaper explores associated challenges and opportunities faced by organisations.

“There’s no longer any doubt that artificial intelligence has the ability to amplify growth for companies. So from a business point of view, it makes sense,” notes Rory Moore, Innovation Lead at Accenture and one of the report’s contributors. “But then you also need to keep ethics in mind and be socially responsible. In a market like South Africa, these issues are particularly prominent and pertinent.”

Given the fact that the traditional factors of production – capital and labour – are showing declining ability to drive economic growth, Moore notes, a new a new factor of production – AI – may provide the necessary kickstart.

Intelligent automation, labour and capital augmentation and innovation diffusion are all routes through which the technology has the ability to drive growth, the report explains. AI can both automate complex physical tasks and free up people from more mundane work to imagine, create and innovate.

Dr Jeff Chen, lecturer at GIBS and co-author of the whitepaper says, “AI is not a buzzword. These hyper-intelligent algorithms, coupled with innovative business models, will ineluctably change the customer dynamics and the modus operandi of many South African organisations.”

Prior research conducted by Accenture and referenced in the report notes that AI has the potential to boost rates of profitability by an average of 38 percent by 2035, double economic growth rates and lead to an economic boost of USD14 trillion across 16 industries in 12 economies by the same date. “Leaders across all sectors must work together to ensure their organisations can fully leverage the power of AI responsibly and promote inclusive growth of our nation,” Chen adds.

Critically, however, Moore notes that organisations need to adopt a people-centric mindset when thinking about applying AI. “South Africa is at an inflection point … if we get it (AI) right, there is an opportunity to stimulate growth.” While concerns regarding AI’s effect on unemployment should not be discounted, he explains, the technology also allows for the better deployment of human resources and the redirection of human intellect to more value-adding areas of business.

Further benefits of the application of AI in a business context include the generation of real-time insights, the formulation of foresight through predictive analytics, the automation of manual processes and the move from assisted intelligence to assisted alliances. Further AI-based opportunities identified by the authors include assistance to human decision making, the enablement of better business intelligence and improved customer-centrism.

Broader philosophical questions are also tackled by the authors, with questions such as ‘How do we distribute the wealth created by machines?’ and ‘How do machines affect our behaviour and interaction?’ addressed.

The clock is ticking, however. Businesses don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to plotting a course through this new AI-enabled business landscape, Moore says. “We need to start playing in this space now,” he emphasises. “We’ll lose out, if we don’t. The question is not ‘Are we going to use artificial intelligence? Rather, it’s how do we use it … and then move forward in an ethically sustainable manner?’.”

Staff Writer

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South Africa- Beware Of Fake Government Websites

South Africa- Beware Of Fake Government Websites

Mokgabudi Lucky Masilela,  CEO at ZICR. (Image source: ZICR)

Yesterday the ZA Central Registry sent out a warning to all South Africans to be on the look out for fake versions of South African government email addresses and websites. Alleged online fraudsters have been creating these fake sites in order to trick consumers into divulging sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or financial data in order to perpetuate tender-related scams.

Lucky Masilela CEO at ZA Central Registry said that the abuse within cyberspace has historically focused on the issue of cybersquatting. The latter refers to the registration of well-known company or brand names as Internet domain names with the intent to resell them at a profit.

Masilela added that “New forms of domain name abuse unrelated to commercial rights have started to become apparent. Amongst these is what is known as phishing where a domain name resembling, for example, a government department is registered with the possibility of conducting fraudulent activities.

The ZACR is a non-profit company that administers, amongst others, the .ZA Second Level domain name space with over 1.1 million domain names currently registered. Although the ZACR does not regulate website content of .ZA-registered domain names, it believes that these domain names under its administration can be used in creating these websites. As a good corporate citizen, ZACR feels duty bound to provide advice related to the safe navigation of the worldwide web. “Domain names are essentially the route markers in cyberspace and we are concerned about the increase in abusive registrations designed to lure unsuspecting consumers down the wrong path,” says Masilela.

This new phishing tactic, where fraudsters make contact with members of the public, usually via email in an attempt to direct them to fake versions of government websites, has been extensively reported in the media of late. “Members of the public should always double check the address of the website they are navigating to ensure they are interacting with a legitimate South African government website with a valid domain name ending with GOV.ZA,” Masilela explained.

To reiterate, legitimate South African government websites will always end in GOV.ZA, and not in CO.ZA, or any other domain name extension. There are strict eligibility criteria that must be met before a moderated domain such as GOV.ZA may be registered, which is not the case with domains like CO.ZA which are largely registered on a first-come, first served basis. An example of an illegitimate site is housing-gov.co.za.

As a rule, there is no human interaction when a domain name is created in an unmoderated namespace like CO.ZA. “Names are created within milliseconds and this virtually instantaneous way of registering new CO.ZA domains has been key to the continuing success of the flourishing local web and all the benefits that it brings,” Masilela explained.

It should be noted, however, that while CO.ZA domain name registration is a relatively fast, simple and straightforward process, there are rights protection mechanisms in place to assist companies and individuals to challenge abusive domain name registrations that infringe on trademark rights and/or constitute passing off. Passing off, in the domain name sense, is where a domain will closely resemble an authentic domain name in order to pass off the former as the actual and reputable brand owners.

“ZACR believes individuals and organisations should be vigorous in protecting their intellectual property rights in cyberspace in an effort to combat this unlawful and undesirable practice and will endeavor to render every assistance within the scope of its Registry Policy Framework in this regard,” Masilela said.

The public’s attention is also drawn to Section 77 of the ECT Act No. 25 of 2002 which could prove useful in cases where a fraudulent website is being hosted with a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) that is also an ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) member. Essentially, section 77 entitles anyone with a basis for an unlawful activity claim to lodge a ‘Take-Down Notice’ to an industry recognized Representative Body, such as ISPA, which has the power to request its member/s to remove the alleged unlawful content. According to ISPA, the leading category of notice is copyright and trademark infringement, followed by fraud, malware and phishing.

“The key to success will always be a vigilant and alert public. The abuse of domain names can largely be prevented if the public exercises the same degree of caution in the virtual world as they do in the real world,” Masilela concluded.

Concerned members of the public may also contact ZACR using the following address: abuse@registry.net.za

Staff Writer

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Racist email was fabricated – MiWay

Racist email was fabricated – MiWay

An investigation has revealed the email as a fake.

An investigation commissioned by Miway into a racist email conversation between the insurance company’s employees has found that the email was “a fabrication”. The email, which surfaced last week, was quickly circulated on social media and drew scathing reactions from the public.

The investigation was conducted by digital forensic lab Cyanre and their MD Danny Myburgh said “We can confirm, after a detailed investigation, that an e-mail sent from a MiWay employee was manipulated by an external source. The image circulating on social media is a fabrication.”

The email was reportedly fabricated by a disgruntled customer, who used his email correspondence with the insurance company to falsify the email.

MiWay CEO Rene Otto in a tweet on Wednesday said that the company welcomed further scrutiny of its report. “We welcome other forensic experts to come and verify our report after we’ve made contact with the originator of the fake email,” Otto said.

On releasing the forensic report, the CEO said, “To be fair, we have decided not to publish the report as yet. We want to provide the client with the opportunity to respond first,” he said. “Once we have received feedback, we will be in a position to elaborate on the way forward.”

Staff Writer

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Google to the rescue with new SOS Alerts function

Google to the rescue with new SOS Alerts function

Google has released an SOS Alerts function on Maps and Search.

Google has announced the launch of a new “SOS Alerts” feature for both Search and Maps. The new feature which is aimed at giving its users up to date information when a natural disaster or other crisis hits, will now feature at the top of  search results and in Maps when a user looks for information about an incident or an affected area.

This new feature is coming to Search on the desktop, mobile web and the Google apps for Android and iOS, as well as Google Maps for mobile. It will also only be created and curated by Google staff, and will not use automation.

Within Search, Google will show an overview of the situation, which will include maps, relevant news stories, emergency phone numbers (if available), websites and other relevant information. Google will also help those near a disaster by sending them notifications that direct them to all of this information.

In Maps section, Google will also pop up this information when relevant. Like in search results, Maps will show information about the event as well as relevant phone numbers and sites. In addition, users will also have access to real-time updates about road closures and transit changes.

The release of SOS Alerts sees the feature join Google’s existing suite of services for responding to crises, these include Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Map and Google Public Alerts.

Staff Writer

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