Students from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya got to experience Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London thanks to VR sets.
Students from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya got to experience Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery in London thanks to VR sets.
Africa is a region in which mobile telephony infrastructure is the mainstay for telecom services. In some markets up to 99% of voice and data connections are via mobile networks. This reflects the relative success of network deployments as much as the very poor condition of fixed-line infrastructure, which has suffered from neglect, under investment or destruction resulting from intermittent wars and civil dislocations. In a number of countries which remain war-torn or politically unstable – particularly in the Horn of Africa and in areas of Libya, the DRC, Cameroon and Burkina Faso – there are few inducements to extend fixed line services. Additional difficulties are the absence of reliable electricity and the low use of computers.
The size and range of the diverse markets within Africa have contributed to varied market penetration rates between countries. By early 2019 the highest mobile penetration was found in countries including South Africa (169%), Botswana (160%), Gabon (159%), and Mauritius (147%). To some degree high penetration reflects the popularity of consumers having multiple SIM cards despite efforts among most regulators to enforce measures by which operators must register SIM card users. These efforts are partly geared to removing dormant SIM cards from operators’ databases, and thereby providing a more accurate impression of market dynamics. There are also widely-held concerns among governments that crime, civil disturbances and terrorism can be facilitated or orchestrated via the use of mobile phones and that such activities can be curtailed by enforcing the registration of subscribers’ identities.
At the other end of the scale there are a number of countries in which far greater government direction, market competition and regulatory oversight are required for the local mobile markets to develop further. Some of the lowest penetration rates on the continent are in Madagascar and Malawi (both at about 35%), Chad and Djibouti (both at 41%), and Niger (49%). A number of other countries are notable for having suffered from considerable civil and economic disruption, including South Sudan and Eritrea (both at (11%).
The mobile market in Africa is almost entirely prepaid. Commonly, about 99% of all subscribers are prepaid since this offer a far more economically manageable means to gain access to voice and data services than does a contract plan. In addition, year-on-year a greater proportion of the continent’s population is able to afford mobile services, leading to a steady increase in the subscriber base. Affordability has been extended by the positive effects on pricing from market competition and by measures to reduce termination rates.
In addition, many countries have signed up to regional agreements aimed at reducing international roaming charges. Regional roaming initiatives reduce charges for customers, increase regulated traffic, and curtail grey traffic (the re-origination of long-distance calls). The East Africa One Network Area has been in effect since April 2016, while the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) came into play in December 2016. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) provides a similar agreement (signed in October 2017) among its 19-member bloc, stretching from Libya in the north to eSwatini (Swaziland) in the south.
While network operators have seen reduced revenue from roaming access, this has generally been recouped from a sharp increase in international traffic.
A few countries within Africa retain incumbent monopolies for the provision of services, while others have seen consolidation among players (largely due to operators such as Airtel and Tigo leaving certain markets, or the failure of some poorly managed enterprises). In sum, though, there is effective competition within the mobile sector across the region. This has also encouraged competition for services based on upgraded technologies, which in turn has encouraged investment. Africa remains the main region globally for m-money and m-banking services, for example, and while there is little focus on 5G deployments as yet there is considerable effort being undertaken to upgrade networks from 3G infrastructure to LTE. This process is uneven, since in many areas GSM remains the dominant technology. While MNOs are keen to invest in LTE and so capitalise on the revenue potential of mobile data services, they face difficulties related to the paucity of spectrum and delays in auctioning additional spectrum needed to extend services and upgrade network capacity.
The countries covered in this report include:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Department Heads Will Lead Business Development, Product, Finance and Marketing, Driving Opportunities for Product Enhancement, Partnership Growth
FanDragon Technologies, a leading provider of innovative SaaS-based secure mobile ticket delivery solutions, announced the hiring of five new executives to navigate company growth, strategic initiatives and product innovation.
To build out its business development, product development, marketing and finance units, FanDragon Technologies has hired:
“FanDragon Technologies has a unique opportunity to transform the ticketing business with our innovative blockchain-powered SaaS tools, but we know we need a strong team to effectively steer our products into the marketplace,” said FanDragon founding CEO Robert Weiss. “With proven leaders like Jim, John, Kenji, Ash and Gillian at the helm, FanDragon is poised for strategic growth that will add value and transparency to the entire ticket ecosystem – including venues, event organizers, ticketing software companies, and more. We’re excited about the future of FanDragon with this incredible team who can support our expansion.”
As Vice President of Product, John Marchesini will lead the product innovation team, focusing on developing FanDragon’s growing suite of SaaS ticket delivery solutions. Previously, Marchesini served as Vice President of Product and Engineering for CBS Television Distribution. Prior to CBS, he served as Director of Product for The Hollywood Reporter, leading his team to win its first Webby Award for best website. Marchesini also co-founded Blockchain Beach, a next-generation media company covering blockchain technology.
Jim Abel will be charged with expanding and creating new business opportunities for FanDragon Technologies as Head of Business Development. Abel will focus on building FanDragon’s sales team and executing effective go-to-market strategies for FanDragon’s innovative products across a wide variety of sectors including music, sports, cinema, theme parks, family entertainment, attractions, and fandom events. Abel has 15 years of executive sales and management experience. He previously served as Vice President of Audience Growth and Senior Director of Corporate Development at RockYou, a Silicon Valley-based media and tech company, where he identified, negotiated and closed multiple strategic partnerships and M&A transactions to accelerate growth.
Kenji Nightingale will lead all financial and accounting operations as FanDragon’s Vice President of Finance. Nightingale will work with the wider executive team to process and lead strategic initiatives that drive revenue and growth. Nightingale’s financial experience spans from small startups to Fortune 10 companies. Previously, he served as the Head of Finance & Accounting at Beautycon Media, and before that, led a team of financial professionals at Deluxe Entertainment and spearheaded DIRECTV’s OTT and Commercial businesses growth.
As Head of Marketing and Brand Strategy, Ash Steffy will lead FanDragon’s global marketing efforts and he will be responsible for all corporate communications, marketing partnerships, public relations and strategic branding across all media platforms. Previously, Steffy served as Vice President of Creative Services at Ovation TV, where he oversaw key initiatives for consumer marketing, advertising sales, affiliate sales, programming and corporate relations. Before that, he supervised marketing initiatives for the Disney-ABC Media Group. Earlier in his career, Steffy worked for the Directors Guild of America and Universal Pictures.
Rounding out the business development team as Manager of Business Development and Partnerships, Gillian Raikes will focus on building FanDragon’s partnership and customer pipeline and identifying additional strategic growth initiatives. Previously, Raikes was a fellow at Stanford University’s Effective Philanthropy Learning Initiative where she created tools and resources to aid in developing philanthropic strategies. She has also previously worked with KPMG East Africa and McKinsey & Company on large-scale public health and food security innovation projects in Kenya.
Additional product and company news from FanDragon Technologies will be announced in the coming weeks.
Austin, TX, Aug. 27, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)
Atlancis Technologies, headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first ICT (information and communications technology) services provider in Africa to embrace OCP. The company, which specializes in delivering ecosystem-transforming ICT solutions, has adopted open technology for its industry Cloud platforms, branded Servannah.
The founders of Atlancis (Toney Webala and Daniel Njuguna) had been closely following the deployment of OCP and its benefits to global hyper-scale companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft to deliver value, optimised performance, total and rapid scalability and ultimately competitive advantage. In developing scalable delivery of industry solutions they were excited about the opportunity to leverage these proven, efficient technologies in Kenya and across Africa.
In partnership with Vesper Technologies, an OCP Community member based in the UK, Atlancis were able to deploy their first fully self-service cloud instance. Vesper delivered a full-stack solution configured with Software Defined Storage (from Ceph) and Software Defined Networking (from Cumulus Networks), providing an environment built for automation and scalability. The initial roll-out included 27 nodes, 1080 Core’s, 5TB RAM, 2.4 Petabytes storage and high performance 100GB Top-of-Rack switching with redundant 25G links to each node.
Philip Kaye from Vesper Technologies commented, “Vesper are delighted to work with Atlancis, who are an extremely technical and forward-thinking company. We look forward to continuing to work with the team as their cloud platform expands across Kenya and Africa.”
“The Open Compute Project is the basis of our go-to-market strategies for transforming target industry ecosystems globally” said Dan Njuguna, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlancis; he continued, “our hardware design, inspired by OCP, gives incredible flexibility and scalability to allow us to respond to demand in the enormous markets we operate in, and to move quickly into new markets, be they industries or geographical.”
Atlancis sees several additional benefits to deploying OCP, among them, building and maintaining open technology in-country, using crowd-sourced local resources. To this end, Atlancis has been working with local Universities across Kenya to help develop talent that can compete in supporting the ecosystem needs of tomorrow with a special Outlining further OCP deployments in Africa, Njuguna said, “Our OCP-based Servannah Cloud solutions have been deployed in the Public Sector (“Huduma”) and Education (“iLearn”), as we develop further industries including Healthcare, Agriculture and Transport.”
See these technologies at the ITRenew booth at the upcoming 2019 OCP Regional Summit, to be held September 26-27 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Visit https://www.opencompute.org/summit/regional-summit to learn more and register.
Spanning Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia, Atlancis is a leader in open computing innovation on the African continent. Their tech-enabled industry solutions mediate technology complexities and industry’s needs of agile, affordable and sustainable solutions that scale geographies whilst addressing local context challenges.
ABOUT VESPER TECHNOLOGIES
Vesper Technologies is a systems integrator specialising in transformational data-center technologies. They provide innovative software defined solutions that reduce cost, scale freely and ultimately improve business agility.
They offer a consultative approach to ensure organisations outside of the hyperscale web giants can enjoy the benefits of OCP. They offer a turnkey service; starting with advice on the optimum configuration for a particular workload and ensuring that customers receive the best possible value using our vendor relationships and volume discounts. They build from their dedicated configuration centre; starting with server configuration and extending to full rack and network installation including application. They have extensive experience delivering and supporting solutions all over the world.
The Open Compute Project Foundation (OCP) was initiated by Facebook in 2011 with a mission to apply the benefits of open source and open collaboration to hardware and rapidly increase the pace of innovation in, near and around the data center’s networking equipment, general purpose and GPU servers, storage devices and appliances, and scalable rack designs. OCP’s collaboration model is being applied beyond the data center, helping to advance the telecom industry & EDGE infrastructure.
Find out more about you can participate in the OCP Community at: https://www.opencompute.org/
Step one: Drill holes in the skull. Step two: Implant “threads” into the brain.
Neuralink, one of Musk’s secretive companies, revealed the advance at a San Francisco event Tuesday, giving the public its first real peek at what the startup’s been up to since its launch two years ago. Neuralink has also created a neurosurgical robot reminiscent of a sewing machine, which can embed the threads — each much thinner than a human hair — in the brain.
So far, the threads have only been tested in animals, but Musk said he hopes to start testing in humans “by the end of next year,” a timeline that seems unrealistically ambitious. He’ll need to get the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first, which promises to be a complicated feat: The current procedure for implanting the threads requires drilling holes in the skull.
If he succeeds in getting FDA approval, it’ll likely be because he’s pitching the advance as a technology meant to address a medical condition: paralysis. The idea is that the threads will read neuronal signals from a paralyzed patient’s brain and transmit that data to a machine — say, an iPhone — enabling the patient to control it without having to tap or type or swipe.
Neuralink’s trials so far have been conducted on rats, and, it seems, monkeys. In a telling moment during the Q&A portion of the event, Musk veered off-script, saying, “A monkey has been able to control the computer with its brain. Just FYI.” (We don’t yet have evidence to that effect.) Neuralink president Max Hodak’s response: “I didn’t realize we were running that result today, but there it goes.”
If this technology is functional in human patients — and we should always be careful not to extrapolate too much from early animal studies to humans, particularly when dealing with complex brain systems — it could significantly improve quality of life for millions of people. Approximately 5.4 million people are living with paralysis in the US alone, according to a Reeve Foundation study.
As if to underscore Neuralink’s medicinal ambitions, the company’s head surgeon, Matthew MacDougall, spoke onstage dressed in blue scrubs. He emphasized that Neuralink’s main concern is patient safety, adding that eventually the company wants its brain implant procedure to be as non-invasive as Lasik eye surgery. He also said it’s “only intended for patients with serious unmet medical diseases,” like people who’ve been completely paralyzed as the result of a spinal cord injury.
But helping people with paralysis is not, it seems, Musk’s end goal — the futurist made clear he has much grander ambitions. Ultimately, he said, he aims “to achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence.” The goal is to develop a technology that enables humans “merging with AI” so that we won’t be “left behind” as AI systems become more and more advanced.
This fantastical vision is not the sort of thing for which the FDA greenlights human trials. But a study on helping people with paralysis? That may get a warmer reception.
Neuralink is arguably one of the foremost startups dedicated to biohacking, the quest to augment human beings’ physical and cognitive performance, often by performing radical experiments on ourselves. It’s now facing a problem common to many biohackers: The medical system, they complain, holds back progress.
“If you were to come up with a compound right now that literally cures aging, you couldn’t get it approved,” Oliver Medvedik, a biohacking advocate who directs the Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering at Cooper Union, recently told me. “By the definition we’ve set up, aging isn’t a disease, and if you want to get it approved by the FDA you have to target a certain disease. That just seems very strange and antiquated and broken.”
Musk said that the event, which was live-streamed, was not about showing off. “The main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting,” he said. He wants more people to apply to Neuralink’s open positions. The company currently has about 90 employees and $158 million in funding, $100 million of which reportedly came from Musk himself.
But Hodak described the purpose of the presentation differently in an interview with the New York Times. “We want this burden of stealth mode off of us so that we can keep building and do things like normal people, such as publish papers,” he said. (The company recently released a white paper explaining its new technology.)
Neuralink isn’t the first to explore brain-machine interfaces. Other companies like Kernel and Paradromics are also working in this space, as is the US military. Some scientists are currently working on brain implants that would translate paralyzed people’s thoughts into speech.
In other words, if Neuralink really has achieved what it says it’s achieved, this could be a major advance with promising applications for people down the road.
Just don’t expect those applications too soon: The company still has to prove that its system can work in human brains, and that the threads, once implanted, can survive in our brains for years without deteriorating — or causing our brains themselves to deteriorate.
Find out why Fredros Okumu catches and studies these disease-carrying insects for a living
Evelyn Namara Founder, Vouch Digital | Uganda
Evelyn is the Founder and CEO of Vouch Digital Limited, a technology startup that is championing the development of digital solutions in the distribution sector. Their award-winning flagship product, M-Voucher, has been used by different development agencies to distribute seed crops, post-harvest and farming equipment. Evelyn has been widely recognized for her role as a champion for women in tech, including being named the Anita Borg ABIE Change Agent Award winner in 2012. In this interview she shares her journey of building a successful career in tech before going on to launch her business.
Excerpts below are from her interview with Eunice Baguma Ball, author of the book, Founding Women.
Invest time and energy into the process of
finding the right people because it will save you a
lot of trouble in the future.
When did you develop an interest in science and technology? I became interested in computer science around the age of eighteen when I was exposed to computers for the first time. But even long before that my father had always encouraged to me to study sciences. His dream was for me to become a doctor, but I hated chemistry and anything to do with blood so that just wasn’t going to happen! The two subjects I loved were physics and mathematics, so I focused on those. After secondary school, while waiting to decide what I would study at university, I worked at a university library which had a computer lab. This was where I got the opportunity to sit in front of a computer for the very first time.
I was fascinated from day one and I remember asking the lady in charge so many questions to try and understand how computers worked. Every single evening after that, I found an excuse to go to the lab, sometimes not leaving until very late. I researched what career opportunities existed within this new world of computers that I had discovered and went on to opt for computer science at university.
What led you to leave employment and pursue entrepreneurship?
During my career I realized I loved the process of setting up new systems. For a while I worked for a large corporation in the telecommunications sector. I joined them at a time when they were doing a lot of setup work which I really enjoyed. Later, when it became much more about maintenance, I grew bored. Having previously been with a small IT support company, I also found that I missed being on the front line, working directly with clients and making things happen. So, I moved on to join a startup called Solar Sister which distributes solar solutions and empowers rural women to better their livelihoods. This was a perfect fit because I loved the idea of using technology to make a difference in the lives of everyday people. I was also their first hire in Uganda and was entrusted with setting up their operations here. This experience made me fall in love with entrepreneurship and gave me the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of setting up a small organization from scratch. After that I knew I wanted to start my own organization.
How did the idea for your business come about?
I didn’t actually have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do exactly What I knew for sure was that I wanted to do something that involved using technology for development and I kept my mind open to opportunities as I worked with different organizations. One day I had a conversation with someone who told me about an organization they were involved with which was facing a particular challenge.They needed to make micro payments in order to provide agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers, and their current system of using paper vouchers was a nightmare. I immediately saw this as a problem that could be solved using technology and was excited by the prospect of developing the solution. I reached out to the organization and started working with them to develop the concept for a solution – a mobile-based voucher system. Things progressed very quickly and when I proposed building a prototype, they gave me only three weeks to deliver! At that point I knew there was no turning back and my business was born.
Are there any mistakes you made or something you wish you could have done differently?
I made some bad hiring decisions at the start which proved very costly. You need to be very careful to vet people before bringing them into your team. It can be difficult to identify the right people because they may have the technical skills but not the right work ethic. You have to invest time and energy into the process of finding the right people because it will save you a lot of trouble in the future. Now when recruiting, I try to create an environment where I can observe how the potential hire does things. For example,
instead of a typical interview, I will take them out for lunch and observe small things, like if they keep time or how they speak to the waiter. Eventually, I learnt what to look out for in someone who is a good fit for my organization. I’m now very happy with the team I have built. I’m proud to say it’s mostly women and they do an amazing job.
What would be your main piece of advice for young women just starting out on their entrepreneurship journey?
I would say preparation is key. Before you take that next step, be sure that this is something that you definitely want to do and if you are not sure, then invest time in finding out. Entrepreneurship is a challenge every single day, so prepare as much as you can to make it easier for yourself. Understanding the industry you want to get into is key. Develop relationships with people who are within that sector. Use LinkedIn; many people don’t realize what a great resource LinkedIn is. You can find people on there who understand how the industry works and you never know when those connections will come in handy. There are times I’ve been stuck and I’ve seen how those relationships you build over time can prove to be key when you encounter obstacles.
source – Africa
The Chinese kindergarten children giggled as they worked to solve puzzles assigned by their new teaching assistant: a roundish, short educator with a screen for a face.
Just under 60 centimetres high, the autonomous robot named Keeko has been a hit in several kindergartens, telling stories and challenging children with logic problems.
Round and white with a tubby body, the armless robot zips around on tiny wheels, its inbuilt cameras doubling up both as navigational sensors and a front-facing camera allowing users to record video journals.
In China, robots are being developed to deliver groceries, provide companionship to the elderly, dispense legal advice and now, as Keeko’s creators hope, join the ranks of educators.
At the Yiswind Institute of Multicultural Education on the outskirts of Beijing, the children have been tasked to help a prince find his way through a desert – by putting together square mats that represent a path taken by the robot – part storytelling and part problem-solving.
Each time they get an answer right, the device reacts with delight, its face flashing heart-shaped eyes.
Educator Candy Xiong introducing a Keeko robot to children at the Yiswind Institute of Multicultural Education in Beijing. PHOTO | GREG BAKER | AFP
“Education today is no longer a one-way street, where the teacher teaches and students just learn,” said Candy Xiong, a teacher trained in early childhood education who now works with Keeko Robot Xiamen Technology as a trainer.
“When children see Keeko with its round head and body, it looks adorable and children love it. So when they see Keeko, they almost instantly take to it,” she added.
Keeko robots have entered more than 600 kindergartens across the country with its makers hoping to expand into Greater China and Southeast Asia.
Beijing has invested money and manpower in developing artificial intelligence as part of its “Made in China 2025” plan, with a Chinese firm last year unveiling the country’s first human-like robot that can hold simple conversations and make facial expressions.
According to the International Federation of Robots, China has the world’s top industrial robot stock, with some 340,000 units in factories across the country engaged in manufacturing and the automotive industry.
The service robot market — which includes devices ranging from specialised medical equipment to automated vacuum cleaners — is estimated to be worth $1.32 billion last year.
It is expected to grow to $4.9 billion by 2022, said market research firm Research In China.
Last week, Beijing hosted the World Robot Conference, featuring machines that can diagnose diseases, play badminton and wow audiences with their musical skills.
Children playing with a Keeko robot after a class at the Yiswind Institute of Multicultural Education in Beijing. PHOTO | GREG BAKER | AFP
Last year, a group of monks in Beijing created a two-foot-high robot monk dispensing mantras and advice to attaining nirvana.
The iPal — a companion of sorts for children — is the latest humanoid robot to be marketed for family use, following in the footsteps of the diminutive, wisecracking “Pepper” companion released by Japan’s SoftBank in 2015.
But Xie Yi, principal of the kindergarten where Keeko has been put on trial, believes that it will be a long while before robots can completely replace humans in the classroom.
“To teach you must be able to interact, have a human touch, eye contact and facial expressions. These are the things that make an education,” Xie said.
“It’s not just the language or the content, it’s everything.”
She said the Keeko robots, which cost about 10,000 yuan ($1,500), or about the monthly salary of a kindergarten teacher, may have some advantages over a flesh-and-blood educator.
“The best thing about robots? They’re more stable (than humans),” she said with a laugh.
Apple is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones at its September event this Wednesday, and a new report says the company could name its iPhone X successors the “Xs,” “Xs Max,” and “Xr.”
Apple is widely expected to unveil three new iPhones at its September event this Wednesday, and a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman says Apple could name its iPhone X successors the iPhone “Xs,” “Xs Max,” and “Xr.”
Gurman has a good track record with reporting Apple news before it’s officially announced by the company. He’s broken lots of Apple news while at Bloomberg, and previously at the Apple blog 9to5Mac.
According to Gurman, Apple’s sequel to the iPhone X will be called “iPhone Xs,” which lines up with 9to5Mac’s report from August 30 that claims the same name.
The name iPhone Xs would line up with Apple’s traditional naming conventions for iPhones, where a refined “S” model would look identical to the prior-year phone, but include new internals and other features to set it apart.
The second phone Apple will unveil will be a larger version of the iPhone Xs — but unlike past years, where Apple named the bigger phone model “Plus,” Gurman says the large-screened iPhone X successor will be called “iPhone Xs Max.” Compared to the 5.8-inch display on the iPhone X and the rumored Xs, this phone would feature a massive OLED display that measures nearly 6.5 inches.
Apple will also reportedly unveil a third phone at its event this month: an iPhone sized between the two Xs models, but with a less-expensive LCD screen instead of OLED, that comes in several new colors. Gurman says this iPhone could be called “iPhone Xr,” according to one of his sources, though the reason for the name is unclear and it sounds like Apple could still change its mind. Another report from this week floated the possibility of the third iPhone variant being called the iPhone Xc.
We’ll know the names of these new iPhones, as well as their standout features, this Wednesday. Business Insider will be in attendance and live blogging the event, which begins at 1 p.m. ET. In the meantime, you can learn more about everything we’re expecting from Apple’s event right here.