Published November 2018
I predict another fuel increase in South Africa in November at around 35 cents per litre.
Notice of an imminent increase can be found in several reports online as well.
If fuel does increase again, it means South Africans would have had to absorb nearly a 40% fuel increase over the last few months.
It will be too much for South Africa and just before the festive season. At the same time, SAA and The Post Office are getting more funds from government. Who still uses the post office anyway? Perhaps it is the E-toll organisation for letters of demand? I would like to suggest to Government that they take a lesson from Google and let go of a dying horse. Google is shutting down Google+, their version of a social media platform. Perhaps government defeat and all those job losses will hurt the elections.
So far the best news of 2018 for me relates to technology in government. It’s the matter of SARS being in need of millions if not a billion rand to fix their own IT system. There is a small chance that SARS’ entire system might collapse. Can you imagine the implications of that? Someone is going to get a nice contract to fix that.
All in all, our state of financial affairs is in a tragic status as we come to the end of 2018, with Bloomberg reporting that our state-owned companies have a debt of R1.6 trillion.
I know this news is depressing. I am sorry. I do think it sets a good foundation to repeat my opinion that the solution to a lot of our economic issues is new businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs. This area of business appears to have the only positive growth at the moment, and I wanted to share some news on what is happening.
There is a competition called Seedstars World. https://www.seedstarsworld.com/
In Africa, it has about 300 entrants but only 30 get to the final round. The theme is about technology to be used in business, government and also to address general challenges in the world’s social settings.
The African countries doing well are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Cameroon.
The winner of the local competition gets an all-inclusive opportunity to travel to Switzerland and get lots of chocolate. Sorry, that’s wrong. They get to compete for the title of Seedstars Global Winner. The prise is up to $1 million in equity investments. Sharing some names from the list I like the most can be seen below, and you can click on their names to open up their website:
So many of the companies involved in this competition are great start-ups, but I really am rooting for those who help create new jobs or empower people to make a living in one way or another with the use of Technology.
I take my hat off to any organisation that supports entrepreneurs and start-ups. I was so happy to hear about Naspers (the company that owns OLX, TakeAlot and Mr D Food) investing R1.4 billion to a start-up fund called the Naspers Foundry, which will support South African technology start-ups . This will officially be launched in 2019.
Also offering financial aid, but elsewhere in Africa, is Google with their KES 100 million Grant. This magic is happening in Kenya to train 100 000 smallholder farmers in digital skills. To those of you following me on social media in Kenya and interested, you can visit https://www.100andchange.org/ for more information.
In general there is an increase in financial support for technical start-ups if you look at what’s been happening the last few months. A report I read said African start-ups have raised a record breaking $560 million in 2017, and in 2018 nearly 120 deals between investors and start-ups have been signed. This is such positive news.
Technical companies have the ability to offer so much value, and I can rant about examples for days, but one quick example I want to share is The Baobab+ and PayJoy partnership in Senegal, Ivory Coast and Madagascar.
This value added venture is all about giving access to digital tools in addition to working on mobile Internet solutions.
Baobab+ offers two specialised pay-as-you-go solutions: An EDUCA tablet, which comes preloaded with a selection of educational apps, and then the other is a BUSINESS tablet, which is all about support for entrepreneurs with focus on ways to optimise their company’s performance.
My next article is going to be all about technology that you might buy as a gift over the festive season.
Of course, fast approaching is 23 November, which means another Black Friday has arrived. Lots of shopping expected over the next two months, and retail shops are gearing up for this shopping explosion, which unfortunately might be more of a pop than an explosion due to our South African economy. (Unless people go mad with credit cards, which I really hope they do not)
Never the less, tech is not only a focus of purchase but is also being used to help purchases, and there are signs of this being adopted all over. For example, Mugg & Bean is using Samsung Pay. Samsung Pay officially launched in August, which allows you to use your phone as your card. If you want to try this out and assuming you don’t have an IPhone, download the app onto your Samsung and follow the guide.
Onto some news about data: Everyone by now should have heard about PoPI compliance. You can get into a lot of trouble if you don’t manage data that pertains to people’s personal information as per the law. Not sure if you are compliant? Blancco has introduced Erasure-as-a-Service, a certifiable secure data erasure solution that is PoPI compliant. Their site: https://www.blancco.com
Let’s now move onto the subject of Internet data. I was confused with the excitement of FNB with their now 603 branches offering WIFI install. Think about it, you still have to go to the branch to access the Internet and the bank says the Internet in-store is there to help people do banking online. My question then is, why not offer it at their homes?
Vodacom is offering Business Ticket data bundles, basically trying to ensure that their clients with companies managing apps on their phones stay connected. This is really important, because if you can’t run your business how can you afford your Vodacom debit order? Apparently you can purchase these bundles via USSD and their website, but when I looked I couldn’t find any product called business ticket on these platforms. There is this one webpage that references business data bundles from R110 per month: https://www.vodacombusiness.co.za/business/solutions/mobile-and-voice/business-data
Vodacom also announced that it is partnering with device manufacturers to introduce the next phase of its network called Enhanced Voice Services (EVS). From what I understand, this means we can make/receive better quality data calls. Vodacom does, however, already have the fastest 4G Network. Did you know that the most costly data you can buy at the moment is the Vodacom 15meg data bundle, at almost 70 cents per meg? The least costly option is the 10gigs offer from MTN and Telkom at 4.9 cents per meg.
From Internet issues in the sky to those in the ground, I happen to have experienced this challenge, so I think it might be helpful information for other homeowners. You know those ISPs wanting to dig up your pavement and install fibre cables? Look out for them, some of them wear pink. Before homeowners choose which supplier, just make sure you are not contracted into that ISP preventing open access to their fibre networks. Once you are in this contract, you are stuck with one supplier. We need to be able to choose who we get Internet access or data from. Even the government agrees with this, and it’s in their policy.
Choice is power!
Solo Power is also power, and it’s about to get a lot less costly. Sorry Eskom …
Bio-Applications and Systems Engineering at TUAT (www.tuat.ac), which is in Japan, has a team that discovered when you add polystyrene into the process, you get enhanced results, and those results are allowing electrons to move from plane to plane quickly. It is not important to know why this excites scientists, it is only important to know it means we can perhaps reduce the costs of solar power. I predicted the cost of solar power dropping in my prior article, so news like this supports my theory.
I always like to talk a little about the medical field in my articles because so much happens in this area. I believe we will one day have doctors who specialise in illnesses related to tech.
I did find out that motion sickness and cyber sickness for Virtual Reality have the same sorts of effects on people. Perhaps VR on a boat should be totally avoided for now.
Staying with medical matters and touching on a discussion I had with a family member, who suffered a stroke and has paralysis on the one side of her body, it is nice to find new information of medical fields stepping things up and using robotics to understand how the limbs are controlled by circuits of neurons all working together. The research I read refers to scientists from the lab of Pavan Ramdya at EPFL Brain Mind Institute (https://ramdya-lab.epfl.ch/).
Perhaps one day soon we can reanimate people’s limbs through robotics and some sort of neural interface platform. While we have not been able to reanimate movement through robotics yet, we have, for a long time, been able to work on artificial organs or at least tech that provides similar duties to a real organ. Progress in this area is also happening. https://pubs.acs.org/journal/ancac3 has a report about a new solution that could accelerate progress in the development of a lightweight and wearable, artificial kidney. How cool! This means a lot less people will be stressing while waiting for a kidney transplant and some new, interesting fashion trends.
To end off this article, here is one absolutely random fact I found to be interesting news:
The San Diego Supercomputer Centre has spent 20 years working on software and has now advised that over 100 million years post big bang there was pure darkness… because there were no stars. I do have my own theories on space and time, etc.
One of my greatest ambitions is to be an astronaut. I don’t currently have the qualifications, which are, for others who might also be interested in pursuing this field, a bachelor's degree in one or more of these fields: engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics with at least three years related, professional experience in whichever fields of study you have done and 1000 hours pilot-in-command time on a jet aircraft. I also need to get over my fear of heights. Other than that, I am ready to go.
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Published November 2018