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Meet the New Electric MINI Cooper SE

The new MINI Cooper SE will be the first purely electrically powered premium small car, paving the way to a sustainable yet at the same time highly emotional driving experience in urban traffic.

The first solely electrically powered model of the British brand offers pure MINI feeling with locally emissions-free driving.

It model-specific lithium-ion battery enables a range of 235 to 270 kilometres.

The high-voltage battery is situated deep in the vehicle floor, ensuring there are no limitations in terms of luggage compartment volume as compared to the conventionally powered MINI 3 Door.

With the new MINI Cooper SE, the British brand once again sets a pioneering impetus for urban mobility.

The new MINI Cooper SE also offers supremely secure road-holding, not least due to the position of its high-voltage battery.

It is placed deep in the vehicle floor between the front seats and below the rear seats. As a result of this arrangement, there are no limits whatsoever to the use of the luggage compartment space as compared to the conventionally powered model versions.

The new MINI Cooper SE accelerates from standing to 60 km/h in just 3.9 seconds. Over the first 60 metres it effortlessly keeps pace with conventionally powered sports cars. The purely electrically powered MINI accelerates from zero to in 7.3 seconds; its top speed is limited to 150 km/h.

The energy for electrifying driving fun is drawn by the new MINI Cooper SE from the power grid, to which it can be connected via a conventional household power socket, the MINI ELECTRIC Wallbox or a public charging station.

Its charging connection is designed for AC and DC charging using Type 2 and CCS Combo 2 plugs. Above the connection, a charge level indicator displays orange signals for initialisation, pulsating yellow light for an ongoing charging operation and the green light for a fully charged battery.

The standard charging cable is available for connection to a household socket. A MINI ELECTRIC Wallbox is optionally available for home charging as well as a three-phase cable for use at public charging stations

MTN, Sanlam to Offer Innovative Digital-Based Insurance

MTN, South Africa’s second-biggest mobile phone operator, has collaborated with JSE-listed financial services group, Sanlam, to make a range of innovative and inclusive financial services available to MTN’s digitally-savvy customers.

“At MTN we believe that everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life and that we are uniquely positioned to help make this a reality. By harnessing the power of our technology, we can offer our customers a range of financial services, anytime and anywhere,” said Rob Shuter, Group CEO of MTN.

The Insurtech investment and product knowledge of Sanlam, the largest insurer on the continent, matched with the extensive reach and innovation of MTN, translates into a powerful new approach to transforming insurance in South Africa.

“By bridging the digital divide that is so pervasive across the continent, we can help drive more financially inclusive environments that gives all people access to useful and affordable financial solutions,” said Shuter.

“We are very pleased to announce this association with Sanlam look forward to innovating with them to add great value to lives of our customers.”

The initial Sanlam product range that MTN will be making available via its digital platforms includes a funeral cover and a range of life products with unique extra benefits.

The sign-up process will be by a digitally customer-centric process via any device attached to the network.

“We recognise the digital imperative in insurance and clients expect this of Sanlam as Africa’s insurance leader. Over the years, we have invested appropriately in insurance FinTech. Sanlam Indie is but one example. Go Cover another,” said Sanlam Group CEO Ian Kirk.

“We have a great business that has delivered innovative insurance services for more than 100 years. From humble beginnings, we have become the insurance leader in Africa.

“This presented a worthwhile proposition to MTN to work with us. MTN is a true African player and we value their success which is great for the continent. Ultimately, customers are the real winners for they will access new value add solutions in funeral, a range of risk covers and savings/ investment plans. New solutions that will better meet their lifestyle and service needs.”

South Africa Leads the Continent in Mobile Network Experience

base station. Timofeev Vladimir / Shutterstock.Com
base station. Timofeev Vladimir / Shutterstock.Com

South Africa topped Opensignal’s Africa Download Speed Experience table with a fairly impressive score of 15 Mbps, while Tunisia, Morocco and Kenya also managed average speeds of over 10 Mbps.

The mobile analytics company has compared 10 of Africa’s mobile markets to see how they stack up against each other in mobile network experience.

Almost all the African countries it analyzed saw their Download Speed Experience scores increase over the past year, as Tunisia saw the biggest increase of 3.6 Mbps to reach 13.4 Mbps.

South Africa’s score was quite a way behind the leading global scores, but the country still just managed to sneak into the top half of our global rankings.

Indeed, in Opensignal’s most recent South Africa Mobile Network Experience report, it found two operators had Download Speed Experience scores over 17 Mbps. But the other two players scored around the 10 Mbps mark, pulling down the national average and showing a pattern observed of a “two-tier” mobile network experience in the country.

Almost all the African countries Opensignal analyzed saw their Download Speed Experience scores increase over the past year, with only Algeria seeing its average speed dip slightly.

Between the first three months of 2018 and the same period of 2019, Tunisia saw the biggest increase in terms of Mbps, as its score grew 3.6 Mbps to reach an average of 13.4 Mbps.

But Opensignal users in Senegal experienced the greatest Download Speed Experience boost by percentage, as the average speed in the country jumped close to 50%.

While Opensignal’s 4G Availability analysis showed Kenya, Morocco and South Africa also featured in the top four — but the winner was something of a revelation.

Senegal topped Africa table with a score of 77.2% — beating some much more advanced markets in Opensignal global rankings. Senegal can be proud of a relatively advanced 4G mobile network experience, as Orange has already launched LTE-A in the country, while Tigo’s 4G network rollout is well underway.

Video experience

South Africa also topped Opensignal Video Experience table — one of two African nations which scored a Good rating (55-65 out of 100) in this metric.

A Good Video Experience is characterized by video streamed from the internet to a phone or tablet rendering at both low and high resolutions, but exhibiting some loading time before playback begins and some stalling, especially at higher resolutions.

Tunisia also managed a Good rating, while three African countries — Egypt, Morocco and Kenya — scored in the Fair range (40-55). Opensignal users in these countries should expect longer loading times and frequent stalling at higher resolutions, but a better Video Experience at low resolutions.

Half of the African countries we analyzed rated as Poor for Video Experience (0-40), characterized by frequent stalling during video playback and long loading times, even at low resolutions. Since 4G is still in its infancy in many African markets, a large proportion of the continent’s mobile networks are not yet suited to delivering a good mobile video experience.

But nonetheless, mobile coverage — and particularly data connectivity — are transforming the lives of billions of people on the continent.

The majority of Africans have never experienced fixed-line broadband, meaning mobile is opening up services such as mobile banking and paymentssocial media and even instant messaging that many of us have taken for granted for decades.

And as 4G connectivity improves and 5G comes to the continent, more and more people will see their lives transformed by their mobile network experience.

Video – ‘The Car that Responds to Your Mood’

  • Cabin settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress
  • Reports suggest 74 per cent of people admit to feeling stressed or overwhelmed every day
  • New mood-detection system is one of a suite of technologies Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the overall driving experience

Jaguar Land Rover is researching new artificial intelligence (AI) technology to understand our state of mind while driving – and adjust cabin settings to improve driver wellbeing.

The technology uses a driver-facing camera and biometric sensing to monitor and evaluate the driver’s mood and adapt a host of cabin features, including the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, media and ambient lighting. The settings will be altered in response to the driver’s facial expressions to help tackle stress.

The mood-detection system will use the latest AI techniques to continually adapt to nuances in the driver’s facial expressions and implement appropriate settings automatically. In time the system will learn a driver’s preference and make increasingly tailored adjustments.

Personalisation settings could include changing the ambient lighting to calming colours if the system detects the driver is under stress, selecting a favourite playlist if signs of weariness are identified, and lowering the temperature in response to yawning or other signs of tiring.

Jaguar Land Rover is also trialing similar technology for rear passengers, with a camera mounted in the headrest. If the system detects signs of tiredness, it could dim the lights, tint the windows and raise the temperature in the back, to help an occupant get to sleep.

“As we move towards a self-driving future, the emphasis for us remains as much on the driver as it ever has,” Dr Steve Iley, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Medical Officer, said.

“By taking a holistic approach to the individual driver, and implementing much of what we’ve learnt from the advances in research around personal wellbeing over the last 10 or 15 years, we can make sure our customers remain comfortable, engaged and alert behind the wheel in all driving scenarios, even monotonous motorway journeys.”

The new mood–detection system is one of a suite of technologies that Jaguar Land Rover is exploring as part of its ‘tranquil sanctuary’ vision to improve the driving experience.

Designed to create a sanctuary inside each of its luxury vehicles, the manufacturer is trialing a wide range of driver and passenger wellbeing features, to ensure occupants are as comfortable as possible whilst ensuring the driver remains mindful, alert and in control.

Mood-detection software is the next-generation of Jaguar Land Rover’s existing driver tracking technology. The Driver Condition Monitor, which is capable of detecting if a driver is starting to feel drowsy and will give an early warning to take a break, is available on all Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

Spotify Lite Launched in South Africa

Spotify. norazaminayob / Shutterstock.com

Spotify announced today it has launched a “Lite” version of its music streaming app in South Africa.

With Spotify Lite, you can easily control your data and storage. It’s only 10 MB, so it’s quick to install and load while offering the same great listening experience that lets you discover, play, and enjoy millions of songs.

It also comes with the ability to set a data limit and get a notification when you reach it. This way, you’ll be able to focus on finding your next favourite song—not worrying about data.

No need to worry if you’re running low on storage—Spotify Lite also allows you to control your cache, and clear it with a single tap.

Spotify Lite is now available in 36 markets across Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa on Google Play “with more markets and features to follow as we continue to improve the Spotify Lite experience”.

“Spotify Lite was built from the ground up based on user feedback from around the world, allowing millions more to enjoy the world’s best music experience — especially in areas with limited bandwidth and phone storage,” says Kalle Persson, Senior Product Manager at Spotify.

Spotify Lite can be downloaded separately, both for Free and Spotify Premium users, and used either alongside or independently from the main Spotify app on all Android phones running version 4.3 or higher.

Knife Capital Invests in Warehouse Management Software Solution

Craig Collins - CEO and Co-Founder (Cape Town)
Craig Collins - CEO and Co-Founder (Cape Town)

Warehouse Management Software Solution has received an undisclosed Series A funding round from Knife Capital – a venture capital firm with offices in Cape Town and London.

Knife Capital invests via a consortium of funding partnerships, including SARS section 12J Venture Capital Company KNF Ventures and select family offices.

Granite WMS is an easy to use barcode-based warehouse management system (WMS) developed by South African automated identification business: Cradle Technology Services.

It integrates into various Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and accounting software packages and expands warehouse operations and business processes to help deliver products on time, accurately and cost-effectively.

Cradle did not follow the conventional venture capital investment path. It was established in 2000 by Craig and Delia Collins to sell barcode scanners, label printers and labels.

Driven by the needs of their sizeable and growing SME client base, Granite WMS was developed in 2010 with proprietary technology, embracing best practices but reducing complexity for the user.

It grew from there to become a leader in SME warehousing solutions, focused on integration with Sage 300, Sage 200 Evolution, SAP B1 or as a standalone operation. It is currently implemented in over 100 sites across 3 continents and in over 40 different industry sectors.

“Our ongoing hardware business activities provided the funding, platform and initial market access opportunities to develop and implement our flagship Granite warehouse management software solution,” says Craig Collins, CEO and co-founder of Cradle.

“We now have enough traction with a robust Software as a Service (SaaS) offering to aggressively ramp up local and international business development and marketing efforts. Knife Capital’s funding is a key growth enabler, but the team’s track record in partnering with local entrepreneurs to scale SMEs for mutual upside is a more enticing prospect than the money.”

In 2018 Cradle was one of the ten companies selected for the fourth cohort of Knife Capital’s Grindstone Accelerator – a structured entrepreneurship development programme that assists high-growth innovation-driven SMEs to become sustainable and fundable. It is the second investment that Knife Capital has made in a Grindstone company; the other being cloud-based ticketing platform: Quicket.

“Investing in Cradle to scale the Granite WMS solution is an exciting business to add to the Knife Capital venture capital portfolio. It already achieved sustainability through its business operations with a blue-chip client base, 35 employees, significant revenue growth and profitability,” says Keet van Zyl, Investment Partner at Knife.

“Through our Grindstone Programme we were impressed by Craig’s responsiveness in closing growth gaps identified and the team’s capability to turn sales leads into happy clients. The Granite SaaS product grew aggressively over the past two years, and discussions with the entrepreneurs evolved into a workable investment case,” he said.

The market fundamentals are also solid, taking advantage of growth in the e-commerce industry, emerging multichannel distribution channels, globalisation of supply chain networks, increased adoption of on-cloud WMS solutions, and the rising need for efficient forecasting models by SMEs.

According to Grand View Research, the global WMS market size is expected to reach USD 5.72 billion by 2025, progressing at a CAGR of 16.3% during the forecast period. But while many warehouse systems are expensive and take considerable time to implement, Granite delivers high-end turn-key WMS functionality at an acceptable price-point, making it appealing for mid-sized companies.

MTN vs Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, Rain for the Best Mobile Network in SA

iPhone. Halfpoint / Shutterstock.com

MyBroadband Insights has released its Q2 2019 Mobile Network Quality Report, which shows that MTN has the best mobile network in South Africa.

The report is based on 330,596-speed tests which were performed by thousands of MyBroadband Android Speed Test App users across South Africa between 1 April and 30 June 2019.

The research shows that South Africa had an average mobile download speed of 25.67 Mbps, up from 24.20Mbps in the previous quarter.

MTN had the highest average download speed at 35.90Mbps, followed by Vodacom on 29.76Mbps, Telkom on 23.07Mbps, Rain on 17.91Mbps, and Cell C on 17.32Mbps.

MyBroadband Insights Director Marius Hollenbach said there has been a significant increase in network performance from MTN, Vodacom and Telkom in 2019.

The increased network speeds are a result of improved LTE coverage and better HSPA availability in rural areas, he said.

Rain is the only operator which saw a slump in performance during the second quarter of 2019, which is likely a result of more users joining the network.

Best mobile network in South Africa

To determine the best mobile network in South Africa, a “Network Quality Score” was calculated for each network using download speed, upload speed, and latency.

The Network Quality Score out of 10 then shows how the network performed in relation to other networks.

MTN reigned supreme with a Network Quality Score of 9.78, followed by Vodacom on 8.24, Telkom on 6.16, Rain on 6.09, and Cell C on 5.35.

The table below provides an overview of the mobile network rankings in South Africa.

Network Operator Download Speed (Mbps) Upload Speed (Mbps) Latency (ms) Network Quality Score
MTN 35.90 13.95 34 9.78
Vodacom 29.76 11.53 37 8.24
Telkom 23.07 5.10 38 6.16
Rain 17.91 7.68 30 6.09
Cell C 17.32 8.50 49 5.35


Multichoice appoints Mabuza, Sanusi as non-Executive Directors


JSE-listed pay-TV group Multichoice has appointed Jabu Mabuza and Dr Fatai Adegboyega Sanusi as independent non-executive directors.

Their appointment is effective from 5 July.

Mabuza was recently appointed as the chairman to the board of Sun International. He was previously the Group CEO and later the Deputy Chairman of Tsogo Sun.

He recently retired as chairman of Telkom SA and as president of Business Unity South Africa.

Mabuza currently serves as the chairman of various companies including Anheuser – Busch InBev / SAB Miller – Africa, the Casino Association of South Africa and Eskom.

Outside South Africa, Jabu has served on numerous company’s boards covering various industries and has a wide array of organisational memberships in South Africa and abroad.

In 2017, an Honorary Doctor of Commerce degree was awarded to Mabuza by the University of Witwatersrand in recognition of his entrepreneurship achievements and his contribution to the South African economy.

Dr Fatai Adegboyega Sanusi is currently a senior consultant in the UK National Health service, serving in this position for 19 years at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust. He has also accumulated years of experience in governance and risk management at a senior management Board level.

He is active in education and training and has served as Training director of the department for several years.

Dr Sanusi graduated from the University of Lagos in 1986.

The company said its board welcomes Mabuza and Sanusi to the Company and looks forward to their contribution.

MultiChoice Group includes MultiChoice South Africa, MultiChoice Africa, Showmax Africa, and Irdeto.

SA Transport Minister on E-Tolls, e-Hailing Services

UBER. Proxima Studio / Shutterstock.com

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says the government would find a solution to the prolonged e-tolling impasse.

Mbalula was addressing the 38th annual Southern African Transport Conference (SATC) in Pretoria.

His utterances followed the spat on social media between Gauteng Infrastructure Development and Property Management MEC Tasneem Motara, Premier David Makhura and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni regarding the controversial e-tolls.

“The President has established a task team, led by myself, about the options on the table. A report will be tabled before him and from there will be given to the Cabinet,” he explained.

“We know that there are robust views that come from the treasury in terms of the fiscus and the debt that we owe. We know there are views in relation to our borrowing capacity and the bond market,” he said.

Despite this, Mbalula promised to have a solution to the e-tolling matter by August this year.

SATC continues until Thursday, 11 July and will host a contingent of international and local transport industry speakers, thought leaders, academics, students and engineers.

e-Hailing services

Mbalula conceded that the government had to make speedy provision to regulate e-hailing services in the country.

“Government’s role is to speedily come up with new policies and laws that will render disruptive transport technologies beneficial to all, and easily adaptable to the abruptly changing environments.”

The Minister stated that as a country, we are still a long way off the transition from driver-operated to autonomous vehicles.

Emoji aren’t Ruining Language: they’re a Natural Substitute for Gesture

Gestures and emoji don’t break down into smaller parts, nor do they easily combine into larger words or sentences. Shutterstock

by Lauren Gawne

We’re much more likely to be hanging out on social media than at the watercooler these days. But just because we’re no longer face-to-face when we chat, doesn’t mean our communication is completely disembodied.

Over the last three decades, psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists, along with researchers from other traditions, have come together to understand how people gesture, and the relationship between gesture and speech.

The field of gesture studies has demonstrated that there are several different categories of gesture, and each of them has a different relationship to the words that we say them with. In a paper I co-authored with my colleague Gretchen McCulloch, we demonstrate that the same is true of emoji. The way we use emoji in our digital messages is similar to the way we use gestures when we talk.

Read more:
What your emojis say about you

What gestures and emoji have in common

We can break speech down into its component parts: sentences are made of words, words are made of morphemes, and morphemes are made of sounds.

Signed languages have the same features of grammar as spoken languages, but with hand shapes instead of sounds. They have some advantages in complex expressions that spoken languages don’t have, but there are gestures as well as grammatical features when people sign.

By contrast, gestures and emoji don’t break down into smaller parts. Nor do they easily combine into larger words or sentences (unless we’re using a clunky version of the grammar of our language).

While there are preferences, there is nothing “grammatical” about using 😂 instead of 😹. Rather, what is most important is context. 🐶 could be a reference to your own dog, a good dog you saw while out for a walk, or a sign of your fondness for puppers over kitties.

There are some gestures that can have a full meaning even in the absence of speech, including the thumbs up 👍, the OK sign 👌 and good luck 🤞. Gestures like these are known as emblems, some of which are found in the emoji palette. Some object emoji have also developed emblematic meanings, such as the peach 🍑, which is most typically used non-illustratively to represent a butt.

Many gestures and emoji do not have these specific meanings. So, let’s take a look at different ways emoji are used to communicate with reference to a common framework used to categorise gestures.

Illustrative and metaphoric emoji

Illustrative gestures model an object by indicating a property of its shape, use, or movement, such as the classic “the fish was THIS big” gesture. Similarly, we often use emoji to illustrate the nature of a message. When you wish someone a happy birthday you might use a variety of emoji, such as the cake with candles 🎂, slice of cake 🍰, balloon 🎈, and wrapped gift 🎁.

It’s not grammatically correct to say “birthday happy”, but there’s no “correct” sequence of emoji, just as there is no one correct way to gesture your description of the fish you caught.

We also have metaphoric uses of gesture and emoji. Unlike a “big fish”, a “big idea” doesn’t have a physical size, but we might gesture that it does. Similarly, our analysis showed that people typically use the “top” emoji 🔝 to mean something is good.

Read more:
Emoji are becoming more inclusive, but not necessarily more representative

Beat gestures are used for emphasis

Another common type of gesture used to draw attention is a beat gesture, distinguished by a repetitive “beat” pattern. Some uses of emoji have a direct parallel to beat gestures. For example, using the double clap 👏 for emphasis, which has its origins in African American English.

The emphatic nature of beat gestures helps explain something about common strings of emoji. When we looked at sequences of emoji the most common patterns are pure repetition, such as two tears of joy emoji 😂😂, or partial repetition such as two heart eyes and blowing a kiss/heart 😍😍😘. Repetition for emphasis is rare (but possible) with words, but very common for gesture and emoji.

Along with these categories, we also looked at pointing and illocutionary gestures and emoji, which help show your intentions behind what you’re saying – whether that’s amused 😂 or ambivalent 🙃.

Read more:
Understanding the emoji of solidarity

Emoji have limitations that gestures don’t

There are obviously some differences between online and physical chat. Gestures and speech are closely synchronised in a way emoji and text can’t be. Also, the scope of possibilities with gesture are limited only to what the hands and body can do, while emoji use is limited to the (currently) 2,823 symbols encoded by Unicode.

Despite these differences, people still use the resources available to them online to do what they’ve been doing in face-to-face conversations for millennia. Bringing together research on gesture and internet linguistics, we argue there are far more similarities between emoji and gesture than there are between emoji and grammar.

Instead of worrying that emoji might be replacing competent language use, we can celebrate the fact that emoji are creating a richer form of online communication that returns the features of gesture to language.The Conversation

Lauren Gawne, David Myers Research Fellow, La Trobe University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.