First Case Of Monkeypox Confirmed In Johannesburg, South Africa

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South Africa on Thursday said medical experts had confirmed the country’s first case of Monkeypox.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the patient is a 30-year-old man from Johannesburg “with no travel history “

The outbreak was confirmed after laboratory tests.

He said contact tracing had begun.

Monkeypox spreads from one person to another through direct contact with infected bodily fluids, lesions or scabs on the skin.

On Friday, 17 June 2022, WHO said since the begining of the year, cases of monkeypox have been reported from 42 Member States across five regions of the Americas, Africa, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific.

As of 15 June, a total of 2103 laboratory confirmed cases and one probable case, including one death, have been reported to WHO.

The outbreak of monkeypox continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners.

“While epidemiological investigations are ongoing, most reported cases in the recent outbreak have presented through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health care facilities, with a history of travel primarily to countries in Europe, and North America or other countries rather than to countries where the virus was not historically known to be present, and increasingly, recent travel locally or no travel at all,” WHO said in a communique.

“Confirmation of one case of monkeypox, in a country, is considered an outbreak.

On Friday, 17 June 2022, WHO said since the begining of the year, cases of monkeypox have been reported from 42 Member States across five regions of the Americas, Africa, Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, and Western Pacific.

As of 15 June, a total of 2103 laboratory confirmed cases and one probable case, including one death, have been reported to WHO.

The outbreak of monkeypox continues to primarily affect men who have sex with men who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners.

“While epidemiological investigations are ongoing, most reported cases in the recent outbreak have presented through sexual health or other health services in primary or secondary health care facilities, with a history of travel primarily to countries in Europe, and North America or other countries rather than to countries where the virus was not historically known to be present, and increasingly, recent travel locally or no travel at all,” WHO said in a communique.

“Confirmation of one case of monkeypox, in a country, is considered an outbreak.

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Vodacom Aims To Connect 1 Million Youth To Gig Economy

Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile phone operator, wants to connect a million unemployed South African youth to the gig economy. A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations hire independent workers for short-term commitments. The term “gig” is a slang word for a job that lasts a specified period of time. Traditionally, the term was used by musicians to define a performance engagement.

In a bid to give youth a fighting chance in this tough economy, Vodacom said in a statement today that it has launched Get-a-Gig through NXT LVL with a three-year vision of connecting 1 Million Youth to jobs or gigs by 2024.

The latest employment data, released by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), shows that unemployment rose to 35.3% from 34.9% in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the last quarter of 2021. This is by far the highest level since the beginning of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) in 2008. Youth unemployment rate remains at a staggering 65.5%.

With these staggering figures and as part of Vodacom’s sustained commitment to empowering South African youth, Vodacom’s Get A Gig matches a job seeker (youth) with job opportunities or gig opportunities within Vodacom and its partners, while allowing them to Grow, Learn and Earn. Get-A-Gig was launched as an extension of Vodacom’s recently revamped NXT LVL (pronounced next level), a platform aimed to address the challenges faced by young people, offering them opportunities to connect, learn and earn as well as giving them access to the right tools to help them reach their potential.

NXT LVL also empowers young people to manoeuvre through their lives into adulthood, particularly at a time when they are seeking jobs, and unemployment is at a record high.

“Our vision is to make sure that we leave no one behind, especially young people who form a critical part of the country’s future. The launch of Get A Gig is yet another way that we at Vodacom strive to fight the rising youth unemployment rate,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Consumer Business at Vodacom.

“Our purpose is centred on building a digital society with techco-solutions and an education ecosystem that transforms lives for a better tomorrow.

“As we innovate, and bring new propositions to the market, we are mindful of the challenges that are faced by consumers at large. The revamp of the NXT LVL platform and the launch of Get A Gig are some of the initiatives we introduced, aiming to make a meaningful difference in the lives of young South Africans” added Mendes.

“As we empower and help our youth connect to jobs, even if it is one job at a time, we believe it is a step towards curbing the scourge of unemployment in our country.

By them (youth) earning a living, connected by the use of our technology, we believe they can go further,” added Mendes. Get A Gig is available free of charge to all NXT LVL customers via the My Vodacom App and VodaPay.

New NXT LVL customers need to download the My Vodacom or VodaPay App, register for NXT LVL, click on the Get A Gig tile to register & create a profile, Search & apply for available Gigs in their area.

Existing NXT LVL customers can register for Get-A-Gig by simply logging onto the My Vodacom App or VodaPay super app, click on the Get-A-Gig tile to register & create a profile, and then search & apply for available Gigs in their area. Click on VodaPay from the Apple and Android app stores, to download the VodaPay super app.

 

Wingcopter, A German Drone Delivery Firm, Targets Sub-Saharan Africa

Wingcopter, the German delivery drone manufacturer and service provider, today announced that it has raised $42 million or R672 million from renowned financial and strategic investors.

The new funding is part of a Series A extension round, tripling the company’s total equity raise to more than $60 million or R960 million to date.

Leading German retailer REWE Group as well as German investors Salvia and XAI technologies came on board as new shareholders. They were joined by Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU and previous backers Futury Capital from Germany and Silicon Valley-based Xplorer Capital.

Drone Delivery has gained enormous momentum in the last years, with more and more enterprises and administrations understanding the potential of fast and environmentally friendly on-demand deliveries through autonomous cargo drones. This is perfectly underscored by Wingcopter’s recent partnership agreement with Continental Drones that aims to deploy 12,000 Wingcopter drones over the next years to deliver much-needed goods throughout sub-Saharan Africa by building a new layer of infrastructure in the sky.

Other Authorized Partners that act as strong local operators or distributors in their respective geographies include ITOCHU in Japan and Synerjet in Latin America, which both became investors in Wingcopter in addition to signing the partnership agreements.

In Malawi, where the company has been active since 2019, Wingcopter will expand its network operations with new Wingcopter 198 drones and more hubs, transporting various medical goods – including emergency medicines and COVID vaccines – to remote health centers, in line with the company’s goal to save and improve the lives of people all over the world.

“At Wingcopter, we create efficient and sustainable drone solutions to save and improve lives. For this, we are hiring passionate pioneers with whom we build what has not existed before,” said Tom Plümmer, Co-founder and CEO of Wingcopter.

“The new funding, combined with growing revenues, puts us in an excellent position to establish our industry-leading drone delivery solution with our customers around the globe to optimize supply chains.”

Opt-In Biometrics Is Not Surveillance – Here’s Why

When the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) recently proposed linking biometric data to SIM cards, privacy concerns quickly cropped up. Would this mean constant surveillance or an increased potential for identity theft?

A resounding no, and no, says Gur Geva, Co-Founder and CEO of iiDENTIFii, the leader in remote biometric digital facial authentication and automated onboarding technology.

“Because biometric technology only started making its way into the mainstream relatively recently, consumers are still unsure of what the technology entails and how it may be used. This, naturally, leads to some misconceptions and fears. The reality is that opt-in biometrics are the most secure way to identify someone – and keep their information and identity safe from misuse – and these differ a great deal from biometrics used for surveillance.”

Increased privacy and security

“When biometrics are mentioned, many people imagine dystopian scenarios – surveillance cameras on streets, capturing faces to keep track of civilians. But ICASA’s proposal, and the type of biometrics currently becoming more mainstream, is called remote biometric onboarding. It’s opt-in verification and account authentication as opposed to surveillance. Remote biometric onboarding links a person’s biometric data, whether their face or fingerprint, to their account so that they, and only they, can access the account safely and securely,” explains Geva.

Biometrics come in many different forms. While there is a place for biometric surveillance, such as security at airports or building entrances, opt-in biometric onboarding with liveness detection protects institutions and their clients from fraud.

“Fraudsters have made face matching on its own almost obsolete by employing spoofs that exhibit human traits, such as photos or puppets. Furthermore, even authentication processes with gesture/motion requirements to overcome this problem can still be spoofed. Leading biometrics AI uses liveness detection to determine that it is interfacing with a genuine, physi­cally present human being,” says Geva.

This makes it far safer than passwords or PIN numbers, which can be hacked or stolen by fraudsters. With stolen passwords, fraudsters can potentially access thousands of accounts in a matter of seconds. Where biometric liveness detection is required, it becomes exponentially harder for thieves to impersonate or hack accounts.

And, from a privacy perspective, it’s not that different from current identification methods.

“When someone has a copy of your ID, they already have your biometric data – an image of your face. How biometric data is managed by mobile operators would still be subject to strict privacy laws laid out in the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines,” he adds.

Safety meets convenience

Because biometrics and liveness detection can truly prove that you are really you when logging into an account, it opens a world of convenience and security for consumers. Says Geva: “The average person has around 80 passwords. Passwords they forget, passwords that are compromised, and passwords that don’t transfer between devices. Biometrics, on the other hand, provide a seamless experience where onboarding no longer requires account details, an ID book, fingerprints, and more. Now, you can add your ID number, hold your phone up to your face for liveness detection, and link your SIM. And yet, it’s safer, because no-one except you will be able to perform a SIM swap or take out an additional line without this direct biometric link.”

This safety and convenience mean the identification method will become much more mainstream, and soon. Two-factor authentication could be replaced by proof of liveness and a fingerprint, for example, and even social media could become more secure. “Currently, only celebrity social media accounts get verified, and even then, not biometrically. But everyone should have the ability to show that their account is truly theirs. The amount of bot accounts is material– as the due diligence on Elon Musk’s Twitter deal proved.  These fake accounts can be used to push the same message, thousands at a time, regardless of accuracy of message. That could be prevented,” says Geva.

And the world is ready for biometrics. A Visa study shows that 86 percent of consumers are interested in using biometrics to verify identity or to make payments, while 70 percent of consumers believe that biometrics are easier.

Geva believes the possibilities will scale significantly. “Technology is not static and evolves all the time. Some laptops, for example, can detect your liveness through infrared and switch on when you sit in front of them. Tying that to biometric facial mapping could log you in to your devices in future in a far more secure manner. Facial biometrics with liveness detection will likely be the dominant biometric authentication method simply because it’s more accurate than voice, easier than fingerprint, requires no contact, and can be compared to an identity document face image. It’s the ultimate in convenience and security.”

Road Traffic Infringement Agency Fires CFO Palesa Moalusi

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The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) on Wednesday announced that it has fired CFO Palesa Moalusi, after a forensic investigation uncovered financial irregularities.

“The dismissal is on the basis of several financial irregularities regarding the improper extension of service contracts with various third-party suppliers,” said the RTIA.

“The charges also entail the incorrect reporting of the company’s performance during the 2017/2018 financial year.”

The RTIA said an “extensive investigation” into allegations of misconduct has led to the summary dismissal of Moalusi, the agency’s CFO.

“The dismissal is as a result of the findings of guilt against various charges of misconduct levelled against Ms. Moalusi during the disciplinary hearing,” said RTIA.

Commenting on the dismissal, RTIA Chairperson Bongekile Zulu said: “We are committed to combating corruption, serious misconduct, and ensuring the effective functioning of the organisation”

Zulu added: “We provide a vital service to the public and this kind of misconduct cannot be tolerated.”

“As a public entity, our function is to serve the people of South Africa and further our country’s socio-economic
development.

RTIA acting Registrar. Matsemela Moloi said: “We continue to be dedicated to fulfilling this mandate in all that we do”

The agency said Caiphus Matjie will act as CFO.

Eskom Extends Stage 2 Load-Shedding, Now From 10 AM To Midnight

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Eskom on Wednesday extended load-shedding Stage 2 to begin from 10 in the morning until midnight.

The power utility announcement that load-shedding “will regretfully be implemented between 10:00 and midnight tonight”.

Eskom added: “From Thursday until Sunday Stage 2 load-shedding will be implemented from 05:00 until midnight”.

The power utility said a generation unit at the Kendal and another at Matimba, as well as two units at the Matla Power Station broke down Wednesday morning.

“This reduced generation capacity by 2 400MW, adding to the ongoing capacity constraints,” said Eskom.

There has been a delay in returning to service a unit at Kusile Power Station, which was now expected to return to service Thursday.

“We currently have 3 630MW on planned maintenance, while another 15 277MW of capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns,” said Eskom.

There is a likelihood that the stage of loadshedding might need to be increased during the evening peaks.

Eskom said it will continue to closely monitor the system, “adjust and communicate any changes as may be necessary”.

The struggling power utility cautioned that as the shortage of generation capacity persists, the system will continue to be constrained with an elevated risk of load-shedding over the coming weeks.

“We appeal to all South Africans to help limit the impact of the shortages by continuing to reduce the usage of electricity and to switch off all non-essential items,” said Eskom

“We therefore urge all South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly especially between 05:00 – 10:00 in the mornings and 16:00 – 22:00 in the evenings.”

What It’ll Take For The Guptas To Face Corruption Charges In SA

Now that Rajesh and Atul Gupta have been arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), there is a great deal of speculation as to when the brothers may ultimately set foot on South African soil to face charges of money laundering and other financial crimes.

The brothers are the alleged kingpins behind state capture in South Africa – the massive corruption and repurposing of state organs for private gain during the ruinous reign of their friend, former president Jacob Zuma. They fled South Africa for Dubai in April 2016.

The judicial commission into state capture and corruption – Zondo Commission – found that the Gupta family had considerable access to Zuma, influencing political decisions, such as ministerial appointments and staffing at the various state-owned enterprises, and rearrangement of the revenue service to advance their financial interests.

The evidence outlined in the Zondo Commission reports offers substantive, chronological and narrative detail. That’ll assist prosecutors in building cases of fraud, money-laundering and a host of other financial crimes against named individuals, including Rajesh and Aptul Gupta.

This means that South Africans are now aware, having been provided with considerable information and in great detail, about the financial malfeasance that had been carried out for over a decade or more.

Despite this, there have only been a few arrests, and even a smaller number of prosecutions. Having the Guptas in court will send a strong signal that the days of impunity are over.

The likelihood of the brothers ultimately being forced to face their alleged crimes depends on how strong the case against them is, and how adroit the prosecutors are. So far, it’s clear that there is a very strong case against the brothers. But the jury is still out on the ability of the country’s prosecutors to do a good job.

Nevertheless, it’s important to understand bringing the Guptas to account might take a while.

A drawn out process

Arresting a suspect in pursuance of an extradition order usually signals a preliminary legal victory for the requesting country. Once the fugitive is in police custody, formal proceedings may start to have the suspect brought to trial.

But the victory is usually short-lived. This is because the process of extradition is lengthy, often proceeding in fits and starts. It may in fact take years to bring the suspect to justice.

A recent international example is the case of Julian Assange’s extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States to face espionage charges, which has been in the works for over a decade. Assange has used court challenges and extra-legal measures (refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London) to halt his extradition.

One closer to home is the case of Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang, who is wanted in both Mozambique and the United States for corruption involving $2 billion. The High Court in Johannesburg has ruled that Chang, who has been in jail in South Africa since 2018, be extradited to the US for trial.

It is probable that the Guptas will use the court systems in both the UAE and South Africa to delay their day of legal reckoning. They are also likely to seek political or diplomatic alternatives to facing trial in South Africa.

These could include, for example, seeking intervention from the Indian or UAE governments to pursue a legal settlement that might involve returning their allegedly ill-gained revenue in exchange for withdrawing the charges.

Strong case

The first precondition for securing the brothers’ presence in court would be a bulletproof case by South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority. This must withstand both South African and UAE judicial scrutiny. Such a case would have to be built on an incontrovertible body of evidence including sworn documents, financial records, witness testimony, and an irreproachable timeline of misdeeds.

Such a bulletproof case is mapped out in voluminous detail in the reports of the Zondo Commission. The reports outlined how Zuma’s friends and associates diverted billions of rand from parastatals to offshore accounts, mostly at the behest of the Gupta family.

A searing example is the purchase by Transnet, the transport parastatal, of unsuitable locomotives, in violation of state procurement laws and policies, and with allegedly huge kickbacks to the Guptas. Another example is the slew of criminal activities at Eskom, the power utility, that were allegedly devised entirely to profit the Gupta family and their enablers in the governing party.

These financial crimes have had several deleterious effects on South Africa. They robbed South Africans of basic social and economic resources (electricity, transport) they need to live a decent life. Even with prosecutions, it may take years (if at all) to recoup the stolen money.

In short, the Gupta footprint is all over the thousands of pages of the Zondo Commission Report. The task is now up to the NPA to develop an unimpeachable case against Rajesh and Aptul Gupta.

Prosecutors

The second precondition to ensuring the Guptas return to South Africa to face charges is the adroit handling and ultimate success of the prosecutors in prevailing over the many legal challenges that are certain to be raised by the Gupta brothers.

It helps that the brothers have lost their enormous influence and access to South Africa’s presidency, and other senior ANC politicians with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as party leader in 2017, and national president in 2018.

The jury is still out as to whether the National Prosecuting Authority, which was hollowed out as part of the state capture project, has the capability to successfully prosecute those implicated in the Zondo Commission reports.

Despite the appointment of new leadership three years ago, and formal support from President Ramaphosa, the agency continues to be underfunded. The record so far does not inspire confidence.

The prosecution of those named in the Zondo Commission reports remain lacklustre. This is so despite the public commitment made by the prosecutors in the wake of the Zondo Commission reports.

Yet the expectations of South Africans that the state will succeed in prosecuting those who have committed atrocious financial crimes remain high. Despite its disappointing record, the prosecuting authority has been giving a vital legal lifeline by the Zondo Commission reports, with their detailed listing and description of the crimes committed.

The prosecuting authority has also enlisted some of the country’s leading legal minds from the private sector in efforts to extradite the Guptas, and to prosecute state capture cases. This bodes well for ensuring that the Gupta brothers will face charges in a South African court.

Conclusion

South Africa’s prosecutors should seize the lifeline provided by the Zondo Commission, and the addition of capable legal talent, to reinvigorate a distressed institution.

Successful prosecution of the Guptas and others implicated in state capture will be good for the prosecutors’ reputation. It’ll also be good for the country – in economic and political terms. Their success will be appreciated not just locally, but could serve as a model for prosecuting corruption in Africa – and globally.The Conversation

Penelope Andrews, Professor of Law, New York Law School

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

Shoprite Next Capital Launched To Further Develop SMME Partners

The Shoprite Group has launched Shoprite Next Capital, a business division dedicated to capacitate and grow commercially-viable SMMEs to further the Group’s continued efforts to give small suppliers access to its consumer market. 

As drivers of growth, job creation and innovation, SMMEs are crucial to the recovery of the South African economy, and Shoprite Next Capital is the formalisation of the key role the Group plays in the success of SMMEs by giving them access to its consumer market.  

“With Shoprite Next Capital our aim is to further enhance the participation of small and emerging suppliers in our business. Our focus will be on their specific needs and how best we can assist them,” explains Maude Modise, GM for Enterprise & Supplier Development at the Group.  

“This new division will provide SMMEs with easier entry into the Group’s retail market with direct access to buyers that understand their needs combined with personalised growth plans that will assist suppliers to scale up gradually,” continues Modise. 

The Group aims to build sustainable relationships to develop, capacitate, sustain and grow small, South African businesses, create jobs and increase localisation of goods. 

Shoprite Next Capital will operate as a one-stop shop for SMME partners by providing marketing opportunities, working capital assistance, packaging and labelling support, data sharing, product range and geographic expansion, as well as possible private label partnerships. 

“The Group has always partnered with small suppliers, but now we are giving them additional focus and allocating dedicated buyers, essentially creating a separate value chain to the bigger supply chain system,” says Modise. 

These Are African Cities With Fastest 5G Median Download Speed

Southern Africa is the fastest region in Africa in terms of median download speed of 37.89 Mbps, followed by Northern Africa at 25.63 Mbps, Central Africa at 18.73 Mbps, Eastern Africa at 18.31 Mbps, and Western Africa at 17.00 Mbps,  a report by speed test service Ookla revealed on Wednesday.

“When it comes to speeds in select African capital cities, Johannesburg was fastest with a median download speed of 65.54 Mbps — nearly 35% faster than that of the next-fastest city, Cape Town at 48.27 Mbps,” says Sylwia Kechiche, Principal Industry Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla.

She added that Gaborone stood out for posting the third-fastest median download speed on the list at 42.29 Mbps.

“Meanwhile, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, and Abuja ranked closely together in terms of median download and upload speeds, with median download speeds ranging between 27.77 Mbps and 33.38 Mbps, with upload speeds ranging between 8.48 Mbps and 11.92 Mbps.”

Also read: MTN Leads On 5G In South Africa, Says Ookla

MTN is ranked first among South Africa’s mobile operators with a median 5G download speed reaching 213.37 Mbps in Q1 2022, followed by Vodacom, a report by speed test service Ookla revealed on Wednesday.

Ookla, which owns and operates the popular speedtest.net Internet speed testing service, has published its latest Speedtest Global Index rankings for South Africa for the first quarter of 2022, said median upload speed suffered a nearly 40% decrease, going from 46.05 Mbps to 27.32 Mbps.

“When we examined the State of 5G Worldwide in 2021, we concluded that it’s common to see new mobile access technologies slow down as adoption scales, particularly early on in the tech cycle and as more users are logging on to existing 5G networks,” says Sylwia Kechiche, Currently Principal Industry Analyst, Enterprise at Ookla.

“As such, the downward tendency in MTN’s performance is not surprising at all. Vodacom, on the contrary, almost doubled its median 5G download speed from 69.93 Mbps to 132.11Mbps.”

 

MTN Leads On 5G In South Africa, Says Ookla