SAP launches mostly-free online coding course for Africa learners

By Gugu Lourie

Through the simplification of what has historically been perceived as a highly technical arena, SAP is making coding more appealing and accessible to a wider audience.

SAP has, developed a coding course which is available at no cost on openSAP, where registrations are now open for all learners in Africa with courses scheduled to begin on 2 June 2015.

“You’ll be truly amazed at how fast your learners get up to speed with coding skills. And if you’ve never written a line of code in your life, don’t worry. This course will get you started step-by-step,” said the software giant.

Are you a teacher of young learners? Are you involved in young peoples’ extra-curricular activities?

Then this course could be for you. Whatever subjects you normally teach, you and your learners are surrounded by modern digital technology.

“This course will help you to encourage today’s young digital consumers to become tomorrow’s digital creators,” said SAP.

It is based around the popular Scratch system that is capturing the imagination of children around the globe.

The openSAP platform offers a highly engaging and effective learning experience through gamification, whilst allowing real time interaction between SAP experts and learners.

The “Africa Code Week: Teaching Programming to Young Learners” has been developed in partnership with Simplon.co, the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre, with the purpose of empowering youth, teachers and parents with the language of programming using a freely available “Scratch” 1 system to help bridge the digital skills gap across many areas in Africa.

“Coding is relevant to all industries and to remain relevant in the 21st century it is imperative that skills are constantly updated. SAP believes that only through sharing of skills and knowledge, are we able to empower people to take control of their futures,” said Mehmood Khan, COO of Sap Africa. “openSAP provides this platform for sharing and we encourage teachers, parents and students across the continent to register for the “Africa Code Week: Teaching Programming to Young Learners” course on the openSAP platform as a means of accessing a valuable resource to further develop the youth of Africa.”

Course Characteristics

Course Content

 

  1. Unit 1: Introducing Scratch and the Art of Coding
  2. Unit 2: Creating an Interactive Digital Environment
  3. Unit 3: Coding Geometric Shapes and Freehand
  4. Unit 4: Planning and Designing Games

BEE scheme, MTN Zakhele, receives a fat dividend

By Ujuh

MTN Zakhele received R836 million in dividend income from MTN Group for the 2014 financial year but the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) scheme will not be paying dividend to its investors.

This is carried in the 2014 MTN Zakhele financial results which were published yesterday. The dividend income was much improved when compared to the R658 million received in 2013.

MTN Zakhele directors said the dividend income was first used to pay for operational costs as well as taxes. Thereafter, the dividend income was used to pay down MTN Zakhele’s debt.

MTN Zakhele chairperson Thulani Gcabashe said “The sustained solid operational performance of MTN Group ensured that in 2014 MTN Zakhele has been able to further reduce its levels of debt and strengthen its financial position.”

Gcabashe added that it remains the intention of MTN Zakhele not to declare dividends in respect of MTN Zakhele shares until all of its funding liabilities have been settled, in accordance with the funding agreements.

“Over the years, the Company has benefited from this stance, steadily reducing the cost of debt. The board remains confident that this is the right approach. Alongside MTN Zakhele’s robust funding structure, this approach will continue to benefit shareholders in years to come.”

He also noted that “2014 also marked the first full year of trading in MTN Zakhele shares via the MTN Zakhele share trading platform. Robust trade and a sharp increase in the share price highlight the value that investors continue to see in the scheme, said Gcabeshe.

At the end of December 2014, the MTN Zakhele share traded at R108.50 per share. The share is currently trading in the region of R122.00, more than six times the R20 investors paid for each share in 2010.

Gcabashe is set to step down as Chairman of MTN Zakhele. This is after his appointment as Chairman of the Standard Bank Group effective from 28 May 2015.

MTM Zakhele also announced that it was still pursuing on the listing of its shares on the JSE to fulfil demands from the Financial Services Board.

MTN Zakhele will miss the June 30 JSE listing deadline

By Ujuh

MTN Zakhele announced that it has applied for a further extension for the exemption of its share trading platform as it works towards a JSE listing.

This suggests that MTN Zakhele will miss the June 30 default deadline to list on the JSE.

MTN Zakhele, like other companies operating own shares over-the-counter (OTC) trading platforms, have been ordered by the Financial Services Board (FSB) to meet new standards. MTN Zakhele opted to abandon its OTC and to list on the JSE.

All along MTN Zakhele trading platform has been operating on temporary exemptions from the FSB new rules. The last exemption was issued about three months ago and is set to expire on June 30. MTN Zakhele had promised to move its listing onto the JSE before this expiry date.

Reporting the 2014 financial results, MTN Zakhele chairperson Thulani Gcabashe, said directors were still pursuing the JSE listing.

He said “The JSE is in the process of making amendments to its BEE board in order to accommodate restricted schemes like MTN Zakhele. MTN Zakhele will begin the process of listing once these amendments have been made. Shareholders will be advised in due course of developments relating to the listing.”

The company said it has applied for a further extension to the licence exemption as it continues to work towards a listing in order to enable shareholders to continue to trade their shares in a secure environment.

 

MTN reaffirms its zero tolerance stance on violence and intimidation

MTN remains firm on its offer, pledges to fully restore operations and reaffirms its zero tolerance stance on violence and intimidation

By Staff writer

 

As the industrial action by service employees enters its tenth day, MTN has reaffirmed that it will not budge on the offer it has tabled to striking employees and has once again pledged to bring the disrupted operations into full operational mode and safeguard the lives of non-striking employees and protect its infrastructure and facilities.

The strike has had minimal impact on MTN’s core operations which are running optimally. Reports that the strike has culminated in the bulk suspension of customers is baseless, sensationalist and alarmist. The only areas affected are some of the distribution and service centres. The 808 call centre is back online, though it is not yet fully operational. MTN has undertaken to bring these operations into full operational mode by the end of the week.

MTN has noted with concern the disruptive conduct of employees who continue to burn tyres on MTN premises, intimidate non-striking employees and barricade the main exits, thus infringing upon the rights of other employees and the company’s right to conduct business.

“This unruly conduct is in violation of the picketing agreement that MTN signed with the Communications Workers Union (CWU). MTN will be taking stern measures to safeguard its employees and protect its right to conduct business and offer services to its customers in line with its license obligations,” says Themba Nyathi, Chief Human Resource Executive: MTN South Africa.

MTN has also noted reports that the security personnel at its head office has subjected protesting employees to derogatory and racial slurs. MTN rejects any form of discrimination as it is out of kilter with MTN values and the spirit of the Constitution.

MTN maintains that their offer is better than what the Communications Workers Union (CWU) demanded initially.

MTN is offering an 8% guaranteed bonus which will be payable in two instalments. The first payment was made on March 2015, and the second instalment will be payable in December 2015. MTN’s maintains that this offer exceeds the original staff demand for 8% of bonus payment.

In addition, MTN has welcomed the establishment of a task team to look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

As a law abiding and responsible corporate citizen, MTN respects the employees’ rights of assembly and association as enshrined in the constitution. MTN respects the employees’ rights to protest as long as this is done within the confines of the law.

MTN has deployed extra security personnel as a precautionary measure to safeguard non-striking employees and protect its infrastructure and facilities.

“MTN will take disciplinary steps and lay criminal charges against employees who are implicated in acts of criminality. Resorting to acts of violence and intimidation is not in the spirit of negotiations and violates the laws of the land,” says Themba Nyathi, Chief Human Resources Executive: MTN South Africa. “The current revised MTN bonus model for 2015 and beyond is comprehensive, visionary and exceeds all previous expectations and demands.”

Nyathi says that MTN has tabled an offer to striking employees which is better than what the Communications Workers Union (CWU) demanded initially. MTN is offering an 8% guaranteed bonus which will be payable in two instalments. The first payment has been paid in March 2015, and the second instalment will be payable in December 2015. MTN maintains that this offer exceeds the original staff demand for 8% of bonus payment.”

In addition, MTN has welcomed the establishment of a task team to look into payment for Sundays and public holidays in accordance with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

Nyathi says that MTN has proposed for an independent arbitrator to adjudicate on this matter in a fair and impartial manner.

“MTN undertakes to abide by the findings of such an arbitrator as final and binding,” concludes Nyathi.

The dating jungle: how men and women see each other when online dating

By Jennifer Shukusky

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn’t stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association and reported on in the press suggested that when evaluating photographs from online dating profiles, men and women judge enhanced and un-enhanced photos somewhat differently.

Enhanced photos, those in which a person has used makeup, hair styling, filters, or post-editing, were rated by both men and women as more being attractive. But while women also rated men in these photos as more trustworthy than in ordinary photos, the opposite was true of women: men rated women in enhanced photos as less trustworthy.

Attractive man: happy, successful. Trust by Shutterstock

One theory posits that “what is beautiful is good”, which means people tend to attribute other positive traits to attractive people. For example, we tend to think that attractive people are also happier and more successful in their careers. This appears to be the case with the attractiveness and trustworthiness ratings made by women, but not by men.

In general, when evaluating potential romantic partners, men and women similarly respond that they want a kind, trustworthy, loyal, and honest partner. Men and women, however, diverge when it comes to some other traits such as resource acquisition (the ability to obtain and provide resources, typically financial) and physical attractiveness.

According to evolutionary theory, men who have cheap, disposable gametes can maximise their reproductive success by pursuing multiple partners. Women, on the other hand, have to invest much more time in the gestation and rearing of offspring. As a consequence of our biology, the theory goes, women seek loyal partners who can provide resources for them and the potential child. Men, however, value physical attractiveness in a female because good looks (for example, facial symmetry or youthfulness) are the manifestation of healthy genes and serve as signs of fertility.

This added emphasis on the value of physical attractiveness in the eyes of men may explain why they would put less trust in the women in the enhanced photos. Because attractiveness is important, but is masked in enhanced photographs, men ultimately have less desire to date those women. Ratings of attractiveness predicted desire to date, but perceived trustworthiness was also a significant predictor of desire to date.

Evolutionary motivations are unconscious and operate without our explicit awareness. Despite social norms and the availability of contraceptives, evolutionary theorists believe that innate, instinctual drives to reproduce still govern our behaviour (though others believe this to be too simplistic).

The online dating game

Today, more couples are meeting online than ever before. Dating sites provide someone seeking a partner with a pool of available options. When completing a profile on an online dating site, people want to put their best face forward, but still accurately portray their true selves. It becomes a battle between one’s ideal self and one’s actual self. As a result, when clicking through online profiles, people also expect to be deceived to some degree.

                                                                                                                                            Attractive woman: untrustworthy?

                                                                                                                                                            Dating by Shutterstock

Considering research related to evaluating potential partners, it seems we don’t always know what we want either. People often enter a dating site with some thoughts about the kind of significant other they are seeking, but research shows that people are not actually very accurate when it comes to attraction. After recording the traits of their ideal partners, speed-daters agreed to go on dates with people who are very much unlike the ideal partner they described. After recording the traits of their ideal partners, speed-daters involved in this study then agreed to go on dates with people who were very much unlike the ideal partner they described.

In another study , researchers asked people to describe an ideal partner and then paired the people with either an ideal (matching the description provided) or non-ideal person (who did not match the description provided by the participant). After viewing a written profile of a non-ideal match, few of their paired partners agreed that they would be interested in dating that person. However, after meeting their match, those paired with non-ideal partners were as interested in dating their partner as those paired with ideal partners. Overall, people did not know they could be attracted to these originally non-ideal people.

Online dating is successful for many individuals seeking love. While research has shown that people deceive others in their profiles, perceived deception can be negatively received. People can deceive others by misrepresenting their physical appearance or their personal narrative. There are those who struggle with the image of themselves they wish to portray, while others are trying to sort through the lies.

And then there are those who view others’ profiles thinking they know what they want, but in reality are attracted to someone quite different. So instead of judging all those books by their covers, it would probably be best for online daters to schedule some dates to meet potential partners in person. It could turn out to be an unexpected surprise.

Vodacom to make Loftus Versfeld Africa’s first truly ‘smart’ stadium

By Staff Writer

Large crowds at sports matches can mean frustratingly slow uploads of status updates and selfies, and make it all-but-impossible to view the video instant replays that you get when watching the big game at home. Vodacom’s latest full-stadium Wi-Fi solution is an African first and heralds the introduction of the smart stadium where connectivity issues will be a thing of the past and fans get the best of both worlds.

 Rugby fans visiting Loftus Versfeld will be able to connect to Vodacom’s new high-density Wi-Fi network, with faster data connectivity than ever before. The solution is the first step in making Loftus Versfeld Africa’s first truly ‘smart’ stadium.

“As the home of the Vodacom Blue Bulls and one of the most visited stadiums in South Africa, Loftus Versfeld was the obvious stadium for us to launch this project.  Our engineers have been hard at work, installing more than 40 km of fibre and more than 400 Wi-Fi access points. We tested the service for the first time at the Bulls-Lions match on 2 May and were incredibly pleased with the result,” said Andries Delport, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer.

The key to the success of Vodacom’s Wi-Fi at Loftus Versfeld is the commercial implementation of EAP-SIM technology. This is the first time this technology, which stands for Extensible Authentication Protocol, will be employed in South Africa. It enables a seamless switch between radio bearers (4G, 3G, 2G and Wi-Fi), meaning that a cellphone or tablet will connect to whichever bearer has the best connection, ensuring the fastest possible data access. EAP-SIM also means that during a Wi-Fi data session it will still be possible to receive voice calls.

“An EAP-SIM network offers real benefits to our customers. On top of better speeds there’s no need to buy additional Wi-Fi bundles to connect to the network. Instead, data will be drawn directly from a customer’s existing data allocation, making the connection and usage process simple. Non-Vodacom customers will also be able to buy Wi-Fi bundles to gain access,” said Delport.

The network, which was built by Cisco Systems, is made up of hundreds of Cisco Wi-Fi access points. By increasing the number of access points and using Wi-Fi spectrum, the data carrying capacity within the stadium has been dramatically increased. This ultimately means faster downloads and uploads, and less congestion. The solution is flexible and Vodacom has plans to increase the number of access points to 700 in the future.

Michael Kämper, Director Mobility at Cisco Services EMEAR, said: “Cisco Systems is proud to be associated with Vodacom in the first Cisco Connected Stadium Wi-Fi deployment in Africa. The combination of Vodacom’s market leadership in SA and Cisco’s global leadership for high-density Wi-Fi deployments is a winning combination.”Vodacombulls700x350

 As the home of one of the most passionate rugby franchises in South Africa, the Blue Bulls are always exploring innovative ways to bring the ultimate gaming experience to their fans. More than just a solution to congestion, Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company sees the solution as the first step to creating a next generation smart stadium that can enrich fan experience:

“At the moment, speeds in the majority of stadiums are not fast enough to stream video when a match is on and the network is congested. This can make watching content extremely frustrating. In some cases people would rather stay at home to watch the game on TV where they can easily view replays, see different camera angles or even catch games being played at other stadiums. Our new Wi-Fi network will change that. The ability to watch video content on their smartphones will give fans the opportunity to enjoy the vibe of being at a big game while at the same time enjoying the benefits that come from watching at home.

“One of the ways we plan to further add value to the stadium experience is via the Vodacom Rugby App. On top of being able to access exclusive content, location-based services will mean that in the future users will be able to access stadium specific promotions, have food and drinks delivered directly to their seats and even find out which bathrooms have less of a queue.”

Vodacom is currently in talks with other stadiums and public spaces, like shopping malls, to roll out the solution.

Email TechFinancials.co.za at editor@techfinancials.co.za

Net1 to tackle China market

Net1, which is involved in a legal brawl with SASSA and AllPay regarding a R10 billion government tender, is indirectly expanding into the lucrative Chinese market through the acquisition of  44% minority stake in Transact24 (T24), a specialist Hong Kong-based payment services company. By Gugu Lourie

The company didn’t disclose the value of the transaction.

However, the company that owns Zazoo that is in a process of internationalising its mobile virtual card  didn’t disclose the value of the transaction.

T24 is a Hong Kong-based Payment Services Company, established in 2006, with offices and satellite entities in Australia, Singapore, China, Mauritius, South Africa, Austria, Gibraltar, the USA and the UK.

T24’s payment services products include Chinese Debit Card and Credit Card Acquiring; ACH processing; and Prepaid Card Issuance and Prepaid Card Program Management. T24 owns the IP for all its processing systems and all its systems are PCI DSS Level 1 compliant.

“T24’s businesses are all complementary to Net1’s existing products and will further expand our product suite and geographic reach accordingly,” said Serge Belamant, chairman and CEO of Net1.

“The T24 management team has a wealth of experience in transaction processing, and will provide us with specialist marketing business development resources to expand the adoption of the Net1 product range including our Mobile Virtual Card product. T24 also provides Net1 with an entry into the rapidly growing Chinese e-commerce and transaction processing markets through its established relationships with China UnionPay and AliPay,” he said.

Belamant added: “We are delighted to have Net1 as a significant shareholder in the T24 group,” said Philip Meyer, CEO and co-founder of T24. “We are excited about the prospects of expanding our product range and markets, and to assist Zazoo with the roll-out of its revolutionary VCPay product.”

Net1 is a provider of alternative payment systems that leverage its Universal Electronic Payment System (“UEPS”) or utilize its proprietary mobile technologies. The Company operates market-leading payment processors in South Africa and the Republic of Korea.

 

 

The rise of wearable health tech could mean the end of the sickie

By Emmanuel Tsekleves

Now that the sun is shining and the temperature is rising, it’s officially sickie season: go to work, or get struck down with “flu”, a “24-hour virus”, or that faithful stand-by, the dodgy prawn takeaway.

Figures show that over a third of employees in the UK admit to pulling a sickie at some point or other. But things may be changing soon – wearable tech such as the Apple Watch, Microsoft Band, Fitbit, or Jawbone Up may become mainstream within a few years, bringing health monitoring capabilities that reveal how your body is performing. It’s not inconceivable that in time this same data could be used to prove how well, or unwell, you are – such as when phoning in sick.

Wearable health tech is still in its early days. These devices come with sensors that can record how many steps and how much exercise you’ve taken, how well and long you‘ve slept, stress levels, blood pressure, sun exposure, even what you’ve have eaten. Added together, all this could easily demonstrate that you’re not so sick after all.

Since some wearables are aimed at being fashionable accessories, employers might be minded to tap into the trend. So next time you’re pulling a sickie, you might need the data to back up your story. With GPS-equipped devices there’ll be no opportunity to escape your sickbed to a barbeque or trip to the beach, while ultraviolet sensors will detect the increase in sunshine and motion sensors detect movement not typically associated with bed rest.

Using your data against you

What if employers and health insurance companies move in the direction that the car insurance industry has taken, where every health transgression (a boozy night out, a Christmas feast, or too many lazy days on the sofa) could increase your health premium rates? Such a scenario isn’t so far away, and this should concern us. Apple is clearly making a beeline for the health and fitness industry with Watch and its integrated HealthKit software, now integrated with its iOS mobile operating system, and it is the only firm to do so.

Typically, health insurers use body mass index (a calculation of body fat that takes into account your age, weight and height) to set premiums, and some insurers set rates based on basic data from wearables, such as the number of steps we take link?. Fitbit and Jawbone Up are both already playing a bigger role in how health insurance is calculated, with more employers opting to monitor data generated by such wearable trackers. And here’s the catch: employers are holding their insured staff to account with penalties and rewards as part of an increasing number of so-called “corporate-wellness programmes”.

Is your wearable spying on you? MorePix, CC BY-SA

For example, at BP staff are given Fitbits for free as long as the company has access to their data. The more physically active an employee is (as measured by the device) the more points they’re awarded. Higher points lower the company’s insurance premium. Other companies are adopting similar wellbeing employee health insurance programmes too.

Consent, for now

Wearable tech is still far from perfect, and that means inventive workarounds will be found. A few acquaintances of mine who shall remain nameless have found creative ways of racking up a few more miles, while actually continuing their usual, less-than-active habits. These include holding and shaking the device for a few minutes at a time, or attaching it to their cat or dog, or offering pocket money to other, younger and fitter family members to wear. Obviously insurers and developers are aware of these, so it won’t be long until such loopholes are closed.

For now, we can consent to share our health data from wearables with employers or insurers in exchange or lower premiums or cheaper travel. But how long before the company wearable is a mandatory part of the uniform?

Local insurance industry slow to embrace new technology

By Gerhard Botha

Telematics and big data have generated much interest globally within the insurance industry. Yet, there is still reluctance amongst some SA insurers to adopt these practices. While local firms have the capability and know-how to implement, the low margins seem to compel them to remain conservative.

The prevalence of fraud in the industry has also necessitated many insurance firms to focus on security and other preventative measures, instead of investing in the likes of telematics and big data. Limited budgets mean that these technologies are simply not on the priority list.

Scepticism around the benefits that these provide, coupled with questions around their robustness and

Gerhard Botha, CTO of PBT Group
Gerhard Botha, CTO of PBT Group

trustworthiness, is part of this hindrance. Certainly, telematics is useful to understand behaviour but it is also very easy to manipulate.

On the big data side, many insurers do not see themselves as having large volumes of information. Many of the decision-makers feel that their current data management technology is sufficient for any analytical needs they might have. However, there still remains a demand for more skills to understand and exploit existing data assets.

Of course, as with any new technology, the biggest concern revolves around the connectivity required to implement and monitor it properly. Data in South Africa remains expensive and, at times, sporadic. With both telematics and big data requiring high volumes of data to be transferred, there is simply no capacity and reliability to work with a reasonable safe level of trust.

And you cannot forget the grudge purchase aspect of telematics. It requires technology to be installed in customer vehicles – and people still argue ‘why they should pay for something they do not want’. Additionally, telematics is of limited use to insurers because of its sensitivity to isolating poor driving behaviour. For example, through telematics it is difficult to determine if someone is racing or just changing lanes in dense traffic and therefore should be paid out by the insurer, should an accident occur.

However, with telematics expected to merge with the Internet of Things (IoT), more investment will be made in ensuring the stability and effectiveness of the technology. This is also contributing to the development of tools such as accelerometers, pressure gauges, speedometers, and location sensors to add to the value proposition of both telematics and the IoT.

And while we are still some time away of it being implemented, self-driving vehicles could significantly impact the insurance industry. This will also mean that significant telematics and big data technology would have to be rolled out.

However, even though companies are slow to adopt telematics and big data, there are positive signs. With a few insurers already developing customer solutions around these and others launching pilot projects and proof of concepts, this could be an exciting year for the South African market. Of course, whether customers will embrace these innovations remain to be seen.

SA should tax digital giants – PwC

Johannesburg – International companies that supplied content to South Africa via online streaming or subscription services should pay their fair share of tax, PwC said on Tuesday.

Such multinational companies did not have to comply with the same tax rules as their local counterparts, and in some instances were not taxed, head of indirect tax for PwC Africa Charles de Wet said in a statement.

“We are living in an era of unprecedented digital change. South Africa’s tax laws are outdated and have not kept pace with the growth of the digital economy,” he said.

“Digital giants should be held accountable and pay their fair share of South African taxes.”

The content streaming market had grown, with many service providers such as Netflix, DStv BoxOffice, and HBO Go, as well as online magazines, news and newspaper providers, becoming well known brands in South African households.

“Their popularity with internet users continues to spike, notwithstanding that many foreign content providers may not officially supply services to South Africa,” De Wet said.

“Despite this, South Africans are accessing these services by means of ‘location masking’ virtual private networks (VPN).”

Foreign content providers benefited from the “tax-free” nature of the services they supplied to South Africa. However, local suppliers were feeling the economic pinch as they were requited to pay both value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax, 28% of profits generated.

“This further increases the gap between domestic and foreign players in the online media industry and has a negative impact on revenues collected to finance necessary public services for South African residents,” said De Wet.

“This aside, technology companies have always stepped on one another’s toes to try to become the peoples’ gateway to the digital world – to be the only place people need to go to get what they want.”

The digital economy was rapidly becoming the economy itself, and South Africa needed to make sustainable provisions for these changes. – News24