Category Archives: ICT

South African Startup looking to disrupt workplace collaboration market in Africa

Connect-2-Me (C2Me) is a South African start-up founded in 2016 by Gary Swale, Ray Hayes, Eugene Theron and Lloyd Thompson – who were the previous owners of Knowledge Dimension, a company now own by IBM.

According to Gary Swale, the startup is a cloud-based business collaboration platform setup to removes barriers in work-space so that members of the workforce are engaged, empowered and in the process helping to transform the business.

“It creates an ecosystem that enables organisations to deliver meaningful and compelling value to people in and outside the organisation, through addressing gaps in communication, supporting responsiveness and driving innovation,”

“Many businesses continue to operate in silos, which compounds existing barriers to communication. Add to this, the disconnect in organisations between employees who are ‘online’ and those who aren’t, and an even larger rift in communication, productivity and efficiency is caused.”

Read: What is Cloud Computing?

“We are at a stage where we have proven the concept, both in terms of technology and customer acceptance, and would be open to holding discussions with parties who could assist with developing and growing the business from both a funding perspective as well as being able to open doors in terms of access to markets and customers,” says Gary.

Gary believes this could be an opportunity to create another South African success story.

The C2Me was developed in, and hosted in, IBM Bluemix, a cloud platform for developers to build and run modern apps and services. Hamilton Ratshefola, country GM for IBM SA, says Bluemix enables developers to launch quickly, iterate continuously and scale with success. he added that C2Me is a business partner to IBM and has a viable business model.

“However, before we brought them onto our Enterprise Development Programme, they did not have adequately skilled staff to enable them to scale up their business and elicit big deals,” Ratshefola points out.

Garry adds “We have successfully integrated selected IBM Watson services into the C2Me platform. So this is a South African world-class solution using state-of-the-art technologies.”

Watson is IBM’s artificially intelligent computer system is capable of answering questions posed in natural language. Watson wowed Tv viewers by beating the two best human contestants of a game in the Jeopardy show.

Read: Watson’s Sister Lucy is Growing Up With the Help of IBM’s Research Team

Source: ITWeb

Facebook Reaches 16 Million Users in South Africa

Facebook has passed 16 million users in South Africa, according to regional director for Facebook Africa, Nunu Ntshingila.

Speaking to the SABC, Ntshingila said that the Facebook Africa branch was currently focused on a number of areas including new policies and products, as well as “looking after” a number of businesses in South Africa that make use of the platform “At the end of the day, this office is the centre of innovation,” she said.

“We always have our clients, businesses, and community owners here just to sit down with them and make sure that we are responding to some important issues – and we are learning from them.”

The 16 million represents a major increase – over 4 million more users since the 12 million recorded in September 2016 according to a  WorldWideWorx report.

The report highlighted that while Facebook’s numbers continued to grow, the platform was also seeing increasing engagement. Over the course of 2016, the average number of likes per post grew from 80 to 108.

The average number of comments per post increased from 10 to 12, and, on average, posts are also shared more – growing from 6 to 11 shares per post.

Originally published in BusinessTech

Africa Can’t Leapfrog Industrialization without Infrastructure – Harvard Professor

The wide adoption of mobile phones in Africa, along with finance technologies like mobile banking and e-commerce, the use of drones to transport medical supplies,  the dramatic drop in the cost of solar energy and a lot more accomplishments in other sectors like energy, education, health, transportation, and agriculture points to the widespread adoption of new technologies across Africa.

The success of M-Pesa, a cell-phone-based mobile banking application with 30 million users across 10 countries, threatening to disrupt traditional banking systems around the world  has served as an inspiration to young Africans and has created remarkable technological enthusiasm on the continent.

These successes inevitably lead to talk about how Africa is “leapfrogging” more advanced economies. Leapfrogging, in this context, is when countries skip a step in development thanks to rapid innovation—from no phones to smartphones, for example. The mobile phone, in this context, has allowed African countries to avoid the heavy investments required to build fixed-line networks.

But Professor Calestous Juma of of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School, faults this approach  in his recent paperLeapfrogging Progress, The Misplaced Promise of Africa’s Mobile Revolution. He said,

Overall, the mobile revolution has given hope to Africans that they too can be dynamic and innovative players in the global economy, transcending the continent’s current reliance on raw material exports. But while cases such as M-Pesa offer inspiration, the promise of leapfrogging remains largely unfulfilled.

Juma explains that the failure of the mobile revolution going on in Africa to stimulate industrial development in Africa is partly as a result the  assumption that Africa can leap into the service economy without first building basic infrastructure and a manufacturing base,  which he referred to as a faulty narrative.

Juma, a well-respected advocate for the role of entrepreneurship and technological innovation in Africa’s development, says that African policymakers should revisit their respective industrial policies as there is no shortcut to industrial development.

He points out that no advanced economy got where it is today by cutting corners and sidestepping (that is, leapfrogging) industrialization. He reminds us industrialization requires infrastructure and insists that leapfrogging is not the answer:

Infrastructure is both the backbone of the economy and the motherboard of technological innovation. African countries need adequate infrastructure to realize their full potential.

It is not too late for Africa to become a dynamic and entrepreneurial region driven by innovation. It is certainly right to keep its sights set on technological innovation as an essential driver of economic growth, and as the key to moving beyond the vagaries of commodity exports. But such innovation will depend on industrial development — and the infrastructure and technical capacity it enables — that cannot be leapfrogged.

Moving Africa from its current focus on raw material exports, value addition, and consuming technology to becoming a learning economy and technology producer, will require 21st-century industrial policy that supports continuous interactions among government, industry, and academia in open competitive and collaborative innovation ecosystems. Leapfrogging particular technologies, such as landlines, may in some cases be an option. But industrialization itself, and the innovation and development it generates, cannot be skipped over.