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African energy experts lead discussions on innovation, blockchain at 10th Africa Energy Indaba
By Nana Appiah Acquaye
Influential African Energy experts are expected to lead discussions on the importance of innovation and regional integration at a time when the energy sector is undergoing a major transition at this year’s 10th Africa Energy Indaba Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa between 19 and 21 February.
According to a statement available to Biztechafrica, the discussions will focus on energy sector innovations in Africa exploring near and long-term prospects for technological advancements such as blockchain, where decentralisation and digitalisation play a more prominent role within the continent.
“Additional discussions will explore the role the private sector can play in supporting policies that drive innovation and financing of energy systems in Africa,” it said.
The Secretary General of the World Energy Council Christoph Frei noted in the statement how energy is at the forefront of the political and business agenda in Africa and that there is a triple energy transition under way world-wide and impacting the African energy system, driven by decarbonisation, innovation and new business models, as well as new risks and resilience approaches.
“Achieving a robust energy future in a context of the triple transition requires different approaches guided by innovative policies. Digitally enabled and distributed energy sources point strongly to a future energy landscape where decentralised approaches create entirely new opportunities for rural Africa and beyond. This is an opportune time for energy leaders to exchange views and discuss critical issues impacting the energy sector.”it stated.
Commenting on the upcoming event the Managing Director of Africa Energy Indaba, Liz Hart reiterated the fact that the African continent has endless potential for solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal energy resources and need for respective countries to unlock these potential – both conventional and renewable.
“The African Union’s Agenda 2063, has highlighted the growth potential of renewable energy and identified it as a priority for the next decade and that by 2040 it is forecast that renewables could provide more than 40% of all power generation with off-grid solar set to triple.
Key speakers at the Indaba and Africa Leader’s Dialogue will include: Kornelia Shilunga, Deputy Minister of Energy, Namibia; Amadou Hott, Head of Energy, the African Development Bank Group; Dr Elham Ibrahim, Vice-Chair for Africa, World Energy Council; Viktor Polikarpov, Regional Vice-President, Africa, Rosatom; Leon Viljoen, CEO, ABB South Africa; Paddy Padmanathan, ACWA Power; CEO of Bboxx, Mansoor Hamayun, and many more energy luminaries will be present.
A California appeals court has sided with Allan Candelore, a man suing Tinder over the pricing for its premium service, Tinder Plus.
Specifically, Candelore and his lawyers argued that by charging $9.99 per month if a user is under 30, versus $19.99 per month if you’re 30 or older, Tinder is discriminating based on age, in violation of the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law (those are both California laws).
Tinder co-founder Sean Rad defended the pricing at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference back in 2015 by saying, “Our intent is to provide a discount for our younger users.” Apparently a lower court agreed with Tinder’s reasoning, particularly the argument that younger users have less money to spend.
However, the appeals court came to a different conclusion:
No matter what Tinder’s market research may have shown about the younger users’ relative income and willingness to pay for the service, as a group, as compared to the older cohort, some individuals will not fit the mold. Some older consumers will be “more budget constrained” and less willing to pay than some in the younger group. We conclude the discriminatory pricing model, as alleged, violates the Unruh Act and the UCL to the extent it employs an arbitrary, class-based, generalization about older users’ incomes as a basis for charging them more than younger users. Because nothing in the complaint suggests there is a strong public policy that justifies the alleged discriminatory pricing, the trial court erred in sustaining the demurrer. Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse.
(Yes, that’s a real quote from the ruling.)
We’ve reached out to Tinder for comment and will update if we hear back.
It’s time to talk about tech addiction. Several tech execs and social media pioneers have come out of the woodwork in recent months to decry the dangers and harmful effects of our internet-addled society. Now a group of former Apple, Facebook, and Google employees are joining the charge with an anti-tech addiction coalition called the Center for Humane Technology.
The center has been organizing leaders and raising awareness “since 2014,” according to its website, but this week announced several new high-profile initiatives. As the New York Times reports, the center will kick off its efforts with a tech addiction ad campaign targeted at 55,000 US public schools.
Called “The Truth About Tech,” the campaign is designed to inform parents, teachers, and students about the potentially harmful effects of technology. In particular, the coalition is concerned about how time spent with a face buried in your smartphone or obsessed with virtual interactions such as likes and shares can contribute to anxiety, depression, shortened attention spans, sleep deprivation, and affect the healthy social development of young minds.
The center’s executive director and co-founder is Tristan Harris, formerly a design ethicist at Google, but its leadership, advisors, and supporters also include early Facebook investor Roger McNamee, former Apple and Google communications exec Lynn Fox, former Facebook execs Dave Morin and Sandy Parakilas, Lyft president John Zimmer, and Asana co-founder Justin Rosenstein, who created Facebook’s Like button.
“Our society is being hijacked by technology,” the center’s website reads. “What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental health, democracy, social relationships, and our children.”
The center’s core advocacy efforts focus on what it calls “Humane Design,” which frames device and app design in terms of vulnerability: how are we vunerable to overstimulation or “micro-targeted persuasion?” The website identifies 24/7 influence, social control, personalization, and the evolving predictive capabilities of AI as tectonic controlling forces allowing social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to automate billions of ads, social trends, and auto-play videos to drive profits.
Humane Design calls for device-makers like Apple and Samsung and social app companies such as Facebook and Snapchat to redesign their devices and interfaces to “protect our minds from constant distractions, minimize screen time, protect our time in relationships, and replace the App Store marketplace of apps competing for usage with a marketplace of tools competing to benefit our lives and society.”
The group also plans anti-tech addiction lobbying efforts, which will focus on two key pieces of legislation: a Democratic Senate bill being introduced to commission research on technology’s impact on children’s health, and a California bill prohibiting the use of digital bots without identification.
The marquee effort, however, is the “The Truth About Tech” ad campaign. The center is partnering with nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media on the $7 million campaign, which also boasts $50 million in donated media and airtime from Comcast, DirecTV, and other partners. Interestingly, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer told the Times that the campaign is modeled on anti-smoking campaigns, focusing on the most vulnerable of tech companies’ “customers”: children.
The Center for Humane Technology is the latest effort to curtail the power of tech giants and address the dangers of addictive technology. However, over the past several months the floodgates have already blown wide open.
Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker made headlines last November when he echoed the center’s philosophy, proclaiming that Facebook was engineered to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology.” Facebook also downplayed comments from venture capitalist and former VP of User Growth Chamath Palihapitiya, who opined that social media is ripping society apart.
Facebook and YouTube have already faced backlash over their child-focused apps, Messenger Kids and YouTube Kids. YouTube also faced a massive scandal late last year over disturbing and exploitative ads on its main service.
Then of course there’s Apple. In January, two major shareholders—activist investor Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System—sent an open letter to the company pushing for a study of iPhone addiction in children. Smartphones may be having “unintentional negative consequences” on young users, and a “growing societal unease” that could ultimately impact profits, they said. Apple is now planning new parental controls for iOS devices.
If these moves seem more like Silicon Valley playing catch-up on tech addiction than moving proactively, you’re not alone. The massive influence of Russian ads and bots on Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 election put a spotlight on the unchecked power of social networks and tech giants. Tighter government regulation may be a matter of “when” rather than “if.”
In the meantime, the first federal study of internet addiction is already underway by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine whether tech addiction (specifically online gaming) should be listed as an official mental disorder. The two-year study is set to wrap up in 2019.
The next generation of digital-native internet users are growing up with devices in their hands. We don’t yet know the full effects of what smartphones, social media, and 24/7 internet access has on the human mind, but one thing is clear: the days of blindly giving tech companies the benefit of the doubt are over.
USAID and KOICA Enhance Health Care Using Samsung e-Tracker Tablets
By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has embarked on digitizing healthcare in rural and hard-to-reach communities in Ghana using electronic touch screen tablets, the e-Tracker.
The initiative which is been carried out across some selected regions in the country is done in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service; the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA); Samsung; and Good Neighbors (a Korean NGO.
In statement available t Biztechafrica, it noted that under the partnership, the e-Tracker—a tablet-based tool which was developed to allow health workers to electronically collect and analyze health records, a transition from manual (paper and pen) to digital records will enable the Ghana Health Service to better manage patient cases and promote efficiency in data management.
According to the statement over 2,590 tablets were handed over to the Ghana Health Service by developing partners for onward distribution to health workers across the Upper East, Eastern, and Volta Regions following the official launch of the e-Tracker. An event gracefully attended by the Ghana Health Service Director General, Dr. Anthony Nsiah-Asare, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Melinda Tabler-Stone, the Korean Ambassador, Mr. H.E. Sung Soo Kim; KOICA Country Director, Mr. Yukyum Kim; and the Managing Director of Good Neighbors, Mr. Ilwon Seo.
U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Ms. Tabler-Stone highlighted the challenges that Community Health Officers face: “Daily, they travel from one location to another while encountering difficulties in transportation, attending to numerous patients and carrying heavy register books. The e-tracker initiative seeks to change this paradigm by moving away from manual registers to real-time tablet-based digital registry.”
The e-Tracker aligns with the government’s development agenda to boost the country’s journey toward full digitization. The e-Tracker relies on the District Health Information System, whereby health facilities enter their summary reports into an electronic database. This enables health workers to enter information on a tablet that automatically feeds into the district database; reducing inefficiencies in data capture, recall bias, and inaccurate reporting.
The e-Tracker is an initiative led by Ghana Health Service, with support from USAID, KOICA, and Samsung Under this partnership, USAID has contributed $2,000,000 through technical assistance; while Samsung Corporation has contributed a matching $2,000,000 through the procurement of tablets. KOICA facilitated the collaboration between USAID and Samsung.
Samsung has ended Intel’s 25-year run as the world’s biggest seller of chipsets after it posted its 2017 end of year financials.
The Korean tech giant’s chipset division — which has long been its biggest hitter — grossed total revenue of $69 billion in 2017, eclipsing the $62.8 billion Intel reported for last year. That was a record year for Intel — and an annual increase of six percent — but it wasn’t enough to stop Samsung from knocking it from the top spot, which Bloomberg reports it had occupied since 1992.
The writing was on the wall last year when Samsung beat Intel on a quarterly basis, but now it has held out for an annual win.
The change of position highlights Samsung’s focus on mobile, and in particular memory chips which are an essential part of smartphones. Intel’s chips may be in 90 percent of the world’s computers, but it missed the mobile boom and is playing catch-up.
Overall, Samsung’s entire business reported full-year profit of KRW 53.65 trillion ($50.7 billion) on revenue of KRW 239.58 trillion, $225 billion. For the final quarter of 2017, revenue was KRW 65.98 trillion ($62 billion) with KRW 15.15 trillion ($14 billion) in operating profit.
That’s a higher profit but slightly lower revenue than the previous quarter. The company’s mobile business actually saw its take-home drop by 3.2 percent year-on-year during Q4.
Looking ahead to 2018, Samsung said it intends to increase its chipset focus on cloud services, AI and automotive. On the smartphone front, where its name is best known among consumers, the company said it plans to adopt “cutting-edge technologies” like foldable displays. Samsung said also that it would continue to develop its smart services with a focus on its Bixby assistant and upcoming 5G technologies.
Featured Image: Bloomberg/Contributor/Getty Images
From February 6, PS4 owners can grab Knack and Rime for free. Knack is the PS4 launch title developed by Sony Japan and the system’s hardware architect, Mark Cerny. Rime, meanwhile, is a colorful adventure game released last year. You can read more about the two games in our Knack review and our Rime review.
PS3 owners, meanwhile, will receive platformer Spelunker HD and turn-based RPG Mugen Souls Z free of charge. Lastly, PS Vita’s free games for the month are 2D Metroidvania-style game Exile’s End and tactical RPG Grand Kingdom. The latter of these is also available for free on PS4 with Cross-Buy. As an added bonus, PS Plus subscribers can also grab the PSVR exclusive Starblood Arena for the low, low price of nothing until March 6.
With the announcement of these new additions, time is running out to get your hands on January 2018’s free PS Plus games, which include Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Batman: The Telltale Series. You can see all of January’s PS Plus games here or take a look below for the full list of February’s free PS Plus titles.
Africa Data Centres opens newly expanded carrier-grade facilities in SA
Africa Data Centres, part of the leading pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom, has launched newly-expanded data centres facilities in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa.
The state-of-the-art, carrier-neutral SADC Johannesburg and SADC Cape Town will provide leading cloud service providers, carriers and enterprises with additional rack space and colocation services to meet the rising demand for cloud-based services in Southern Africa.
Africa Data Centres has more than doubled the size of its existing South Africa-based facilities, which are built to Tier III standards and were acquired as part of Liquid Telecom’s ZAR 6.55 billion deal for Neotel in February 2017.
Following completion of the first phase of expansion, SADC Johannesburg now offers over 3000 square metres of secured space for data servers served through a total power capacity of 7MW, while SADC Cape Town provides 1800 square metres of secured rack space with 5.5MW of power.
Further stages of expansion are planned for SADC Johannesburg and SADC Cape Town as Africa Data Centres aims to increase space at the facilities by five-fold over the next five years.
The newly expanded SADC facilities were officially opened by the South African Minister for Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, at an exclusive launch event at SADC Johannesburg.
“As moving to cloud-based solutions becomes more commonplace, businesses across Africa require more carrier-neutral, open-access data centre space for their business-critical data and applications,” said Nic Rudnick, Group CEO, Liquid Telecom. “Through continuous investment in Africa Data Centres, we are providing the foundations for leading enterprises and cloud providers to come and build their digital future in Africa.”
SADC Johannesburg and SADC Cape Town are already home to nearly 100 customers, including global, regional and local telecoms operators, ISPs, cloud service providers and large enterprises.
Connected by the fibre routes of many major carriers, the facilities also host internet exchanges independently operated by INX-ZA. Through a partnership with INX-ZA, the Johannesburg Internet Exchange (JINX) has been expanded to SADC Johannesburg, while the Cape Town Internet Exchange (CINX) has been extended to SADC Cape Town, enabling connected members in any site to peer quickly and cost effectively with members in other data centres.
SADC Johannesburg and SADC Cape Town, along with partner locations East Africa Data Centre (EADC), Nairobi, and Central Africa Data Centre (CADC) are Africa’s largest and most diverse set of carrier grade, highly interconnected purpose-built data centre facilities.
They are interconnected by multiple networks including Liquid Telecom’s award-winning fibre network, which provides regional and international reach for customers. This allows businesses hosting data and cloud in Africa to have control and flexibility of where to host and back-up their data with geographic diversity.
Africa Data Centres is also currently expanding its award-winning East Africa Data Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, which houses 2,000 square metres of secured space for data servers over four floors. EADC is currently the only data centre in East Africa to hold a Tier III certification from the prestigious Uptime Institute.
SADC Johannesburg and SADC Cape Town are ISO 27001 certified, complying with high international information security management standards. The data centre facilities are also both PCI DSS compliant; the global information security standard set by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council to help control and minimise points of risk to fraud or compromise of sensitive information.
Customers at Africa Data Centres can also access Liquid Telecom’s CloudConnect for Microsoft ExpressRoute service, which enables businesses to create private connections between Azure data centres and infrastructure on-premises or in a colocation environment. In the first half of 2018, Liquid Telecom will be able to offer direct private connections to the South African Azure data centres – marking the first time that businesses in Africa will be able to access Azure on their own continent.