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Africa Tech Riot coming

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From 19 August to 3 September the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is back in Johannesburg to explore and celebrate technology and creativity by Africans for Africa. |From 19 August to 3 September the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival is back in Johannesburg to explore and celebrate technology and creativity by Africans for Africa. 

The 2016 festival has cast its central theme as ‘Afro Tech Riot’ as community, femininity, notions of the spiritual, and exploring African knowledge systems in the creative, innovative and technological space come to life in an unmissable calendar of events.

The Tshimologong Precinct, previously Inc nightclub, is located at 47 Juta Street in Braamfontein and extends half the city block along Juta Street and between Station and Henri Streets. It will be transformed into an energetic techno-sphere for two weeks of playing, making, shifting, and sharing through seminars, talks, exhibitions, game arcades, workshops, performances, innovation riots, installations, tech demos, pitches, parties and future sounds. All events are open for public particpation and are aimed at all levels of experience, from ‘just interested’ to professional developers. Keep your eye out for the full program on www.fakugesi.co.za by the end of July.

Now in its third successful year, Fak’ugesi was originally founded by Prof Christo Doherty and Tegan Bristow from Wits Digital Arts, together with Prof Barry Dwolatzky from the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE). From the isiZulu term meaning “add power” or “put on the electricity”, Fak’ugesi acts as a platform that brings together diverse digital and technology sectors to collaborate and share skills in digital media and technology innovation.

In the spirit of celebrating African technology and innovation through creativity, and supporting the festival in its project to develop Johannesburg’s ICT capacity, the primary sponsor for Fak’ugesi 2016 is the City of Johannesburg. The festival’s annual partners also include the JCSE, Wits University, the British Council’s ConnectZA and InnovationZA and the Goethe Institut, together with new partners Pro Helvetia Johannesburg and the Innovation Hub.

2016 Festival Director, Tegan Bristow, says that The Tshimologong Precinct, which has been under construction for the last year and a half, will officially launch with this year’s Fak’ugesi Festival with what promises to an outstanding line up geared towards bringing tech innovation to people in a fun, accessible and playful way.

In 2016, annual favourites return to the festival, including:

Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency, in which artists and creative technologists work together to better understand and explore contemporary technology from a creative perspective. In 2016 the Fak’ugesi Digital Africa Residency is supported by and is being produced in collaboration with Pro Helvetia Johannesburg. Visitors can attend exhibitions and workshops with artists.

Agile Africa Conference, the software developer’s conference organised by the JCSE. Developers, testers, project managers and line managers participate in three days of sessions focused on the challenges of software development in Africa. The conference will run from 22 to 24 August.

Members of the South African Maker Collective together with the ConnectZA lead Market Hack, to present playful activities around electronics, digital making and general Saturday fun on the 27 August alongside the weekly Neigbourgoods Market in Braamfontein.

A MAZE Johannesburg, a festival in its own right focusing on both local and international indie gaming and playful media will take place from 31 August to 3 September. Visitors can look forward to talks and workshops, as well as playing in the A MAZE Arcade.

Soweto Pop Up, started in 2015 in collaboration between A MAZE Johannesburg and Maker Library Network (ConnectZA), this is a day-long festival pop–up that aims to bring digital making and playful media to locations outside of Braamfontein.

In addition to annual favourites, the following will be key events in this year’s brand new and exciting program:

ALIGHT, led by Between10and5 and Create Africa in partnership with the French Insitut and ConnectZA this street event is a spectacular showing of light art, light sculpture, architectural light installation and light based interactive games.

Future Sounds, in this project Berlin based artists and technologists, The Constitute, (hosted by Goethe Insitut Johannesburg) will collaborate with Johannesburg based Create Africa in a project that will bring together SA’s hip-hop and electronic music artists, local filmmakers lead by Lebo Rasethaba and technologists. The outcome of the collaboration will be performed live at the festivals ALIGHT party.

Smart City Day, a day focusing specifically on Johannesburg and the city’s drive towards better ICT and will feature the 2016 Hack Jozi finalists, the School Project in collaboration with Wits Digital Arts and much more.

Geekulcha Maker Library Pop Up, is the ConnectZA Maker Library grant recipient for 2016 and will be ‘occupying’ the festival for its full length to bring a series of fun, interesting and playful tech related workshops and events. Their full programme will include everything from learning about 3D to making holograms and even space walking.

Fak’ugesi Festival Talks, a fun and informative talk series featuring the Fak’ugesi Residents and projects, with nights curated by special guests such as Bubblegum Club and more. The series is designed to speak directly to the 2016 festival themes; community, the feminine, and spirituality in technology in Africa.

Along with these key events, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will be packed with smaller events, workshops and engagements aimed at people, young and old, and at all levels of expertise.  The festival invites everyone to claim their territory in the digital innovation movement, and bring together creativity and technology by Africans for Africa.

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VoD cuts the cord in SA

Some 20% of South Africans who sign up for a subscription video on demand (SVOD) service such as Netflix or Showmax do so with the intention of cancelling their pay television subscription.

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That’s according to GfK’s international ViewScape survey*, which this year covers Africa (South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria) for the first time.

The study—which surveyed 1,250 people representative of urban South African adults with Internet access—shows that 90% of the country’s online adults today use at least one online video service and that just over half are paying to view digital online content. The average user spends around 7 hours and two minutes a day consuming video content, with broadcast television accounting for just 42% of the time South Africans spend in front of a screen.

Consumers in South Africa spend nearly as much of their daily viewing time – 39% of the total – watching free digital video sources such as YouTube and Facebook as they do on linear television. People aged 18 to 24 years spend more than eight hours a day watching video content as they tend to spend more time with free digital video than people above their age.

Says Benjamin Ballensiefen, managing director for Sub Sahara Africa at GfK: “The media industry is experiencing a revolution as digital platforms transform viewers’ video consumption behaviour. The GfK ViewScape study is one of the first to not only examine broadcast television consumption in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but also to quantify how linear and online forms of content distribution fit together in the dynamic world of video consumption.”

The study finds that just over a third of South African adults are using streaming video on demand (SVOD) services, with only 16% of SVOD users subscribing to multiple services. Around 23% use per-pay-view platforms such as DSTV Box Office, while about 10% download pirated content from the Internet. Around 82% still sometimes watch content on disc-based media.

“Linear and non-linear television both play significant roles in South Africa’s video landscape, though disruption from digital players poses a growing threat to the incumbents,” says Molemo Moahloli, general manager for media research & regional business development at GfK Sub Sahara Africa. “Among most demographics, usage of paid online content is incremental to consumption of linear television, but there are signs that younger consumers are beginning to substitute SVOD for pay-television subscriptions.”

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New data rules raise business trust challenges

When the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on May 25th, financial services firms will face a new potential threat to their on-going challenges with building strong customer relationships, writes DARREL ORSMOND, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

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The regulation – dubbed GDPR for short – is aimed at giving European citizens control back over their personal data. Any firm that creates, stores, manages or transfers personal information of an EU citizen can be held liable under the new regulation. Non-compliance is not an option: the fines are steep, with a maximum penalty of €20-million – or nearly R300-million – for transgressors.

GDPR marks a step toward improved individual rights over large corporates and states that prevents the latter from using and abusing personal information at their discretion. Considering the prevailing trust deficit – one global EY survey found that 60% of global consumers worry about hacking of bank accounts or bank cards, and 58% worry about the amount of personal and private data organisations have about them – the new regulation comes at an opportune time. But it is almost certain to cause disruption to normal business practices when implemented, and therein lies both a threat and an opportunity.

The fundamentals of trust

GDPR is set to tamper with two fundamental factors that can have a detrimental effect on the implicit trust between financial services providers and their customers: firstly, customers will suddenly be challenged to validate that what they thought companies were already doing – storing and managing their personal data in a manner that is respectful of their privacy – is actually happening. Secondly, the outbreak of stories relating to companies mistreating customer data or exposing customers due to security breaches will increase the chances that customers now seek tangible reassurance from their providers that their data is stored correctly.

The recent news of Facebook’s indiscriminate sharing of 50 million of its members’ personal data to an outside firm has not only led to public outcry but could cost the company $2-trillion in fines should the Federal Trade Commission choose to pursue the matter to its fullest extent. The matter of trust also extends beyond personal data: in EY’s 2016 Global Consumer Banking Survey, less than a third of respondents had complete trust that their banks were being transparent about fees and charges.

This is forcing companies to reconsider their role in building and maintaining trust with its customers. In any customer relationship, much is done based on implicit trust. A personal banking customer will enjoy a measure of familiarity that often provides them with some latitude – for example when applying for access to a new service or an overdraft facility – that can save them a lot of time and energy. Under GDPR and South Africa’s POPI act, this process is drastically complicated: banks may now be obliged to obtain permission to share customer data between different business units (for example because they are part of different legal entities and have not expressly received permission). A customer may now allow banks to use their personal data in risk scoring models, but prevent them from determining whether they qualify for private banking services.

What used to happen naturally within standard banking processes may be suddenly constrained by regulation, directly affecting the bank’s relationship with its customers, as well as its ability to upsell to existing customers.

The risk of compliance

Are we moving to an overly bureaucratic world where even the simplest action is subject to a string of onerous processes? Compliance officers are already embedded within every function in a typical financial services institution, as well as at management level. Often the reporting of risk processes sits outside formal line functions and end up going straight to the board. This can have a stifling effect on innovation, with potentially negative consequences for customer service.

A typical banking environment is already creaking under the weight of close to 100 acts, which makes it difficult to take the calculated risks needed to develop and launch innovative new banking products. Entire new industries could now emerge, focusing purely on the matter of compliance and associated litigation. GDPR already requires the services of Data Protection Officers, but the growing complexity of regulatory compliance could add a swathe of new job functions and disciplines. None of this points to the type of innovation that the modern titans of business are renowned for.

A three-step plan of action

So how must banks and other financial services firms respond? I would argue there are three main elements to successfully navigating the immediate impact of the new regulations:

Firstly, ensuring that the technologies you use to secure, manage and store personal data is sufficiently robust. Modern financial services providers have a wealth of customer data at their disposal, including unstructured data from non-traditional sources such as social media. The tools they use to process and safeguard this data needs to be able to withstand the threats posed by potential data breaches and malicious attacks.

Secondly, rethinking the core organisational processes governing their interactions with customers. This includes the internal measures for setting terms and conditions, how customers are informed of their intention to use their data, and how risk is assessed. A customer applying for medical insurance will disclose deeply personal information about themselves to the insurance provider: it is imperative the insurer provides reassurance that the customer’s data will be treated respectfully and with discretion and with their express permission.

Thirdly, financial services firms need to define a core set of principles for how they treat customers and what constitutes fair treatment. This should be an extension of a broader organisational focus on treating customers fairly, and can go some way to repairing the trust deficit between the financial services industry and the customers they serve.

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