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Digital festival is back in JHB

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From 6 to 16 September, the Fak’ugesi African Digital Innovation Festival will once again transform Johannesburg into a celebration of technology, creativity, collaboration and innovation from across the African continent.

With its theme of ‘brave tech hearts beat as one’ the 2017 festival is centred on pioneering uniquely African technology and creativity in an electrifying ten-day programme to showcase the power of innovative collaboration.

The Tshimologong Precinct located at 47 Juta Street in Braamfontein will be at the heart of festivities to include opportunities for attendees to meet, play and share at a variety of seminars, talks, exhibitions, workshops, hack-a-thons, music, films, artists, games, innovation riots and much more.

Now in its fourth 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 exploring the importance of technology across sectors, from engineering, to gaming, to music, to public life and social development, the primary sponsors for Fak’ugesi 2017 are the Tshimologong Precinct, Ericsson, IBM Research | Africa and Red Bull.  Secondary sponsors include UN Habitat, City of Johannesburg and Maxum Digital (Innovation Hub). They are joined by the festival’s cultural partners Pro Helvetia & ANT Fund, British Council ConnectZA, French Institute, Canada 150, University of Dundee, Wits School of the Arts, NEoN Festival and Weheartbeat.

2017 Festival Director, Tegan Bristow, says this year’s Fak’ugesi Festival promises to deliver an exceptional line up geared towards bringing tech innovation to people in a fun, accessible and playful way. “Some incredible highlights at this year’s festival will include the Fak’ugesi Conference, the hugely popular Making Weekend, as well as our annual Market Hack event at the Nieghbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. We’re also thrilled to announce an exciting new curatorial partnership titled Fak’ugesi Beats, a beats, music and technology focus curated by We Heart Beat, who will go on to lead festival finale Beats Bloc Party as part of their larger program.”

Just some of the key events in this year’s ‘brave tech hearts beat as one’ Fak’ugesi Festival include:

8 September: Digital Africa Exhibition Opening & Festival Launch

8 to 10 September: Making Weekend, a free workshop programme to promote and celebrate skills development and skills exchange in the digital and technological space, catering to a variety of ages and experience levels. This will include a special focus on community driven urban design via Mixed Reality and Minecraft with Ericsson, UN Habitat and the City of Johannesburg.

11 to 13 September: Daring Curating, International Forum for Art and Technology in Africa, drawing the festival’s theme of bravery and collaboration, this forum brings together practitioners at all levels of professional experience to debate  issues around curating Art and Technology in Africa.

13 to 16 September: A MAZE, welcomes African and international game developers, digital artists, forward thinkers, entrepreneurs, and digital activists to South Africa to exchange tools, skills, and ideas in the fields of independent games and playful media.

14 September: Fak’ugesi Conference, this unmissable one-day event will highlight the important conversations on the role of collaboration and interdisciplinary practice for creativity, technology and innovation in Africa.

16 September: Fak’ugesi Beats Bloc Party, curated by We Heart Beat and featuring ColabNowNow by British Council ConnectZA together with Canada 150.

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Queues and cash-only frustrate SA’s commuters

A new study by Visa reveals the success factors for improving travel and creating smarter cities

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The use of cash-only payments was a frustration for 38% of Johannesburg commuters and 37% of Cape Town-based commuters, according to a new global study by Visa. Another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters.

Visa, in collaboration with Stanford University, came up with these findings in one of the largest global studies examining the growing demand for public and private transportation, and the important role digital commerce plays in driving sustainable growth.

According to the UN[i], by 2050, 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban centres – and the number of “megacities” with populations greater than 10 million people will rise from 43 today to 51 within that same period. South Africa is no different, with the majority of the country relying heavily on the public transport system. In fact, according to the General Household Survey (GHS) for 2018, a total of 54 209 000 minibus/taxi trips take place in South African per month. 

Building on Visa’s experience working with transit operators, automotive companies and technology start-ups, Visa commissioned a global study, “The Future of Transportation: Mobility in the Age of the Megacity” to better understand the challenges commuters face today and in the future. The key findings were combined with a view of existing and near horizon innovations provided by experts at Stanford University, to better understand the technology gaps in addressing their pain points.

The South African Perspective

Payments lie at the heart of every form of travel, and will continue to become more integral as more cities move to contactless public transportation, digital payments for parking and rental services such as bikes or scooters.  Malijeng Ngqaleni, Deputy Director-General of the South African Inter-governmental Relations, states that a high as 60% of South African households spend on average of 20% of their monthly income on transport, while in rural areas this number can be as high as 31%.

Aside from cash-only payments, another commuter frustration when paying for public transport has been long queues – 67% of Johannesburg commuters and 64% of Cape Town commuters. Over the last few years, a number of mobile-driven taxi-hailing apps have been launched in the South African market to counteract these concerns and commuters are open to the possibilities presented by mobile apps. The Visa study echoed this by showing that 77% of Johannesburg commuters and 76% of Cape Town commuters would be willing to try a consolidated app to make payments for public transport.

 Mike Lemberger, SVP, Product Solutions Europe, Visa says: “The future success of our cities is intertwined with – and reliant on – the future of transportation and mobility. Visa and our partners have an important role to play, both in streamlining the payment experience for millions of commuters around the globe, and supporting public transportation authorities in their quest to build sustainable and convenient transportation solutions that improve the lives of the people who use it.”

Herman Donner, PhD and Postdoctoral Researcher from Stanford University co-authored the report and summarised: “When looking across the technology landscape, there already exist many products that could easily address people’s daily frustrations with travel.  However, none of these solutions should be developed in isolation. A major challenge therefore lies in first identifying relevant technologies that provide suitable products for the market then managing implementation in conjunction with  a broad set of stakeholder including  mobility providers, technology companies, infrastructure owners and public transport agencies.  From our research, we think that many of these small, incremental changes have the potential to make a significant difference in people’s daily travel,  whether it’s to help find parking, get the best price to refuel their car or plan their journey on public transportation.”

Click here for the detailed global findings.

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Women take to tech, but more needed

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By HAIDI NOSSAIR, Marketing Director META, Dell Technologies

$12 trillion – that is the value in additional global GDP that remains locked behind the gender gap. This is according to the latest Women Matter report from McKinsey, which also reveals startling disparities in the workplace. Even though women make up more than half of the human population, only 37% contribute to GDP on average – and in some countries that proportion is significantly lower.

The reasons for this can be put in three areas. Fewer women – 650 million fewer than men – participate in the global labour force. Women are also more likely to be in part-time employment and thus work fewer hours. Finally, female employees are more common in lower-productivity sectors than in higher-productivity areas.  Are women not being offered the opportunity or are they holding themselves back?

Among STEM careers this ratio is particularly dismal: only 24% of engineering professionals are women, and as few as 19% of careers in ICT are filled by women.

What is the cause of this? Studies have found that women pursuing STEM careers are higher in countries with more oppressive policies towards women, because those careers hold the promise for financial freedom and more social autonomy. In contrast, countries with progressive attitudes towards women tend to produce fewer female STEM graduates. Then how can we encourage women from early ages to take the path of STEM education?  And how can organizations ensure women have equal opportunity at the hiring stages.

Certainly addressing gender inequality is crucial and must not stop.. Where women are increasingly more part of the workforce, there are often still barriers preventing them from assuming higher management roles. Female entrepreneurs often struggle more to gain investment capital. Corporate cultures are rarely aligned with the pressures of balancing work and family obligations. Decision makers may simply lack exposure to the potential of female candidates. Female pioneers have also argued that women are too risk-averse when compared to men. 

Whether these assertions are true is a matter for debate – and that’s exactly why every professional man and woman should be talking about them and identify action to change the status-quo. This is not just about female rights, but about social upliftment: companies with a mixture of male and female leaders perform better across the board and companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability.

The digital economy we live in today represent a golden opportunity for increased women contribution to the workforce as technology breaks the boundaries of location and time for the workplace and where labor intensive jobs may today be performed by data scientists. 

For two days in March, top professionals will gather to talk and exchange ideas around creating more roles for women, larger appreciation for female professionals, as well as counter the attitudes among women holding them back from greater career success and autonomy.

If you want to be part of this conversation, join the Women in Tech Africa summit today at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town – learn more at https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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