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Funding for IT skills in SA

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WeThinkCode_, a new peer-to-peer institution dedicated to eliminating the IT skills gap, has been launched in South Africa with a three-year founding sponsorship from First National Bank, BBD and Derivco.  

WeThinkCode_ “identifies and trains brilliant young minds to become world-class programmers in a peer-to-peer problem solving learning environment”, says the company. In partnership with Ecole 42 in France (www.42.fr), WeThinkCode_ will open its first campus in January 2016 in Johannesburg. Tuition-free, the organisation partners with companies to sponsor the two-year course and ensure a sustainable business model.

As Founding Sponsors; FNB, BBD and Derivco will provide financial support for the launch of the programme and will play a role in ensuring the curriculum stays relevant to the industry. Students will also be able to interact with sponsors through internship opportunities and projects throughout their coursework.

The three founding sponsorships add to a number of South African and international companies who have joined WeThinkCode_ as corporate sponsors, ensuring the opening of the Johannesburg campus for the first 100 students in January 2016.

A WeThinkCode_ statement this week said: “The breadth of support we are receiving is a testament to the need for a new education model to source and train highly skilled software engineers in South Africa. There are 3.4 million unemployed youth in South Africa, and we believe that within this pool, there is immense talent and aptitude to become world-class developers.”

Marcel Klaassen, Head of Growth at FNB Business, explained the company’s purpose in the sponsorship: “This partnership supports FNB’s market leading ecosystem of innovative banking products, services, value adds and high growth entrepreneurial businesses. The unique coding education model also offers new job opportunities for aspiring IT experts, regardless of financial means or background. We look forward to working with the dynamic team at WeThinkCode_ and investing in the future of tech education in South Africa.”

Peter Searle, BBD CEO echoed these thoughts: “At BBD we know that the aptitude to be a programmer is not necessarily aligned to formal computer science training, and hence WeThinkCode’s unique and disruptive approach to identifying and training talent is for BBD a compelling proposition to support our efforts to develop programming as a key skill in South Africa. BBD’s sponsorship of WeThinkCode is aligned to our own strategic need for additional programming skills and to our ongoing community based efforts to develop IT skills in South Africa.”

“Derivco is honoured to be part of a programme that is rooted in the power of education and aimed at the betterment of South Africans,” said Dion Hatton, Derivco CEO. “The dynamic partnership with WeThinkCode_ has given us an invaluable opportunity to pursue our passion of developing people. The software development industry is rapidly expanding in South Africa and it is an exciting place to be.”

Created by four young entrepreneurs, WeThinkCode_ is designed to respond to the desperate IT skills shortage and lack of education opportunities in South Africa. The programme is free and open to all talented and resilient candidates aged 17 to 35, regardless of previous education, socio-economic background or financial means. Student applications open on 1 October 2015, to apply sign up on www.borntocode.co.za

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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