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Senegal in semi-finals with app for handicapped

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Team Handi’Educ from Senegal are representing sub-Saharan Africa in the Ericsson Innovation Awards for an app they designed to support handicapped children in a learning environment.

Team Handi’Educ from Senegal has emerged a semi-finalist in the Ericsson Innovation Awards representing sub-Saharan Africa. The innovative team, comprising three engineering students, developed an educative web/mobile application to support handicapped children in a learning environment.

HANDI’EDUC is an educative web/mobile application for handicapped children. The application addresses challenges faced by children who have vision, speech, hearing and mobility disabilities. Some of the features of the innovation include converting text to audio for the visually impaired and converting speech by educators to text for learners who may be hearing and speech impaired.

It will be developed in a multi-platform environment and it will run on all devices. According to the type of handicap it will offer different functionalities to support the handicapped.

Fatou Diop, Team Lead, Handi’Educ says: “We are thankful that we made it to the semi-finals of this competition. Our team is committed to helping children from all over the world, irrespective of economic background, gain access to quality education and we appreciate the platform to achieve this”.

Started in 2009, the competition began as the Ericsson Application Awards, a research and development initiative to spark app development and boost innovation.

In 2015, the competition’s name was changed to the Ericsson Innovation Awards, and the scope was broadened to target university talent globally. It has moved from being a competition based on app development to one focusing on innovation.

Tumi Sekhukhune, Vice President and Head of Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Ericsson, says: “The Ericsson Innovation Awards creates a platform for inspired undergraduates with a vision of the future to share their insights. This year, several exciting ideas were received on the future of learning from sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. We are proud that one of the ideas that emerged from our region is in the running to showcase their ideas to a global audience.”

With education playing a key part in the move toward Ericsson’s vision of the Networked Society – where everything that can be connected will be connected – the 2015 theme is The Future of Learning.

The competition has been open to students from any academic institution, and in 2015, 270 teams from 43 countries have entered.

The finalists will be announced on March 16.

The finalists will then gather at Ericsson’s headquarters in Sweden, where the winners will be revealed on April 15.

ABOUT THE COMPETITION:

Each team was required to provide a product description document, a business case and a description of why their idea should be chosen, along with contact information.

Ten semifinalists have been chosen by a mix of an Ericsson jury and an open voting process. The Ericsson jury will now whittle down this group to the four teams that will make it to the finals.

A specially composed finalist jury will then decide who gets first, second and third place.

The prizes are EUR 25,000 for first place, EUR 10,000 for second place and EUR 5,000 for third. All 10 semifinalists will be invited to an interview with Ericsson, with the possibility of landing either a job or an internship with the competition after their studies.

The evaluation criteria for 2015 are:

•             CSR positive impact – Technology For Good

•             Global versus local (multimarket potential)

•             Value argumentation – potential revenue or cost reduction

•             Can the idea be easily developed?

•             User benefit – can the idea be easily deployed?

•             Innovative solution.

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These are the trends driving innovation in Africa

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According to new research, across all consumer industries, innovation in sub-Saharan Africa is seeing new products and services offered to address challenges the continent faces. 

Global market research company Euromonitor International revealed the top trends in the African retail market at its first conference in Johannesburg this week.

The research identified eight trends driving innovation in sub-Saharan Africa:

  1. Accommodating basic services: There is a long-term benefit in helping communities gain access to basic services, such as water, electricity, and agricultural expertise to develop farm lands.
  2. Going Rural: Urbanisation has been the standard metric for defining the development of a country. The continent has a lot to gain by looking at opportunities within rural areas.
  3. Sustainability: In a region that already suffers from droughts, heat stress and flooding, sustainability is not just about using recycled products but addressing water shortages on the continent.
  4. Local ingredients: Despite the wealth of ingredients available in sub-Saharan Africa, ingredients are still imported from other countries, as the technical expertise for processing is lacking.
  5. Technology: mobiles, hubs and Apps: Many Africans are using technology to create opportunities beyond mobile payments.
  6. Partnerships and cooperatives: Small business is fast becoming the success story of Africa, with many of them locally based and able to tap into the needs and interests of the local community.
  7. Go very local: While Africans are embracing modern technology, they also want to keep cultural and social nuances alive. 
  8. Creative paying systems: Payment systems are helping businesses and consumers alike – get access to basic needs and services.

Matthew Carty, Euromonitor global sales director for academics, said: “The eight trends impacting innovation in sub-Saharan Africa provide insight into opportunities to win in Africa. These trends leverage local resources and infrastructures influencing the flow of goods between countries – or through the supply chain and into the hands of the end consumer.”

The sub-Saharan African market faces numerous challenges. Opportunities can be developed by turning challenges into concepts and turning those concepts into opportunities. The eight trends see innovation and solution-provision going hand in hand. This will foster economic empowerment, enabling Africa to continue its story as a continent on the rise.

Download a free copy of the presentations here: https://bit.ly/2Uyu5I4

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Diversity is crucial to tech

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By DOUG WOOLLEY, GM Dell EMC South Africa

Gender inequality has dogged the ITC world for a long time. According to research from McKinsey, less than 20% of roles in the sector are filled by women. Overall, the report found that women under-contribute to global GDP because they are more likely to be employed in low-productivity sectors instead of high-productivity ones such as business services. This needs to change.

Humans are social creatures. It’s hardwired in us to communicate, collaborate and lift each other to achieve. There isn’t a single example in history where someone accomplished anything great on their own. Behind every iconoclastic moment stands a group of people who were there to help, advise and create. Humans are stronger together – that’s how we’ve come so far.

For Dell Technologies this is not even a matter for debate. Its culture code includes winning together, selflessness and relationships. A long time ago the company affirmed not only that people are its most valuable assets, but that diversity is fundamental especially in today’s fast-evolving world. This is why it’s proud to sponsor the Women In Tech Africa summit, due to happen on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town.

Brian Reeves, our international chief diversity and inclusion officer, said it best: it’s in the DNA of the company. It’s not what we do, it’s who we are. That message has particular importance in South Africa, where we have a constitution that celebrates equality. Yes, this is a very unequal country, but that’s why we must take this responsibility even more seriously. Diversity is a competitive advantage, but in the case of South Africa it’s how we are defining the future.

Summits such as these are very important. We have to move past the perception that diversity and inclusion are only for window dressing. The fact is I can tell you all the time how serious Dell Technologies is about this, but only action grows real change. So we are very happy and keen to support this summit because it tackles a very crucial and multi-dimensional topic.

Our team is very focused on expanding Dell EMC SA’s diversity. Last year he sponsored the launch of the Black Network Alliance’s first non-US chapter, right here in South Africa, and initiated by Dell EMC’s Black Networking Alliance (BNA) EMEA Lead Angela Allen. The BNA is one of numerous Dell Technologies employee resource groups (ERGs). Spread across more than 60 countries and 300 chapters, these ERGs include groups for a variety of concerns, including empowering women.

Not only are there ERGs, but Dell Technologies audits and scrutinises its diversity projects with the same rigour and expectations as it would for other parts of the business, taking into account how it impacts the top line, bottom line, and innovation. Sponsoring the Women in Tech Africa summit is yet another confirmation of how seriously Dell EMC SA treats diversity as a business advantage. It’s a message resonated by partners such as VMWare, another sponsor for the summit.

Lorna Hardie, regional director at VMware sub-Saharan Africa, said: “As part of a global business where inclusion has moved from a discussion around the boardroom table to one we live and breathe every day, it is critical that we bring these actions, and not just teachings to all women in Africa. Supporting platforms such as the Women in Tech Africa summit, provides us with an opportunity to put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion, to share the collective experiences that as sister companies we share, and work on bringing a working inclusive model to the African workplace.”

The Women in Tech Africa summit will take place on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Century City Conference Centre. Visit https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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