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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most followed world leader on Facebook with 43.2 million followers, almost twice as many as Donald Trump who is in second place with 23.1 million followers, according to the “World Leaders on Facebook” study.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most followed world leader on Facebook with 43.2 million followers, almost twice as many as Donald Trump who is in second place with 23.1 million followers, according to the “World Leaders on Facebook” study.

As of March 15, 2018, Queen Rania of Jordan is in third place with 16 million followers, ahead of the institutional page of the Indian Premier, @PMOIndia, with 13.9 million followers. Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has shot into fifth position of the most followed world leaders, with 9.6 million followers and a growth rate of 48 percent.

The study analyzes the activity of 650 Facebook pages of heads of state and government and foreign ministers from January 1, 2017 using aggregate data from Facebook’s Crowdtangle tool.

Over the past 14 months, the Facebook page of President Trump had by far the most interactions of any world leader on Facebook, with a total of 204.9 million interactions (defined as the total number of comments, likes and shares), almost twice as many as Narendra Modi with 113.6 million interactions. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has 46 million interactions and Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri follow with 36 and 33.4 million interactions, respectively.

The World Leaders on Facebook study found that 175, or 91 percent, of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states maintain an official Facebook page. In addition, 109 heads of state, 86 heads of government and 72 foreign ministers maintain personal pages on the platform.

“Burson Cohn & Wolfe’s World Leaders on Facebook study is the premier work on how governments use the platform for political communications,” said Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer, Burson Cohn & Wolfe. “It is clear that world leaders are increasingly using social media to communicate directly with their constituents and platforms like Facebook to bring a personal, humanizing tone to their communications.”

Facebook has become the key platform for world leaders and governments to engage with voters, supporters and citizens. As of March 15, 2018, all pages of world leaders combined had a total of 309.4 million followers. Since January 1, 2017, they have published a total of 536,644 posts which have garnered close to 900 million interactions.

The findings revealed that, while more than half of the posts have photos, world leaders are increasingly sharing videos and a handful are going live to talk directly to their constituents. Posts with videos attracted by far the most interactions: 2,615 on average, compared to 1,750 for photo posts, with Facebook Live videos garnering on average 4,489 interactions. The 91,266 Facebook videos posted on world leaders’ pages have been viewed 5.4 billion times with an average view count of 70,790 per video.

Other key findings include:

–       The Facebook page of the government of Botswana is the busiest, with an average of 35 posts per day since January 1, 2017. The governments of Ethiopia and the presidency of Ghana are not far behind, with 28 and 21 posts per day, respectively.

–       The White House is the page most followed by peers, with 28 peer connections. It is followed by the European Commission with 24 peer connections and the U.S. State Department with 20.

–       Other pages followed by world leaders include the United Nations (liked by 45), the European Parliament and the archived Obama White House page (each liked by 26) and NATO (liked by 19).

–       The Russian Foreign Ministry has made the most diplomatic overtures on Facebook, liking 97 other peer pages including the personal page of Donald Trump which is also only liked by one other leader, Roosevelt Skerrit, the Prime Minister of Dominica.

–       The governments of only 18 countries have not yet set up a presence on Facebook, including China, North Korea and Turkmenistan, however a Facebook page was set up for the Chinese State Council Information Office @ChinaSCIO which has only 175 likes.

–       The most visited institution is The White House, with just under 5.2 million check-ins, followed by the Ugandan State House with 225,991 and 10 Downing Street with more than 190,000 check-ins.

–       More than 60 percent of all World Leaders’ Facebook pages allow fans to contact the page privately using Facebook Messenger. Half of the 390 pages open to messages typically reply within a day or even within minutes using Facebook chatbots and automated replies.

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Samsung unleashes the beast

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Most new smartphone releases of the past few years have been like cat-and-mouse games with consumers and each other. It has been as if morsels of cheese are thrown into the box to make it more interesting: a little extra camera here, a little more battery there, and incremental changes to size, speed (more) and weight (less). Each change moves the needle of innovation ever-so-slightly. Until we find ourselves, a few years later, with a handset that is revolutionary compared to six years ago, but an anti-climax relative to six months before.

And then came Samsung. Probably stung by the “incremental improvement” phrase that has become almost a cliché about new Galaxy devices, the Korean giant chose to unleash a beast last week.

The new Galaxy Note 9 is not only the biggest smartphone Samsung has ever released, but one of the biggest flagship handsets that can still be called a phone. With a 6.4” display, it suddenly competes with mini-tablets and gaming consoles, among other devices that had previously faced little contest from handsets.

It offers almost ever cutting edge introduced to the Galaxy S9 and S9+ smartphones earlier this year, including the market-leading f1.5 aperture lens, and an f2.4. telephoto lens, each weighing in at 12 Megapixels. The front lens is equally impressive, with an f1.7 aperture – first introduced on the Note 8 as the widest yet on a selfie camera.

So far, so S9. However, the Note range has always been set apart by its S Pen stylus, and each edition has added new features. Born as a mere pen that writes on screens, it evolved through the likes of pressure sensitivity, allowing for artistic expression, and cut-and-paste text with translation-on-the-fly.

(Click here or below to read more about the Samsung Galaxy S Pen stylus) Samsung Galaxy S9 Features)

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SA ride permit system ‘broken’

Despite the amendments to the National Land Transport Act, ALON LITS, General Manager, Uber in Sub Saharan Africa, believes that many premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

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The spirit and intention of the amendments to the National Land Transport Act No 5  (NLTA), 2009 put forward by the Ministry of Transport are to be commended. It is especially pleasing that these amendments include ridesharing and e-hailing operators and drivers as legitimate participants in the country’s public transport system, which point to government’s willingness to embrace the changes and innovation taking place in the country’s transport industry.

However, there are aspects of the proposed amendments that are, at best, premature given that the necessary, well-functioning systems and processes are not yet in place to make these regulatory changes viable.

Of particular concern are the significant financial penalties that will need to be paid by ridesharing and e-hailing companies whose independent operators are found to be transporting passengers without a legal permit issued by the relevant local authority. These fines can be as high as R100 000 per driver operating without a permit. Apart from being an excessive penalty it is grossly unfair given that a large number of local authorities don’t yet have functioning permit issuing systems and processes in place.

The truth is that the operating permit issuance system in South Africa is effectively broken. The application and issuance processes for operating licenses are fundamentally flawed and subject to extensive delays, sometimes over a year in length.  This situation is exacerbated by the fact that it is very difficult for applicants whose permit applications haven’t yet been approved to get reasons for the extensive delays on the issuing of those permits.

Uber has had extensive first-hand experience with the frustratingly slow process of applying for these permits, with drivers often having to wait months and, in some cases more than a year, for their permits.

Sadly, there appears to be no sense of urgency amongst local authorities to prioritise fixing the flawed permit issuing systems and processes or address the large, and growing, backlogs of permit applications. As such, in order for the proposed stringent permit enforcement rules to be effective and fair to all role players, the long-standing issues around permit issuance first need to be addressed. At the very least, before the proposed legislation amendments are implemented, the National Transport Ministry needs to address the following issues:

  1. Efficient processes and systems must be put in place in all local authorities to allow drivers to easily apply for the operating permits they require
  2. Service level agreements need to be put in place with local authorities whereby they are required to assess applications and issue permits within the prescribed 60-day period.
  3. Local authorities need to be given deadlines by which their current permit application backlogs must be addressed to allow for faster processing of new applications once the amendments are promulgated.

If the Transport Ministry implements the proposed legislation amendments before ensuring that these permit issuance challenges are addressed, many drivers will be faced with the difficult choice of either having to operate illegally whilst awaiting their approved permits and risking significant fines and/or arrest, or stopping operations until they receive their permits, thereby losing what is, for many of them, their only source of income.

As such, if the Ministry of Transport is not able to address these particular challenges, it is only reasonable to ask it to reconsider this amendment and delay its implementation until the necessary infrastructure is in place to ensure it does not impact negatively on the country’s transport industry. The legislators must have been aware of the challenges of passing such a significant law, as the Amendment Bill allows for the Minister to use his discretion to delay implementation of provisions for up to 5 years.

Fair trade and healthy competition are the cornerstones of any effective and growing economy. However, these clauses (Section 66 (7) and Section 66A) of the NLTA amendment, as well as the proposal that regulators be given authority to define the geographic locations or zones in which vehicles may operate, are contrary to the spirit of both. As a good corporate citizen, Uber is committed to supplementing and enhancing South Africa’s national transport system and contributing positively to the industry. If passed into law without the revisions suggested above, these new amendments will limit our business and many others from playing the supportive roles we all can, and should, in growing the SA transport and tourism industries as well as many other key economic sectors.

What’s more, if passed as they currently stand, the amendments will effectively limit South African consumers from having full access to the range of convenient transport options they deserve; which has the potential to harm the reputation and credibility of the entire transport industry.

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