Sun Exchange, a peer-to-peer solar equipment leasing marketplace, has raised $1.6 million in seed financing from several strategic partners to accelerate global access to solar power.
Partners include Network Society Ventures (New York City), Kalon Venture Partners (Johannesburg, South Africa) and three of the world’s leading technology accelerators, BoostVC (San Francisco Bay Area), Techstars (Boulder, Colorado) and Powerhouse (Oakland, California). This will boost Sun Exchange’s capacity to meet the demand for its pipeline of commercial-scale solar power projects, located in the sunniest regions of the planet.
Sun Exchange is the first marketplace of its kind and leverages blockchain technology to allow individuals to purchase solar cells in solar projects which are mostly situated in emerging markets that are solar-rich but power-poor. This makes solar panel ownership accessible to retail and institutional investors, worldwide, while giving businesses and communities in emerging markets access to fully-funded solar power plants to reduce running costs and drive sustainable development.
Sun Exchange has been leading in the African energy market since 2014, and has expanded globally with a United States headquarters in California and a regional operating office in Dubai.
Using its blockchain-based platform, Sun Exchange democratises the green economy by giving retail customers around the world the chance to lease solar cells bought on their platform to medium to large solar installations in emerging markets. Solar panels are sold by the single solar cell, reducing the cost of solar plant ownership to below $10.
“Solar power is the most promising technology to achieve a zero-carbon future,” said serial solar energy entrepreneur, Abraham Cambridge, CEO of Sun Exchange. “It’s the fastest growing source of energy, but billions of people don’t own their own roof or have the capital to get it.
“By breaking down solar panel ownership to a single cell we reduce the cost of going solar by two orders of magnitude and we’re utilizing empty roof space in some of the sunniest cities on the planet, such as Dubai and Johannesburg. To super-charge the process we’ve combined our solar leases with another breakthrough technology – blockchain, namely Bitcoin. Putting the two together empowers anyone to go solar and be part of the global solar energy transformation with just a few taps on a screen.”
David Orban, Founder and Managing Partner of Network Society Ventures, and member of the Board of Directors of Sun Exchange, said: “At the intersection of the exponentially growing technologies of solar photovoltaics, crowdfunding and blockchain, Sun Exchange is uniquely positioned to become a leading force in the profound transformation that we will witness as we build a global 21st century civilization.”
Sun Exchange leverages blockchain and Bitcoin to increase transparency and reduce the costs of the cross-border transactions, both problems that inhibit the majority of commercial solar projects from accessing traditional funding options. By presenting a simple and accessible opportunity for anyone to join the solar economy, Sun Exchange unlocks the potential for the construction of environmentally sound and socially responsible projects that would otherwise not see the light of day.
About Sun Exchange
With Sun Exchange anyone can buy remotely located solar cells and earn rental income from them. Assets are recorded on the blockchain, and income is paid in crypto-currency – streaming monetized sunshine around the world. Sun Exchange members can have their solar cells installed and rented to hospitals, factories, schools and rural communities in Africa and the Middle East, earning them decades of rental income from solar powering the developing world.
Data journalism takes top prize in revamped awards
The entries to the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards were extraordinarily varied and of an excellent standard, with new categories introduced which are based on content as opposed to platforms. This year, the judges decided that two entries were equally worthy of the coveted Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award.
The first co-winning entry, in the new Data Journalism category, is a set of stories by Alastair Otter and Laura Grant of Media Hack which showed how Data Journalism is shaping the future. The second co-winning entrant is Bongani Fuzile of the Daily Dispatch for his articles in the investigative category on how migrant workers were being ripped off by pension deductions (full citations below).
Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “This year we modernised the 12 categories that journalists could enter their work in and the change was embraced by entrants. In a turbulent time for media, the 2018 entries once again proved that there are excellent South African journalists delivering praiseworthy work, and we commend them for finding new and innovative ways to cover the news.”
Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “Vodacom is proud of its 17-year association with these prestigious awards, which make an important contribution to our society through the recognition of journalistic excellence. I’d like to congratulate all of tonight’s winners and, as always, I’d like to pay tribute to our hardworking judges. Ryland Fisher, Mathatha Tsedu, Arthur Goldstuck, Collin Nxumalo, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Megan Rusi, Mary Papayya, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa: thank you for making these awards a continued success.”
Veteran journalist and media stalwart Ms Amina Frense is the winner of the 2018 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Lifetime Achiever Award. She has spent decades in mainstream media both locally and internationally. She is a former Managing Editor: News and Current Affairs at the SA Broadcasting Corporation. She has worked in many countries abroad as a producer and a foreign correspondent, has written two books and is also a founding member of SANEF where she still serves as a council member (full citation below).
The overall winners share the R100 000 main prize. National winners in the various categories are as follows, with each winner taking home R10 000:
The entries in this category were of an exceptionally high standard. One entrant stood out and became the unanimous winner. This journalist showed an exceptional skill for story-telling and for finding unexpected angles and unknown facts. For his stories about Musangwe’s fight for recognition, Age cheating in SA football, and Hansie Cronje revisited, the winner is Ronald Masinda, and the team of Gift Kganyago, Nceba Ntlanganiso and Charles Lombard from eSAT TV.
Cons exploit Telegram ICO
Kaspersky Lab researchers have uncovered dozens of highly convincing fake websites claiming to be investment sites for an initial coin offering (ICO) by the Telegram messaging service. Many of these websites appear to belong to the same group. In one case alone, tens of thousands of US dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency were stolen from victims believing they were investing in ‘Grams’, Telegram’s rumoured new currency. Telegram has not officially confirmed an ICO and has warned people about fraudulent investor sites.
In late 2017, stories started to circulate that the Telegram messaging service was launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to finance a blockchain platform based on its TON (Telegram Open Network) technology. Unverified technical documentation was posted online, but there appears to have been no confirmation from Telegram itself. The resulting confusion seems to have allowed fraudsters to capitalise on investor interest by creating fake sites and stealing vast sums of money.
Kaspersky Lab researchers have discovered dozens of such sites, possibly belonging to the same group, claiming to sell tokens for ‘Grams’ and inviting investors to pay with cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, lice litecoin, dash and Bitcoin dash. A record of transactions on one site revealed that the scammers were able to steal at least $35,000 US dollars’ worth of Ethereum from investors.
The researchers found that some of the websites were so convincing that even after Telegram and others began to issue warnings, they were still able to recruit potential investors. Most use a secure connection, require registration and generate a unique online wallet for each new victim, making it harder to track the money.
Judging by the content of the fake websites, it appears they may have common ownership. For example, several have the exactly the same ‘Our Team’ section.
“ICOs are a fairly risky investment and many people don’t yet fully understand how they work, so it is not surprising that high quality fake websites, with seemingly reassuring features such as a secure connection and registration are successful at luring people in. People wishing to invest in an ICO would do well to check with the company behind it and make sure they know exactly who they are giving their money to, or they may never see it again,” said Nadezhda Demidova, Lead Web-Content Analyst, Kaspersky Lab.
Kaspersky Lab offers the following advice for users considering investing in an ICO:
- Check for warning signs: for example, some of the fake Telegram ICO websites had the same wrong image next to the name of Telegram’s Chief Product Officer.
- Do your homework: always check with the brand’s official site to verify the legitimacy of the investment site and, if necessary contact the company’s ICO teams before investing any money or currency.
- Use reliable security solutions such as Kaspersky Internet Security and Kaspersky Internet Security for Android, which will warn you if you try to visit fake internet pages.