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Banks must adapt to mobile world

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A survey has shown that 12% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have mobile money accounts – compared to a mere 2% worldwide. MARIANA KRUGER, GM for Private Sector at MTN Business SA, says this is a clear indication that banks need to adopt to the new business models.

The World Bank’s Global Findex financial inclusion study shows that 12% of adults in sub-Saharan Africa have mobile money accounts – compared to just 2% worldwide – and of these 64 million adults, 45% of them have only a mobile money account.

This is a reflection that banks’ traditional models could be under threat unless they adapt and an opportunity exists in revolutionising trade finance and cross-border payments. The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Bank Payment Obligation (BPO) framework is a step toward enabling this revolution.

Past experiences have shown the continent has the ability to leapfrog more developed practices as new technology over-takes entrenched business practices. Widespread adoption of mobile money solutions points to the potential for systems such as the BPO proposal. Organisations, such as MTN Business – the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) partner of choice for geographic and market expansion, that operate across the continent have a deep understanding of Africa, its challenges and opportunities

MTN Business has proven, reliable and secure network infrastructure across the continent that financial institutions can leverage on. ICT providers such as MTN Business are well positioned to help banks make that shift.

ICT partnerships can help financial institutions overcome threats to their trade finance business posed by disruptive business models such as mobile money and other industries – including insurance companies moving into the banking space.

The hosting of the ICC Banking Commission Annual Meeting in Johannesburg marked a pivotal moment that could help unlock the potential for economic prosperity on the continent.

‘Potential’ is the operative word as many hurdles still exist to African countries realising their economic promise. For one, Africa may be seen as a single economic region, but conditions and the regulatory environment vary greatly between individual economies. Add to that the enormous infrastructure deficiencies, and it becomes clear that pursuing a view of Africa as a single market still requires considerable effort.

Rapid advances in technology and heavy investment in infrastructure have taken place across the continent, enabling the delivery of services to markets that not only have a need, but a demand to be able to interact and transact.

It is this desire to adopt new technologies – even for the most basic, personal services – that holds such great promise for enabling increased trade across the continent.

The ICC has clearly recognised the need to simplify trade and supply chain finance in order to facilitate economic growth. Its work to establish new standards through the Bank Payment Obligation (BPO) framework is evidence of that realisation.

With investment and footprint in the continent, MTN is ready to partner and set the world ablaze with innovative ICT solutions.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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