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CodeBus arrives in SA

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Education and technology organisations from Finland and South Africa will come together in May to run creative coding workshops for local students in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Kimberley and Cape Town.

The collaboration is part of the CodeBus Africa project, a 100-day tour connecting Finnish and African innovators as part of Finland’s official 100th anniversary celebrations. The CodeBus Africa journey, which has been running since February of this year, will span ten countries in total – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The South African tour of CodeBus Africa will be organised by Finland’s Aalto University and local tech start-up accelerator mLab, with the support of the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria. The project, which is sponsored by the Finnish global telecom leader Nokia, will place special emphasis on involving girls who remain underrepresented among the users and creators of technology.

With its focus firmly on the young, this innovative activity will consist of creative coding workshops, most of which will be run in township communities. Learners will pair up to produce their own song with the open-source programming platform Sonic Pi – a tried-and-true curriculum developed by a Finnish technology education company and project partner Mehackit. Peer support, creative self-expression and a tangible final product are all elements designed to make the learning experience positive and rewarding. The aim of the project is to boost grassroots level teaching of computer programming, and to contribute to long-term efforts to promote quality education, youth empowerment and employment. The South African tour will culminate with a celebration in Khayelitsha in Cape Town, hosted by Finnish DJ Emma Kemppainen, where the music developed by the young African coders will be showcased.

“I am pleased that we are able to bring CodeBus to South Africa as part of our anniversary celebrations,” commented Kari Alanko, Ambassador of Finland in South Africa. “The theme of Finland 100 is ‘together’, and I am confident that the CodeBus reflects our commitment to work together with South Africa to tackle challenges such as youth unemployment. We hope the workshops will help to promote inclusive innovation and inspire more girls and boys in South Africa to take an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, even as possible career choices. “

“The CodeBus is also an especially suitable way for us to celebrate Finland 100 in South Africa where we have for many years supported innovation through our development cooperation,” Ambassador Alanko says. “This is why the partnerships with Aalto University and mLab, also supported by Finland, make perfect sense.”

I am also delighted to see a strong Finnish company, Nokia, as a partner in this project. Nokia is a global leader in innovation and technology, that stresses the fact that Finland 100 is just as much about looking into the next centenary as celebrating the past one.”

“We are proud of every opportunity to show our capacity in shaping the future of technology, which transforms the human experience,” says Deon Geyser, Head of Sub-Region Southern Africa at Nokia.  “The CodeBus initiative is an occasion to witness leading African and Finnish innovators joining forces, empowering Africa’s youth, allowing them to explore and experience innovation transforming their lives.”

“The philosophy of CodeBus from the start has been to work with local partners such as tech and innovation hubs, community based organisations and employees in each country. As such, the project is training 50 new coding instructors from Finland and Africa,” he says.  The coding instructors come from Aalto University and the local partners in Africa. ” We hope that  by doing so, those trained locally will continue to replicate  the training workshops in other  cities, communities and schools, and also inspire young people across the continent to develop a passion for learning ICT skills in a fun and enjoyable way.”

“At Nokia, we are always exploring new and innovative ideas and projects that expand the human possibility of technology. Nokia is supporting several initiatives across the globe to connect the un-connected, support gender diversity, and save lives. We look forward to more engagements in Africa in the future,” Geyser says.

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SA startups in Visa final

Leading fintech companies from the Sub-Sahara Africa technology startup community have made it to the finals of Visa’s Everywhere Initiative.

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Among the 12 chosen, from the 238 total entries, South African startups Howler and FinChatBot will compete against innovators from across Sub Sahara Africa for a chance to secure funding of up to US$50,000 to develop their ideas when the initiative concludes in Johannesburg on July 24. 

Fintechs in Africa are making incredible strides; not only to bring more convenience to consumers, but also to enable people who would not otherwise have access to financial services or even a way to connect to the formal banking system. Venture funding for African startups jumped by 51% to $195 million in 2017 and fintech in Africa is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years as it continues to disrupt the traditional financial sector. With a clear goal of reducing reliance on cash, building digital payment based economies and increasing financial inclusion, Visa is committed to fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and driving innovation in its payments landscape. 

The Sub Saharan Africa edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative challenged local fintech startup to deliver solutions based around three real life business challenges: 

  • How can startups leverage Visa Developer APIs to either:  Enable smaller merchants to accept payments in-store digitally OR Provide a safe and secure solution for online merchants to drive eCommerce and reduce cash on delivery?
  • How can startups use Visa’s APIs to leverage mass reach and social media partner platforms like Facebook to help businesses operating in fast-paced consumer centric environments improve cash flow and receive payments? 
  • How can startups leverage technology to provide services that are functional for illiterate customers to provide them with secure transaction experiences that build and enhance their confidence in the banking system?. 

Entrants were asked to submit ideas to leverage Visa’s network and technologies to resolve against at least one of the challenges. One winner per brief will be selected, with each receiving funding of US$25,000. Winners will be invited to a working meeting with Visa and may be presented with the opportunity to create a prototype. Visa will then select one overall winner to receive an additional US$25,000.

Geraldine Mitchley, Senior Director – Digital Solutions, Sub-Sahara Africa, Visa, said: “We are delighted with the response to our Visa’s Everywhere Initiative and the quality of submissions we received is an indication of the region’s rich talent pool and innovative spirit.”

“Launching this innovation program in the region has been an exciting time for the Visa SSA team, and the takeup reflects Africa’s enthusiasm to develop and pioneer solutions to the continent’s challenge – particularly in the payments technology space. I would like to congratulate the finalists and  wish them luck as they enter the final stretch.  When they come together for the final, they will not only have the chance to turn their ideas into reality, but also potentially help shape the future of payments in the region.”  

Howler which enables cashless transactions and end-to-end ticket handling for consumers and event organisers is competing in the first challenge and FinChatBot, which aims to automate part of customer services for financial service providers through AI-powered conversations is competing in the third challenge. 

The SSA edition of the Visa’s Everywhere Initiative will wrap up on July 24 in Johannesburg, with each finalist having an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges from Visa and the payments industry. 

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Win a Poster Heater with Gadget and Takealot.com

This winter Gadget and Takealot.com are giving away three Poster Heaters, which look like posters but become heaters when you plug them in.

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Three Gadget readers will each win a unit, valued at R550 each. To enter, follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter and tell us on the @GadgetZA account how many Watts the heater consumes.

What’s the big deal about these heaters? Many of us are struggling to keep the balance between soaring electricity costs and the need to keep warm this winter.

However, the recently launched Poster Heater by EasyHeat and distributed in South Africa by Takealot.com is not only one of the most cost effective electric heaters currently on the market, it is also easy to setup and use.

As the name indicates, it is a poster similar to one you would hang on a wall. But, plug it in and it turns into a 300 Watt heater. The Poster Heater isn’t designed to heat hallways or large rooms, but rather smaller ones like a bedroom or a baby’s nursery or a dressing room.

It uses radiant heating, which means that it heats up in a couple of minutes and the heat is directed at the objects or people around it, quickly taking the chill out of the air and providing a comfortable ambient temperature.

The other advantage of radiant heating is that it doesn’t dry out the air like infrared or gas heaters. Users also don’t have to worry about their children or pets getting too close to it because, even though it gets hot, it can be touched.

To enter the competition follow the steps below:

Competition entry details:

1. Follow @GadgetZA and @Takealot on Twitter. (We will ONLY be accepting entries via Twitter, so please don’t enter through the comments section of this article.)

2. Tell us on Twitter, via @GadgetZA, mentioning @Takealot in your posting, how many Watts the Poster Heater consumes.

cleardot.gif3. The competition closes on 31 July 2018.

4. Winners will be notified via Twitter on 1 August and Takealot.com will be in touch to organise delivery.

5. The competition is only open to South African residents.

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