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Dell expands solar schools

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Dell has announced that it will be expanding its solar-powered Learning Labs across South Africa to include new sites in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng.

In conjunction with a Think Tank discussing technology in education and classrooms of the future at Brescia House School today, Dell today announced that it will expand its solar-powered Learning Labs across South Africa. This includes new sites in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng that will be operational by March 2015. The expansion follows a successful pilot in 2013, and Dell will now have nine labs providing direct technology access to more than 3,000 underprivileged students in communities where technology infrastructure is limited.

There are 72 million children worldwide who are not in school and lack access to facilities, teachers and the technology they need for a better education. Dell believes that access to education and technology is not a luxury, but a necessity.

“There are 72 million children worldwide who are not in school and lack access to facilities, teachers and the technology they need for a better education,” said Michael Collins, vice president and general manager of EMEA Emerging Markets, Dell. “Technology plays such an important role in the world today and it’s critical for all young people to firstly have access to technology and secondly to gain practical experience and know-how. Ultimately Dell is committed to breaking down the barriers of IT literacy and we believe access to education and technology is not a luxury, but a necessity.”

The Dell solar-powered Learning Labs are comprised of a standard shipping container that is converted into a computer classroom, and because access to electricity is a big barrier in Africa, Dell has designed the labs to harness the power from the sun to power the technology and internet connectivity for these students.

Each lab contains one server with Microsoft Multipoint Server and/or VWorkspace, used by the teacher, and networks to the 10 zero or thin-client workstations lining the sides of the container. All users are then able to access a local internet service, which is paid for by Dell. The setup is also highly efficient, with each workstation requiring just 3 – 5 watts of power, as opposed to 150 watts for a typical PC.

Dell has also made several improvements to the design of the labs, based on learnings from the pilot. The labs now have increased computing power in order to further enable children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects including coding and graphics works. The new labs have been built with fresh air-cooled servers, a better solution for hotter climates, and Dell has also brought in a new partner, Sunpower, to provide solar power for eight of the labs.

Dell solar-powered Learning Labs are made possible by Dell’s Youth Learning program, which seeks to close the learning gap by partnering directly with non-profits to provide innovative technology solutions, charitable donations and expertise to address challenges faced by underserved youth around the world where Dell operates. The labs are located in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Sedibeng and will be operational by the end of March 2015. Dell global Youth Learning projects include China, India, Morocco and the Philippines.

“We are delighted to be enabling these important conversations with top education leaders in South Africa today and are excited to discuss actionable ideas to improve key challenges in education technology in the area. Dell Learning Labs have afforded thousands of school students and community youth the opportunity to develop 21st century skills through enriching, technology-based learning,” said Jon Phillips, managing director, worldwide education, Dell. “At Dell we are proud to be involved in such significant projects and conversations and look forward to bringing access to more students around the world.”

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Africa News

Africa phones go flat

Africa’s mobile phone market declined 2.1% quarter on quarter in Q3 2018 according to the latest figures from IDC.

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The global technology research and consulting firm newly released Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker shows overall shipments for the quarter totalled 52.6 million units, with feature phone shipments falling 2.7% QoQ and smartphone shipments declining 1.3% over the same period.

Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) led the feature phone space in Q3 2018, with a combined unit share of 58.2%. Nokia was next in line with 11.7% share. Transsion, Samsung, and Huawei dominated the smartphone space with respective unit shares of 34.9%, 21.7%, and 10.2%. However, in value terms, Samsung led the smartphone market with 37.2% share, followed by Transsion (21.0%) and Huawei (13.0%).

There were differing fortunes in the region’s three major markets, with Nigeria suffering a heavy 11.6% QoQ decline in mobile phone shipments, while South Africa and Kenya saw respective QoQ growth of 8.5% and 7.9% in Q3 2018.

“The decline in Nigeria stemmed from a slowdown in government spending, ongoing warfare in the country’s northern states, and market uncertainty in the lead up to elections,” says George Mbuthia, a research analyst at IDC. “In South Africa, the market’s growth was spurred by the penetration of low-end devices from brands such as Mobicel, Mint, and Nokia, while the launch of entry-level smartphones helped drive growth in Kenya despite increases in taxes and fuel prices placing a significant burden on disposable income in the country.”

While feature phones remain steadfastly popular across Africa, particularly in more rural areas, consumers are increasingly being attracted by smartphone offerings from Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, and Huawei, which are actively targeting feature-oriented customers at more economical price points.

“There is a new wave of Chinese brands aggressively pursuing growth opportunities in the region, while the more-established Huawei is also accelerating its marketing efforts and expanding its distribution budget,” says Ramazan Yavuz, a research manager at IDC. “These brands have quickly progressed along the learning curve and evolved their offerings to perfectly reflect the realities of the region by addressing the diverse pricing and feature needs of the consumer base.”

Looking ahead, IDC expects Africa’s overall mobile phone market to reach 58 million units in Q4 2018, spurred by the festive season and online consumer events such as Black Friday. The introduction of more affordable smartphones in the African market will help drive progress in this space over the coming quarters, while the share of feature phones will decline steadily as the transition to smartphones gathers momentum.

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Africa News

Mobile money to cross borders

Orange and MTN launch pan-African mobile money interoperability to scale up mobile financial services across Africa.

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Two of Africa’s largest mobile operators and mobile money providers, Orange Group and MTN Group, today announced a joint venture, Mowali (mobile wallet interoperability), to enable interoperable payments across the continent. Mowali makes it possible to send money between mobile money accounts issued by any mobile money provider, in real time and at low cost.

Mowali will immediately benefit from the reach of MTN Mobile Money and Orange Money, bringing together over 100 million mobile money accounts and mobile money operations in 22 of sub-Saharan Africa’s 46 markets. Mowali is ready to enable interoperability between digital financial service providers beyond MTN and Orange operations and markets, to support the existing 338 million mobile money accounts in Africa.

Mowali is a digital payment infrastructure that connects financial service providers and customers in one inclusive network. It functions as an industry utility, open to any mobile money provider in Africa, including banks, money transfer operators and other financial service providers.

The objective of Mowali is to increase the usage of mobile money by consumers and merchants.  Mowali enables money to circulate freely between mobile money accounts from any operators in all countries.  From the customer’s point of view, this means “I can pay or receive money anywhere from my mobile account regardless of my operator”. The system will unlock further innovation in the digital financial space within the continent. 

For Stéphane Richard, Chairman & CEO of Orange, “by providing full interoperability between platforms, Mowali will provide an important step forward that will allow mobile money to become a universal means of payment in Africa. Increasing financial inclusion through the use of digital technology is an essential element in furthering the economic development of Africa, particularly for more isolated communities. This solution embodies Orange’s ambition to be a leading player in the digital transformation of the continent. By joining forces with another of Africa’s market leaders, MTN, we aim to accelerate the pace of this transformation in a way that will change the lives of our customers by providing them with simpler, safer and more advantageous services. “

“One of MTN’s goals is to accelerate the penetration of mobile financial services in Africa, Mowali is one such vehicle that will help us achieve that objective. Furthermore, co-operation and partnerships that help us accelerate the pace of development and overcome some of the scale, scope and complexity of challenges that society faces are key. This partnership with Orange is therefore an important step in helping us play a meaningful role in supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to eliminating extreme poverty and enhancing socio-economic development in the markets we operate in and beyond. Thus giving our customers access to a bright, digital future.” said Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO of MTN.

The GSMA supports the Mowali initiative as interoperability at this scale is a key accelerator for both financial inclusion and Mobile Money usability across Africa.  “Today, there are over 690 million mobile money accounts around the world. Mobile money services have become an essential, life-changing tool across Africa, providing access to safe and secure financial services but also to energy, health, education and employment opportunities. The creation of Mowali will help to further transform mobile financial services throughout the African region. It demonstrates the mobile industry’s continued leadership and commitment to driving financial inclusion and economic empowerment through industry collaboration. The GSMA is proud to support its development,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA.

“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome, in support of financial inclusion. With Mowali, Orange and MTN deliver a solution that will enable them, and other companies, to scale digital financial services across Africa, faster, to everyone—including the poor,” said Kosta Peric, deputy director of Financial Services for the Poor, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “This is a signal that a new wave of innovation, which can help alleviate poverty and drive economic opportunity, is coming. We’re pleased to see an implementation of Mojaloop—an open source payment platform available to operators across the sector—help achieve that.”

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