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Google brings Launchpad Accelerator to Africa

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Google has announced two major new developments, which will provide a major boost to African entrepreneurs and app developers respectively.

In line with the commitment Google CEO Sundar Pichai made to support African entrepreneurs earlier this year, the company has announced Google Developers Launchpad Africa, a new hands-on comprehensive mentorship program tailored exclusively to startups based in Africa.

Building on the success of Google’s global Launchpad Accelerator programme, this initiative will operate from a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos (the first onsite location for the programme outside the US).

It will provide African startups with over $3-million in equity-free support, working space, and access to expert advisers from Google, Silicon Valley, and Africa over the next three years. Participants will also receive travel and PR support during the three-month programme.

The first application period is now open through December 11, 9am PST and the first class will start in early 2018. More classes will be hosted in 2018 and beyond.

All startups must:

  • Be a technology startup.
  • Be based in Sub-Saharan Africa and target the African market.
  • Have already raised seed funding

Google will additionally consider:

  • The problem you are trying to solve. How does it create value for users? How are you addressing a real challenge for your home city, country or Africa broadly?
  • Will you share what you learn in Silicon Valley for the benefit of other startups in your local ecosystem?

“Anyone who spends time in the African technology space knows that the continent is home to some exciting innovations,” says Andy Volk, Sub-Saharan Africa Ecosystem Regional Manager. “Over the years, Google has worked with some incredible startups across Africa, tackling everything from healthcare, education, streamlining e-commerce to improving the food supply chain. We very much look forward to welcoming the first cohort of innovators for Launchpad Africa and continue to work together to drive innovation in the African market.”

At the same time, Google says it is making life easier for South African-based developers within the Google Play ecosystem.

Starting today, developers in South Africa can sell paid applications, in-app products, and subscriptions in Google Play, with monthly payouts to their local bank accounts. They can take advantage of all of the tools offered by Google Play to monetise their products in the best way for their businesses, and they can target their products to the paid ecosystem of hundreds of millions of users in South Africa and across the world.

Android developers based in South Africa can get started right away by signing in to their Developer Console and setting up a Google merchant account. If their apps are already published as free, they can monetise them by adding in-app products or subscriptions.

New apps can be published as paid, in addition to selling in-app products or subscriptions.

“While there have been plenty of amazing apps built in South Africa, the process of monetising them was never as smooth as we knew it could be,” says Luke McKend, Google South Africa’s Country Director. “By allowing local developers to monetise their products on the Play Store, we’re underscoring how serious we are about digitally empowering South Africans.

Once a developer has prepared their apps and in-app products, they can price them in any available currencies, publish, and then receive payouts and financial data in South African Rand. Visit the developer help centre for more details.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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