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SA’s Aerobotics takes tech on US agri tour



An estimated 168 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted in North America each year[i], with 49 million tonnes lost or wasted at the pre-harvest stage alone[ii]. Additionally, 20% to 40% of food production is lost to pests and diseases before it leaves the farm[iii]. Impacts include 193 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, 55 million acres of cropland production being wasted and a US$278 billion loss in the market value of annual food production.

Precision agriculture is playing a pivotal role in tackling this problem – and the market is predicted to reach US$10 billion globally by 2023, up from US$4.8 billion in 2017[iv]. In that light, says Cape Town-based Aerobotics, it crisscrossed the US during July to introduce growers to its world-leading tree crop and vine artificial intelligence and empower them to participate in this sustainability solution during the inaugural Trees & Tech US Roadshow.

Aerobotics is a software and analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to collect high-resolution drone imagery to survey fields for growers and crop insurers and produce per-tree analytics including health, canopy area, height, and volume. The company’s focused drone scouting and inspection capabilities are used to detect and classify pests and diseases as well as to accurately estimate yields 15 times faster and with 20 times more data points than current methods. To date, 35 million trees have been processed globally, with 30 million identified in the last 12 months.

Aerobotics’ CEO James Paterson says: “We are very grateful to our partners AgFunderFarmers Business Network, MicaSense, the Produce Marketing Association, the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Scholar Farms, SenseFlyAgProz, HarvestPort and Blue Book Services for enabling us to share the world’s top-performing early-stage problem detection technology with forward-thinking audiences around the country.”

During the Roadshow, the agritech company engaged with over 250 growers, pest control agents, resellers and extension agents across the country, including the largest citrus and apple growers in the world. 

Alastair Curtis, Aerobotics’ Head of USA Operations, said that growers who attended were particularly interested in the company’s yield prediction and estimation capabilities as no one has done this before. “In addition, drone operators who were present at the events consistently expressed that ours was the best software they had ever seen.”

One of these operators, Mark Hull, who is the Owner of All Drone Solutions, says: “Aerobotics is in a prime position to really make an impact on the agriculture industry and how it uses aerial data. Their approach to working both with those farmers who own drones or those who do not want to own or manage drones allows for a lot of flexibility and options. It makes the job of getting the data easier and less of a hassle – a ‘one call does it all’ type of approach. 

“The analytics offered by Aerobotics is what really separates them from the rest. They offer the most complete and advanced set of analytics and scouting tools available to growers today. They have considered the many different needs of growers and provide a very clean and user-friendly control panel. The process of setting up a scouting route, and the integration of their scouting app, is impressive and very powerful. The scouting app completes the missing link where so many drone data companies have been falling short.”

Gina Northover-Moore, CEO of Ag Drone Data Services, says: “What we have found with using competitors’ programs is that they’re buggy, and the process time takes several hours. We don’t have several hours to wait and see if our maps are uploaded correctly and then go through evaluating each map. When using Aerobotics, clients can do all their work within one program, and the program is solid. With other programs, we cannot share the data with our customers for review.  The competitors have their software locked down to where it’s difficult for our clients to view the reports on third party programs. 

“With Aerobotics, it’s all there, and reliable, with so many options to view the health analysis of your crops whether you’re in the office or the field. It’s a rock-solid program that we’re excited to utilize for our farmers and growers here in the Western US.”

“We now farm in a Digital Era where it is all about using data to make farming practices more efficient, make decisions at the right times and plan better. By taking our technology to growers via the Trees & Tech US Roadshow, we have shown them that they can have accurate data about every single tree in their fields quite literally in the palm of their hands on the Aeroview app, enabling them to make data-driven decisions that can prevent food loss and waste,” says Tim Willis, Aerobotics’ COO. 

To help growers take full advantage of precision agriculture, Aerobotics has invested in setting up a world-class team and has relocated key management to the United States.

For more information, go to or to get the Aeroview app, go to the App Store or Google Play:








Showmax launches half-price mobile streaming service

A new streaming product designed specifically for Africa, featuring TV series as well as African content and live sport, is aimed at filling the gap in subscription video on demand services



The subscription video on demand (SVoD) model, which originated in the USA, spread rapidly in countries where uncapped broadband is affordable and widely available. However, because the model also relies on consumers being comfortable with transacting online and having ready access to credit cards, it has barely scratched the surface across Africa.

On top of that, smartphones are often the only only form of Internet access across Africa, and none of the popular SVoD services have been designed for the format.

Showmax says it plans to change this with the launch of a new mobile plan that costs 50% of the standard Showmax package but still features 100% of the same video content. Showmax is set apart by a combination of four pillars: hit African content, exclusive international series, topkids’ shows, and live sport, including weekly matches from the English Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga.

Showmax says the new plan is aimed at consumers who only use smartphones and tablets to watch video content. Video resolution peaks at standard definition to help reduce data consumption. As it is a product aimed at individuals, only one concurrent stream is included in the plan. As with the regular service, it is also available for a 14-day free trial.

“This is all about an African service developing a solution that meets the needs of African consumers,” saus Niclas Ekdahl, CEO of the Connected Video division of MultiChoice. “Customer feedback consistently points to local content and sport as some of the things that people value most from Showmax. That’s of course on top of the international series, movies, and kids’ shows that are our bread and butter. With all of that content now available in a product designed specifically for mobile usage, we’re doing something no other service can offer.

“On top of that, with groundbreaking deals like our new offer with Vodacom in South Africa, we solve the credit card issue through add-to-bill payment and the data issue by including data directly in the package. We’re looking to launch similar offers in Kenya and Nigeria soon.”

Both the standard and mobile plans include live sport, sport magazine shows and sport documentaries. The 2019 Rugby World Cup Final was streamed live on Showmax earlier this month, and the following is a selection of some of the football due to be live-streamed in November:

22 November: Levante vs Mallorca (La Liga)

23 November: Arsenal vs Southampton (Premier League)

24 November: Bologna vs Parma (Serie A)

25 November: Aston Villa vs Newcastle United (Premier League)

29 November: Celta Vigo vs Valladolid (La Liga)

30 November: Fiorentina vs Lecce (Serie A)

30 November: Chelsea vs West Ham United (Premier League)

Showmax’s mobile plan is currently available in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. 

Comparison of Showmax plans:

Mobile Standard
Price per monthR49 / N1450 / KSh 375R99 / N2900 / KSh 750
Watch on smartphone or tabletYesYes
Watch on smart TV and computerNoYes
HD streamingNoYes
TV series, movies, kids’ showsYesYes
Concurrent streams12
Cancel anytimeYesYes
14-day free trialYesYes
Chromecast and AirPlayNoYes
Number of devicesOne registered device5 devices can be registered, with 2 able to stream at the same time

For a 14-day free trial, visit

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Online series wins SA’s Journalist of the Year award

A series of stories on gang warfare in Hanover Park earned Tammy Petersen of News24 the ultimate prize in South African journalism. Here are all the winners of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards.



At the 18th edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards held at Vodacom World earlier tonight, News24’s Tammy Petersen took top honours and the R100,000 grand prize as national winner for her body of work on a gang war series entitled When you live in Hanover Park, you know death. Petersen’s submission was one of over 1,000 entries received from around the country across 12 categories – Investigative, Opinion, Lifestyle, Photography, Sport, Economics, Politics, CSI, Live reporting/ breaking news, Data Journalism, Multi-platform and the Young Journalist of the Year Award. This year’s theme – Connect the Dots – pays tribute to the best-of-the-best of those entries.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at Vodacom Group says: “This year has seen extraordinary entries to the 18th Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards. Not all the stories that are national winners were about huge events but also showed the importance of telling the stories of ordinary people. In line with our theme, the dots were indeed connected, and we congratulate all the winners.”

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The quality of entries has convinced the judges once again that our industry is in good hands, as far as journalism is concerned, despite the many problems that have beset the industry in recent times. Judging from the entries, South African journalists are determined to fly the flag high for a free, independent, and vigorous media, which augurs well for our democracy. As judges, we can only salute all the entrants for the great work that they submitted. In the end, our industry is probably the biggest winner.”

Judges for this year’s awards are: Ryland Fisher (convenor), Jermaine Craig, Arthur Goldstuck, Albe Grobbelaar, Franz Kruger, Patricia McCracken, Mapi Mhlangu, Collin Nxumalo, Mary Papayya, and Obed Zilwa.

Visit the next page for the full list of winners and their citations.

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