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Why training needs cloud

Despite the fact that Africa’s e-learning market doubled from 2011 to 2016, reaching $513 million, the continent’s three biggest economies, South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya, are not yet moving their training applications to the cloud en masse, says MATTHEW BARKER, divisional sales manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks.

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This was one of the key findings from Cloud Africa 2018, a research project conducted by World Wide Worx and F5 Networks, across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year, where we asked decision-makers at 300 medium and large organisations about their cloud computing usage, benefits, and intentions.

Lagging behind

While all markets were on par in terms of their use of business apps in the cloud, and while organisations in Kenya and Nigeria were more likely to host service apps in the cloud than those in South Africa, it was interesting to note that training and legal apps were the lowest on the priority list when it came to cloud-hosted applications, across all markets.

The global e-learning market is expected to be worth $200 billion by 2024, driven by emerging corporate trends and the escalating popularity of online or Internet-based learning programs.

Yet, only 14% of South African organisations said they hosted training apps in the cloud, dropping to just 2% of organisations in both Kenya and Nigeria.

Democratising knowledge

The cloud is the ideal platform to make education more accessible to more people, especially in Africa, where inequality and a lack of access to infrastructure, connectivity, and locally relevant content have resulted in a largely uneducated and under-skilled workforce.

At the foundational phase, online learning allows children in rural areas to access the same quality content, delivered by highly qualified educators, as children in more developed urban areas. It democratises education, providing knowledge transfer and equal opportunities for all.

Extended to the university level, e-learning not only opens new revenue streams for universities but also solves the problem of overcrowding and not being able to meet the demand. The result is that more students can register for courses, resulting in more employable graduates and, hopefully, reduced unemployment rates.

Universities are often criticised for not evolving their outdated curriculums in line with industry trends and requirements, and therefore producing graduates who are not adequately prepared for the world of work. Cloud-based training apps can be adapted on the fly, giving universities the edge by allowing them to provide the most relevant, up to date course material.

In education, as in industry and business, change is the only constant. Education cannot end at school or university. It must be a lifelong commitment for any professional, especially in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Cloud computing is the only solution if enterprises want to keep up with the change.

Educating the enterprise

IT and business are always changing and while the requirement for apps is to be fast, highly available and secure won’t ever change, what has changed is the speed of deployment. Users and customers want everything delivered immediately, a dynamic that’s driving the DevOps methodology and automation.

Businesses that want to keep up with the pace of their customers need to empower their teams with the skills and expertise to respond to change in new ways. Often, this means bypassing traditional, task-based operations, which are painfully slow and can’t keep up with business requirements and user demands.

Cloud computing and training apps offer an opportunity to upskill professionals in any industry. F5’s Super-NetOps training programme is a perfect example. Designed to teach network professionals the foundational skills required to effectively automate their infrastructure – for free – our goal is to help the industry adapt to change, through education, so that it can continue to improve the user experience and drive new functionality.

Advantages

Facilitating learning through cloud-based training apps is better suited to Millennials and Generation Z, who want to consume content on the go. Just as everything else is evolving to cater to our shortening attention spans, so too must education. Training apps allow schools, universities, and enterprises to offer more dynamic education material, including video and gamification, that brings the material to life and allows users to learn at their own pace.

There businesses advantages cannot be denied. Online training helps teams to stay on top of their changing job requirements and, therefore, improves job satisfaction and loyalty. It aids succession planning by equipping individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to progress in their careers. It helps businesses keep control of training budgets and reduces costs associated with recruitment and onboarding. In addition, it helps businesses to stay relevant and competitive by empowering teams to experiment and innovate as identified by all three markets in our research for being the biggest business impact of cloud computing.

We can no longer be selfish with the learning experience. We need as many skilled and knowledgeable professionals as possible to help us all survive the future of work and the onslaught of machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of everything.

Businesses in Africa need to start shifting their priorities and to share their knowledge and expertise so that we can all become more agile and comfortable with change.

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Netflix lifts lid on first Nigerian Original

The streaming giant is set to increase its investment in Nigerian and African entertainment

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Back row (From L-R): Banky W, Ted Sarandos (Netflix Chief Content Officer), Kate Henshaw, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Felipe Tewes (Netflix Italian & African Originals Director), Omoni Oboli, Ben Amadasun (Netflix Africa Licensing Director) and Akin Omotoso Front Row (L-R) Mo Abudu, Adesua Etomi, Dorothy Ghettuba (Netflix African Originals lead) , Kunle Afolayan, Kemi Adetiba and Ramsey Noah.

The working title is the “Akin Omotoso Project”, but the world will soon get to know it by a snappier title. It is the first African original scripted series from Nigeria commissioned by Netflix. To be directed by Akin Omotoso, with Daniel Oriahi and CJ Obasi, it is planned to be a six-part series.

Netflix this week announced that it will increase its investment in Nigeria’s creative community, starting with the Akin Omotoso Project,

The series will star Kate Henshaw and Ade Laoye in leading roles, alongside other Nollywood greats and fresh faces, such as Richard Mofe Damijo, Joke Silva, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Kehinde Bankole, Ayoola Ayolola, Toyin Oshinaike, Goodness Emmanuel, Ireti Doyle, Fabian Adeoye Lojede, Bimbo Akintola, Tope Tedela and Ijeoma Grace Agu.

Set in modern-day Nigeria and shot in Lagos, this drama tells the story of Kemi, a goddess reincarnated as a human to avenge her sister’s death. But first, she must learn how to use and harness her superpowers to defeat her enemies and save her family from destruction. The series will be produced by Rififi Pictures.

Over the last year, Netflix has started to invest in the creative community – bringing Nigerian stories to audiences all around the world. These include: popular movies such as Merry Men, The Real Yoruba Demons, The Wedding Party 2, King of Boys; Nollywood classics like The CEO, October 1 and The Figurine; and films by renowned Nigerian director, Kunle Afolayan, such as Mokalik. These much loved Nigerian movies will join Nollywood favorites such as Chief Daddy, Lion Heart and box office hit, The Bling Lagosians.   

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer said: “Movies like King of Boys, Merry Men and The Bling Lagosian have shown how much our members love Nigerian movies. So we’re incredibly excited to be investing in Made in Nigeria stories – bringing them to audiences all around the world”. 

Dorothy Ghettuba, who leads African Originals at Netflix, said: “I’m excited that in the same week that we’re launching Queen Sono, we had the opportunity to be here in Lagos with Nigerian storytellers to share plans of our first Nigerian original production. Our continent has a wealth of diversity, multiplicity and beauty in stories that have yet to be told and we want to be top of mind for creators in Nigeria, especially when it comes to stories they haven’t had a chance to tell yet.” 

Last month, Netflix enabled Nigerian members to pay for its service in Naira – making it easier for subscribers to use Netflix. Members can enjoy a wide range of diverse, quality entertainment, including African Originals like Queen Sono, which launches this Friday, 28 February. Other African Originals launching this year include Blood & Water and Mama K’s Team 4. 

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Load-shedding generator could blow your insurance

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Load shedding is going to remain a reality in South Africa for at least the next 18 months as Eskom conducts maintenance on its ageing power plants – but don’t go rushing off to buy your own alternative power supply without first checking how it’ll affect your home insurance.

That’s the warning from King Price’s partner of client experience, Wynand van Vuuren, who says it’s vital that alternative power supplies like generators are installed and certified by accredited electricians. If these devices are installed or used incorrectly, you might not be covered for any damages that may result.

“There’s been a huge upsurge in the number of people using portable generators to keep a few basic essentials going when the power goes off,” says Van Vuuren. “But what most people don’t know is that you’ve got to have them installed professionally by an electrician. You can’t just stick your generator in the garage with an extension cord running through the window.”

Here are Van Vuuren’s top tips for staying covered and charged safely during load shedding.

Do your homework

Know what your alternative power options are, and the pros and cons of each.

An inverter changes DC power from a battery into AC power that you can use to operate all kinds of devices. Obviously, it needs a battery pack to be useful. These batteries are either charged by solar or from the grid while the power is on.

A portable generator is a little generator on wheels that you see people buying in their dozens at Makro and Builders Warehouse over the weekend. They’re relatively cheap and easy to operate, but can’t keep big appliances running.

Stationary generators are usually slightly bigger units that are installed permanently, and switch on automatically when the power goes off. They’re more expensive, but have greater capacity.

Stay safe – and covered

Apart from keeping your lights on, the different power options all have one thing in common: they must comply with safety guidelines, and be installed by a professional.

“I know of guys who take their portable generators to a different mate’s house every weekend so they can watch the rugby during load shedding,” says Van Vuuren. “It’s not as smart an idea as you think: not only is the generator not covered, but any possible damage caused by the generator won’t be covered either, because it’s not properly installed.”

It’s also essential that portable generators are operated in open areas with good air flow, to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, and that fuel is stored safely in an area with adequate ventilation.

Keep your bases covered

If you’re using a generator or an inverter, make sure they power your electric fence, gate and alarm as well, as burglars are all too quick to exploit opportunities caused by power outages. If you don’t have an alternative power supply, make sure your fence, gate and alarm have a battery back-up that’s sufficient to see you through your darkest moments.

Oh, and make sure your generator’s insured as well, in case it’s stolen or struck by lightning. You would typically insure a portable generator under your home. A stationary (standby) generator becomes a fixed fitting once installed and must, therefore, be added to your buildings cover.

Beat the downs with UPS

Another major headache for South Africans is the power surge that can happen when the power is switched back on after load shedding, with big-ticket appliances like dishwashers, televisions, fridges, coffee machines and sound systems all at risk.

“We’ve seen claims for ‘fried’ computer equipment, appliances and even distribution boards caused by power surges,” says Van Vuuren. “This can be avoided by installing a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) – which doesn’t come cheap – but is advisable to at least protect costly items, like TVs and sound systems, and items with intrinsic value, like laptops.

“The other alternative is to manually disconnect your more sensitive appliances from the power supply and reconnect them after the electricity is switched back on.”

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