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South Africa’s software economy To grow by Youth Empowerment

Izunna Okpala

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youth empowerment

youth empowermentComputer science remains one of the most exciting, transformative and lucrative careers for the youth to embark upon.

youth empowerment

Computer science remains one of the most exciting, transformative and lucrative careers for the youth to embark upon, but is still underrepresented in terms of race and female developers. Code.org is an NGO on a mission to change this through their annual global campaign entitled Hour of Code, through which the company partners with organisations around the globe in an effort to expand access to computer science to women and underrepresented minorities.

Microsoft has partnered with Code.org to inspire young people around the globe to take up computer science through learning how to code. Within South Africa, this was achieved through 50 training sessions taking place across South Africa today in places like Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Through these sessions, Microsoft aimed to reach at least 50 High school and University students, graduates, teachers and parents at every session.

Zoaib Hoosen, Managing Director of Microsoft SA, attended an interactive Hour of Code session with pupils from Blairgowrie Primary School in Randburg. During this session, learners utilised a new tutorial called Minecraft Hour of Code Designer, which was released last month.

 “We are partnering with Code.org again this year to make computer science more accessible to thousands of youth from all around South Africa through Hour of Code and Minecraft,” said Hoosen.

Adding that, “I am inspired by the ‘Minecraft’ generation who view themselves not as players of a game, but as creators of the new worlds they dream up. This is the generation that will imagine, build and create the country’s future, by developing the apps and services we are going to use and starting their own businesses that will employ us in future. Through this amazing initiative, we can equip these learners with the computational thinking and problem-solving skills to seize the opportunities ahead.”

The new web-based tutorial — available for free at http://code.org/minecraft — enables beginner coders to create and share their own simple “Minecraft” game, and is designed to empower anyone to begin learning the problem-solving and critical thinking skills required in today’s tech-fuelled world.

“Minecraft is a special game that appeals to a diverse global community, making it the perfect vehicle through which to teach learners of all backgrounds and skill levels to code. By programming familiar game events themselves, learners will be able to experience computer science in a way that is authentic as well as fun. Furthermore, these open-ended challenges also help show them that our favourite games are ultimately created with code themselves, helping to spark a career in computer science and app development.”

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IoT to fuel the next Green Revolution in the farming industry

Izunna Okpala

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iot farming

With pressure on land and food resources set to increase, the Internet of Things (IoT) will play an increasingly important role in helping the agriculture sector become more efficient, productive and sustainable. This is according to new independent research commissioned by global mobile satellite company Inmarsat (ISAT.L) which found that spend on, and interest in, IoT is set to rocket over the next five years within agritech.


Market research specialist Vanson Bourne interviewed respondents from 100 large agritech companies across the globe for Inmarsat’s ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ report, and found that the sector is rapidly taking to IoT technologies. 62 per cent had already fully or partially deployed IoT-based solutions, far outweighing the adoption levels seen in the mining, transport and energy sectors, and a further 27 per cent had plans to do so within the next six months.

Moreover, the spend on IoT-based solutions is set to increase dramatically over the next few years. Today, about five per cent of agritech businesses’ IT budgets are spent on the technology; a figure that is expected to more than double to around 12 per cent by 2022, indicating how important IoT will be for the sector going forward.

Commenting on the findings, Ayan Jobse-Alkemade, Director of Sector Development Agriculture, Inmarsat Enterprise, said: “With the planet estimated to reach a population of 10 billion people by 2050, humanity will face challenges with sustainable water sources, food production, and the best use of land to get the maximum yield from crops. Additionally, using the most efficient method to deliver the resources will increasingly feature on the global agenda. In short, farmers, with the help of the agritech sector, need to get smarter, leaner and faster from field to fork.

“The only way to really do this is with the clever application of new technologies like IoT, and our research demonstrates how quickly agritech businesses are embracing this technology. IoT will fuel a revolution in the farming sector and bring gains that completely eclipse those made in the first Green Revolution in the 1970s, continued Ayan Jobse-Alkemade” 

Working with its partners, Inmarsat is at the forefront of this movement, delivering effective solutions for agritech businesses globally. By combining its heritage in critical connectivity with LoRaWAN technology and data analytics platforms that allow for the free-flow of data across organisations, Inmarsat are helping to ensure agritech businesses get ahead of the competition and meet the food production needs of tomorrow.

Many of the locations that would benefit most from IoT technologies are remote and are situated where terrestrial networks do not reach, or do not work well, all of the time. Inmarsat’s L-band network provides global satellite connectivity with up to 99.9% uptime, allowing IoT projects to thrive, even in the most remote and hostile environments.

To view and download the full report – ‘The Future of IoT in Enterprise – 2017’ – visit: http://research.inmarsat.com/

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Not Everyone is an Entrepreneur

Izunna Okpala

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entrepreneur

There is a difference between an entrepreneur and small-business owner.

We have gotten a bit carried away with the “entrepreneur” label. Stop it. So many business people are now considered entrepreneurs that it is now easier to figure out who’s who if we just have the non-entrepreneurs raise their hands.

These fundamental definitions and an understanding of their roles will shape the future economy with more force than we may realize.

The entrepreneurs I know…

The fruit of an entrepreneur’s labor is the insatiable need for more, more and more. We can’t stop, and we’re not being hyperbolic when we say that.

Despite the purveying assumption, entrepreneurs are far from fearless. In fact, entrepreneurs are less driven by some moral authority or economic reward and more by the paralyzing fear of failure and the fear of missed opportunity. The true fear is not living up to what the entrepreneur truly believes is the maximized opportunity. This fear of perceived failure is worse than failure itself. Silicon Valley types don’t celebrate failure, because they’re full of themselves; they celebrate it because it’s too hard to look at themselves in the mirror when they fail. The concept of “failing forward” or “you aren’t pushing hard enough if you aren’t failing” are all mantras that make some entrepreneurs too happy to just continue to rinse and repeat the venture life-cycle.

Nonetheless, VC funding pours in, and the population of “entrepreneurs” continues to grow. There’s no shortage of incubators accelerators and free infrastructure (increasing at an average of 50% each year between 2008 and 2014) to support our efforts and feed our endeavors.

X  (previously Google X) says that “instead of a mere 10 percent gain, a moonshot aims for a 10x improvement over what currently exists. The combination of a huge problem, a radical solution to that problem, and the breakthrough technology that just might make that solution possible, is the essence of a moonshot.” What’s missing here is the fact that it takes an entrepreneur’s Draconian thirst to add 10x the ambition with no predefined path, a healthy amount of someone else’s money, and the ability to convince others to join them on the crazy journey.

Those are the entrepreneurs I know. And if nothing else, that description is more accurate than what we’ve been hearing for the past decade. Entrepreneurs don’t dare to be different, they are different.

You might be a small-business owner if…

Small-business owners, on the contrary, build businesses incrementally, bit by bit. They often solve smaller, localized problems with their business and are not looking to radically move the needle. They’re the broad base of employment in America for this reason — they cover a lot of surface area, but aren’t disrupting the status quo, creating entire new fields, or accelerating an entire market forward.

Small-business owners seek lower risk — if it’s a moonshot, it’s by accident. It all tracks back to a timeline that maps far beyond that of entrepreneurs. Small businesses are created with the goal of sustaining a living for the owners and their employees. There’s nothing special or serial about them. These are the people you should ask about work-life balance in an interview.

Furthermore, their products and services often live in the realm of known and established offerings. They live and operate in their local community first and foremost. The local automotive store down the street who’s been there for 50 years? The one who just opened up who will be there for another 50? Those are both small-business owners, tokens of their community who’s definition of winning comes down to how confident they’ll be opening their doors tomorrow. Their broken definition of winning is really about surviving and relative thriving but not truly winning.

The VCs aren’t there to back them or their 15 percent growth models, their march to profitability is a steady cadence of tactical steps in a defined direction with low risk with even lower return. While that direction may change, it’s not at the whim of the market or investor pressure. There is also little pivoting or course correction because small-business owners aren’t looking to discover a new world, but instead just happy with walking the well-established path.

If entrepreneurs are our economy’s moonshots, small business owners are the gravity that keeps our system grounded.

Decoupling is the only way

While both entrepreneurs and small-business owners may have some similar entrepreneurial genes at their core, we can’t ignore the differences between the two that ultimately define their role in our economy. We shouldn’t be angry that everyone isn’t an entrepreneur, but celebrate it. The world and economy needs balance.

Entrepreneurs, at their core, are rare, transformative and risky. They are going to propel the society forward with big leaps of creative disruption. Small-business owners give us a stable base that de-risks the moonshots and protects us from the fallout of failures.

I’m not asking you to make a value judgement of one over the other, but consider this: we’ve been encouraging people to become entrepreneurs for decades and the startup failure rate has reached 90 percent.

We shouldn’t want everyone to be an entrepreneur. It’s not about separating the professionals from the amateurs, either. It’s about responsible approaches to economic growth and societal change.

Let the change agents do the change — real entrepreneurs are well-suited to shape the future. We need small-business owners to anchor our present, and too many of them are being lured away from that important work by an inauthentic, woefully misguided perception of what it means to be an entrepreneur.

We need to strike the right balance of the two, and that starts with vocabulary and perceptions. Imagine if all businesses had a 90 percent failure rate? What if no businesses made giant breakthroughs? When the balance between small business people and entrepreneurs gets out of whack, we can do remarkable harm.

The best way to prevent that is to stop pretending you’re something you’re not.

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Ways Smart Cities Can be used for Better / Safer Lives

Izunna Okpala

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The advanced communication and the digital technologies currently available to us today can be used to make the lives of city dwellers and home owners better and safer.

Cities are growing faster than the world population, Lagos Nigeria can be taken as a case study. It is increasingly challenging for large and fast growing cities to manage their operations. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling ‘things’ (objects and devices) in our lives to exchange data in a common network. The IoT will play a major role in developing Smart Cities that help planners lligent Systems that help planners truly understand our everyday tasks. But how can Innovationn in the Tech world improve our lives?

By 2020, the IoT will connect more than 25 billion devices and almost anything – your connected car, your building – will communicate with other things. Innovations in IoT technology are helping private and public organizations gain insight into the needs of their communities. Cities will become smart by:

  • Developing strategies to plan for long-term growth
  • Creating more energy-efficient environments
  • Improving their infrastructure
  • Keeping citizens safe

IoT technology can help to accomplish many things from cities. It can help to lower energy consumption to streamline communications and achieve better efficiency than ever before. Cities using smart technology can track and locate assets that belong to the city such as machinery, buses, utility trucks and can even raise an alarm if there is a need to accomplish that.

IoT TECHNOLOGY offers better and more unique ways to ensure that we lower our consumption of energy and our greenhouse gas. In fact, in some cases, the actual trash receptacles are able to tell the city when they are full to allow for faster removal of garbage. Smart Cities permit us to better serve the people who are part of them by managing many services without any type of human interaction at all. Smart lighting can shut down street lights when there is no one in the vicinity and smart sensors in buildings can adjust temperature and humidity to keep the perfect environment.

The benefits helps to achieve social, environmental, economic and very human benefits. There are other up sides and perhaps even a down side or two.

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