World-class tech hub planned for Joburg

first_imgThe Tshimologong Precinct will look to draw from Johannesburg’s best tech talents and become one of the biggest technology hubs in Africa. Above is an artist’s impression of the hub. (Image: Johannesburg Centre of Software Engineering)• Prof. Barry DwolatzkyChief executiveJohannesburg Centre of Software Enginnering+27 11 717 [email protected]• Watch: Global South African tech gurus on bringing skills home• South African women on Forbes Africa tech list• New technology hub for Braamfontein• Smart cities need innovative citizens• Youth focus at innovation summitShamin ChibbaTshimologong Precinct will be launched in the coming year, making Johannesburg Africa’s latest technology centre. The hub, which will be set up in Braamfontein, will look to bring together some of the city’s best minds to collaborate and create new digital technology.It is a project of Wits University’s Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE). Speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday, 24 June, JCSE chief executive Barry Dwolatzky said Johannesburg needed a big technological hub that provided a space for anyone looking to learn, interact with other tech developers, and turn their ideas into businesses. Except for Jozi Hub at 44 on Stanley and Open in Maboneng District, both of which were small operations, Dwolatzky said the city “hardly has a hub”. And the two already up and running “would not be classified as tech hubs when compared to those around the world”.Dwolatzky spent a year visiting hubs in the US, Europe and the rest of Africa to get ideas of how to build and run one. Tshimologong, he said, was set to be on par with some of the biggest hubs in Africa, including 88mph in Cape Town; iceAddis in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Co-Creation Hub in Lagos, Nigeria; and the continent’s best, iHub in Nairobi, Kenya.Even Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau pledged his support for Tshimologong; in his State of the City address in April he said the metro would partner with Wits in developing the hub.Barry Dwolatzky, pictured above, says the JCSE will transform an old nightclub in Braamfontein into the Tshimologong Precinct headquarters. (Image: Shamin Chibba) Braamfontein the ideal locationMost of the 40% that Gauteng contributes to the country’s gross domestic product is generated within a 10km radius in Johannesburg. Close to the centre of that circle is Braamfontein. This is one of the reasons Dwolatzky said it would be the ideal location for a hub.Braamfontein is home to about 10 000 young people, many of whom are from other parts of Africa. “This is a young African inner city area. If you walk through these streets you will hear every language from Africa spoken. We have a huge population that is bright, mobile and dynamic living in Braamfontein.”Furthermore, Wits’s East and West campuses are in Braamfontein, and the University of Johannesburg is just three kilometres away. Both have a combined 80 000 students. There are more than a dozen major businesses and organisations in and around the area that need digital support, such as SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewery; mining house Anglo American; First National Bank; and Cosatu, the labour federation. These, said Dwolatzky, were potential clients for businesses that would start up in Tshimologong.Wits University has already dedicated R30-million to Tshimologong to buy the four buildings on Juta Street and renovate them. Dwolatzky said the university had put in as much as it could afford. Now the JCSE was looking for about R20-million from business and the government to complete the reconstruction. Hub will rely on members’ honestyWhile visiting hubs around the world, Dwolatzky looked at the business models Tshimologong might adopt. The first he spoke of was the commercial option, where people were charged to use the facility. The second was sponsored and subsidised by the government or social benefit organisations. “They will come and throw money at the project. Few of these succeed because it is expensive to run.”The third was a combination of the two models. It was the one Dwolatzky wanted to adopt, calling it the Robin Hood strategy. This required the member to meet set criteria in order to use the hub. These may include contributions to innovation, skills development, the hub’s social mix, as well as a willingness to learn new skills.The hub would rely on the honesty of the people using it when it came to payment. Those who could pay the fee would be prompted to do so, while those who could not afford it would be able to use the facility for free. Members who were cash-strapped would either be subsidised by the profit the hub made or through donor funds. “We have crunched the numbers and we are convinced we can get the right mix of people who can pay and those who will be there for free. The moment a person comes through the door everyone is equal. It’s like walking into a church. It makes no difference whether you have paid to be here or you got a free seat, you are part of a community.”Some of the space will be rented to corporates for meetings and events. The facility will be able to have between 300 and 400 members and, according to the JCSE’s calculations, may cost each person up to R2 000 a month. For the hub to be effective for those using it, a wi-fi connection of up to 60 megabytes per second is needed. “For this hub we need something that exceeds people’s expectations.”Dwolatzky gave an assurance that anything produced within the hub would belong to the individuals or groups that created them. The hub would only go as far as coaching and mentoring members, assisting in getting their businesses running and introducing the creators to venture capital. “The rule about these hubs is that the person who creates the intellectual property owns it. Wits will not claim any innovation or creation as their own.”last_img read more

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Brand South Africa hails discovery of Homo naledi

first_imgSome of the 1 550 fossil specimens of Homo naledi, which represent at least 15 different individuals. (Image: National Geographic)Johannesburg, Thursday 10 September 2015 – Brand South Africa applauds the team of scientists from the University of the Witwatersrand and other volunteers, on their discovery of a new species of human relative – Homo naledi – at the Cradle of Humankind.Brand South Africa CEO Mr Kingsley Makhubela, reflecting upon the significance of this find, for the South African brand in particular said, “This find of approximately 1 550 fossil elements emphasizes South Africa’s position as a global leader in the field of paleo-anthropology. The discovery has been described as one which will force us to rethink the origins of humankind as whole. While we cannot claim to have created what lies in our soil, we can celebrate this as a part of our heritage and as part of South Africa’s legacy to the world.”“South Africa is described as one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the world because of our mineral wealth. The rich fossil and archeological remains in our soil is another reason why South Africa is so valuable to the world.”“We salute the team of scientists led by Professor Lee Berger, from the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. We celebrate you today for unearthing and bringing to light this magnificent discovery, and for its significance to humankind as a whole and South Africa in particular.”“South Africa looks forward to welcoming the world to the Cradle of Humankind to view the fossil elements which will be on display from 11 September – 11 October 2015.”“We look forward to and eagerly anticipate your continued work in this field and wish you well in your future endevours,” concluded Mr Makhubela.Follow the conversation on #HomoNaledi and #AlmostHuman.last_img read more

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BJP now mulls offering two key portfolios to Sena

first_imgUnable to form a new government in Maharashtra 11 days after emerging as the single largest party in the Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may now offer two of the four important portfolios to ally Shiv Sena in a bid to at least bring the party to the discussion table.BJP sources had initially said that all talks with the Sena regarding the share in State Cabinet would exclude these portfolios, namely, home, revenue, finance and urban development. However, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who has been reminding the BJP of its pre-poll promise of sharing power equally, showed no interest in the proposal.According to sources in the BJP, the Sena’s firm stand and the resultant deadlock in government formation has prompted the BJP to take a step backwards and come up with a new offer. “We can discuss the exchange of finance and revenue portfolios,” a senior BJP minister privy to the discussions said. While Mr. Fadnavis and Mr. Thackeray are not talking directly, the BJP leader said negotiations through other channels have been under way since the day the results were announced.The BJP’s new offer, however, does not mention anything about the chief minister’s post. Sena leaders have been insisting that equal power shares also mean the CM post being shared for two-and-a-half years. Mr. Thackeray has said he has received no word from the BJP camp on government formation.The desperation of the BJP leaders, especially Mr. Fadnavis, was visible on Sunday during his tour to Akola in Vidarbha to inspect crop losses due to excessive rain. “The problems in forming the government will be resolved soon. The government should be formed soon, which will be good for the State as there are limitations to the financial aid that an interim government can announce for farmers,” he said while speaking to reporters. This is the first time any BJP leader has admitted to problems in forming the government.Mr. Fadnavis will meet BJP president Amit Shah in Delhi on Monday, sources in the party said. Contrary to Haryana, where the BJP’s central leadership swung into action to form a government, in Maharashtra, Mr. Fadnavis appears to be fighting a lone battle. The BJP has rejected this perception, and said the central leadership will be in the picture once the Sena joins the discussion table. “There needs to be some basis to start discussions. The Sena leadership is not agreeing to negotiate. How can our central leaders intervene?” one leader said.Mr. Fadnavis’s visit to the Capital will coincide with Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar’s meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. The two are likely to discuss the Opposition’s strategy in case the BJP and Sena fail to reach a consensus. Senior Congress leaders from the State have already met Ms. Gandhi regarding the political situation. According to State Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat, she has neither given her consent nor disapproved the move to extend support to the Sena if needed.last_img read more

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BSNL unveils Bharat Phone with e-governance apps

first_imgIndian state-owned telecommunications company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) recently unveiled a low-cost version of its smartphone, with e-governance applications for the common man, as per IANS reports.Branded as ‘Bharat phone’, the mobile device sports a three-inch large screen display with provision for dual SIM card and come with a price tag of Rs 1,099.”The low-cost mobile device will alter the Indian feature phone industry as it has been designed especially for e-governance applications and optimised for internet access to empower common man,” BSNL chairman R.K. Upadhyay said.Visiting Mauritius President Rajkeshwar Purryag, who is city since Wednesday, was present on the occasion with Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and state Higher Education Minister R.V. Deshpande.Designed and developed by Pantel Technologies Ltd, a pioneer in the low-cost tablet PC market, the voicephone’s large screen and proprietary Java operating system are suited for other user applications such as mobile banking, tele-healthcare delivery and streaming data delivery.”As the phone is pre-bundled with attractive voice plan, the mobile handset offers common man the power of internet access at an affordable price and will benefit a wide section of society,” Upadhyay said.According to Pantel managing director Vijender Singh, the phone has facility to browse, e-mail, to check Facebook and download music, video and Java games.”Besides facility for dual SIM card, the phone is equipped with 1.3 mega pixel rear camera, Bluetooth for quick sharing of files, a lithium-ion battery with eight-hour charge and 15 days standby, 64MB random access memeory (RAM) and 64MB of internal storage, SMS scheduler, multimedia gaming and mobile tracker,” Singh saidadvertisementlast_img read more

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