AfricanBrains Africa Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:30:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 President Zuma to lead delegation to AU Summit Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:30:41 +0000 .



President Jacob Zuma will on Friday lead the South African delegation to the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly (AU Summit) to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The summit will consider the adoption of Agenda 2063, the continental plan to ensure positive socio-economic transformation within the next 50 years. It will also explore concrete ways to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality.

The Presidency said the summit will also address health matters, especially the scourge of the Ebola pandemic; peace and security; and development and administrative related issues, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

The 2015 AU Summit will be held under the theme “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063″.

The Presidency said the summit will also inaugurate the Nelson Mandela Hall (the plenary hall of the African Union Headquarters), which was named after the late former President of the Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, during the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly held in Addis Ababa, in January 2014.

“Prior to the summit, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will lead the South African delegation to the 26th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council to be held from 26 – 27 January 2015.

“The Executive Council is composed of Ministers or authorities designated by the governments of the AU members states,” said the Presidency.

President Zuma will be accompanied by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane; Minister in The Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe; Minister in The Presidency Responsible for Women Susan Shabangu; Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane; State Security Minister David Mahlobo and Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister Ayanda Dlodlo.

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Aggreko Extends 200 MW Ivory Coast Power Project Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:20:53 +0000 aggrekko

The Aggreko plant provides critical power to Ivory Coast and surrounding countries interconnected to the Ivory Coast grid

Aggreko (, the world leader in the provision of temporary power and temperature control services, has announced a three year contract extension to its 200 MW gas-fired power project in Ivory Coast, with an option to extend this by a further two years. The Aggreko plant in the Vridi area of Abidjan provides critical power to Ivory Coast and surrounding countries interconnected to the Ivory Coast grid.

The facility was installed in 2010 with the first phase of the project producing 70 MW. This was later increased to 100 MW in 2011 and again increased in June 2013 to 200 MW. With a booming economy and GDP growth of around 9%, demand for energy has been increasing steadily in recent years. The Aggreko plant injects vital capacity into the local grid, helping keep essential infrastructure and services running, while also ensuring power supplies are maintained to both business and domestic users.

“We are pleased to be extending the Aggreko project which forms an important part of our program of strengthening the energy infrastructure across the country,” commented Amidou Traore, Director General, CI-Energies. “The 200 MW supplied from the Aggreko plant is an important component of our energy generation mix and helps us maintain supply to our customers while we develop our long-term infrastructure programmes.”

Economies across Africa are growing at a phenomenal rate resulting in an increased strain on power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure. By adding large-scale, fast-track interim power, countries can continue to supply the energy required to sustain economic growth while governments and state utilities work on bringing new generation capacity online.

“Our project in Ivory Coast is a great example of the value Aggreko brings to its utility customers in Africa,” commented Christophe Jacquin, Managing Director, Aggreko North and West Africa. “Our solutions address shortages in power generation capacity, giving our customers the ability to maintain supply while they work to improve their systems.”

Aggreko maintains a strong presence in Ivory Coast and views the country as a vital platform in its West African operations. In addition to the Abidjan plant, Aggreko also runs its West African youth training initiative, The Aggreko Technical University in Ivory Coast.

The programme involves an intensive training syllabus incorporating advanced technical, engineering and project operations modules. Graduates have access to fast-track employment opportunities within technical and project operations positions in the Ivory Coast and other locations in Aggreko’s network of international power projects. The programme has so far seen 18 Ivorian and West African engineers trained with 14 of these going on to graduate and join Aggreko in various locations across Africa.

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Microsoft Cloud and Devices Momentum Highlights Second Quarter Results Tue, 27 Jan 2015 11:00:05 +0000 .


Commercial cloud revenue grows triple-digits for the sixth consecutive quarter, reaching an annualized revenue run rate of $5.5 billion


Microsoft Corp. today announced revenue of $26.5 billion for the quarter ended December 31, 2014. Gross margin, operating income, and diluted earnings per share (“EPS”) for the quarter were $16.3 billion, $7.8 billion, and $0.71 per share, respectively.

These financial results include $243 million of integration and restructuring expenses, or a $0.02 per share negative impact, related to both Microsoft’s restructuring plan announced in July 2014 and the ongoing integration of the Nokia Devices and Services (“NDS”) business. There is also a $0.04 per share negative impact related to income tax expense resulting from an IRS audit adjustment.

Microsoft also announced its intention to complete the existing $40 billion share repurchase authorization by December 31, 2016.

The following table notes the impact of the integration and restructuring expenses on the company’s financial performance (“Noted Items”). This financial information is provided to aid investors in better understanding the company’s performance. All growth comparisons relate to the corresponding period in the last fiscal year.

Three Months Ended December 31,
($ in millions, except per share amounts) Revenue Gross Margin Operating Income Diluted EPS
2013 As Reported (GAAP) $24,519 $16,197 $7,969 $0.78
2014 As Reported (GAAP) $26,470 $16,334 $7,776 $0.71
%Y/Y (GAAP) 8% 1% (2)% (9)%
2014 Impact of Noted Items - - $(243) $(0.02)

“Microsoft is continuing to transform, executing against our strategic priorities and extending our cloud leadership,” said Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft.  “We are taking bold steps forward across our business, and specifically with Windows 10, to deliver new experiences, new categories, and new opportunities to our customers.”

“We remain disciplined in our approach to operational and execution excellence, balanced with investments that drive meaningful growth for the business while increasing capital return to shareholders,” said Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Microsoft.

Devices and Consumer revenue grew 8% to $12.9 billion, with the following business highlights:

  • Surface revenue of $1.1 billion, up 24%, driven by Surface Pro 3 and accessories
  • Office 365 Home and Personal subscribers increased to over 9.2 million, up 30% sequentially over prior quarter
  • Search advertising revenue grew 23%, with Bing U.S. market share at 19.7%, up 150 basis points over prior year
  • Xbox console sales totaled 6.6 million units, with strong holiday season performance
  • Phone Hardware revenue of $2.3 billion, with 10.5 million Lumia units sold driven by growth in affordable smartphones
  • Windows OEM Pro revenue declined 13%; revenue was impacted by the business PC market and Pro mix returning to pre-Windows XP end of support levels and by new lower-priced licenses for devices sold to academic customers
  • Windows OEM non-Pro revenue declined 13%, with license growth from opening price point devices

Commercial revenue grew 5% to $13.3 billion, with the following business highlights:

  • Commercial cloud revenue grew 114% driven by Office 365, Azure and Dynamic CRM Online, and is now on an annualized revenue run rate of $5.5 billion
  • Office Commercial products and services revenue declined 1%; transactional revenue was impacted by the continued transition to Office 365 and declines in commercial PCs following the XP refresh cycle
  • Server products and services revenue grew 9%, with double-digit growth of SQL Server and System Center
  • Windows volume licensing revenue increased by 3%, with annuity revenue growth partially offset by declining transactional revenue

“We again saw enthusiasm and demand around our cloud offerings like Office 365, Dynamics CRM Online and Azure, as well as Surface Pro 3,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft. “Our sales engagement worldwide continues to focus on helping customers and partners transition to the cloud and navigate the shifting product mix related to our services and solutions.”

Business Outlook

Microsoft will provide forward-looking guidance in connection with this quarterly earnings announcement on its earnings conference call and webcast.

Webcast Details

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer, Amy Hood, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Frank Brod, chief accounting officer, John Seethoff, deputy general counsel, and Chris Suh, general manager of Investor Relations, will host a conference call and webcast at 2:30 p.m. PST (5:30 p.m. EST) today to discuss details of the company’s performance for the quarter and certain forward-looking information. The session may be accessed at The webcast will be available for replay through the close of business on January 26, 2016.

Noted Items Definition

Integration and restructuring expenses were $243 million during the three months ended December 31, 2014. Integration and restructuring expenses include employee severance expenses and costs associated with the consolidation of facilities and manufacturing operations, including asset write-downs and contract termination costs, resulting from Microsoft’s restructuring plan. Integration and restructuring expenses also include systems consolidation and other business integration expenses, as well as transaction fees and direct acquisition costs, associated with the acquisition of NDS.

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Dream of remote internet connections still up in the air Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:18:29 +0000 Image credit: Fredrik Naumann/Panos

Image credit: Fredrik Naumann/Panos

There’s no shortage of ideas for getting internet to people in developing countries, specially remoter areas. But will they work? Gareth Willmer investigates.

New technologies using balloons, drones and unusual satellites have been tested in recent years with the aim of improving global access to high-speed internet. The hope is that some of these innovative technologies could help narrow and eventually eliminate the global digital divide.

Several billion people around the world — some estimates say around three billion —  are still without internet infrastructure, many of them in developing countries. Often  they are in areas remote from fibre-optic cables or too poor for expensive satellite access.

While the development of new technologies has been welcomed and major global companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft have made moves to invest in them, the dream of internet access for all, in particular reaching the so-called ‘last mile’ of remote communities may still be some way off.

The hard truth is that communities are different so a ‘one size fits all’ approach is unlikely to be successful. In addition, some of the promising technologies may require regulatory changes which could be a lengthy process.

Carried by cable

Fibre-optic cable is the backbone of much of the West’s internet infrastructure, but for some regions the technology is currently too costly and difficult to deploy in more remote areas, or areas where people have more limited financial resources.
Frank McCosker, general manager of affordable access and smart financing at the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, believes fibre is not a panacea for bridging the global digital divide.

“You’d probably only get to about (another) 2.1 billion people in an affordable way,” McCosker tells SciDev.Net. ”There’s still this question of how you deal with the next five to six billion.”

For example, many Pacific island communities are unlikely to be well served by fibre, says Christian Patouraux, CEO of Kacific Broadband Satellites, which has offices in Australia and Asia, is planning to launch a new type of low-cost, high-throughput satellite for broadband in early 2017.

“The Pacific will never be entirely covered by [fibre optic] technology,” says Patouraux, adding that many Pacific island communities simply cannot absorb the enormous cost.

Balloon delivery

Many organisations recognise that bringing internet access to geographically remote or otherwise isolated communities will require some innovative thinking.

Project Loon is one of Google’s more widely publicised plans. It envisages creating wi-fi hubs using high-altitude balloons floating on currents in the stratosphere, ten to fifty kilometres above the Earth’s surface. The aim is to create an aerial wireless network.

“Two out of three people on the planet are still not online,” according to a Google spokesperson. “Most people think current approaches will get us there, but they aren’t. That’s why we thought Loon was worth a shot.”

This year Google plans to gear up from small-scale tests to regular multi-balloon launches, as part of its vision of creating a global ‘balloon network’.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that many of these technologies will prove to be valuable parts of the network mesh that we need to drive the ‘everything online, always connected’ future.”

Christopher Sampson, Digital Society Foundation

The balloons made of polyethylene plastic are designed to last for around 100 days. What happens once they descend to earth, and how the company plans to clear up any plastic pollution, isn’t clear.

Others exploring balloon-based technologies for localised connectivity include the Conectar initiative in Brazil, which aims to get remote communities online, such as people living in rainforests.

Jose Ângelo Neri, senior technologist for the Conectar project, says a test carried out in November showed Connectar balloons could deliver cost-effective internet access to large areas.

Sent by satellites

Satellite is a more traditional way to reach remote areas. Google is one of the investors in O3b Networks, which launched four new satellites in July and a further four in December from French Guiana’s space centre.

These satellites have a medium-Earth orbit closer that is to the ground than traditional geostationary satellites and reduces the distance required for data transmission. This helps improve broadband speeds in remote areas.

“Customers have reacted very positively to the higher throughput and quicker application response time,” says Ashok Rao, vice president of product development at O3b. He adds that O3b which stands for the unconnected ‘other three billion’, is rapidly gaining customers.

O3b has more than two dozen contracts to supply services worldwide, with a focus on poorly connected developing and remote markets in Latin America, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

It began offering commercial high-speed internet and mobile services in March in the Cook Islands, and has since launched commercially in other locations, including Papua New Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Timor-Leste, South Sudan and Madagascar.

Though not necessarily cheaper on its own, O3b says it could work out to be more cost-effective than laying fibre for remoter areas. Some observers note the emphasis at the moment for many companies is to develop the technologies first, and work on costs after.

Left-over spectrum

Another platform attracting attention is the use of television ‘white space’ — the currently unused segments of the broadcasting spectrum.

White-space power stations do not require large amounts of electricity, and can be charged using solar panels. That makes them vastly cheaper than fibre optics, says Microsoft’s McCosker.

“You’re not having to build major new infrastructure,” he explains, adding that delivering internet access via white space to every fibre-free region of a country like Kenya would cost around US$100 million, compared to several billion dollars to roll out a 3G or 4G fibre network that would only reach around a third of the population.

Microsoft is carrying out white-space trials in several African countries, aiming to provide internet access to schools, universities and rural communities. It recently completed its largest pilot so far, connecting 28 schools in northern Namibia.

However, competition for white space is fierce in many markets and persuading governments to allocate it to internet companies is a hurdle, often requiring legislative or regulatory changes.

Microsoft hopes the success of recent pilots could persuade African governments to make the changes necessary to roll out the technology more broadly.

Mariya Zheleva, a computer science researcher at the University at Albany in New York, is studying the provision of wireless networks for regions underserved by good infrastructure. She believes white space is the most feasible option.

“A network in the air might be much more susceptible to the elements and harder to maintain,” she says, referring to the balloon technologies.

Bespoke solutions

Some companies are adopting a more tailored approach. Facebook is exploring a range of broadband delivery technologies through the partnership formed a year ago with several other technology firms, including Ericsson, Nokia, Opera Software and Samsung. broadly divides the world into regions of ‘high’, ‘medium’ and ‘low’ urban population density, with a view to identifying platforms and technologies that can provide efficient and cost-effective connectivity in each, whether it is wi-fi access points, mobile phone transmission towers, solar-powered aircraft, drones, or low-cost satellites.

“We don’t believe there’s just one solution to bridging the digital divide,” says a Facebook spokesperson. “Different markets and areas will require different solutions.”

Realistic prospects?

Realistically, there is still some way to go before even successfully tested technologies can be brought to market, and opinions differ widely on the feasibility of these ideas, and whether any one idea will win out over the others.

Jane Coffin is director of development strategy at the non-profit Internet Society (ISOC), which promotes access to new broadband technologies that are interoperable with other technologies, networks and platforms.

She welcomes the exploratory steps to widen internet access, but urges that “the safety, environmental and privacy aspects are considered” as part of taking new technologies to market.

“Having all these initiatives from different players is definitely great in general,” agrees Stéphane Boyera, CEO of France-based ICT research and development organisation SBC4D. Boyera took part in the 2009 launch of the World Wide Web Foundation, which lobbies for open, accessible internet access for all.

Christopher Sampson, founder of the non-profit Digital Society Foundation, adds: “There’s no doubt in my mind that many of these technologies will prove to be valuable parts of the network mesh that we need to drive the ‘everything online, always connected’ future.”

The GSM Association (GSMA), which represents mobile operators worldwide, notes in a July 2014 report titled Mobile access — the last mile that new internet connectivity technologies are, for the most part, “nascent”, with no firm timelines, and that aerial technologies in particular may face significant national and cross-border legal challenges.

“A telecoms network in the sky would require multiple national regulators to coordinate to develop a system of tracking flight paths of balloons and the process of ascent and descent into different countries — they cannot be stateless,” a GSMA spokesman says.

Moreover, “commercial viability of these technologies on a wide scale is unlikely in the short to medium term,” says Tim Hatt, an analyst with the GSMA.

He believes there is more scope for regulatory incentives for mobile operators to expand their networks and share infrastructure to reduce costs.

Who will pay?

Some argue access is not as big a barrier to digital participation in developing countries as cost.

GSMA estimates 30-50 per cent of people in developing countries with potential access to 2G networks cannot afford a mobile phone, and Boyera says internet access in some African countries is up to ten times more expensive than in Western markets.

“You usually pay a couple of dollars for a day of connectivity … which costs far more than an all-you-can-eat plan in Western countries,” he says.

New ways to make these technologies more affordable are needed, but this could require further development of a number of different technologies and delivery models before this can be resolved.

Sampson says the decider for many new technologies will be down to national governments, and the role they will play in owning or regulating infrastructure.

The key is getting data moving around in such a way that operating networks and building more infrastructure can be done at the same time as providing affordable access, he says.

So while the ideas are innovative, their implementation could still mean overcoming a large number of hurdles.

GSMA Mobile access — the last mile (GMSA, 2014)

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The African Union and Norway enter into strategic partnership Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:15:57 +0000 Dlamini-Zuma_Wikimedia_commons

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende today signed a strategic partnership agreement. ‘This is a historic step for Norway’s engagement in Africa,’ said Mr Brende.

The agreement was signed today in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, where the African Union (AU) headquarters are based. Mr Brende is in Ethiopia in connection with the annual AU Summit.

‘This agreement will broaden our existing cooperation with the AU, and strengthen Norway’s engagement, particularly in matters relating to peace and security. The leading role played by the AU in dealing with security challenges on the African continent has been significantly strengthened in recent years,’ Mr Brende said.

Norway and the AU have agreed to hold regular political consultations to discuss a broad range of matters of importance to peace and development in African countries. The agreement covers three main areas of cooperation: peace and security, democracy and governance, and sustainable development and job creation.

‘Norway and the AU will cooperate on the challenges identified in Africa’s own development strategy, Agenda 2063. In particular, we place emphasis on ensuring that the young people of Africa, both women and men, are able to contribute to value creation and the development of the continent. Norway is heavily involved in efforts to ensure that children and young people receive a quality education, as this will enhance their prospects of finding jobs in the future,’ said Mr Brende.

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Alcatel-Lucent to build converged network for Vodacom in South Africa Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:33:01 +0000 .


Alcatel-Lucent’s GPON solution to underpin ultra-broadband network for enterprise, residential and mobile customers of South Africa’s largest mobile operator

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) has been selected by Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile service provider, to build a gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) solution to expand Vodacom’s customer base enterprise and residential markets.

The new converged network enables Vodacom to provide customers with ultra-broadband needed to access bandwidth-hungry services and applications such as online gaming and streaming video.

Vodacom will deploy Alcatel-Lucent’s comprehensive end-to-end GPON solution, as well as the Motive customer experience platform to provide high-quality network performance through advanced performance management capabilities across both wireline and wireless.  Vodacom expects to reach about 150,000 homes and 100,000 business within the next three years.

Key Facts:

  • Vodacom will deploy the new converged network  in all major centers in South Africa, including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
  • The converged network will enable Vodacom to offer mobile, voice, video and data services to 250,000  homes and businesses within the next three years.
  • Alcatel-Lucent is providing its 7360 ISAM FX for GPON services, as well as Customer Experience Management Platform using Motive Home Device Manager and Network Analyzer Fiber.
  • The project also includes Professional Services, Operations Support Systems (OSS) deployment and Managed Services.


Andries Delport, Vodacom Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) said: “We first began talking with Alcatel-Lucent about expanding Vodacom’s business into the fixed access market five years ago. This was a significant move for us and required a great deal of consideration. Over time, the Alcatel-Lucent team was able to show that it was the right move for us and that their solution was the best for our needs.”

Willem Hendrickx, President of Alcatel-Lucent Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA)  said: “This effort represents a significant and bold move by Vodacom into the fixed network space and allows them to take advantage of new, revenue-generating business models.  We are excited that our technology, expertise and knowledge are helping take Vodacom to the next level of converged communications.”

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DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa wins a record number of awards in 2014 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:45:02 +0000 Charles Brewer, Managing Director for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa

Charles Brewer, Managing Director for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa

61 external awards won across Sub Saharan Africa region, an increase of 178% from 2013

DHL Express (, the world’s leading international express services provider, has won a record number of external awards for its business in Sub Saharan Africa in 2014 – almost triple that of 2013 – demonstrating the success from its 2014 strategy to create greater service quality and increase employee engagement.

In 2014, DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa received a total of 61 awards from external parties such as government bodies, trade associations and the media. The recognition from industry leaders is a testament of the business’ successes in customer service delivery, employee engagement, contribution to corporate social responsibility, as well as its commitment to provide excellent service quality in the region. This is an increase of 178%, up from the 22 awards received in 2013.

Charles Brewer, Managing Director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa, says that the company’s vision to be The Logistics Company for the World is not just about the strong network and the number of countries or territories DHL is present in, but also how customers and the general public perceive the company.

DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa was named Top Employer 2015 in Africa by the Top Employers Institute for the company’s outstanding employee offerings across the region. This is in addition to six African countries – South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Ghana that were also certified as Top Employers in their local markets.



When looking at the various countries’ awards leader board, Nigeria and South Africa ranked in the majority of the awards with 13 and 12 awards respectively, followed by Kenya (6), Uganda (5) and Zimbabwe (4).

Other awards won in 2014 include the Visionaries of Uganda Award bestowed by the Government of Uganda for DHL’s contribution to social-economic transformation, Jobberman’s 100 best places to work Award in Nigeria, Silver International Business Stevie Award for their PR success across the continent and the South Africa Transport and Logistics Award at the Topco National Business Awards.

“We truly value external recognition and believe that it affirms our mission statement – Excellence. Simply delivered. This means that we want to simplify the lives of our customers. We make our customers, employees and investors more successful, while making a positive contribution to the world. These awards demonstrate a healthy mix of recognition across all these areas, which form part of our four pillars, which are Motivated People, Great Service Quality, Loyal Customers and a Profitable Network.”

“At DHL, in an industry that never sleeps, where we genuinely believe in the pursuit of excellence, we will continue our investment and expansion in Africa, we will continue to strive for excellence for our people, our staff and our environment, and ensure that 2015 is a truly great year for us,” concludes Brewer.

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Exosun expands its operations in solar tracking and opens a subsidiary in South Africa Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:33:00 +0000 .


Exosun, leading provider of solar tracking technologies for utility-scale ground-mounted solar plants, is pleased to announce the expansion of its international presence with the opening of a subsidiary in Cape Town. Exosun South Africa (Pty) Ltd’s local team will provide sales, engineering support, as well as training on installation and O&M of its products. The company is also committed to local manufacturing of its trackers, in full alignment with the South African local content policy.

After successfully deploying 230 MW of solar tracking systems in Europe and America, Exosun is now entering the South African market which is booming thanks to the country’s rapid economic development and increased electricity needs. In order to regulate and accelerate private investment in renewable energy, the South African government launched the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Program in 2011 centered around RFP rounds.

“By establishing a subsidiary in Cape Town, we are able to optimally serve our customers based in South Africa with top-notch tracking systems and services adapted to their specific needs”, declares Paula Korkie, Exosun’s Business Development Manager in South Africa. “We are also developing partnerships with South African manufacturers to ensure high quality local production and reduce transportation costs.”

“In this region with high solar irradiation levels, there is a significant market for solar trackers and it was important for us to build our presence here. We are confident that our technology, scalable and adaptable to all project and land types, will answer the needs of local and international PV plant developers, owners and operators in South Africa and the surrounding countries “, comments Frédéric Conchy, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Exosun.

On this coming March 24 and 25, you will be able to meet Exosun’s South African team at our booth E22 at the Solar Show Africa, Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg.

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SA: Negotiations still ongoing for SADC Uni-visa Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:43:13 +0000 .


Pretoria – The Department of Home Affairs says negotiations for the introduction of the mooted SADC Uni-visa are at an advanced stage.

While more information was not immediately available, Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete on Friday confirmed that negotiations were well underway.

“At this stage, we cannot tell when [the Uni-visa] is going to be introduced,” said Tshwete.

The idea is for the Uni-visa to apply to incoming international tourists. However, concerns have been raised that most tourists would choose Johannesburg as their point of entry.

The single visa would allow entry into countries in the 15-member regional bloc, which includes Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The introduction of such a visa for the region would facilitate the smooth entry and travel of regional and international visitors, especially within trans-frontier conservation areas, and add an estimated 3% – 5% to annual growth.

Revenue share would have to be worked out carefully since tourism visas are an important source of income for many of the SADC countries.

Progress on UNI-Visa

In November 2014, Zimbabwe and Zambia officially launch a Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (Kaza) uni-visa in Victoria Falls.

This marked the first phase of a four-staged process that will eventually result in introduction of the SADC UNI-Visa.

At the time of the launch, Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said the first phase will allow tourists from 40 countries around the world to access a 30-day visa that will give them access to Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Minister Mzembi said the visa costs US$50 and lasts up to 30 days as long the visitor remains in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers day trips for those who visit from Botswana through the Kazungula.

The second phase, Minister Mzembi said, will see the Uni-Visa being extended to the other three Kaza countries, which are Angola, Botswana and Namibia.

In the last two stages, the visa will be extended outside Kaza and into the entire SADC region.

The SADC Uni-Visa was first mooted by regional heads of state in 1998.

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Researchers pick ‘breakthrough’ technologies for growth Fri, 23 Jan 2015 16:37:19 +0000 .

Image credit: Dieter Telemans/Panos

By Aamna Mohdin – SciDev.Net

Desalination using renewable energy, vaccines to help eradicate HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, and electronic textbooks that adapt to readers’ skills are among the 50 development-boosting technologies identified in a report published last week.

The report, released by the Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies (LIGTT) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, United States, on 14 January, studied the most-essential ‘breakthrough technologies’ and the problems around them. It also outlines funding and policy hurdles.

Breakthrough technologies are defined as those that are radically different from those that already exist, according to the report. And to be useful for development they must also be cheap, require little infrastructure and only need basic technical skills to operate, says LIGTT.

The rigorous research focuses on nine categories covering a wide range of development issues, such as health, human rights, and food security and agriculture. As well as 50 main technologies, it includes one cross-cutting one: low-cost family transport, ideally using renewable energy.

“It would be a shame if the well-intended recommendations diverted resources and attention away from existing workable solutions that aren’t necessarily based on ‘whizz-bang’ technology.”

 Shashi Buluswar, LIGTT

LIGTT executive director Shashi Buluswar says the report aims to provide a radical view of the kinds of technologies that could be in the pipeline.

“A disproportionate amount of effort is focused on a small number of topics: water purification, clean cookstoves, infant warmers and the like,” he says. “These are, frankly, ‘me too’ technologies offering incremental improvements on technologies and approaches that already existed, but not offering a true path to large-scale impact.”

The report warns there is limited understanding of the underlying issues that drive technical innovation, especially in developing countries. It acknowledges that technology cannot always achieve development goals on its own, and needs supportive policies and adequate funding to thrive.

“The landscape is littered with clever technologies which get a lot of media attention, win awards and lots of funding, but do not make much impact,” says Buluswar. “Indeed, our own challenge is to ensure we don’t fall prey to that phenomenon.”

With technological breakthroughs that range from high-tech homes for the poor to a drug to eradicate malaria, the report could be criticised for being unrealistic. But Adrian Ely, head of impact and engagement at the STEPS Centre, a research and policy centre for science and development at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, says the report’s role is to start a conversation, not to offer sure-fire solutions.

“It’s not specifying the technology itself in many places; it’s saying, for example, we need ways to keep vaccines refrigerated” or find other mechanisms to ensure they are unaffected by high temperatures, says Ely.

But he thinks the report could have done more to highlight simpler innovations. In some cases, he says, the high-tech solutions proposed, such as internet-connected devices, are irrelevant to many in the developing world.

“How will ‘internet-of-things’ devices help people who don’t have electricity and have to walk for miles every day to fetch water?” he says. “It would be a shame if the well-intended recommendations diverted resources and attention away from existing workable solutions that aren’t necessarily based on ‘whizz-bang’ technology.”

Buluswar says LIGTT sought input to the report from developing countries to assess the need for dedicated local research and development capabilities to customise technological breakthroughs to local needs.

“As a next step, our hope is to work with a broad range of organisations and individuals and create an ongoing ‘state of the breakthroughs’ forum,” he says.

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