AfricanBrains Africa Education Innovation Technology Investment Networking Events News Social Media Blogs Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:54:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SA: Learners develop technology to control water wastage Fri, 03 Jul 2015 11:37:26 +0000 Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete
Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete


Johannesburg – Every year, the country loses millions of rands due to water wastage caused by leaking pipes and taps left running unattended to.

In a bid to stem the water wastage, a group of Grade 10 learners from Mathari High School in Limpopo have developed a project which uses cellphones to control water usage.

Through the Project Water Conversation, learners devises a method whereby two cell phones are used to correspond when using water in the bathtub or kitchen sink.

Explaining to SAnews how the method works, Camellia Mashele, 16, said: “When I call cell phone A or send a call back to cell phone A, it will send a signal to cell phone B to close the valve. We also have a level sensor, which stops the flow of water once it has reached the required level.”

Camellia added that the model can also be used as an alarm.

“We can set an alarm on cellphone A, which will determine when the water must start to flow and also set another alarm on cell phone B to determine the duration of the water flow,” explained Mashele.

The learners said they decided to use a technology savvy model because people have become “lazy”.

“We used this because people use a lot of remote controls these days, so our model will be appealing because it uses cell phones, you won’t have to get up and do it yourself, you just call,” another learner from the group, Edgar Nukeri added.

The learners, who are from the Mathari Cross village, acknowledged that cell phone signal was their biggest challenge when developing their model.

The Project Water Conservation scooped first place in the Youth Water and Sanitation Awards on Thursday. The project won in the South African Youth Water Prize category.

The learners are planning to present the project to their local municipality.

Deputy Minister for Water and Sanitation, Pamela Tshwete attended the awards ceremony in Boksburg, which was the culmination of the Water and Sanitation Summit which started on Monday.

The summit gave young people an opportunity to express themselves on matters of water and sanitation. The forum mandates the young people to engage their communities on the agreed and tested solutions in the management of water and sanitation.

The learners were challenged to come up with plans to curb water challenges in their schools or areas.

The awards on Thursday therefore recognised the best plans, as well as the cream of the crop in eight categories, including Baswa Le Meets, Aqua Enduro, Eco Schools, South African Youth Water Prize, Public Speaking, Teacher Water Training, Out of School Youth as well as the United Nation Award, which was handed over to the Department of Water and Sanitation.

South Africa scooped the UN Award for its Best Practices in Environmental Education and Awareness Programme. The award was received by Deputy Minister Tshwete.

The winners received cheques ranging between R5 000 and R35 000 and bursaries to study water and sanitation related careers.

In the Baswa Le Meets category, 15 schools won prize money and five media classes.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy Minister called on various sectors to get involved in the work of bettering the lives of people.

The highlight for her was winning the UN award, because it meant the world knew that the summit was making a difference.

She commended teachers for taking the responsibility and assisting the department in its water awareness programme and for spending their holidays with the learners in the summit.

She encouraged learners to share the experiences with others when they go back home. “Take what you’ve learnt to your schools, parents and neighbours.”

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Forum to unlock potential of Gauteng economy Fri, 03 Jul 2015 10:32:22 +0000 sa flagBy–

Pretoria – The Gauteng Province Government has launched a forum which will allow all those interested in unlocking the potential of the economy of the Gauteng City Region (GBCF) to work together.

“In this forum we will be able to thrash out the detail of what is it that we need to do to create more jobs, to grow an inclusive economy, to increase investment as well as to address poverty and inequality,” Gauteng Premier David Makhura said.

Speaking at the launch of the Gauteng Business Consultative Forum on Thursday Premier Makhura said the forum must help the province to reach its goal of a radically transformed economy and an economy that benefits all the people.

He said the forum is expected to resolve the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“The forum will have to confront difficult problems and make difficult choices. We expect the forum to tackle these problems head-on, without fear or favour, sparing no effort, driven only by the desire to do what is best for our province in the longterm,” Premier Makhura said.

The forum is not intended to duplicate already existing structures, especially at national government level.

It will complement the work already done by focusing all its energy and efforts to resolving problems that are specific and unique to the Gauteng economy.

“Our vision is to build Gauteng as a seamlessly integrated, socially cohesive, economically inclusive city region; a leading economy on the African continent that is underpinned by smart, innovation-driven, knowledge-based, sustainable industries of the future; an accountable, responsive, transparent and clean government as well as an active citizenry,” he said.

Premier Makhura said in order to advance towards vision the province will implement a programme of radical Transformation, Modernization and Re-industrialization (TMR).

“This is our roadmap to realise the vision outlined in the National Development Plan,” he said.

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Orange announces the connection of Benin and the Canary Islands to the ACE submarine cable (Africa Coast to Europe) Fri, 03 Jul 2015 08:26:05 +0000 orangeOrange (, together with the other members of the ACE consortium, announces the launch of the ACE cable in Cotonou, Benin and Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. The connection of these two stations is part of the second phase of deployment of the ACE submarine cable, which now serves 18 countries: France, Portugal, the Canary Islands (Spain), Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and São Tomé and Príncipe. Two landlocked countries, Mali and Niger, are connected via a terrestrial extension.

The ACE cable, which expands broadband internet access in Africa and provides additional capacity to existing national networks, will cover 17,000 kilometres and will be extended to South Africa by the end of the second phase. Branches are planned in order to connect Cameroon, as this country has just signed the agreement that formalizes its entry into the ACE consortium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola and Namibia.

Since the first phase was launched in December 2012, seven of the connected countries – Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Sierra Leone – have had a direct connection to a submarine cable for the first time, enabling them to access the international broadband network in an optimal manner.

To carry out this ambitious project, Orange, together with its subsidiaries Côte d’Ivoire Telecom, Orange Cameroon, Orange Mali, Orange Niger and Sonatel, combined forces with other major partners to form an international consortium.

Greater security for network traffic

cableBeyond the connectivity between Africa and Europe, thanks to interconnections with other submarine cables, ACE constitutes another route to the Americas and Asia for Africa. Moreover, ACE is an alternative for network traffic between Europe and Asia going through Africa. The cable also diversifies transmission arteries between Portugal and France.

ACE relies on what is currently the most advanced technology used for submarine cables: wavelength division multiplexing (WDM). With WDM, cable capacity can be increased without additional submarine work. Overall capacity will be boosted to 12.8 Tbps using 100-Gbps technology, which supports high-capacity networks.

An essential part of the Group’s broadband network in Africa

The cable’s construction amounts to a total investment of around USD 700 million for the consortium, with around USD 250 million financed by the Group and its subsidiaries. This major investment furthers two of Orange’s strategic objectives: to provide widespread access to the internet in the more than twenty African countries where the Group is present and to continue to improve the quality of its network service.

Through the development of its submarine networks, Orange is contributing to the development of a high-quality worldwide network to help service the ever-increasing volumes of data being exchanged.

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Forest communities map their land using data loggers Thu, 02 Jul 2015 13:45:57 +0000 forest com
Copyright: Chris Stowers/Panos

By Emese Balog – SciDev.Net

Simple data logging devices can help forest communities map their land and monitor environmental change, according to researchers running a trial.

An ongoing project by NGO the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) encourages indigenous people in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, to use portable, satellite-linked data loggers to create maps of areas that have not been mapped in great detail, or where existing maps are out of date.

These devices help communities visualise their rights of land use, says FPP policy advisor Marcus Colchester. “Based on the communities’ own knowledge — combined with the use of these devices — they can readily make maps, which demonstrate the areas they have claims to, areas they’re using and for what purposes they’re using them,” he says.

Once data has been gathered, maps can be created in minutes by connecting the devices to a computer, and it is easy to revise maps with updated information.
“Based on the communities’ own knowledge — combined with the use of these devices — they can readily make maps, which demonstrate the areas they have claims to, areas they’re using and for what purposes they’re using them,”

The first results of the trial, announced on 1 June, showed that such information can help communities make their case for access rights to land with local governments and companies with local logging licences. It can also assist conservationists who want to extend protected areas, Colchester says.

The tracking devices can help record environmental change — such as desertification, deforestation and changes in river systems — especially in countries with few recent maps. “These devices can be used for monitoring changes as well as mapping the extent of land rights and land uses,” Colchester says.

The devices are simple. Members of the Dayak community in Kalimantan were ready to map their lands after 45 minutes of training, and were confident enough to pass the practical knowledge on, says Chris Phillips, mapping and GIS (geographical information system) coordinator at FPP.

In addition to the Kalimantan project, the team is working with forest communities in Cameroon, where FPP is using data loggers to plot how customary land rights overlap with mining concessions, protected areas and other land uses, such as logging and plantations.

“The use of data loggers to map and monitor lands and activities will play a central role in our Community-Based Monitoring and Information System we are trying to implement among the communities we are working with,” Phillips says. What makes this project special is that it involves indigenous communities, according to Richard Donovan, who leads the forestry programmes at charity the Rainforest Alliance. Previously, only people with technical training could do mapping, he says. The technology is now simple enough for local people to monitor their own lands, without needing external support beyond initial training, he adds.

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Rwanda National Day Thu, 02 Jul 2015 12:30:53 +0000
us sdJohn Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Rwanda on the 53rd anniversary of your independence on July 1.

On this day, we recognize Rwanda’s many achievements since its independence. Rwanda is widely recognized as a leader in advancing opportunities for girls and women, including in government and business, and by expanding access to secondary and higher education, particularly in the sciences.

Rwanda has continued to deepen its commitment to international peacekeeping with over five thousand troops and police participating in peacekeeping missions in Africa and the Caribbean, including Central African Republic, Darfur and South Sudan.

We value our partnership in trade, investment, and economic development, and look forward to building greater opportunities that will enhance prosperity among the people of both our countries.

The United States looks forward to continuing to work with you to further advance health and food security, and to promote regional security and cooperation. We are also committed to supporting democracy, human rights, and civil society in Rwanda.

As you gather with family and friends on this joyous day, I wish all Rwandans peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

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Youth Month: Youth applauded for participating Thu, 02 Jul 2015 11:00:27 +0000 sa flagBy-

Pretoria – Government has commended the youth for participating in various outreach activities and dialogues during Youth Month.

The month of June is marked as Youth Month and this year it celebrated under the theme: “Youth Moving South Africa Forward”.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) on Wednesday said during the month, hundreds of young people embarked on a freedom walk from Freedom Park to Tshwane Events Centre to hand over their pledges to the country’s leadership.

Also, government embarked on approximately 100 activities across the country throughout June, including outreach events, career seminars, youth dialogues and exhibitions in which the youth participated.

Most of these activities focused on post-schooling opportunities, skills training and development, entrepreneurship in various sectors such as science and technology, agriculture, arts, engineering and firefighting.

Acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams encouraged the youth to continue playing an active role in building a non-sexist and non-racial country.

“We would like to thank the youth for coming out in numbers for participating in the Youth Month activities and acknowledge the role they are playing in achieving the vision of this country,” she said.

Government echoes the call by the President for young people to prioritise education and acquire skills to contribute to the success of the country.

“Government acknowledges that our economy is not growing at the faster pace that it should, and as a result job creation remains a challenge. We would like to thank companies that continue to create job opportunities for young people because government cannot do it alone.

“We reiterate the call made by President Zuma to the private sector to align their strategies with the youth employment accord and join hands with government to create employment opportunities such as internships and learnership programmes for young people,” said Williams.

During the month, Presidential Zuma visited the Tshwane University of Technology’s Soshanguve campus under the Siyahlola monitoring programme where students and academics engaged in issues such as the living conditions of students at the residences and liquor outlets near campuses.

The President also launched the Presidential Youth Working Group.

The Eastern Cape Human Settlement Department launched the Youth Build Programme whereby 50 unemployed youths were placed to build 50 houses for vulnerable groups in Mdantsane.

“This programme is an annual ground breaking initiative that provides training and employment opportunities to unemployed youth in the building and construction industry,” the department said.

Gauteng Transport and Roads Department and the West Rand District Municipality also handed over 1500 bicycles to learners in Bekkersdal as part of the Shovakalula Bicycle Project.

“This is a national initiative by the Department of Transport that seeks to provide learners walking over 3km between home and school with a mode of transport. To date, 16 000 learners are beneficiaries of this project in Gauteng,” the department said.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) also partnered with the Mara Foundation to empower and inspire South Africa’s young talented entrepreneurs. The purpose of the collaboration is to enable young South Africans to be mentored by industry leaders via the new Mara Mentor App.

“Denel also launched the youth book aimed at educating and encouraging learners to pursue careers in the defence industry and technology that drives it.

“The book is targeted at learners between Grades 7 and 9, with the intention to open up the world of science, innovation and technology in the defence sector,” said the GCIS.

Government is determined to achieve the youth development goals as outlined in the National Youth Policy 2015-2020 which is anchored on the National Development Plan (NDP).

“The objectives of the policy are to create job opportunities, skills development, improve access to healthcare services and to education and eradicate substance abuse among the youths,” said GCIS.

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Mobile technology puts African business owners in the driving seat Thu, 02 Jul 2015 09:13:01 +0000 sage logoWith smartphone penetration ramping up across Africa, the continent’s businesses have an opportunity to use mobile technology to become more efficient, productive, and responsive in the way they do business.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report for 2015 (, there were more than 910 million mobile subscriptions in Africa by the first quarter of 2015. A growing number of these mobile users are now walking around with powerful smart devices that give them access to apps and information wherever they are.

Daryl Blundell – GM, Sage Pastel Accounting
Daryl Blundell – GM, Sage Pastel Accounting

ERP – making collaboration easy

And that, in turn, creates new ways for organisations to interact with employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders. “We’re seeing many organisations mobilise their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, “says Keith Fenner, Senior Vice-President Sales – Sage ERP Africa & Sage ERP X3 AAMEA, Director and Head of Sage Middle East (

“Workers and managers are increasingly able to access ERP data on the road to serve customers, speed up decision-making, and save time.”

For example, a salesperson can now easily check from a tablet or smartphone whether a product is in stock while on-site with a customer, says Fenner. They can capture the customer’s details and initiate the order without leaving the customer premises, all leading to a faster and more seamless service.

“Mobile workers can now use their time between meetings and at airports more productively,” he adds. “And they can access data on the spot so that they can react to opportunities and problems more rapidly. Of course, mobilising business processes also streamlines processes by allowing data to be captured in the field.”

Accounting for all on the move

Sage Pastel Accounting General Manager, Daryl Blundell, notes that mobility is transforming smaller businesses. “An accounting solution with a good mobile app is a real boon for SMEs,” he says. “Employees with mobile devices can be productive many more hours a week because they can work from anywhere in the world and can maximise what might otherwise have been wasted time waiting in airports and reception rooms.”

He adds: “Sales people can take their tablets into meetings and give PowerPoint presentations, while MDs can quickly see the status of business KPIs on a real-time dashboard. And enterprise mobility can allow employees access to information on the fly, such as financial reports, stock orders, customer data and inventory lists.

“Customers can accept terms by physically signing the mobile device, so deals can be negotiated and closed in one meeting. Employees can keep up to date with work without returning to the office and stay up to date on relevant projects so deadlines aren’t missed. What’s more, it helps everyone achieve a healthy work-life balance.”

Mobilising HR functions

Mobile technology is also helping HR departments to become more efficient and to build better relationships with employees. Gerhard Hartman, Head of Sage HR & Payroll’s International Division, says that companies can now offer employee self-service (ESS) across mobile devices to streamline HR processes and engage employees more effectively.

“With mobile ESS, companies can enable employees to file leave applications, doctor’s notes when they’re ill, and expense claims – all from their mobile devices,” he adds. “They can look up their payslips, change their personal details, and more, all without needing to do paperwork or phone the HR department.”

Employees benefit from the convenience and access to information 24/7, while managers and the HR department can handle leave requests, expense claims, and other admin from their own mobile devices. The result is that everyone saves time and gets more done, says Hartman. “Accessing HR tools from your mobile simplify everyone’s life – from the employee trying to figure out how many vacation days they have left to the HR team who should be focusing on strategy and value-add rather than on paperwork,” he adds.

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SA: All spheres of govt focused on youth during June Wed, 01 Jul 2015 15:30:19 +0000 sa flagBy –

Pretoria – Deputy Minister in the Presidency Buti Manamela says today’s youth activism is directed towards successfully tackling the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

The Deputy Minster said the youth of 2015 also face the challenges of HIV and Aids and substance abuse.

At the close of Youth Month, which is marked in June, Deputy Minister Manamela said all local, provincial and national government leaders had embarked on youth programmes throughout the country to ensure that programmes of all government departments respond to the challenges faced by young people.

The new democratic government declared 16 June as Youth Day and June as Youth Month.

Youth Month 2015 was celebrated in South Africa under the theme “Youth moving South Africa Forward”.

“As espoused in the National Youth Policy 2020 (NYP2020), youth development is everybody’s business, other sectors of society such as the private sector, civil society, the religious sector, and labour federations also focused their programmes towards youth development and empowerment,” he said.

The Deputy Minister said young people have played a role in their development throughout this month. “They got involved in their communities and organisations. We hope to see more of this even beyond Youth Month,” said Deputy Minister Manamela.

On Youth Day, the youth handed over a pledge to government wherein they vowed to be catalysts for social change and to play a significant role in the transformation of society for a better South Africa.

A number of key initiatives were launched throughout the month, this included the launch of the Presidential Working Group on Youth, established by President Jacob Zuma to accelerate the implementation of programmes that will enable young people to be empowered.

The second key implementation initiative is the partnership between the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and Mara Foundation to mentor one million young entrepreneurs through an online platform.

This platform facilitates a connection between entrepreneurs and business leaders who can support them on the road to entrepreneurial success by providing mentoring and coaching.

The Deputy Minister said through the Integrated Youth Development Strategy more implementation initiatives will be launched throughout the mid-term to ensure that the NYP2020 makes a positive impact in the lives of the youth of South Africa.

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IMF Staff Concludes Visit to Sudan Wed, 01 Jul 2015 11:37:09 +0000 imfAn IMF team led by Mr. Eric Mottu visited Khartoum from June 14-25 to discuss economic and policy developments. Mr. Lodewyk Erasmus, the IMF’s Resident Representative in Sudan, issued the following statement at the conclusion of the visit:

“The IMF staff team had productive discussions with the Sudanese authorities on economic and policy developments. These discussions, including on a new Staff-Monitored Program for 2015-16 to support the authorities’ economic reform efforts, will continue in the coming weeks.

“Remarkable progress has been made toward restoring macroeconomic stability and strengthening economic growth following the shock of South Sudan’s secession. In particular, fiscal consolidation and tight monetary policy helped reduce inflation below 20 percent in May 2015, narrow the external deficit, and support growth at about 3.7 percent in 2014.

“The team welcomed the authorities’ commitment to maintain the momentum of reforms in 2015 and beyond. The outlook remains challenging, however, as lower international oil prices and the conflict in South Sudan are adversely affecting oil-related revenues, which could possibly lead to fiscal and external financing gaps. Difficulties with international financial transactions continue to weigh on growth. Moreover, expansionary policies in support of agriculture have injected considerable liquidity in the economy. These developments could put upward pressure on inflation and the exchange rate.

“To address these challenges, the team called for continued focus on macroeconomic stability through prudent fiscal policies, while prioritizing social and growth-enhancing expenditure and raising tax revenues. It also recommended limiting the growth of liquidity to a pace consistent with low inflation; allowing greater exchange rate flexibility; and implementing structural reforms to improve the business environment.

“The team recognized that Sudan’s large external debt and arrears hinder its access to external financing and weigh heavily on its development. This is compounded by the impact of economic and financial sanctions. The team supports Sudan’s continued outreach to creditors to help garner support for debt relief. It welcomed Sudan’s continued cooperation with the IMF on policies and payments.”

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Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Review Mission to Ghana Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:47:27 +0000 imfA team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Joël Toujas-Bernaté, visited Accra during June 17−30, 2015 to conduct discussions on the first review of Ghana’s financial and economic program supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF)[1]. The discussions covered the implementation of the program, the medium-term outlook as well as the policies needed to restore debt sustainability, macroeconomic stability and a return to high growth and job creation, while preserving social protection spending.

Mr. Toujas-Bernaté released the following statement at the end of the mission:

“The program is on track, with all performance criteria met except for the ceiling on central bank financing to the government which was technically missed by a small margin. The mission welcomes the commitment reiterated by the authorities to the ambitious fiscal consolidation and structural reforms program, in particular in addressing payroll irregularities, enhancing public finance management and transparency and liberalizing the oil distribution sector. The team notes, however, that more needs to be done to further enhance tax administration and eliminate tax exemptions to improve the revenue performance over the medium term.

“Economic growth in 2015 is expected to remain broadly as expected (around 3 ½ percent), with low cocoa and gold production but increasing hydrocarbon production. We welcome the authorities’ efforts to address the electricity shortages, which have been weighing on economic activity, by bringing new private financed power plants in the coming months. This will be critical to support a rebound in growth next year. However, inflation remains higher than expected on the back of a larger than projected depreciation of the cedi and rising oil prices.

“Fiscal consolidation is on track as of end-April, even excluding the payment of dividend by Bank of Ghana (about 0.4 percent of GDP) in March. Good revenue performance and containment of the wage bill and other spending as programmed contributed to this positive outcome. No new arrears were accumulated in the review period and past arrears were repaid as planned. With higher projected oil revenues, the overall cash deficit is expected to be slightly lower than programmed for the year as a whole.

Additional revenue above the budget projections will help cover additional spending related to the recent flooding and larger arrears clearance, as additional arrears as of end-2014 were identified in audits of claims from oil importers and reviews of cross debts among utility companies. The success of the program critically hinges on continued spending moderation, in particular the wage bill with stricter control of the payroll being put in place, and renewed efforts to improve revenue collection. Making public the strategy for the 2016 budget and wage negotiations consistent with this framework will go a long way in restoring market confidence and lowering financing costs.

“Bank of Ghana has taken significant steps to improve the effectiveness of its monetary policy framework and in moving the policy rate towards the interbank market rates. The mission welcomes the resolve of the central bank to take additional measures as needed to bring inflation down towards its medium term target, which would also contribute to stabilizing the cedi. Budget support from development partners (which has started to be disbursed), the financing of the next cocoa crop, the new Eurobond and the gradual switch to gas in the production of electricity should also reduce pressures on the foreign exchange market and allow the central bank to rebuild its external reserves to a higher level than programmed by year-end.

“The IMF Executive Board is tentatively expected to consider the review in August, following finalization of the required documentation.

“The mission met with President Mahama; Finance Minister Seth Terkper; Bank of Ghana Governor Kofi Wampah; Dr. Kwesi Botchwey, Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission; the Finance Committee of the Parliament, other senior officials, representatives of civil society and the donor community. The mission team wishes to thank the authorities for their hospitality, the excellent collaboration, and the high-quality discussions.”

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