Uniconta Lands on African Shores

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ

Uniconta, a new quick and easy Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system for small and medium size businesses, has landed on the shores of Africa and has opened its first offices in Cape Town. It plans to establish itself in Southern Africa and then move onto other African countries like Kenya and Uganda.
The new Cloud ERP solution was specifically developed to help companies work more efficiently, faster and achieve their business goals easier. It was specifically designed for businesses that need fast access, security, and a solution that is extremely easy to customise to their needs.
Uniconta South Africa CEO Keith Mullan says the product was developed specifically for the cloud – right from the start, without any legacy or restrictions from any legacy systems. “More importantly, it’s a Danish product sold in Rands and on a monthly subscription basis. And that’s exactly what makes this enterprise solution so unique.”
“The fundamental differential with Uniconta is speed, ease of use and price. It sets new standards in terms of speed and simplicity and is technologically, functionally and conceptually designed to support small and medium-sized businesses,” he explains. 
Uniconta South Africa has been established to build a healthy partner ecosystem and at the same time, create product awareness. The launch couldn’t be more perfectly timed, Uniconta will provide partners with so many opportunities and put them ahead of any competition because of the latest technology used.
Claus Klein-Ipsen, who is responsible for international expansion and distributors, says expanding to the South Africa is part of their international growth strategy, it  is an important country to get a footprint in. 
Uniconta was founded by Software Engineer Erik Damgaard. With thirty years’ experience in the development of globally recognised ERP systems including his flagship Axapta, he has established himself as one of the most reputed experts in his field. 
When developing any software, one of Erik’s key goals is to achieve accessibility and simplicity for the end-user while maintaining the highest level of technological advancement as well as functionality in the business environment. 
As such, Uniconta is built on the basis of a system which comprises all the essential tools and core functionalities of an ERP solution within a modern and customisable Microsoft front- and back office environment. 
“The combination of such software development skills as well as a commercial understanding of system development and software architecture, make Uniconta a revolutionary new business and ERP solution,” Mullan concludes.


Changing The Way Logistics Does Business

BY Staff Writer 4 MINUTE READ

“Innovation is a way of life for BPL,” says Willem Bekker, Supply Chain Solutions Manager for South Africa-based international logistics outfit Bidvest Panalpina Logistics (BPL), and a member of the company’s Innovation Committee, which is made up of people from all areas of the business. And BPL puts its money where its mouth is: it established an Innovation Platform a year ago, inviting staff members to submit innovative ideas that could improve on the quality of service to its customers.

This “bottom-up” approach has introduced a culture of innovation in the company, and has so far produced over a hundred ideas, many of which have been implemented or are in development. These include an automated purchase-order system, a box-on-demand system, drone technology and a sign-on-glass project.

In the competitive digital age, global business consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) believes that logistics business leaders must carefully consider technology as a key enabler of future growth. Anthea Myatt, BPL’s Financial Director and head of the Innovation Committee, agrees. “As the industry looks to further digitise, standardise, and ultimately streamline complex transportation processes, logistics-focused technology that provides proactive, predictive and automated information is becoming increasingly important,” she says. “Be it artificial intelligence (AI) or simply converting a tedious manual process to electronic or automated, technology-driven innovations are endless.”

Dealing with data

A big strategic focus for BPL at the moment, cloud-based data analytics has helped the company become far more proactive in how it manages its operations, and in identifying issues before they arise. “We often see it as the logistics version of the petrol light going on in your car – data (fuel level) used to identify a potential problem (running out of fuel) before it occurs, in order for you to take corrective action (fill up),” Bekker explains.

The last few years have seen the technology related to cloud-based analytics become much more accessible, and BPL’s challenge is more in identifying where the tools and technology available can be deployed innovatively to create customer value, than in the application of the technology itself, Bekker notes.

The challenges of dealing with multiple systems, different units of measurement at various stages of the logistics chain, and the different variables at play for complex freight movements from cradle to grave, has been holding the industry back from truly providing end-to-end visibility. Recently, a cross-functional team of BPL operations experts conceptualised and built a unique data-visualisation platform that links key shipment information across multiple operations and from multiple source systems into a single end-to-end view.

Hardware/software solutions

While confusion about which hardware and software breakthroughs will have the biggest effect on profitability and overall organisational performance may be holding some logistics businesses back from making changes in the way they do things (according to senior PwC consultants), this isn’t an issue for BPL. “This is something that’s ongoing, and rapidly implemented as opportunities are identified,” says Bekker, citing as recent examples the “sign-on-glass” technology customised and deeply integrated for one of the company’s key clients, and automated and integrated damages logging through smartphones.

“And we’re currently investigating some very exciting optical character recognition (OCR) technology that could significantly simplify the traditionally paper-heavy forwarding and clearing operations we’re involved in.” OCR enables the conversion of different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera, into editable and searchable data.

Big trends: self-driving vehicles and blockchain technology

“We’re following what’s happening in the self-driving-vehicle space, and although there’s no doubt that it’s going to become reality in the near future, the main challenges we foresee aren’t linked to the trip aspect of the journey, but more to optimising the loading, route-planning, unloading, and other ancillary activities related to the transport leg,” says Bekker. “This is where we think there’s more chances for creating customer value – not necessarily by automating the trip portion of the transport leg by removing the driver, but through optimising the full process of moving something from point A to point B.”

Blockchain technology, meanwhile, is “likely to focus on very specific-use cases at first, where the auditable transparent trail of an item is critical, such as in the pharmaceutical or perishable supply chains”, Bekker notes. That said, BPL’s global partner Panalpina has already joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), a forum of leading tech and transport companies for the development and implementation of blockchain standards in the freight industry. “This keeps us at the forefront of developments, and shows our commitment to the level of cooperation across supply-chain stakeholders that will be required for successfully utilising distributed ledger technology to ultimately create customer value.”

The e-marketplace

“The supply chains of the future will move away from the awarding of medium- to long-term contracts for transportation, warehousing, distribution, etc, to short-term ‘per transaction’-type service requirements,” says Distribution General Manager Mark Kotze, pointing to the rise of platforms such as Uber and Airbnb as examples of how society and business have become accustomed to conducting business this way.

BPL is developing platforms that will make it a relevant major player in this new supply-chain environment, where customers can choose among available transporters, hubs, depots and warehouses to find the most efficient use of capacity. “BPL has a distinct advantage in entering the shared economy due to its growing network, consistent performance to its customers and financial stability,” says Kotze.

The future is now

“We view the strides we’ve made of giving operations experts hands-on exposure to the power of data science, data visualisation, the internet of things [IoT], etc, as a very powerful means of taking all these industry 4.0 concepts that can easily appear so much like science fiction, and making them real and tangible by solving actual problems and creating customer value,” says Bekker.  

And Myatt notes, “As a company we’ve only just begun to tap into our potential for innovation, and we’re continuously looking for simpler, smarter, more cost-effective and safer ways to work each day.”

Cultivating Conscious Leadership

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ

As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, with over 10 000 students, the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), led by Professor Lyal White, has a clear focus on African management and leadership in the local and global context.

The JBS was established in 2017 and forms part of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), consisting of more than 100 full-time faculty members. The school provides an interface for a business academia ecosystem, which stimulates and informs purpose-driven business practices with a collective impact.

Authentically African, and geared for Industry 4.0, the JBS has disruption and innovation at heart. Professor White notes, “These values act as pillars to support our strategy for collective impact and our desire to be a catalyst for connection on the African continent.”

From the strong foundations of the University of Johannesburg, with its rich academic heritage, the JBS is creating an accessible and progressive business school suited for Africa. “By embracing new technology to support teaching, the JBS will enable the creation of innovative new business models and produce visionary leaders geared for progress across the continent and connected to the world at large.”

In their quest to produce these disruptive business models and visionary leaders, all programmes designed and delivered by the JBS are grounded in the African context, with a strong global connection. According to Professor White, the programmes are geared for disruptors and entrepreneurs beyond the corporate climbers targeted by traditional programmes. “Development with a direct impact in the community, increasingly part of day-to-day business in Africa, underpins what the JBS represents and does. Industry 4.0 requires so-called soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant for Africa.”

Access to business education, especially in light of the management void across the continent, will be crucial, and online and distance learning will be essential in reaching previously excluded Africans, and necessary for the desired impact on the continent. The focus of the JBS is on developing and delivering bespoke options, with a keen focus on depth and creativity. “Like most strategies and operations in Africa, an alternative approach to the norm is not exempt from international standards. Africa needs a world-class business education with a local flavour to develop management competencies and build excellence, and this is the model and approach JBS has taken.”

Professor White notes that apart from the continent’s ever-changing social, economic and political ebbs, the JBS is equipped to bring world-class business education to Africa because the institution is academically very strong. “Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Also on the cards are online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve. “As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors.”

Read the rest of this article in the January/December issue of Fast Company SA, on shelves now.

To subscribe to Fast Company SA, email [email protected]


Discover True Elegance With Martell’s New VSOP Cognac Aged In Red Barrels

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ

One of the world’s oldest and greatest cognac houses, Martell has unveiled an exciting new ultra-premium expression destined to be the must-have for South Africa’s cognac connoisseurs. Martell Cognac VSOP Aged in Red Barrels is a rare showcase of the influence of wood maturation in the art of fine cognac-making and reflects the unique style that is the hallmark of the House of Martell.  

“Martell Cognac VSOP Red Barrel is a first of its kind,” says International Martell Cognac Brand Ambassador and member of the tasting committee Aldrick Dehec. “It’s an irresistible invitation to discover a new and unexpected perspective, experience and encounter with fine cognac.”

Unfurled in glass, Martell Cognac VSOP Red Barrel shows coppery-toned brilliance. The bouquet is round and fresh, run through by intense fruity notes. The aromas of fresh yellow stone fruits, like cherry plum and baby Reine-Claude, are gently coated by subtle mellowed woody notes. Then, the power grows and gains depth, with fleshier fruits such as apricot or vine peach chiming in.

In the mouth, Martell VSOP Red Barrel makes a full, broad attack that leads with small plums and Honeymoon peaches and apricots. Delicate notes ring from the russet wood’s sweet spices – a perfect balance of expressiveness and refinement.

The cognac’s name is inspired by the natural colouration the casks undergo at a stage in maturation associated with optimal balance. At this point, the eaux-de-vie fully express their natural fruit aromas and blend harmoniously with the subtle woody overtones, producing an exceptionally rich and elegant cognac.

“Martell VSOP Red Barrel reflects the exploratory spirit of the House of Martell in cognac making and is a cognac dedicated to true connoisseurs,” says Dehec.

“Our eaux-de-vie are aged exclusively in fine-grained oak barrels. Casks for the Martell VSOP Red Barrel are specifically selected by the cellarmaster and utilised to full term, producing a smooth cognac that showcases Martell’s maturation style and character. “Only casks that previously held Martell VS cognac are used. The eaux-de-vie for its premium VSOP Red Barrel are matured for at least four years before being blended for consistency.’’

Every bottle is an ambassador of the great axes upon which Martell craftsmanship rests – place, precision and time.

Unique terroir of France’s grape-growing region of Cognac gives the finest Martell cognacs their hallmark elegance and subtlety. Traditional Charentais copper stills, applied by singular method, give the final cognacs their distinctive Martell style.

Martell is defined by techniques and expertise passed down for centuries. French merchant Jean Martell established his eponymous cognac house in 1715. His VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale – was born in 1831.

Today, 300 years of passion and precision present a premier cognac experience in Martell VSOP Red Barrel, available at purveyors of fine liquors from R569 per bottle.

How Technology Supports The Future Workforce

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ

The global workforce is devolving and becoming decentralised. More and more, we are seeing companies opting to cut the expense of having a physical office and choosing to rather work with their staff in a virtual office. The teams only come together for the occasional face-to-face meetings.

This trend has taken off in the US. In the 2017 State of Telecommuting in the US Employee Workforce Report, it was stated that 3.9 million US employees work from home at least half of the week. This translates into 2.9% of the total US workforce. The telecommuting trend has been much slower to take root in South Africa; however, we are seeing more recently, that employers are allowing more flexible working arrangements for their employees.

The GIG Economy

There is another sector of the working population who prefers not to be tied down to a single employer. These people – or freelancers – are part of the GIG Economy. It has been given this name because their members make their money by working on specific jobs for different people. When they complete the job – or ‘gig’ – they move onto the next one.

Flexible employees need technology to help them work

As these employees are not based in an office environment where they have access to the company’s physical infrastructure and Internet connectivity, they need these systems at their disposal wherever they are:

  • GIG Workers or telecommuters need an Internet-enabled device to access the World Wide Web. There are many variants of smart devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to help them stay connected with their colleagues and clients.
  • They need a way to access the Internet. With the proliferation of fibre and ADSL lines to the home and commercial areas, such as coffee shops and retail spaces, there fewer excuses for mobile workers not to be connected. If they don’t happen to be in a Wi-Fi-enabled area, there is always the option of using mobile data.

Technology has an extremely beneficial impact on other areas of our lives, for example education. The ability to learn online has revolutionised this industry. Statistics show that in 2016, the online learning industry earned US$51.5 billion (approximately R716 billion). This figure is set to continue to skyrocket.

Online learning has enabled us to learn when it suits us and at an affordable price. A good example is digital marketing – which is a vital skill for all marketers and business owners to have – which lends itself well to the online learning space as students can continue to work while studying at the same time.

This type of education has grown in stature with recognised learning institutions putting their weight behind it. This is particularly true in digital marketing. With the flexibility that online digital marketing education offers students, it responds well to the need for flexibility that the new generation of workers’ needs. Digital marketing is the skill of the future and to be ahead of your competitors you need to have these skills.

The Digital School of Marketing is an online provider of accredited digital marketing education. To find out more, visit their website on www.digitalschoolofmarketing.co.za call on 0861 428 710 or e-mail: [email protected]


Secrets of productive businesses

BY Staff Writer 3 MINUTE READ

Entrepreneurs, top executives, company directors and the like have been interviewed about what makes them productive. What makes them tick? Yes, it is vital to know what the driving force behind these key individuals in a business is, as without them giving the organisation the impetus it needs the company would not go very far. But what keeps the organisation in motion once the leaders have fired off the starting gun? We would like to propose that it’s marketing. Here’s why.

Marketing is the skill of the future

Marketing gurus Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller – in the twelfth edition of their seminal marketing work entitled Marketing Management – cite the definition of marketing that the American Marketing Association (AMA) proposes:

“Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stake holders.”

With the infiltration of digital into our daily lives, no marketing strategy is complete without a digital marketing element as the way our customers, and potential customers, buy is through digital channels. For example, according to e-commerce platform Shopify, by 2021 global e-commerce sales are set to reach US$4.5 trillion (which is – approximately – R638 trillion).

People are making big purchases online. Instead of spending money in bricks-and-mortar shops they favour e-commerce. This means that if you want to make a success of your business, you need to be showing people, online, what you offer.

A change in mindset

As the digital space is constantly evolving so is digital marketing. Digital marketing is not just about setting up a Facebook Business Page, posting a set of content and hoping for the best. Yes, a component of digital marketing is indeed social media, however, it’s so much more than that.

Digital marketing is about so much more than merely the marketing channels that we use to communicate with our customers. It has transformed the way we need to think about marketing. The ever mercurial digital environment has enabled us to gain insights into customers’ behaviour. This means that we can use these insights to communicate with them more effectively.

The toolkit of a digital marketer

Globally, the market is saturated. Jobs in ‘traditional’, well-established companies are at a premium. There are countless qualified candidates vying for an ever-decreasing set of jobs. This, unfortunately, leaves the people who did not get the job out of work.

Entrepreneurial concerns – which create new jobs – are the way to go in terms of how we can get ourselves out of this quagmire. South Africa, in particular, is taking the entrepreneurial mandate seriously. According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) 2017/2018 Report, entrepreneurial activity in South Africa is at 11.0%. This is 4.1% higher compared to 2016’s score of 6.9%.

With the proliferation of smart devices into South African society, consumers are spending their time on social media, amongst other platforms. This means that to reach their target markets businesses need to be marketing and communicating with their digitally inclined audience.

To be truly successful in digital marketing, you need to know what you’re doing. As we said previously, digital marketing may involve the fundamental principles of traditional marketing however the execution thereof is totally different. Yes, experimenting, via trial and error, on digital platforms is one way to go however this is time consuming and – if you do not hit on the magic formula straight away – could be very expensive.

This makes upskilling yourself – or a person/team in your company – in digital marketing the best option. Online digital marketing courses – a great variety are available from the Digital School of Marketing – are, in our opinion, the way to go as you can learn on your own time and the provide you with the best quality education that money can buy.

The future is digital. There’s no getting away from it. You need to be ready.

To find out more about the Digital School of Marketing visit their website: https://digitalschoolofmarketing.co.za/, call them: 0861 428 710 or e-mail: [email protected] and join the conversations:  https://www.instagram.com/digital_school_of_marketing/, https://www.facebook.com/digitalschoolofmarketing/ and https://twitter.com/DigitalSchoolo1


Announcing the 2018 AfricaCom Awards winners

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ

The AfricaCom Awards show, supported by Founding Awards Sponsor, PCCW Global, was a colourful and festive Mardi Gras themed event last night. Held in Cape Town during AfricaCom, guests celebrated and acknowledged those trailblazers who are leading digital inclusion, connectivity and digital development on the African Continent.  
“AfricaCom continues to grow and with it the Awards,” commented Tom Cuthell, Event Director of AfricaCom. “I would like to thank everyone involved, our judging panel who rigorously vetted the entries, sponsors and partners for their ongoing support and all the companies who continue to show how dedicated they are to ensuring that Africa advances into the digital ecosphere.”
Here are the AfricaCom Awards stars for 2018:

Best Network Improvement
 – Liquid Telecom – Completion of the Cape to Cairo fibre route

Delivering Excellence in Customer Experience
 – Huawei Technologies – Customer Experience Management (CEM) for Ghana

Fintech Innovation Award
 – Econet Wireless (Cassava Fintech) and Mahindra Comviva – EcoCash Merchant Payments powered by mobiquity Money

Most Innovative use of AI Technology
 – Huawei Technologies – Huawei PowerStar

Most Innovative Service
– Orange – Rural Electrification

Changing Lives Award
 – Ericsson and Wot-if? Trust – eHUB Diepsloot South Africa

Best Sustainable Power Solution
 – Huawei Technologies – Huawei PowerCube 1000

IoT Product / Service of the year
 – Yego Innovision Limited – Yegomoto

Digital Entertainment Solution
 – Kwesé iflix – Best Innovation in Digital Entertainment
Also, winners on the night of two very special peer-voted awards were: Abdikarim Mohamed Eid – CEO, Telesom who was acknowledged as the AfricaCom CXO of the Year and, Priya Thakoor – Chief Digital Officer, Coca-Cola South Africa who was recognised for outstanding achievements in driving ‘Digital Africa’ forward and walked away with the award for the AfricaCom Enterprise CXO of the Year.

Cuthell concluded by saying: “Congratulations to all of the award winners. The bar has been set high and we all look forward to seeing what next year holds.”


A new public pavilion by Es Devlin creates a glimpse into the future of electric travel

BY Staff Writer 4 MINUTE READ

A new interactive installation designed by award-winning designer Es Devlin, and commissioned by Mercedes-Benz South Africa, is now open to the public. Devlin is known for her large-scale sculptural works that fuse technology and poetry, including the fluorescent Fifth Lion which landed in London’s Trafalgar Square last month roaring collective poetry generated by artificial intelligence, as well as the London Olympic Closing Ceremony and touring stage sculptures for Beyoncé and U2.

Launched on 1 November 2018 and situated on Silo Square at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, Devlin’s new sculptural work ZOETROPE will remain open for a full year, with visitors welcome free of charge.

Using solar power and responding to the pioneering Electrical Intelligence (EQ) technology developed by Mercedes-Benz, the ZOETROPE imagines the potential for a future global network of solar-powered pavilions specific to their locations, each one acting as a unique charging station for the mind of the driver.

In conceptualising the ZOETROPE pavilion, Devlin took a map of Cape Town and chose 12 points that express the geographic and demographic range of life within a 100km radius of the site – from an underwater kelp forest and rooftop football match, to choral groups and solar power installers. Working closely with South African film-makers, Devlin gathered footage from these locations which was then edited into 12 one-minute films that form the narrative inside the ZOETROPE.

Mirroring a journey through the built environment of the city of Cape Town in both physical and cultural terms, ZOETROPE is constructed using only local materials and talent. It comprises a steel frame structure clad in 72 concrete panels which were made using sand sourced from the 12 filming locations and the same cement used to construct the original Silo building (which lies adjacent the pavilion). The structure merges with its historic surroundings through its very DNA, as well as the geographic imagery experienced once you enter the installation. Roofed with modern solar power technology, the sculpture is completely off the grid, producing 11.4 kW of energy that powers the audiovisual equipment used inside.

Upon entering, visitors will walk through a labyrinthine route that spans the length of the 12 one-minute films. Through its use of light, colour and sound, the sculpture creates an immersive journey that leaves the visitor with a greater understanding of place, as well as the relational symbiosis between solar energy, location and electric mobility. This journey aims to foster an appreciation of the spatial experience that technology such as Mercedes-Benz EQ offers.

“Our landscapes bear the traces of every successive historic transport system overlaid: each new mode of human connection imprints its geometry onto our planet’s geography. First it was paths traced by human feet, the location of resting places determined by levels of human endurance; then tracks from cart wheels and a network of coaching inns with stables, their frequency determined by the metabolism of a horse. Next the size of gas tanks in fossil-fuel driven cars determined the geometry of the global highway petrol station network,” explains Devlin of the concept.

The pavilion explores how the electric period in transport history will leave its mark. “Rapid advances in lithium battery technology are extending the periods of travel and diminishing the durations of charging stops at an exponential rate. How should we approach the network of electric vehicle charging stations that is set to emerge all over the globe? How should we spend our time while we wait for our electric vehicles to recharge mid journey?” asks Devlin.

The ZOETROPE project began in March 2018 after the annual Design Indaba conference. Mercedes-Benz South Africa approached Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo to find a way to interpret electric mobility and Naidoo proposed that Devlin create a thought-provoking public piece – a first for South Africa and the first of its kind in the world. The ZOETROPE is proudly project managed by Design Indaba, global leaders in innovative creativity.

Mercedes-Benz commissioned Devlin to create this unique work to ignite the public imagination around the exciting future offered by electric mobility.

‘The automotive industry is currently undergoing a transformation that offers great opportunities to shape the future in lasting ways through innovation, inspiration and fascination. Mercedes-Benz is proud to have commissioned an artwork that embodies emotion and intelligence while considering the future of mobility and introducing South Africa to our (Electric Intelligence) EQ n technologies,’ says Johannes Fritz, Co-CEO of Mercedes-Benz South African and Executive Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.  

Devlin’s sculptures have been seen on a vast range of global stages from the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet to the Olympic stadium in Rio.

The Singing Tree, her choral collective carol installation at the London V&A Museum, fused machine-learning technology with sound and light and was viewed by over 10 million visitors during the Christmas period of 2017. Mirrormaze, 2016’s interactive installation, generated queues around the block in South East London.

Devlin’s practice was the subject of a major 2017 Netflix documentary Abstract: The Art of Design. She is the winner of numerous awards including three Olivier Awards, the 2017 London Design Medal, a UAL fellowship and an OBE. She has just been named as the winner of the much-coveted architectural commission to design the UK Pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai.

About Mercedes-Benz EQ:
EQ – The name stands for “Electric Intelligence”. The EQ portfolio offers a comprehensive electric mobility ecosystem of products, services and innovations. On the road to emission-free driving, Mercedes-Benz is systematically driving a three-pronged strategy to implement maximum environmental compatibility across all vehicle segments with electric models (EQ), plug-in hybrids (EQ Power) and electrified combustion engines (EQ Boost). For more information, visit www.mercedes-benz.co.za/eq.

Facebook – @mercedesbenzsouthafrica | Twitter – @mercedesbenzsa | Instagram – @mercedesbenzsa


Next Level Parking Comes to Cape Town

BY Staff Writer 2 MINUTE READ
You know those times when you’re driving around in circles looking for a parking in Cape Town, and it feels like you’d have a better chance finding a unicorn? 

Yep, our beautiful city sure has some serious parking issues. And with each new building that goes up the situation just goes from bad to worse.

Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the parking garage. Last week, Cape Town was introduced to a whole new range of smarter, higher density parking solutions with the local launch of a new internationally experienced company called Auto Dock. 

Auto Dock specialises in automated parking systems that can fit double the number of cars in the same space as a traditional parking system, and depending on a system used, can even park up to 16 cars in the space of 2.

Their systems aren’t only magically space efficient, they’re also a lot quicker, safer and less hassle for drivers. You simply drive into a parking garage entrance, turn off your car, lock it and leave. A fully automated system does the rest. The car gets lifted up on a secured pallet and swiftly shifted to its optimum position with a series of mechanical lifts and sliders – all with perfect safety and reliability.

It sounds really high-tech and futuristic, but this technology has been used abroad for over two decades and has been thoroughly refined and perfected. 

The Auto Dock team have successfully installed over 400 systems in over 10 countries, and now it’s Cape Town’s turn to discover the advantages of 21st century parking solutions. 

“Being able to park more cars in any space is just the beginning of the value they add to any development,” says Auto Dock’s CEO Roi Lagrisi. “Developers no longer need to waste valuable space and money on building ramps, turning circles, air-conditioning, ducting and all the other infrastructure and maintenance required by traditional parking garages.” 

“And with personal safety, such an important aspect of life in South Africa, a major benefit of the Auto Dock system is that the driver never has to enter a parking garage – day or night. Since criminals can’t access the cars, you don’t need expensive security patrols and surveillance systems.”
“We might not have self-driving cars in Cape Town yet,” Roi adds. “But we’re definitely ready for self-parking cars.” 

I don’t think anyone will argue with that one. More parking in Cape Town? Yes, please.


Digital Democracy – the connected art of conversation

BY Staff Writer 3 MINUTE READ

The world’s largest Africa-focused Technology Media and Telecommunications (TMT) event – AfricaCom – has been leading the conversation around ‘connected communications’ on the continent for 21 years. What began as a small event discussing how to get voice services – fixed and wireless – to the unconnected, has evolved into the premier go-to place for future thinkers and those looking to drive the exponential growth of the digital ecosystem across Africa.

Reflecting on the changes and growth of the event, as well as those happening in the world, Tom Cuthell, Portfolio Director of KNect365 (organiser of AfricaCom), remarked: “it’s an exciting time to have a conversation – any conversation. We live and operate in a fully connected ecosystem where TMT drives communications, economies, and smart cities. When compiling the programme for AfricaCom 2018, it was a reminder as to how pervasive telecommunications have become and what the opportunities are for Africa, especially if there should be continental connectivity.”

Terms such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Fourth Industrial Revolution, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the rise of robots and machine learning, are now common parlance.

The Headliners is a series of high-level presentations and panel discussions and also FREE of charge to registered visitors – for more information on who else you can see go to: tmt.Knect365.com

From LTE to 5G in Africa

Kicking off proceedings on day one of AfricaCom and under the banner of ‘Digital connectivity to drive socio-economic development’, will be a discussion around Africa’s readiness for 5G.  


As the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues apace, bringing with it, greater connectivity and subsequent products and services, IoT becomes a tangible gamechanger for cities, enterprises (and end users). Consequently, AfricaCom 2018 will concentrate a number of discussions and a three-day IoT World Africa conference track around how this can be achieved.

The Money

Underpinning all development and future trade, are financial services, so what’s next for African Fintech? Headliners will address the opportunities that exist in the midst of this financial services paradigm shift.


Rounding out the Headliner discussions at AfricaCom 2018, is a series of discussions that address the shift in how broadcasting models are developing in line with digital transformation across Africa. This content complements the newly launched Africa Video Forum (AVF), the evolution of TV Connect Africa.

Artificial Intelligence

Talking of intriguing, what’s the buzz around AI? Is it really going to take over the world and take away human jobs or is it going to open the doors to new possibilities? Tackling these questions and more, The AI Summit Cape Town, will be held at AfricaCom. One of the more contentious bound to attract an interested audience, will be the presentation entitled: Building an autonomous workforce: AI in Mining.  

The Technology Arena

Housed within the Technology Arena is AfricaCom 20/20, the centre for discussion and innovation. This year’s line-up has an enlightening agenda which will set the scene for robust debate around some of the most pressing issues facing Africa’s entry into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of those is Financial inclusion, an imperative for the continent.  

Consequently, there will be a number of presentations and panel discussions aimed at understanding: The Findustrial Revolution – How can blockchain optimise telecom operator’s products and services in the African Market?; How effective is network virtualisation in optimising African Telco’s with their ROI? and a keynote from Rakesh Kukreja, Group MD, IsatAfrica, that aims to clarify  how virtualizing network functions via Telco cloud infrastructure across all network and service platforms will enable digital democracy.

Also located in the Technology Arena, will be the IoT Challenge, the AHUB – the nexus for entrepreneurs and investors – along with a number of exciting demonstration pods.  

AfricaCom expects over 14 000 delegates this year, with more than 450 speakers and 400 exhibitors. As bewildering as it could be, the organisers have cleverly delineated the areas from the main exhibition hall that contains the ‘engine’ of technology – all the nuts and bolts, fancy bits and intangibles that make the end result happen. AfricaCom is the place to be to get ‘connected’ this year.

AfricaCom takes place at the CTICC, Cape Town 13 – 15 November 2018.

The world-class speaker line-up in 2018 includes:

  • Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN
  • Olabiyi Durojaiye, Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission
  • Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, Republic of Ghana
  • Hon. Nomvula Mokanyane, Minister of Communications, South Africa
  • Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Special Advisor, Smart Africa, Former Minister, Ministry of Information Technology and Communication, Government of Rwanda
  • Mohamed Dabbour, CEO, Africa, ‎Millicom
  • Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, MTN
  • Siyabonga Mahlangu, Group Executive: Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations, Telkom
  • Nicholas Naidu, Managing Executive: Technology Strategy, Architecture & Innovation, Vodacom
  • Francis Mumbi, Innovation Lead, Stanbic Bank
  • Joseph Hundah, Group President and CEO, Econet Media
  • Jason Lobel, Group Head of Video, MTN
  • Botlenyana Mokhele, Councillor, ICASA
  • Catherine Wanjiku Njari, Senior Manager, TV & Media Content, Safaricom
  • John Momoh (OON), CEO, Channels Media Group and Chairman, BON