01.13.22

Meet the leader behind innovations at Telkom

BY Wesley Diphoko 4 MINUTE READ

Telkom is among the more successful of South Africa’s (partly) state-owned entities. This was not always the case; there was a time when the company was struggling, along with many other of the country’s SOEs. At some point, however, those in charge applied their minds, faced reality and started looking at Telkom like a business. The changes that followed included leadership change. It was a difficult time for Telkom, which was dealing with rapidly-evolving market forces; the telecommunications provider was in danger of being left behind. In this regard, a big part of Telkom’s business was once landline telephones in people’s homes. Nowadays, such devices are hard to find. There was also a time when the transition to mobile phones could have meant the end for Telkom, yet the company is still here. Many of the changes that have taken place at this African telecommunications giant stem from its Consumer Business division, which is innovating from within – and taking Telkom from the past to the future.  Recently, Telkom’s Consumer segment, including mobile, delivered a 10.1% increase in operating revenue, to R25.815 billion. This was stimulated by strong data demand in the mobile business, with service revenue increasing 34.5%, to R16.938bn. This includes applications services revenue of R528 million. Fixed-line copper revenue continues to decline, due to ongoing migration to next generation technologies such as LTE and fibre; however, the rate of decline slowed as the demand for home connectivity increased. To meet this, Telkom created compelling new value offers to enable working and learning from home. A strong broadband demand – and a prudent cost containment strategy – led to an impressive improvement to R5.007bn, translating into an EBITDA margin of 19.4% for the consumer segment. The small and medium business (SME) component under Telkom’s digital marketplace – Yep! – continues to improve operationally, with measures implemented to control churn, given the challenging economic landscape. Although SMEs have been significantly impacted by lockdown measures, there are some positive results, with new customer acquisitions growing. Mobile service revenue to businesses and public sector entities increased by 31.1%, mainly due to work and learn from home. An online marketplace platform was launched and digital services revenue grew by 20%. The platform attracts an average of 337 000 unique visitors a month.

Lunga Siyo, Telkom Consumer Business CEO

Behind such impressive performance are capable leaders, intent on building Africa’s telecommunications company of the future. One of them is Telkom’s Lunga Siyo, who hails from Mdantsane, a township located about 15 kilometres outside East London in the Eastern Cape. Mdantsane is the largest township, by population, in the province. It is well known for having turned out, over the years, some prominent personalities and leaders, among them politicians such as Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Dali Mpofu, Mandla Makhuphula and Ntombazana Gertrude Botha, as well as several local boxing legends, including Happy-Boy Mgxaji, Mzimasi Mnguni, Welcome Ncita and lightweight WBC champion Luxolo Galada.

It was in this bustling township environment that Siyo was brought up by his grandmother. As a youngster, he was exposed to its business and consumer dynamics, which formed part of his early leadership education. This he enhanced by studying cost accounting at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He then took this a step further with studies at the Oxford Brookes University in the UK, where he earned a Bachelor of Science (Hons) degree in Applied Accounting. To sharpen his business skills, he also acquired a Master in Business Administration (MBA) at Millpark Business School in Johannesburg. The final polish to his education – in corporate business methods, at least – was obtained through working for and training with several leading international companies, both in South Africa and Europe. All of this together shaped him into a business leader able to take on any challenge. One such challenge has been about keeping Telkom relevant to society; another has been the pandemic. In this regard, Siyo has demonstrated exceptional leadership across the board. The Consumer business arm that he leads is working on some of the most important elements within Telkom. Some of these are about taking care of current concerns, while some are about the future. As a business that has relied on legacy, one of Siyo’s focus areas has been about building solutions for the future. An example of this is the Yellow Pages. When he was recruited by Telkom, Siyo could not believe the amount of revenue generated by the company’s Yellow Pages business. The concept of the Yellow Pages was originally conceived in 1883 by a printer living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in the US. It was pure serendipity; the printer, who was working on a telephone book, had run out of white paper and was forced to use yellow paper instead. The look soon caught on. In 1886, the first “official” Yellow Pages book was distributed. Currently, the phrase “Yellow Pages” is used in at least 75 countries around the globe for print telephone directories (usually published by local phone companies for their local market).

Typically, Yellow Pages directories are published annually and distributed and delivered for free within the region in which any given phone company provides coverage. Profits are generated via advertising revenue; local and national businesses pay the telecommunications company and/or publisher to include in the directories ads of varying size and prominence for their goods and services.

In recent years, however, advertising revenue for Yellow Pages has fallen as the directories fell out of favour, with advertisers and the public turning towards online sources. Siyo was tasked with turning the Yellow Pages into a profitable business. He did just that by creating Yep!

The Yep! platform provides the SME segment with a diverse range of connectivity and digital marketing services, which helps customers thrive in an increasingly digital economy and market. The Yep! brand was successfully launched, together with a new Yep! app, on May 15 last year. This was the first phase of an e-Marketplace strategy, crafted mainly by Siyo and his team.

The platform raked in 500 000 customers (service providers) in less than a month after going live. As at March 31 this year, there were over 25 335 downloads across Google Play, Apple and Huawei stores, with the desktop version attracting an average of 337 827 users a month. This is significant when one considers the future prospects of a tool such as Yep! To build a product from its dying predecessor (Yellow Pages in print) is not an easy task. Siyo did so by laying the foundations for a strong online business at Telkom.

For more information on this story get the latest issue of Fast Company (SA) magazine.

12.11.21

Huawei and Telkom partner for a 5G live stream of African Penguins

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Huawei and Telkom have supported a 5G live stream of Africa’s endangered penguins to highlight role of 5G and supporting technology for conservation and environmental protection as well as other 5G use case.

The live stream from Boulders Beach in Cape Town, home to the largest group of African Penguins in South Africa, hosted on Telkom’s 5G temporary network, was broadcast to Huawei’s global and local social media platforms.

Hosted by conservationist and wildlife TV presenter Lauren Arthur, the live stream not only gave viewers the chance to experience the unique penguin colony, it also illustrated 5G’s potential as an enabler of environmental conservation.

For the Boulders penguin colony, intensive conservation is becoming increasingly important. The African Penguin is listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. As the largest grouping of the birds, the Boulders colony is therefore critical to the species’ survival. Its fragility was also underlined earlier this year when 64 birds died following a bee attack on the beach.

As Lunga Siyo, CEO of Telkom Consumer Business, pointed out, 5G technology could prove pivotal in allowing conservationists to monitor the colony.

“If we could set up a 5G camera here, the experts could watch the penguins every movement and of course help prevent another incident like the bee attack,” he said.

“In the future, 5G won’t only enrich people’s digital lives, but will also bring real benefits and change to humans, companies, society, and the natural world,” he added. 5G can be especially beneficial in South Africa’s goal of achieving a digital economy. Siyo pointed out that sectors where 5G was starting to play a role included, health, education, mining and the consumer market.

Siyo added that Telkom is well poised to roll out 5G across South Africa.

“Telkom currently has the largest optical fiber network in South Africa and many cell masts are already 5G ready,” he said. “I don’t think it will be long before our users will be able to enjoy the convenience of 5G networks.”

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of the Department of Communication and Digital Technology said, post pandemic travel is immersive with opportunities for enhanced technologies to give tourists a digital-first experience of a destination. She commended Huawei for the streaming of the Penguin colony, as an innovative way to engage potential tourists from far and wide within Huawei’s reach, to stimulate foreign tourist interest in the area.

Huawei is also involved in several other conservation initiatives, including a project that uses upcycled Huawei devices and Huawei’s Cloud AI to protect rainforests.

12.07.21

Inside the first 4 star rated hotel in a Cape Town township

BY Wesley Diphoko 4 MINUTE READ

South African townships were not designed for better living and quality of life. When Annette and Bulelani Skaap launched their hotel on the 4th of December 2021 in the middle of Khayelitsha they began a process that may turn around South African townships. The owners of “The Spade Boutique Hotel and Spa” have challenged the architects of townships by building a 4 star rated hotel where no one expected luxury and good life. They have done so by creating a classy building with luxury furniture filled with comfort and all things beauty. The boutique-style hotel features luxurious en-suite bathrooms, air conditioning, unlimited WIFI, complimentary tea/coffee making facilities, remote control Smart TV,hairdryer, safe, and a mini bar fully stocked with beverages, MNet and DSTV. Guests have the added advantage of enjoying room service, an in-house Gym, a Spa, a heated outdoor swimming pool, restaurant and bar, and business services facilities as well as complimentary shuttle services.

In a country that is experiencing power challenges with frequent power cuts, this hotel has a built-in power generator that keeps the lights on all the time.

Annette who was once in the aviation industry for 10 years was inspired by her travels around the world and asked herself “why can’t we have the same lifestyle at home?”. She believes that “The Spade Boutique Hotel” concept can be replicated across the country to bring people into townships.

She also believes that by building such hotels in townships one can improve local economies. This is what The Spade Hotel has done for Khayelitsha. 90% of items in the hotel were designed by the community of Khayelitsha particularly the youth.

Local designers and artists created the artwork, sculptures, and furniture within the hotel. Local communities have been beneficiaries and will continue to benefit as the hotel continues to operate in the community.

While working with local communities the hotel has not compromised on quality. Sonia Bell from the Tourism Grading Council pointed out during a launch event that they have worked with “The Spade” team to create a world-class hotel deserving of a 4-star rating.

A fitting venture and partnership between Annette and her husband, businessman Bulelani Skaap, popularly known as Ace. He has pioneered the lifestyle and entertainment industry locally. In 2007, Ace opened what would eventually become a premium double-story lounge, starting with just one house. . They have built establishments: Kwa -Ace Lounge, Kwa – Ace Kitchen and Kwa – Ace eParkin based in Khayelitsha.

The couple views the hotel as just another environment that brings leisure to the township economy sector. Soon, the hotel will be available for bookings online via: www.thespadeboutiquehotel.co.za and other booking platforms. The hotel is 24 km away from the Cape Town International Airport, 35km away from the Cape Town City Bowl, 25 km away from the Cape Winelands, 25km away from Muizenberg Beach, 34 km from Table Mountain, and 36 km away from the V&A Waterfront.

If the Xiniwe’s, who built the first black-owned hotel, were alive today, they would be proud of Annete and her husband for taking the baton in the hospitality sector.

11.29.21

Jack Dorsey steps down as Twitter Chief, announces new leader

BY Wesley Diphoko < 1 MINUTE READ

Jack Dorsey has used Twitter to announce his resignation from Twitter.

Some shareholders have been unhappy about dual roles by Dorsey. The billionaire founder of the social media giant is also serving as the CEO of a fintech company, Square. It has been argued that his attention is divided and therefore impacting negatively on Twitter. According to CNBC the Twitter stock jumped on the news of a potential step down by Dorsey.

In response to one Twitter user, Dorsey said: “I love twitter “

Jack Dorsey has led major improvements for Twitter throughout the pandemic. When Clubhouse launched the audio platform Twitter launched Spaces in response. Lately Twitter has introduced ways in which users can earn money from followers. News of Jack Dorsey stepping down come at a time when the platform is also considering crypto. Twitter has been working on a way for users to display NFTs in their profile and, more broadly, Twitter houses Bluesky, a decentralized web project.

Jack Dorsey stepping may be positive for Square.

In a letter to staff he also announced Parag Agrawal as his successor. Parag Agrawal has been with Twitter for the past decade. He joined Twitter as Distinguished Software Engineer and then became the chief technology officer.As the CTO, Parag was responsible for “Twitter’s technical strategy and overseeing machine learning and AI across the consumer, revenue, and science teams”.Before Twitter, Parag Agrawal worked with Microsoft, Yahoo and AT&T Labs.Parag Agrawal studied B Tech in Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Bombay and completed his PhD from Stanford University.

11.17.21

This tech will bring an end to truck drivers and give birth to a new type of truck driver

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

The tech that might just end the careers of truck drivers has crossed the Atlantic from Sweden and landed in the U.S. Soon they will take cargo and household goods with no one in the drivers seat, because there is no driver’s seat. The human being will be miles away with his or her hands on a wheel and other controls. This will be made possible by a Swedish freight tech company Einride , which developed the autonomous electric transport Pod, and a new trucking driving job, the world’s first Remote Pod Operator.

Remote Pod Operator driving a truck remotely. Photo – supplied

According to media reports the company will start its operations in the US. The company founder and CEO Robert Falck announced that the company has signed agreements with technical partners such as Ericsson and Siemens as well as customers Oatly, Bridgestone and GE Appliances, a Haier company.

Commenting on the reasons for starting in the US in a statement Falck indicated that “the innovative spirit of the U.S. is the standard by which all others are measured, and the American transportation market is the biggest in the world,” said Robert Falck, founder, and CEO of Einride. “The U.S. freight market is one of the most competitive and to be an industry leader you need to play in this league. We have the technology and solution to bring the biggest change in the freight industry since the adoption of the diesel truck 100 years ago.”

Einride, who already operates Europe’s largest fleet of electric trucks and works with industry giants including Coca-Cola, SKF, and Lidl in Europe, has set an example that the transformation to electric, autonomous freight transportation can be made easy and cost-effective. Since October 1, 2020, Einride’s partners have seen a 90% decrease in CO2 emissions with electrical transport, while matching the cost of diesel.

In addition to bringing its electric and autonomous transportation solutions to some of the biggest names in their respective industries, Einride has also hired the world’s first remote trucker to show how autonomous freight transport improves working conditions and creates a new type of job, Einride Pod Operator.

The proliferation of electric and autonomous transport creates jobs across the supply chain, from electric infrastructure installation and maintenance to the widespread construction of 5G networks, while also creating new types of jobs such as the role of the remote pod operator, which involves the oversight and control of multiple Pods in real time by one individual from a central location. In contrast to conventional trucking, remote operation will be safer, involve more regular hours, and provide a more hospitable work environment.

11.02.21

eNaira – The first African country digital currency

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Nigeria’s Central Bank launched a digital currency on Monday that is designed to be used alongside its physical currency. The release of eNaira was officially announced via a press release issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

A central bank digital currency is a type of cryptocurrency that’s controlled by a country’s central bank. More than 100 countries, including the US and China, are exploring the development of a CBDC, according to the IMF. The virtual money, dubbed the eNaira, is backed and issued by the country’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Like most governments, Nigeria is introducing a virtual currency because it is more cost-efficient than physical cash, helps the unbanked have easier access to money, and can, in some way, limit illicit activities.

According to several media reports CBN picked Barbados-based Bitt Inc in August to develop and roll out the digital currency. The company has a track record: It assisted the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) to design and launch DCash, the digital currency used by Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts, and Nevis, and Saint Lucia — four of the five countries that have fully launched their own CBDCs.

On September 27, the CBN launched the eNaira website, detailing necessary information on how Nigerians can access and use the virtual currency.

First, Nigerians will have to download the eNaira mobile application on the Apple Store or Play Store. They can also opt to scan a QR code on the website to access the service.

After registration, users must register and create a wallet — called the Speed Wallet — to store, send and receive money. Several tiers of wallets are available on the platform catering to various users with or without bank accounts and different identification levels.

The website lists four main eNaira features: a unified payment system that allows customers to move money from their eNaira wallet; a bank account management feature that lets users check balances and transaction history; a contactless payment service so users can make in-store payments by scanning QR codes; and P2P payments, in which users send money to each other via a linked bank account or card. This is a positive development by Nigeria and at the same time there’s fear surrounding how they could be used by governments with a track record of surveilling or attempting to surveil their citizens. This will be the next challenge for Nigeria.

10.30.21

Why The Facebook Name Change Matters?

BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

When Mark Zuckerberg announced the new name for Facebook he did not just unveil the name Meta but a change of business direction.

He said the name Facebook doesn’t fully encompass everything the company does now and is still closely linked to one product. “But over time, I hope we are seen as a metaverse company.” What does that really mean?

In simple terms, it means we are moving away from just writing a post about this and that to living inside the social world. Zuckerberg tried to paint a picture of what that world would feel and look like by saying:

“in the metaverse, you’ll be able to do almost anything you can imagine — get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create — as well as completely new experiences that don’t really fit how we think about computers or phones today. “ He added that

“In this future, you will be able to teleport instantly as a hologram to be at the office without a commute, at a concert with friends, or in your parents’ living room to catch up. This will open up more opportunity no matter where you live. You’ll be able to spend more time on what matters to you, cut down time in traffic, and reduce your carbon footprint.”

This will not only be a place for just fun, it will be a place through which we work, learn and trade. This explains why Zuckerberg is throwing billions behind this project in the next few years. It also explains the rationale behind a search for more skilled people to build the Metaverse.

Although Zuck said, “the metaverse will not be created by one company.” In his own words, he pointed out that “It will be built by creators and developers making new experiences and digital items that are interoperable and unlock a massively larger creative economy than the one constrained by today’s platforms and their policies.”

The name Meta says it all. In fact, Jack Dorsey summed it up as follows in a tweet “meta: referring to itself or to the conventions of it’s genre: self re-ferential “ Zuckerberg and his company will be the builder of the metaverse and everyone else will build on the foundation that they would have built. This means that control of the metaverse may rest with and only Mark Zuckerberg unless someone prevents such a power grab.

We would be naive to think that this was just about a change of strategy. Facebook has been under intense scrutiny over the past several weeks, after revelations based on damning internal documents provided to the Wall Street Journal by whistleblower Frances Haugen showed, among other things, that Facebook’s Instagram platform had become a toxic place for teenagers, especially girls. And antitrust regulators are pushing for the company to be broken up, as public trust in the social media platform is flagging. This chapter just concludes a series of scandals that damaged the Facebook brand. Changing the name, just as some tobacco companies did when they were under scrutiny, was a logical step for Facebook. Whether it will assist with cleaning the reputation of the Mark Zuckerberg creation remains to be seen.

What we do know is that the same people who built and maintained the blue social network and attracted the attention of regulators for all the wrong reasons, will now build the virtual world and probably control it.

What that partly means is that if you were concerned about privacy, misinformation on Facebook, you now have better reasons to be concerned. What we’ve seen with Facebook is nothing compared with what is coming when Meta is fully-fledged. Mark Zuckerberg will become the landlord and all those who operate in the Metaverse will answer to him. The good news is that we know what happened in the past and we can anticipate how we will be treated in this new world. What was missed in the past at least by regulators was the development of guidelines for living in the social world hence the clumsy attempt to hold Zuckerberg accountable. Of course, we can’t blame legislators completely for being bypassed by the speed of innovation. What’s interesting and worth noting this time around again is that Zuckerberg is introducing something that regulators know little about. One can only hope the builders of the metaverse took lessons from building the social network that went out of control. This time around let’s hope they will build something that will be wholesome and valuable not just for shareholders but for society as a whole.

10.28.21

Facebook has been renamed Meta to mark the next move to build the Metaverse

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Today at Facebook’s Connect 2021 conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, a new name for the leading global social network company Facebook.

It’s new name brings together its apps and technologies under one new company brand. According to Zuckerberg, Meta’s focus will be to bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.

Meta unveiling

Facebook has rebranded partly to align with its new focus in the Metaverse world.

In a statement Facebook indicated that metaverse will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions or projected into the physical world. It will let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together — and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world. Zuckerberg shared more about this vision in a founder’s letter.

“I’m proud of what we’ve built so far, and I’m excited about what comes next — as we move beyond what’s possible today, beyond the constraints of screens, beyond the limits of distance and physics, and towards a future where everyone can be present with each other, create new opportunities and experience new things. It is a future that is beyond any one company and that will be made by all of us.” said Mark Zuckerberg. He went to say

“Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future. Over time, I hope that we are seen as a metaverse company, and I want to anchor our work and identity on what we’re building toward.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Alongside its vision for the metaverse, Mark Zuckerberg also shared more about the progress the company is making.

10.25.21

Tech StartupAct Lobby: Why the Tech Startup ecosystem met with President Ramaphosa?

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

It’s very rare for the South African tech startup ecosystem to get attention from the South African government. By nature startups just do what they do without the need to consult with government. Across the globe most startups surprise governments with innovations that get governments to pay attention. In South Africa the tech startup ecosystem needs governments to listen and pay attention. A group of tech startup organisations that are mostly in Cape Town have recommended that SA should ​​establish a startup act to address challenges within the ecosystem. They include AfricArena, Digital Collective Africa, Endeavor South Africa, i4Policy, Loudhailer, the Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA), Silicon Cape, SiMODiSA, and Wesgro.

Matsi Modise, founder of and investor in Furaha Afrika Holdings, Vice-Chairperson of SiMODiSA, and Chairperson of the SA Startup Act Steering Committee, indicated to the President that there is no better time than now for South Africa to re-position itself as a gateway for high impact, high growth technology entrepreneurship on the continent. She stated that South Africa is losing a lot of talented entrepreneurs due to outdated and a disabling policy framework. “In order for South Africa to be an attractive destination for investors, talent and entrepreneurs, we must implement a Startup Act which will be an all-encompassing pathway for South Africa to be an African startup nation.”

Amongst the leaders who attended the session is the former Wesgro CEO and Digital Collective Africa Board Member , Tim Harris, who pointed out that “There is an urgency to implementing these proposals now because South Africa’s tech leadership on the African continent is under threat, even as the world is waking up to the potential in the market. I was in Europe last week with a group of young African tech entrepreneurs, and it was clear that momentum is shifting to Kenya and Nigeria. We are losing our competitiveness on the continent.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa responded positively to the demands by the startup eco-system, “With regards to the South African Startup Act, I would like us to consider that… If we are serious about promoting entrepreneurship, we need to think about how we boost startup activity.”

It remains to be seen however how various parts of government will respond to the proposed startup act which will require a diverse group of government entities to co-operate.

Wikipedia to be translated into IsiZulu, Sesotho, Tshivenda, and Afrikaans by a group of young people

BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

English has been the main language online. A group of young people with the support from the Moleskine Foundation and growing pan-African grassroots movement are planning to change that as from tomorrow. The plan is to equip young people with the tools to create and edit Wikipedia articles in their official languages.

While Wikipedia is the world’s 13th-most-visited website, it suffers from a dearth of information about Africa.

Launched by the Moleskine Foundation, WikiAfrica Education is hosting a series of five AfroCurations where young people from South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Morocco are learning how to tell the stories of their lives, culture, and history through Wikipedia.

United by the theme “Who We Are”, AfroCuration events are not your regular edit-a-ton. Rather, they are cultural and inspirational experiences where participants are empowered to create knowledge about their culture and identity, redressing the historical bias and taking ownership of the digital narrative.

The next event will take place on the 26th and 27th of October in partnership with Constitution Hill Trust in Johannesburg, South Africa. By bringing together volunteers from the IsiZulu, Sesotho, Tshivenda, and Afrikaans-speaking communities, the event will focus on writing and editing Wikipedia articles about many such marginalised stories and names are of women across time, race, class genders, sexual orientations and other social identities who contributed immensely to the liberation of South Africa and the making of its world-renowned Constitution.. A former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa’s turbulent past, Constitution Hill recently unveiled a timeline of the Women’s Struggle for Human Right as part of an exhibition telling the story of South Africa’s Constitution.

It builds on the success of the AfroCuration series’ first edit-a-thon in early September, where more than 60 participants contributed the first-ever Wikipedia articles in Emakhuwa, a language spoken by an estimated 6-12 million people in northern Mozambique. The participants created 60 articles during the event and continued editing weeks afterward. As of 19 October 19, 2021, 171 articles in Emakhuwa have been created, amassing more than 11,000 views.

Adama Sanneh, CEO of Moleskine Foundation, says: “By transforming young Africans from passive knowledge consumers to active knowledge producers, we are addressing two of Wikipedia’s most significant gaps – the lack of contributors from Africa and the lack of content about Africa. It is estimated that there are currently more Wikipedia articles on France than Africa as a whole. In fact, not a single African language has more than 100,000 articles on Wikipedia. Our goal is to change those numbers by steadily expanding knowledge about Africa, as told by Africans, one Wikipedia entry at a time.”

The son of an Italian mother and a Senegalese/Gambian father who has lived and worked on both continents, Sanneh knows how misconceptions and misinformation about Africa shape the way the world sees the continent – and how Africans see themselves. Recognizing how most of what has been written online about Africa has come from the West, Sanneh is focused on supporting a new generation of Wikipedia editors based in Africa. To date, the WikiAfrica Education initiative has generated over 40,000 Wikipedia contributions in over18 languages.

Vanessa September, CEO of Constitution Hill Trust, says: “Many of the challenges that South Africa faces today are due to our lack of knowledge and understanding the events of our past. Until this history is widely accessible, we will remain stuck. Our partnership with the Moleskine Foundation allows us to work with young people in a creative way to amplify the unknown stories and people of our Constitution on a global platform like Wikipedia.”

This is an opportunity for local institutions to also support efforts to preserve African languages online by actively supporting such initiatives and more.