Digital Classroom In a Box unveiled (IT News Africa)

Gilat Satcom has announced that its Digital Classroom In A Box is now available for shipping to Africa, as a part of the Smart Village turnkey solution. This new concept for rural schools was unveiled at The Aid & International Development Forum summit which took place in Ethiopia last week.

The summit looked at how technological innovations and best practice are being deployed to improve aid delivery and development strategy in East Africa and was attended by 250+ senior representatives and advisors from regional governments, UN agencies, international and regional NGOs, investors and donors, research institutes and the private sector.

Gilat Satcom’s Digital Classroom In A Box was developed as the e-learning component for its ‘Smart Village’ portfolio that enables rural villages and remote communities in Africa where ARPUs are low to be a part of Africa’s digital future.

The Digital Classroom comprises a fully insulated and decorated shipping container powered by solar with VSAT connectivity, a wifi router with 500m radius, a management and billing system, a projector, interactive screens, sound system and microphone, computers and tablets, tables and chairs.

It has been designed to provide everything that an African rural school needs to deliver both face-to-face lessons and remote e-learning.

Gilat Satcom has joined forces with Intelitek to provide an e-learning content platform specifically developed to meet the needs of Africa’s rural communities and providing a large number of ready-to-use syllabuses.

Although any e-learning platform can be easily connected to the Digital Classroom In a Box, the Intelitek solution was extensively tested by the Gilat Satcom team who found it to be extremely powerful, scalable and cost effective – and best able to meet African Rural Community e-learning demands.

Eran Yoran, CMO and head of Business Development at Gilat Satcom who attended the summit said “Gilat Satcom’s Digital Classroom in A Box was extremely well-received at the summit because it provides a complete solution. Content can easily be emailed through to teachers whilst our high-speed satellite connection enables high quality video-conferencing.”

Ido Yerushalmi, President and CEO of Intelitek says “Intelitek’s educational technology solutions have been revolutionizing learning environments for over 30 years, in more than 50 countries across the globe. Our goal is to prepare students for the careers of tomorrow by continuing to develop systems and solutions that optimize education today just like Learnmate 7- our E-learning solution. We are dedicated to making it easier for teachers to teach, and more exciting for students to learn.”

Last year Gilat Satcom launched its Smart Village which was developed to provide Internet, VoIP and Video over IP over an affordable private satellite network with prices for connectivity for individual villagers starting from $1 a month.

Gilat Satcom’s Smart Village can be provided by Governments, NGOs, cellular and telephony operators, major ISPs and others to a group which acts as the Village

Nano-ISP. This group could be a church, a school, a village chief or another community organization.

The private Village Nano-ISP is responsible for selling the services direct in the village, billing users and paying the monthly service charge to the provider. Gilat Satcom provides detailed business plans to enable both the network providers and the Village Nano-ISPs to build profitable and commercially sustainable services.

The Smart Village portfolio has three components which can stand-alone or be deployed simultaneously:

  • Basic – this provides the Village Nano-ISP with two tablet devices for internet browsing and domestic and international VoIP and Video over IP calls.  Usage is uncapped and a fixed monthly rate is charged.

Calls to regular telephones and cellular users in the country and anywhere in the world can also be made and will be billed separately to the Village Nano-ISP.

  • Wi-Fi – As well as the Basic Island package, this includes a router for Wi-Fi coverage with a 500 meter radius. Individual usernames and passwords can be generated to allow the community Nano-ISP to track usage and bill accurately. Customers can use their own tablet or smartphone on this network or the Village tablet. Additional routers can easily be added as demand increases and to extend coverage. (By Point To Point connection villages as far as 15Km can be connected into one local network managed by one local Nano ISP.
  • Cellular – As well as the Wi-Fi service, this includes a GSM base station – which can also be solar-powered – which will be integrated with the network of a local cellular operator. This integration will be managed by Gilat Satcom.

Smart Village is economically self-sustaining and scalable so it can grow with demand and with a minimal additional investment. Gilat Satcom has established a business plan that targets users with $1 a month to spend on telephony and is still profitable.

Read more at IT News Africa


Fraud-free voting, quantum research and buses without fuel – examples of Africa’s tech leapfrogs! (M&G Africa)

Somaliland set to become first country in the world to use iris-recognition software in an election!

THE subject of growing innovation in African countries continues to generate interest and, therefore funds.

Today Africa’s budding entrepreneurs, universities, scientists and professionals are demonstrating that there is huge scope to push the envelope with global-standard technological break-throughs.

Expect to see iris scans in Somaliland election. (Photo/Bloomberg).

At the recent World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that “Africa has the possibility of being the first continent to become a green continent”. That because of the deficit in electricity, people are increasingly turning to the continent’s abundance of renewables for results.

Some countries on the continent already pushed the boundaries of renewable energy research and, it has now been about three years in the making. Uganda’s automotive engineering and technology innovation in particular is also looking to take off to a new level by relying on environmentally friendly technology.

The 35-seater “Kayoola” bus, currently being tested and set to launch later this month, is going to be Africa’s first solar-powered bus. This comes just three years after the world’s first solar bus was launched in Australia.

The launch of the bus also highlights the high innovative activity and potential within African universities. The idea was inspired by Uganda’s Makerere University’s participation in the 2006-2008 Vehicle Design Summit 2.0, which was headed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

According to local reports, Makerere University students, under Kiira Motors Corporation (the company that was partly created by the government to start motor vehicle manufacturing in Uganda), built the electronic vehicle which is powered by 240 Lithium Ion cells, packaged as two battery banks, one running the motor at a time and it is designed to cover 80km before the next charge.

The fuel-efficient model is just the beginning. According to Kiira motors, they will make different kinds of cars including pickups, compact SUVs, sedans and light and medium duty trucks.

Quantum leaps

In recognition of the potential of African research, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) – a pan-African network of centres of excellence for postgraduate education, research and outreach in mathematical sciences – is pioneering quantum research to the continent.

Africa’s first quantum research centre – Leap Africa – is to be launched later this year in Rwanda. Going beyond start-ups, it is showing a new appreciation for cutting edge research.

For this reason, several companies have even redirected their efforts towards solutions aimed at the increasingly lucrative African market.


Take for example the renewable industry sector which is growing in the world’s emerging economies nearly twice as fast than in industrialised nations. Not only are renewable energy technologies now cost competitive with fossil fuels in many developing nations, but they are often more reliable, safer, and at times cheaper than conventional grid power.

Fraud-free voting

There are also however very specific technologies that could take off because of their unique demand in the African context.

For example, a worrying time in many African countries is when elections crop up on a calendar. This can lead to situations of instability when there are allegations of rigging or suppression.

The self-declared independent state of Somaliland however is showing that this can be overcome, and just how progressive it is, becoming the first country in the world to use iris-recognition software in an election!

In first photo, the solar panels on top of the bus. Above, the finished product. (Photo/Kiira Motors).

The move comes after the Somaliland government’s election experts approached University of Notre Dame’s biometric research group to develop the biometric system to improve the accuracy of its election process.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in 2017, and in the build up citizens started their registration process in January 2016. Iris recognition software has the ability to make the voting process fairer, accurately establishing the number of eligible voters per district in a country where many citizens still do not yet have identity cards.

These feats have continental, and even global, magnitude. Considering the high rate of innovation and adoption this is just scratching the surface and we can expect to see a lot more…very soon.

Read more at M&G Africa

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Intel to empower women in Africa with online learning platform (IT News Africa)

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Intel Corporation has unveiled an online learning platform, which has been dubbed “Intel She Will Connect: My Digital Journey,” that is aimed at providing an opportunity for women to learn, connect and share online.

Intel revealed that My Digital Journey is a web-based application with gaming mechanics where women are empowered to learn individually or in a facilitated environment, and with the support of a peer network. My Digital Journey uses case scenarios relevant to women in the form of challenges, which gives them the opportunity to practice solutions before moving on to the next level.

by Staff Writer IT News Africa

The platform is a new addition to the Intel She Will Connect programme, which aims to bridge the technology gender gap, to teach young women how to leverage the Internet and technology to pursue their goals.

Intel She Will Connect was introduced as a direct response to findings of the Women and the Web Report, which examined women’s access to and use of the Internet in low- and middle-income countries. The report found that, on average, there are nearly 25% fewer women than men online in developing countries. This represents 200 million fewer women than men online today. In sub-Saharan Africa, the size of the gap is 43% – the largest across all the regions in the study.

Launching the programme in Nairobi, Intel Corporation’s Vice President, Director of Corporate Affairs, and President Intel Foundation, Ms. Rosalind Hudnell, said: “My Digital Journey provides an opportunity for women and girls in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria to learn about the Internet and benefit from the wealth of information available that will contribute towards achieving their goals and provide access to opportunities.”

Learners on My Digital Journey will receive a digital completion certificate after successfully completing three quests. Each quest comprises between three and six missions. The first mission may take a learner 15 to 45 minutes to complete, depending on reading speed and the thought put into responding to challenges.

“This learning platform provides women and girls with a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and to access additional resources that support learning in a safe environment. Gaining access to the Internet enables women and girls to improve their self-esteem and expression, expand their social and political participation, gain new skills that enable them to obtain formal education, become entrepreneurs or secure employment, and get access to information and new connections within their communities and beyond,” explained Ms. Hudnell.

Intel believes that educating girls and closing the Internet gender gap has an important multiplier effect – expanding opportunities for families, communities and nations.

“Through the Intel Global Girls and Women Initiative, we are working to empower millions of girls and women around the world by closing the gender gap in access to education, inspiring more girls and women to become creators of technology and connecting them to opportunity,” noted Ms. Hudnell.

Also speaking at the launch event, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for eastern and southern Africa, Simone Ellis Oluoch-Olunya, noted that addressing gender equality will unlock the growth potential of the continent.

“Grounded in the vision of equality, UN Women believes that technology can be a game-changer for women and girls. Enhancing women’s economic empowerment is one of the five priority areas of UN Women’s work; therefore, this initiative is one of many UN Women is undertaking to advance women’s economic empowerment and support women, particularly from a technology perspective,’’ added Ms. Oluoch-Olunya.

The Intel She Will Connect programme aims to reduce the Internet gender gap around the world, through an innovative combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network, and gender-relevant content.

The programme has been rolled out in sub-Saharan Africa, where the gap is the greatest, with initial pilots in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

Read More at IT News Africa 

The future of jobs: What will survive by 2020, what won’t and what it means for Africa (Mail & Guardian Africa)

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65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist

Young Entrepreneurs At i-Hub The African Tech Hub (Photo/Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images).

Those that believe we are about to launch into a fourth industrial – or “smart” –  revolution say that it is driven by developments that will see society simplify things, remove bottlenecks and do more with less. It will bring together previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology – all building on and amplifying one another.

MANY industry observers believe that we are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The first Industrial Revolution, driven by steam, created new manufacturing processes. The second was driven by electricity which led to many new inventions and witnessed the expansion of steel and petroleum. The third is the one we are living through now – when IT and electronics have transformed our lives and manufacturing has gone digital.


Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, argues that this distinct stage – the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – isn’t a continuation of the third revolution because of the speed of current breakthroughs, which have no historical precedent, and are disrupting almost every industry in every country. For example, engineers, designers, and architects are combining computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering, and synthetic biology to pioneer a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume, and even the buildings we inhabit.

Whether you believe this constitutes a new revolution or whether it’s a continuation of the third revolution, one thing is certain, it will cause massive disruption. This reality is examined in a new report by the World Economic Forum, The Future Of Jobs, which imagines how jobs in their industry will change up to the year 2020, and the new skills needed to drive them.

The jobs that won’t survive, ones that will

The report, which covered 15 economies accounting for about 1.86 billion workers or approximately 65% of the world’s total workforce, found that there will be hard times ahead with job gains unable to offset expected losses – estimated at a total loss of 7.1 million jobs – in the next five years.

So what jobs are most at risk?

According to estimates in the report, 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist. The jobs most at risk are concentrated in routine white collar office functions, such as office and administrative roles – expected to account for two-thirds of job losses.

The jobs that are looking to “win” and gain a total of 2 million jobs are in computer and mathematical, and architecture and engineering related fields. Manufacturing and production roles are also expected to see a further bottoming out but are also anticipated to have relatively good potential for up-skilling, redeployment and productivity enhancement through technology.

So those choosing college degrees today should hedge their bets on a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) course – although there is a heavy emphasis on the need to specialise within this.

As for the job title to aim for, the report described two new and emerging job types which stood out due to the frequency and consistency with which they were mentioned across practically all industries and geographies.

The first is the role of data analyst, which companies expect will help them make sense and derive insights from the torrent of data generated by technological disruptions. The second is the role ofspecialised sales representative, as practically every industry will need to become more skilled in commercialising and explaining their new offerings to unfamiliar businesses, government clients or consumers.

How will this affect Africa?

The impact on African can be looked at in two ways  – either that this will bring huge opportunity, or that it will perpetuate poverty and increase inequality.

In the past the biggest beneficiaries of innovation tended to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital. The demand for highly skilled workers has increased while the demand for workers with less education and lower skills has decreased. So it is natural to assume that the less skilled African labour force – principally employed in subsistence agriculture and the informal sector – who have low literacy rates and great barriers to acquiring a quality education will suffer greatly in the “catch-up” to the fourth revolution.

For example, the next stage of 3D printing, and its increasing affordability could badly hit cottage industry manufacturing and metal smiths (known as jua kali in East Africa).

Behind in STEM

In another example of the lag; sub-Saharan Africa research in terms of STEM – the skill area expected to make the greatest gains – the continent significantly lags behind other subject areas. Excluding South Africa, research in the physical sciences and STEM makes up only 29% of all research in the region, compared to an average of 68% in Malaysia which had the same research output as Africa in 2003. It gets worse: the share of STEM research in sub-Saharan Africa has declined by 0.2% every year since 2002.

For the fourth industrial revolution to be considered in terms of an “opportunity” for Africa will be down to how fast Africans can redesign their education systems, adopt to new technologies and whether they can afford them. Otherwise the continent will remain on the consumption, not production end.

This is not be an impossible task. Already we are seeing increased attention in STEM education in Africa: there is more investment – for example last year the Mastercard Foundation announced a $25 million commitment to the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – and more institutions, like theInternational Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2ie) in Burkina Faso are starting to crop up.

One thing about this new era of change is that being led by technology and innovation – it can provide limitless opportunity and the outcomes are going to be hard to predict.

Paul Clark, an Africa specialist at Ashburton Investments, explains that this can give a positive outlook for Africa’s incorporation into the revolution describing how Africans have been strong adopters of new technologies and that Africa has even leap-frogged existing developments. A case in point is how with more than half of all the mobile money platforms in the world, sub-Saharan Africa is leading the globe in rolling out financial products to masses of people who were previously excluded from this area of the formal economy.


Hellofood to sell food online in Kenya (IT News Africa)

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KFC Kenya and South African sea food restaurant, Ocean Basket, have partnered with Hellofood to sell food online. According to Hellofood it will now deliver food bought from the two restaurants on its online platform to customers across Nairobi.

by Staff Writer IT News Africa

KFC Kenya and South African sea food restaurant, Ocean Basket, have partnered with Hellofood to sell food online. (image credit:

In line with the partnership, both food chains will be looking to maximise on sales by tapping into the robust online market fuelled by a young tech savvy generation and a rapidly ballooning middle class in the country.

Duncan Muchangi MD, Hellofood Kenya said, “There is a paradigm shift on how Kenyans eats, more and more people have realised that they can order for food online from their mobile phones or computers and have it delivered to their office as they work. We are happy to partner with KFC and Ocean Basket to continue to offer this convenience.”

Read more at IT News Africa 

This little black box could change the internet in Africa– here’s why you should care (CNN)

(CNN)Kenyan start-up BRCK has secured $3 million in funding for an invention that hopes to change the face of internet connectivity across Africa.

Founded in 2013, the tech innovators are the brains behind a tough-as-nails modem designed for harsh environments with limited connection and power.

What makes the BRCK noteworthy is that it can hop between Ethernet, Wi-Fi and 3G or 4G networks, and it has eight hours of battery to keep going during blackouts.

It may be small, but BRCK CEO Erik Hersman says the device packs a punch like no other, with the potential to help millions facing the daily frustrations of power cuts and unreliable and patchy internet.

By Heenali Patel, for CNN

Kenyan start-up BRCK developed this Modem with Africa’s limited connection and power in mind

“Most of the organizations working to increase access to the internet in Africa are dealing with it at the infrastructure level, with satellites or undersea cable, with mobile phone towers — and even balloons and drones,” Hersman told CNN.

Where BRCK fills the gap is in the the last meter of internet connectivity “in the bus stops and kiosks, homes and schools of Africa.” With BRCK, Hersman claims “there will be millions online in schools, in businesses and even retail consumers.”

Powering a digital revolution in schools

There are 410 million school children in Africa, according to the African Development Bank. The vast majority have little access to the internet.

Last year, BRCK rolled out BRCK Education, an initiative built to help solve the problem of providing remote schools with digital material.

“There are certain industries that badly needed what we had built, such as education institutions,” said Hersman.

BRCK’s “Kio Kit” is a customized drop and water-resistant tablet for children within a rugged case. “It allows any teacher to create a digital classroom in just a few minutes,” explained Hersman.

On the outskirts of Nairobi is Lighthouse Grace Academy, the first school to test out BRCK’s Kio Kit, using it in four different classes. Schoolmaster Pastor George Njenga says the invention has so far worked wonders.

“This technology is a great help not only for the teachers but also the students, who are really learning a lot. In fact, sometimes I think they learn more with this kit than with the teacher,” he said.

“I would recommend any school, anywhere in the world, to use it,” added the schoolmaster.

African technology going global

BRCK is proving that African-led solutions can lead the way for tech innovation not just locally, but globally too — and it seems investors agree.

Since 2013, BRCK has sold over 2,500 devices in 54 countries. With $3 million in pocket from supporters including former AOL executives Jean and Steve Case and TED, the company looks set for continued growth in 2016.

“A lot of this funding is earmarked to grow our footprint, distribution and team around BRCK Education across the continent and globally,” said Hersman.


EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program

African engineer

East African Development Bank has launched the EADB Math, Science, Technology and Engineering University Scholarship Program, in partnership with The Africa-America Institute. Scholarships will be available to experienced teachers and lecturers with a bachelor’s degree in math, science, technology and engineering with an interest in pursuing a graduate degree in those fields in the United States at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology, world-class universities less than an hour away from New York City.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be:

  • A university graduate with a Bachelor’s degree with First Class/Upper Second Honours in Mathematics, Sciences or Engineering
  • Under 40 years of age and a citizen of the EADB Member States: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
  • Experienced Teachers and Lecturers of tertiary institutions, secondary schools, and polytechnics with at least 3 years full-time teaching experience
  • Working full-time in public, government owned educational institutions
  • Committed to returning to their home country, to teach in a public government owned institution which is a mandatory requirement
  • Diligent in successfully completing the application process by the allotted deadlines at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology

This fully funded scholarship will provide full tuition, room and living expenses within a stipulated budget.


A qualified scholarship recipient will receive:

  • Full tuition, room and board plus living expenses and student’s annual health insurance so to pursue a Master’s degree in math and engineering.
  • Round-trip ticket to the USA at the beginning of the program and back to their home country in East Africa after the completion of the program.
  • Information about internships at top American and local companies working in Africa.

How do I apply for the scholarship?

Send your application to EADB/AAI to email,, with the below information. All submissions must be in Microsoft Word or PDF format. Terms and conditions apply. Application deadline is January 25, 2016.

  • Your name, age, and contact information including physical address
  • A copy of your Bachelors degree
  • Your final grades
  • One page essay on how you imagine the masters level education would advance your own career; and how you would then make a positive impact in advancing STEM skills development in your home country; also specify  why you should be added to the pool of the applicants who can apply to Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Letter of support from your employer committing to employ you on completion of studies.

Upon review of your application, we will notify those who have been selected to proceed with the application at Rutgers University and New Jersey Institute of Technology.  Only these candidates will be required to take the GRE and TOEFL standardized tests, see details below.

Key deadlines


  • Application deadline at Rutgers University for Master applicants: March 31, 2016
  • First day of school at Rutgers University for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016

Note: International students’ orientation week is the last week in August each year. 

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

  • Application deadline at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Master applicants: May 1, for the Fall and November 15 for the Spring Semester.
  • First day of school at New Jersey Institute of Technology for Bachelor and Master: September 6, 2016.

International Standardized Test Dates [PDF] for GRE and TOEFL

If you are invited to formally apply for the scholarship you will be required to take these two standardized tests.  Both of these exams are offered at testing centers in the following countries (and are administered as a digital internet based exam.

GRE:  You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-800-473-2255

The cost of the exam is $195. USD  The exam is offered Year-Round Monday through Saturdays at testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home.  If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

TOEFL: You can register for the test online or by telephone by calling +1-609-771-7100

The cost of the exam is $190. USD   The exam is offered at various dates throughout the year, at their testing sites in East Africa.  Call the number above or visit their website to determine the test center closest to your home. If visiting the website, create a User Account and then select your home country before registering for a Test Site.

Confirmed TOEFL test sites include: Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

For both the GRE and the TOEFL, if an applicant cannot get to physically attend a test center, then a Paper Test can be ordered and sent to your home.

Note: International Applicants: It is recommended that international students begin the application process six months prior to the start of the semester to allow sufficient time for processing international credentials and applying for a student visa.

Student Visas:  Students who are accepted into the program as an EADB Math and Engineering University Scholar will be required to comply with all relevant student visa rules and regulations.  Valid student visas are required to apply to the Department of Homeland Security for admission into the United States at the port of entry. Students’ Form I-20 document (F and M visas) or DS-2019 document (J visas), which are issued by their institution, will allow them to maintain student status in the United States even if a visa expires during their studies. Click here for more information on the student visas. 

Contact us: For more information about the EADB Math and Engineering University Scholarship Program, please visit

The Partners

The Africa-America Institute

Founded in 1953, The Africa-America Institute (AAI) is a premier U.S.-based international organization dedicated to strengthening human capacity of Africans and promoting the continent’s development through higher education and skills training, convening activities, program implementation and management.  AAI raises funds to develop programs that focus on leadership and management, vocational training and entrepreneurship to help African youth develop leadership skills, become globally competitive and find sustainable employment.

East African Development Bank (EADB)

The East African Development Bank (EADB) was established in 1967 with the remit to provide financial and other support to its member countries, which currently are Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.  Burundi has applied to become a member state.  It was re-established under its own charter in 1980 after the break-up of the East African Co-operation in 1977. The new charter opened up the Bank to a wider membership and allowed for the introduction of consulting and advisory services.

The EADB’s loan portfolio is spread widely, but more than 60% of its lending is to projects in health and education, hotels and tourism, construction and building, electricity and water, and agriculture, all of which are central to the current and future prosperity of the region and its people.  EADB sees education as immensely important for the future of East Africa.

University Partners

RutgersRutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Rutgers is a leading national research university and the state of New Jersey’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Established in 1766 and celebrating a milestone 250th anniversary in 2016, the university is the eighth oldest higher education institution in the United States. More than 67,000 students and 22,000 faculty and staff learn, work, and serve the public at Rutgers locations across New Jersey and around the world.

Rutgers University campus comprises:


NJITNew Jersey Institute of Technology

We’re proud of our 130 years of history, but that’s only the beginning of our story – we’ve doubled the size of our campus in the last decade, pouring millions into major new research facilities to give our students the edge they need in today’s demanding high-tech marketplace.

NJIT offers 125 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in six specialized schools instructed by expert faculty, 98 percent of whom hold the highest degree in their field.  We have amazing students from all over the world, and we rank #1 in New Jersey in awarding engineering degrees to African-American and Hispanic students.

(All Africa) 10 Things to Watch in Africa in 2016

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of DRC. Photo Credit: Paul Kagame

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and President Joseph Kabila of DRC.
Photo Credit: Paul Kagame


By Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen

Staying Power: Referenda in the Republic of Congo and Rwanda have paved the way for presidents Sassou Nguesso and Kagame to extend their tenures. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), President Kabila appears intent on remaining in power beyond the end of his second term in November 2016. Kabila’s political machinations have been met with violent protest and international opprobrium. By contrast in Benin, incumbent president Boni Yayi has resolved to step down when he completes his second term in February 2016.

Africa Debt Rising: Sovereign bond issuance rose dramatically as commodity markets peaked in 2014, before tailing off as the price of oil and export minerals collapsed. With budget deficits approaching unsustainable levels in many countries and the supply of cheap debt in decline, some African governments face tough choices – cut spending or dramatically improve domestic revenue collection. This new reality will be inescapable for Zambia and Ghana in an election year. In 2015, their currencies were devalued substantially and visits from the IMF further raised concerns about the sustainability of debt levels. 2016 may see the IMF revert to a more familiar role of supervising austerity measures, albeit in a less conspicuous fashion than during the structural adjustment era; whilst Ghana accepted IMF support, Zambia has so far rejected a financial bailout package.

Economic Opportunity: African economies that rely heavily on oil and other commodity exports – including Nigeria, Angola and Zambia – continue to suffer due to low or declining prices. But this setback also provides an opportunity to focus on diversifying their economies. In Nigeria, there is much talk of revitalising agriculture. In East Africa, efforts are being made to reduce economic inefficiencies and improve productivity: progress in regional telecom reform, for example, demonstrates much from which the rest of the continent can learn.

Insecurity in Nigeria: Many Nigerians voted for Muhammadu Buhari because of his campaign commitments to tackle corruption and defeat Boko Haram. The arrest of former National Security Adviser Sambo Dasuki for allegedly overseeing illicit and financially fraudulent transactions worth billions of naira is highly symbolic. Despite an announcement that the government has “technically won the war” against the Boko Haram insurgency, military action has not yet been convincing and the threat remains. The renegotiation of the Niger Delta amnesty and recent agitation by Biafran separatists illustrate the security challenges facing Buhari’s government.

Urban Transport: In September 2015 Addis Ababa opened the first part of a new 17km light rail system funded in part by Chinese investment. A similar venture that forms part of the urban plan in Lagos has been beset by delays. However, Governor Ambode of Lagos State has promised that the first line will be operational by December 2016. Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system failed to open as planned in October 2015 but is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016. New urban transport networks will need to be affordable for the everyday commuter if they are to successfully reduce congestion and improve the productivity of cities.

Flying Donkeys: The world’s first civilian cargo drone station is set to open in Rwanda in 2016. “Flying donkeys” will be capable of carrying small packages across distances of up to 80km and could help to overcome some infrastructure challenges. Regulation concerning the use of unmanned vehicles is in the process of being drafted by Rwanda’s civil aviation authority and a successful pilot should see a nationwide network of cargo drone routes established.


Sorting out the Union: The post-election crisis in Zanzibar has highlighted the shortcomings of Tanzania’s current political configuration and reignited calls for power to be shared more equitably among the constituent parts of the Union. Tanzania remains the only African nation to possess a dual-government structure, a lopsided arrangement that falls short of being a fully-fledged federation. Zanzibar retains its own executive, legislature, and judicial system; while a parliament in Dodoma and a president in Dar es Salaam take decisions for both the mainland and the Union as a whole. Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, may consider constitutional reform as a solution to the impasse in Zanzibar; however, he will face resistance from his own party, which has repeatedly rejected changes to the status quo.

The Prominence of Social Media: African youth harnessed the potential of modern communication tools to mobilise protests in Burkina Faso and South Africa, successfully preventing a military coup and halting significant rises in university tuition fees. Twitter hashtags are becoming important tools for mobilisation and are likely to become more prominent as the cost of communication decreases. Governments are already responding to this perceived threat. Tanzania rushed through four pieces of legislation relating to access to information, media, statistics and cybercrime in 2015, while Nigeria may adopt a social media bill in 2016.

The Battle for the ANC: In South Africa, rumours have been circulating about plots to oust President Zuma mid-term. Zuma famously usurped Mbeki as ANC president at the national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, positioning him to become head of state, following the April 2009 elections. Zuma’s decision to fire Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister was an assertion of his authority that backfired. With the ruling party likely to lose control of important metropolitan authorities at municipal elections in 2016, the campaign to succeed Zuma will dominate South African politics right up until the next ANC national conference in December 2017.

A Changing Climate: In 2015, flooding in Freetown and Accra devastated urban areas whilst El Niño brought drought to rural Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Unpredictable weather will be a continuing feature in years to come, despite the agreement reached at COP21 in Paris. Long term commitments can work alongside short-term solutions: improved urban management and support for the growing of drought resistant crops like finger millet. But weather can also offer opportunity for the continent. Renewable energy, in particular solar, wind and geothermal, has been cited as a key avenue for tackling the power deficit on the continent by African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina.

Nick Branson and Jamie Hitchen are researchers at ARI.

SweepSouth wants more African startups in US accelerators (IT News Africa)

Applications are open for the next batch of 500 Startups companies, and home cleaning platform SweepSouth, which has just returned from its four-month programme in San Francisco, believes that more African entrepreneurs should be taking up the chance.

Aisha Pandor, CEO and co-founder of SweepSouth says, “We are going to be working with Silicon Cape to support other local startups apply to this programme. While the $125k investment was obviously very helpful and we are putting much of that towards expanding our team, it was the exposure to the 500 Startups ecosystem that was the true value of the experience.”

Aisha Pandor, CEO and co-founder of SweepSouth.

As an on-demand service, SweepSouth was matched with companies and mentors with years of experience in the space. “It’s impossible to put a value on what sharing experiences with others in different markets, with different business strategies and plans, has on how we as a team think about our business,” says Pandor.

“In fact, the most important outcome of the four-months has been our connection to a global ecosystem of 500 Startups companies and individuals. We have access to the most incredible people in the 500 Startups network (e.g. Sean Ellis of Growth Hackers, Hiten Shah of Kissmetrics), knowledge and support and have already been able to use it to improve how we approach our next funding round and our growth strategy for the business.”

When discussing 500 Startups, Pandor points out that its focus on including diverse people and startups in its portfolio is another important factor that made the experience so powerful. “Almost 40% of the companies in our batch were from outside the US. Having that global mindset is powerful because it means we don’t just get stuck in valley-thinking.”

Pandor believes that African startups are in an excellent position to take advantage of international opportunities like Y-Combinator and 500 Startups. “The US market is pretty mature and there is a good understanding of how emerging our tech space is by comparison. There are opportunities in Africa and other world markets and don’t exist in the US so the smart investors are starting to look outside America,” says Pandor.

Another benefit of African startups is the aggressive focus on revenue. “A real confidence booster was that when we benchmarked ourselves against other startups in the batch, even when converting Rands to Dollars, we were at a very competitive and respectable level. We believe that it’s because our smaller market means startups need to validate well and to monetize earlier. So in general SA startups solve  very real and relevant problems, and we find out what’s working and what isn’t within a shorter period of time,” says Pandor. This focus on applying their solution to a very relevant local problem was part of what won their pitch a spot as one of TechCrunch’s 9 Favourite Companies to pitch at Demo Day.

When discussing what comes next for SweepSouth, Pandor says, “It’s all about scale. We are want to expand further than the cities we are currently operating in and this is very challenging because as much as we are a technology business, we also put people into homes and businesses and this human experience is critical to our long-term success. One of our first appointments when we got back was a PhD in applied mathematics, to lead our efforts in solving some of the fun and challenging logistical and profile matching problems we’re facing.”

“Our priorities now are working further to make the end to end process as hassle-free for customers as possible, while continuing to ensure that cleaners have access to work opportunities at decent rates,” concludes Pandor.

SweepSouth is currently recruiting software engineers, among other positions. If you’re keen to join a #500Strong company, then click here.

Read More at IT News Africa 

Microsoft Translator to support Kiswahili

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by Staff Writer

Microsoft has unveiled the launch of Kiswahili text translation which is, according to the company, the first African language to be supported by the company’s automatic translation service – Microsoft Translator.

Microsoft revealed that the translation system was created in collaboration with Translators without Borders, a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to increase access to knowledge through humanitarian translations.

According to Microsoft, translation to Kiswahili will be available throughout the Microsoft Translator ecosystem of supported products, thus empowering individuals and organisations through fast and cost-effective translation. The translation system aims at increasing access to knowledge as well as encouraging intercultural communication by creating new language systems.

Kiswahili will also be available as an instant messaging language in Skype for Windows Desktop for real-time communication around the world.

Speaking at the launch, Microsoft’s Kenya Country Manager Kunle Awosika said that through the new translation system, governments in the region will be able to make documents and information available at virtually no cost. In addition, both government and non-governmental organisations will be able to quickly communicate with locals, and most importantly, people will be able to communicate back and forth across borders for both business and personal purposes.

“Adding Kiswahili brings us one step closer to our ultimate goal—permanently breaking down the language barriers that separate us by allowing people to translate anything, anywhere, at any time.  Kiswahili speakers in East Africa and around the globe now have access to a wider range of information and culture, and can interact with speakers of the 50 languages supported by Microsoft Translator. What’s more, speakers of these languages now also have direct access to the rich history and culture of Kiswahili speakers far and wide,” Mr. Awosika concluded.

Kiswahili will also be available as an instant messaging language in Skype for Windows Desktop for real-time communication around the world. In addition, developers will be able to integrate Kiswahili translation into their own products and apps through the Microsoft Translator API.

The IT News Africa