Fourth Industrial Revolution – Image credit: cxo transform
At the beginning of the year, I stumbled upon a movie called The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The movie which is based on a true story is an inspirational film which reflects the realities and the impact of poverty, climate change and poor governance amongst many other themes. However, the one theme that resonated with me most is education. The young boy fuelled by his love for science and technology and the desire to understand the subject, manages to solve a water crisis in his community by successfully building a large windmill that powers an electric water pump.
After watching this incredibly strong and practical representation of how Science and Technology can be used as a tool to solve problems faced by communities, I wondered, what if this 4th industrial revolution wave is an opportunity for South Africans to interrogate its relationship with science, after all, it is about new technology advancements. I wondered, what if this 4th industrial revolution is demanding that as South Africans we engage in open conversations about what science means to us as a collective?
Undoubtedly, the 4th industrial revolution is a very important aspect of an ever-changing science and technology landscape. However, just like the 1st, 2nd and 3rd revolution it will pass. Very soon if not already, the world will introduce the 5th industrial revolution –while we will still be grappling with the 4th. We therefore must be careful not to limit the science narrative in the country to just the 4th industrial revolution if the intention is to champion science and innovation that is fit for context.
Instead, there needs to be a concerted effort by government to promote the development of indigenous innovations that respond to the rising inequality, poverty and unemployment faced by many underdeveloped communities. Therefore in my view, the 4th industrial revolution should be seen by South Africans as an era that demands a more intentional definition of how science and technology ought to be used to uplift communities.
With that in mind, I am reminded that, the revolution cannot be defined without those who live the day to day realities of the triple challenge. Historically, the science and technology conversation was reserved for industry and white old males. Years later, the face of this sector is changing and while science research relevant for industry is still very much at the helm, added emphasis is now being placed on doing research for social impact.
Therefore, with this element now on the table, the conversation is incomplete without two-way engagements with underdeveloped communities who are in dire need for innovative and scientific driven solutions.
So, we must be relentless in creating inclusive spaces of engagement around science and innovation. The risk that we run as a country, of limiting the conversation to captains of industry and government is that, the interpretation of science in the era of 4IR becomes one-dimensional.
However, when we expand the conversation to teachers, young scientists and engineers, professionals, students, unemployed persons, entrepreneurs and the pensioner, the conversation changes. Pertinent questions like how should science in the 4IR era be translating in our public school system? How is it translating in underdeveloped communities and what are the shortfalls?
And for an entrepreneur, the question is very much about, how does it enable me to create more jobs and products/services fit for my context?
It is in such moments, when we come together as a collective, that we become more intentional about how science and innovation will drive and achieve meaningful socio-economic development. Further, it compels us to zoom into what does the face of socio-economic development look like for different sectors of society and more importantly, what problems science and innovation need to be solving in order to achieve this goal?
The inability for us to understand this on a much deeper level will have us shooting in the dark and adopting technologies and systems that are not fit for context and will only widen the gap.
So, before we make sweeping statements about bullet-trains and creating smart cities, we must get the fundamentals right. The unfortunate reality is, majority of public schools, especially in black communities, do not have science laboratories and equipment – a key component that gives a child the opportunity to “practicalise” science.
Innovation and incubation hubs should not just reside in the cities, when we know that as a country, we have an issue of accessibility due to the historical context of spatial planning. If driving socio-economic development through science and innovation is part of the countries agenda, we must invest in a skills retention strategy and building infrastructure for underdeveloped communities that will promote a culture of innovation and inspire an inclusive economy that responds to the triple challenges.
A meaningful revolution is not birthed by a passing wave, instead, it is founded on a strong foundation that has an appreciation for getting the fundamentals right. So in as much as the concept of the 4th industrial revolution sounds exciting, the vision has to be bigger than that.
The vision has to be driven by government and industry in collaboration with the young scientists and engineers, the entrepreneur, the student, the learner and the unemployed member of the community. When we do this as a collective, a shared meaning of how science and innovation translates into socio-economic development can be established.
I am convinced now more than ever, that no revolution for us, whether political or industrial, should be defined without us!
By Chumisa Ndlazi
Waxed: Revolutionising Africa’s Transport Industry
Waxd Group CEO, Anthony Stewart (Image & Article: Waxd)
An estimated 70% of Africa’s urban population live in informal settlement housing. They rely on privately-owned minibus taxis and public bus transport systems to travel to work, send their children to school, and live out their day-to-day lives. The need for digital payment and cashless fare collection solutions – that provide a secure and seamless way for people to access the routes they use every single day – is critical.
Digital payment systems for the transport industry will remove the need for physical tickets and cash payments, and speed up transactions and transport times. With public transport spending accounting for up to 10% of consumer income in Africa, the implications for the transport industry are vast. South Africa alone has over 200,000 minibus taxis transporting more than 15 million commuters daily.
The Waxd story started when Waxd patented a method for processing app payments through EFT rails, cutting merchant fees from 2-3.5% to 0.4%. Although the idea was good, it needed the co-operation of the banks. This was not very forthcoming as the solution would cost the banks in transaction revenues. After months of frustration, Waxd decided to look at areas of innovation where the banks had failed.
Waxd provides an accessible payment solution that enables public transport drivers to accept different payment methods from passengers, including biometric and prepaid cards which can be recharged by commuters to pay for their rides. Transport operators, owners and drivers can also track their revenue in real-time and manage their fleet with improved efficiency and transparency.
An informal, unregulated transport industry leads to many challenges being faced by all stakeholders. A digital payment system leads to a simpler, safer payment solution for all – from commuters and drivers, to owners and government.
The Africa transport revolution is happening at a rapid rate, and Waxd is at the forefront of developments – committed to providing technologically-advanced payment solutions and to enabling financial inclusion for everyone.
The State of AI in Africa: 2022 Report
The State of AI in Africa Report launch was held on the 14th June at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Pretoria, South Africa and co-hosted by the World Economic Forum Centre for the 4IR South Africa and City of Tshwane. This 32-page report will appeal to analysts, enterprises, channel managers, governments, VCs or investors, NGOs, Embassies, trade missions and regional promotion agencies who are seeking deeper insights about the dynamics of this rapidly growing frontier tech market.
A key finding was just how cross cutting this technology is, with South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya dominating this sector and AI impacting at least 120+ separate market segments across Africa. Privately owned SMMEs or Micro businesses make up 75% of this sector, 40% of which were founded in the last 5 years, showing the importance nation states need to place on supporting their local tech ecosystems.
It’s also attracting serious capital, with Tunisian AI start-up InstaDeep receiving $100m USD Series A funding earlier in 2022. The global AI market is also projected to grow from $387 Bn USD in 2022 to $1,394 Bn by 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 20%. Bradshaw concluded, “It’s a positive sign that this technology and the growing regional AI start-up ecosystems can win big across Africa if these trends continue.”
A copy of the report can be obtained online here.
The AI Media Group is a South African based industry analysis, publishing & business events consultancy specializing in the 4IR or smart tech sector in Africa. They are curators of AI Expo Africa, the continent’s largest B2B/B2G Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) trade show and publishers of Synapse, the first quarterly trade magazine charting Africa’s 4IR innovation journey. The group also runs AI TV which hosts discussions on trends in AI and 4IR technologies with local, regional and global thought leaders.
Digital Asset Marketplace in a Web3 Economy with Chains CEO
The digital asset landscape has been evolving over the past decade since blockchain technology made it possible to exchange value digitally. This was not previously possible before the launch of the Bitcoin network by Satoshi Nakamoto due to the double-spend problem.
A crypto exchange is effectively a marketplace where people buy and sell cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The first well-known example of such a platform was Mt Gox which appeared in 2010, created by Jed McCaleb who is also co-founder and the Chief Technology Officer of Stellar – a payment network blockchain ecosystem focused on enabling low-cost cross-border transactions. The exchange imploded when it got hacked for hundreds of thousands of bitcoins and following that, many other exchanges started popping up, promising better security and liquidity.
The industry has evolved since then. Now there are hundreds of crypto exchanges – centralised and decentralised, custodial and non-custodial, from peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Paxful to order-book based exchanges such as Binance. These digital asset marketplaces also offer different services from spot to futures trading, savings products, NFT marketplaces and so much more.
Chains.com hopes to become one of the new market leaders by introducing a comprehensive offering that amalgamates all the different crypto products and services into an all-in-one platform. In this interview, Anderson Mccutcheon, CEO of Chains.com gives insights into the future of crypto marketplaces. Excerpts below:
BAO: How would you best describe Chains?
Anderson: Chains is a MetaFi platform, aimed at the next generation of web3 users. A single account, connected to multiple products, that are connected to multiple blockchains. Our goal is to cater to users that want to utilise cryptocurrency and NFT products, without having to learn the underlying technology.
BAO: There are already many crypto projects offering launchpads, exchanges and marketplaces. Why does space need a platform like Chains?
Anderson: For the same reason the world needs an Apple and a Samsung. A Ferrari and a Lamborghini. Variety and competition breed excellence and better results for users. We see what happens in markets where few players dominate – innovation slows down and users get locked into mediocre products.
BAO: Is Chains an open-source project and are you building on or integrating with any public blockchains?
Anderson: We are integrating with multiple blockchains that are open to various degrees. We natively support ETH, Polygon, BSC and TRON, with our generation-1 products. We will definitely be introducing more support for more blockchains and products in the immediate future.
BAO: What are the components of the Chains blockchain ecosystem? Can you share some key insights into your technology stack?
Anderson: Chains is not a technology company. Just like Coinbase isn’t. We are a product company that uses hundreds of technologies at any given time. We are part of the Amazon Activate program and our centralised services are mostly AWS-powered.
BAO: Are you looking to bring NFTs to your ecosystem in the future? In what ways will NFTs be used within your ecosystem?
Anderson: NFTs are an integral part of our ecosystem. We are conducting one of the biggest NFT allocations in the world with the Deep Space Society GEN-0 drop. 1 million NFTs allocated on Polygon.
BAO: What is a CHA token and can you describe its utility or tokenomics?
Anderson: It’s a utility token that is the backbone of our product ecosystem. Not using CHA and using Chains would mean paying more fees, not having access to certain stages of token sales and advanced marketplace features.
BAO: When can people expect the token sale?
Anderson: We are currently in the pre-sale phase, an opportunity that hasn’t presented itself in years where those who believe in the project can buy into a blue-chip ICO. It’s been a long time since a CeFi/MetaFi platform has conducted a token sale in this way for early adopters.
BAO: Is the sale subject to any regulatory oversight and will you be accepting accredited investors?
Anderson: Yes. We have successfully completed SEC 506c compliance, meaning we are not only compliant, but we can market openly to accredited investors from the US.
BAO: Currently you have one of the most popular whitelists in the entire crypto space, what do you think makes a good crypto project?
Anderson: A strong team, a financial model that has been tested and proven to be working, a multi-year roadmap and a track record of delivering.
BAO: What is vCHA and how can people earn or acquire some?
Anderson: vCHA is a non-currency issued to our early adopters. You can accumulate it by registering, filling out your profile and inviting others to the platform. vCHA is converted into a permanent discount on the platform (which includes the upcoming CHA token sale) , which is the equivalent of staking $5000.
BAO: What can the community expect next from your roadmap?
Anderson: Launchpad comes first. Our goal is to showcase our ability to deliver world class products that can serve hundreds of thousands of users. Prism, our Analytics product, will also be launching this year, and will set a new standard for what a portfolio and asset tracking system should look like.