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The 4th Industrial Revolution: An Opportunity For South Africa To Define Its Relationship With Science And Innovation

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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.

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

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

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AOC dazzles visitors with a special game room at GITEX Technology 2021

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AOC Sales Director Middle East & Africa, Carol Ann Dias (Image: Hazem Abed)

AOC, the world’s leading manufacturer of computer monitors, highlights its presence at GITEX Technology Week 2021 through their authorized distributor, Hiperdist. At GITEX, AOC is showcasing a special game room where visitors can get try out the latest lineup of gaming monitors, some of which are made for professional e-gamers.

“Being one of the largest information technology exhibitions not just in the region but the whole world, AOC would not want to miss the opportunity to participate at GITEX 2021,” said Carol Ann Dias, Sales Director Middle East & Africa at AOC. “More than making our presence felt at the show, we are now focusing on emerging markets which is why we have partnered with Hiperdist due to their strong presence in the MEA region,” she added.

Some of AOC’s well-known monitors that include the Agon and the G2 line up are all on display at GITEX. Where visitors are encouraged to try out the new displays that offer some of the best technologies that make it fit for the gaming crowd.

Already a top choice by gaming professionals, the AGON AG352UCG6 features a 35-inch display with a 120HZ refresh rate. The curved design supports a WQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution that has 2.4x more pixels than a standard widescreen monitor. It also features a lighting panel at its rear which can be customized in colours of red, green or blue.

Also on display is the AOC C27G2 gaming monitor that comes in a 27-inch size with a 165Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 1ms response time for more accurate play. And Freesync support so high-intensity games are razor-sharp without ghosting.

Visitors can join and experience AOC monitors at the Hiperdist stand in Hall 3 E1 at GITEX Technology Week in the Dubai World Trade Centre.

 

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Philips Introduces Momentum 559M1RYV 4K HDR display with Ambiglow for Xbox

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Philips 55 lifestyle in situ Xbox (Image: Supplied)

MMD, the leading display specialist and brand license partner for Philips monitors, today announced the release of the world’s first designed for Xbox console gaming monitor. Philips Momentum 559M1RYV featuring 55-inch panel size boosting 3840×2160 resolution with 4K / 144Hz, 4ms GTG response time, and many other features that will be available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan.

4K HDR display with Ambiglow 559M1RYV/01 | Philips

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Design and Sound

This new “Philips Momentum 559M1RYV” bears the name Momentum 559M1RYV and bears the same exterior appearance as the previous version, including the adoption of a VA LCD panel with a W-LED backlight system with Ambiglow technology that adds a new dimension to your viewing experience. Innovative Ambiglow technology creates an aura of light on the surrounding wall from behind the screen panel. Its fast processor analyzes the content of the displayed image, and continuously adapts the color and brightness of the emitted light to match the displayed image. This technology also helps reduce eye strain to enjoy the scenes, it also supports DisplayHDR 1000 standard. The gaming monitor includes a specially designed speaker enclosure from the engineers at Bowers & Wilkins, the British loudspeaker company globally renowned for their innovative designs and sound engineering, that completes the experience.

Pankaj Budhiraja, Category Manager – Philips Monitor – Middle East & Africa, said: “The new Philips Momentum monitor offers unique user experience especially for gamers who demand exceptional graphic quality display and flicker-free pictures. This monitor is a wholesome entertainment package with build-in stereophonic speakers, sharp picture quality, vibrant colors and dynamic contrast and excellent resolution”.

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Performance

Philips Momentum 559M1RYV including Displayport 1.4, a USB-B port along with 4 USB 3.2 ports, two of them with fast charging. The Philips Momentum Monitor delivers designed for Xbox validates performance with ultra-clera 4K resolution at a minimum 120Hz refresh rate. 3840×2160 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a good response time of 4ms, as for the brightness rate in the mode up to 750cd / m2, while in the HDR mode it reaches 1200cd / m2. As for the color weight, we will notice that it offers DCI-P3 color gamut with 95% coverage, NTSC color gamut with 104% coverage, and sRGB with 125% coverage.

“As Philips always prioritizes user health, we introduce Ambiglow technology for eye-friendly productivity and a premium sound system. The monitor been extensively tested, and validated by engineers at Microsoft and MMD to ensure perfect compatibility, Philips Momentum meet’s the high expectations of the Xbox fans, creating an integrated gaming atmosphere to enjoy.” Budhiraja added.

Key features for Philips Momentum 559M1RYV:

  • Screen size: 55-inch
  • Resolution: 3840 x 2160 UHD 4K
  • Panel type: VA
  • Refresh rate: 120Hz (HDMI 2.1); 144Hz (DisplayPort 1.4)
  • Response time: 4ms
  • Aspect ratio: 16:9
  • V-Sync method: Adaptive Sync
  • Contrast ratio: 4,000:1
  • Ports: HDMI 2.1 (x3), DisplayPort 1.4 (x1), USB-C (x1), USB-B (x1), USB 3.2 (x4)
  • Ambiglow: 3-sided
  • Power supply: Internal, 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz

 The Philips Momentum 559M1RYV monitor is available through MMD authorised distributors in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan and comes with a standard 3-year warranty, and EUP in UAE AED 6999*.

 

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GSMA Report 2021: Over Half World’s Population Now Using Mobile Internet

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The GSMA has launched its global State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021 showing that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the world’s population is now using the mobile internet. Mobile internet usage translates to just over 4 billion connected people,  225 million more compared to 2019, and up from a third of people globally just six years ago.

Even with this impressive growth in mobile internet connectivity, both in terms of mobile internet coverage and usage, the report highlights that work must accelerate to bridge the digital divide. Of the 3.8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage, (“the coverage gap”). The coverage gap represents a significant improvement year on year.

The far bigger challenge is the 3.4 billion people who live in areas that are already covered by mobile broadband, but are not using it, (“the usage gap”).

The report examines trends in the coverage and usage of mobile internet over the last six years and identifies the key barriers to mobile internet adoption. It also looks at the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the most significant regional effects. Finally, it makes recommendations to help close the digital divide and ensure greater access to mobile internet connectivity.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the importance of mobile internet access to people’s lives and livelihoods and has accelerated the digital transformation around the world. Mobile  is the primary and often the only way to access the internet in low- and middle-income countries. While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using mobile internet. To close this usage gap, all of us – government and industry – need to do more,” says the GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti. “In particular, we must address the key barriers to usage of mobile internet services, most notably literacy and digital skills, as well as affordability. Only through targeted and collaborative action can we bridge the digital divide.”

Coverage and usage gap in mobile internet is narrowing

During the last six years, the coverage gap has continued to narrow: 

  • In 2014, almost a quarter of the world’s population did not have access to a mobile broadband network. 
  • By the end of 2020, that figure was only 6%.  
  • Now, 94% of the world’s population has access to a broadband network, with most progress between 2014 and 2018. 
  • In 2020, global coverage increased by one percentage point, from 93% to 94%. This reduced the number of people living in areas without a mobile broadband network to 450 million. Those who remain uncovered typically live in sparsely populated rural areas with difficult terrain.

The number of people using mobile internet has also increased for the second year in a row: 

  • However, the usage gap remains large and accounts for the majority of the unconnected. 
  • In 2020, 3.4 billion people (43% of the world’s population) lived within the footprint of a mobile broadband network but were not accessing mobile internet services. 
  • Although the usage gap is narrowing, it is now seven times larger than the coverage gap. 
  • In 2014, the usage gap accounted for 64% of the total unconnected population – this figure grew to 88% by 2020 due to the increase in mobile broadband coverage.  
  • Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) now account for almost 93% of the world’s unconnected population and more than 98% of the uncovered population.  
  • Between 2019 and 2020, the most significant increase in mobile internet usage is in East Asia (61%), which grew by 4%. 

Barriers to mobile internet usage 

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mobile internet connectivity to the social and economic well-being of people around the world. People with mobile internet access were able to stay connected with friends and family, conduct business, gain access to critical information and services, and otherwise ease the monotony of lockdown life. Yet 47% of the population in LMICs are still not using the mobile internet despite living within mobile broadband network coverage.

Key barriers include: 

  • Lack of awareness of mobile internet and its benefits, literacy, and digital skills make up the largest barrier to adoption. Nearly a quarter of adults across the report’s surveyed countries are not aware of mobile internet and its benefits. 
  • Affordability: internet-enabled handsets and data became less affordable in many LMICs in 2020 due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These barriers often disproportionately affect specific segments of the population, especially people living in rural areas and women. 

A Collaborative Approach 

The global climate challenge shows that mobile connectivity can be a lifeline for people during crises, re-emphasising the importance of doing more to improve access to mobile services.  The only way to close the digital divide is through a strong collective effort to address people’s barriers to accessing and using mobile internet. It requires targeted action by all stakeholders including mobile operators, policymakers, government and the broader private sector. 

This report is the output of a project funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The views expressed are not necessarily those of either organisation.

The GSMA’s State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2021 is available at: www.gsma.com/somic

 

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