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    South African government has launched its own official app store and is inviting local developers to register

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Saturday, 21 May - 19:55 · 1 minute

DigiTech is a digital products portal of South Africa that is supported by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies. The purpose of DigiTech is to collect data about digital products developed in South Africa with an aim of supporting the products’ technology enablement and promote and expand their adoption and use. Through DigiTech, the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies seeks to promote SA developed digital products in other markets whilst facilitating partnerships with other countries on co-promotion of local technologies.

The Marketplace shows some really interesting government / citizen related apps. So it is not clear if this site will merely promote suitable apps, that are then downloaded from the actual Apple, Android, and other apps stores. The Marketplace page contains no links at all to any of the actual apps being promoted. SA Government already actually has a single central portal for citizens, called eServices. I would have thought that would also have been the place for citizens, not only to transact with gov, but to also obtain this information about mobile apps to use.

So yes, an early review by Business Insider, was not glowing about this site at all. It is possibly because it is not well explained how it fits into the existing ecosystem of services and apps by government for citizens. It also has a few grammar errors, and no secure SSL certificate. The eServices site also started out with lots of fanfare a few years ago, but no-one speaks about it really in the media any more. This new site does not even link to the eServices site.

Besides that, though, the initiative is a good one to promote local developers and apps that will assist citizens.


#technology #southafrica #government #mobileapps #DigiTech

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    iSinkwe app, developed by CSIR in South Africa, can help children with their reading and listening skills in all 11 official SA languages

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Friday, 20 May - 11:53

The app, called iSinkwe – the isiZulu word for a bushbaby – adds and synchronises human-narrated or computer-generated audio to text. It aims to make textbooks, class notes and other documents more accessible to learners by making reading and learning more interactive.

iSinkwe functions by adding audio, which can be recorded manually by someone or generated by a computer using a standard Electronic Publication Version Three (EPUB3) document, to text documents.

There is already an Android app, with an iOS app and a Windows store app still to follow.


#technology #SouthAfrica #reading #literacy #education

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    Disney+ vs Netflix — South African libraries and features compared

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Tuesday, 10 May - 09:18

A Disney+ subscription in South Africa will offer less than half the titles available on Netflix but boasts superior features at a lower price.

Disney+ is launching locally on 18 May 2022, with a monthly price of R119 or an annual subscription of R1,190.

Walt Disney Africa recently provided a complete list of all of the content that will be available on the service. These include popular movies and TV shows from Disney’s Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and National Geographic properties. It will also boast a wide range of adult-focused movies and TV shows from its Star catalogue, including content created by FX, 20th Century Studios, and 20th Century TV.

The linked article helps highlight many of those differences for South Africans. What we don't see though is what epic movies may be available on Disney that South Africa's are currently not getting on Netflix, as that could be a decider for many.


#technology #southafrica #streaming #netflix #disney

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    Microsoft is tied to Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Foreign Bribes, Whistleblower Alleges

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Monday, 28 March - 09:59 · 3 minutes

Although Microsoft claims this was 'dealt' with a while ago, the question should be asked whether it was criminally investigated. Otherwise, this would be much like the UK Government whitewashing their own Christmas parties during lockdown.

I spent many years doing IT business within government, and although I was never approached with a potential bribe, I did witness a lot of unethical practices around Microsoft deals, and I watched Microsoft's grip get ever tighter and wider across Government (below is my own opinion based on my experiences and e-mails):

  1. In South Africa, although Microsoft had offices in the country, they insisted in invoicing from their Ireland HO in US$. This meant they did not collect or pay any VAT within the country (unlike other suppliers). This had a twofold effect: Their prices appeared cheaper than competitors, but the client departments were not reminded that they were supposed to go declare and pay the VAT themselves. A third issue is that the bulk of the funds went out as Forex, with only the few percent markup being returned in Rands to pay the resellers. This was confirmed with the Revenue officials. You can blame the government departments, but as the seller, MS was not giving the whole picture.
  2. The MS Enterprise Agreement signed with SA government was supposed to be an enabling agreement (similar to the agreements with Oracle, SUSE, and others), yet most departments were under the impression it was a "contract" and they could just buy any new product off it without testing the market. There were certainly good competing products on other contracts for project management, operating systems, databases, e-mail, and more, yet the requests would go through as "existing contract". It was Treasury's intention that the market always be tested before purchasing a "new" solution. If you have bought the OS and MS Office, a project management solution is a new solution. Yet if a department were to consider buying off some else's contract, MS would be quick to point out the market must be tested first. Yes a lot of this is "advice" behind the scenes, but I do have one e-mail thread where this was thrashed out in writing with Microsoft. Again, though, one could blame the departments themselves, except for in my e-mail the Microsoft Reseller was vigorously defending their view.
  3. We all know South Africa had a MIOS interoperability standard approved. This was to ensure that any software implemented (whether FOSS, proprietary, cloud or otherwise) could exchange information using these international open standards. Yet we saw tenders going out with no requirements stated for interoperability (every tender is supposed to get a certification against standards). Again one could blame government officials as it is they who are supposed to apply this. But I have so often seen that departments are misguided by resellers who punt their product (often even stating it is the only available product - no it's not there are plenty of office suites, project management, e-mail solutions). Interestingly enough, we have an Eastern Cape District Municipality that runs fully on free and open source software - why only them, though?

"Advice" though, is a lot more subtle than actual bribery, and in many cases it is resellers who are at the forefront, not the OEM. Officials too are ignorant around firstly the detail of their own policies, but also in terms of market awareness (the latter also comes from speaking far and wide with other resellers). SA did create the State IT Agency to help fulfil some of this specialised knowledge gap, but even there the same effects were often present. There was even a point in time when some strong vendors stopped approaching IT officials, and instead targeted senior managers without technical experience. SA probably fell down a bit with not declaring strong open standards as well as potential default products to achieve them, with a special motivation required for anything else. The closer we move to cloud too, the more we will lose the specialised IT skills on the ground, as the concentration of expertise moves towards the cloud provider (including a looming and dreaded vendor lock-in if open standards are not seen to have priority over convenience). I see where it is going to end, and of course then the pendulum will have to swing the other way again...


#technology #microsoft #bribery #southafrica #interoperability

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    Touch-sensitive concrete technology could revolutionise security in South Africa - Even replace electric fences

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Monday, 21 March - 11:07

Andre Broekman, a Civil Engineering PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria, has developed touch-sensitive concrete — a technology that could transform home and business security in South Africa.

This could reduce the need for electric fencing, allowing South Africans to protect their properties and businesses with an invisible solution. The technology also has the potential to replace internal alarm systems by implementing it in the flooring of a building.

Broekman explained that the technology could also be used to aid the visually impaired. His prototype keyboard has tactile concrete keys engraved with symbols.


#technology #security #southafrica #concrete

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    ISPs, FNOs, ONTs, WiFi, and UPSs — What terminology you should know about getting fibre for your home

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Monday, 14 February - 13:52

Getting fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) Internet for your household will ensure you have the fastest and most reliable online connectivity on offer.

But there are various parties, several pieces of hardware, and some confusing terms involved in the process that might be a challenge for the less technically inclined.

Although the providers are South Africa specific, the terminology and components should be generic to any country, and it is useful to understand how it all fits together. Always shop around as often ISPs will have special deals if you switch to them, and remember you can choose any ISP that supports the fibre present in your area.


#technology #fibre #southafrica #ISP

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    Thula ESV — An electric 4×4 made in South Africa for a silent and vibration-free game viewing experience in the African bush

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Saturday, 12 February - 13:31

Thula Solution’s CEO, Gary Davies, told TopAuto that BRV is looking to replace its diesel bakkies with Thula’s electric powertrains to create fully electric 4x4s.

The ESV was developed to refine the game drives in South Africa, providing safari-goers with noise and vibration-free experiences.

“Stringent battery management protocols and redundancies to leading European standards are part of the design,” Thula says on its ESV webpage.

The Thula ESV can charge to full capacity in two hours, which will provide the driver with 100km of range. “Based on the average cost for electricity and diesel in 2020, you could save up to 75% of your fuel cost for your vehicles,” Thula said.


#technology #EV #southafrica #safari #environment

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    Steven Baxter


  • 13 February Steven Baxter

    This seems to be a good use for such a vehicle; given a limited range which ends back at an over-night charge station. The world is going electric and this looks like a great way to do it for the task at hand and with the technology we have.

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    Good news for South Africa’s TV White Spaces project

    Danie van der Merwe · / gadgeteerza-tech-blog · Thursday, 27 January - 11:05

South Africa’s TV White Spaces (TVWS) project has been proven to be commercially viable, and the Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) is looking to move to scale projects in the future.

The project is set to deliver faster and broader broadband connectivity in the rural regions of South Africa. TVWS are the gaps within the lower frequency spectrum range between the 470-694MHz (excluding 606-614MHz) on which analogue TV broadcasts are currently transmitted.

The CSIR’s tests showed that while using the spectrum, a download speed of 54Mbps could be reached over a 4km distance with a direct line of sight, and dropped to 42Mbps at a distance of 717m with a restricted line of sight.


#technology #southafrica #tvws #rural #broadband