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iSmile – The Tech Report: 3 – 7 February 2014

MONDAY

While many people living in Africa have mobile phones, very few use it to go online because it’s simply too expensive. According to the former CEO of Mxit, Alan Knott Craig Jnr, the answer lies in Wi-Fi technology.

He is now the head of Project Isizwe – an NPO that helps government to provide Wi-Fi in low-income communities. Last week he presented his solutions to delegates at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

His ultimate argument being: Alan says most people have access to 3G on their phones but very few use it to go online. And the numbers tell us why.

So why is 3G so widely available and yet so pricey? The answer lies in the revenue numbers.

It’s a proprietary technology, requiring huge venture capital, detailed planning and significant human resources. Add a mark-up and you have amongst the most expensive data costs on the planet.

In this scenario, bottled water is 3G and tap water is the Wi-Fi. But Alan is at pains to explain that these days, Wi-Fi is equivalent to 3G and in some cases, even superior.

Most economist agree that internet access is fast becoming a basic human right that can lift a country and its citizens out of poverty very quickly, as it provides a global audience and market-place, without much effort at all.

So Alan’s argument that Wi-Fi is the way forward for developing nations, makes a lot of sense.

The City of Tshwane has already contracted Alan’s NPO to help implement his vision.

JHB has got similar ambitions, while a city-wide Wi-Fi mesh is already being tested in the Mother City, with pilot projects in Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.

Now it’s simply a matter of people using the free resource to their benefit.

TUESDAY

i-Smile has become aware of yet another breakthrough medical procedure being performed right here in the Mother City.

And it is improving the lives of dozens of South Africans beyond their own belief.

Chronic asthma sufferers are pretty much tied to their homes and an emergency supply of oxygen, which means their quality of life leaves much to be desired.

This was exactly the case for Pretoria mother of three Gerda Oosthuizen, who says she had to receive ventilation in hospital four times in the last three years along.

And those were only the emergencies.

The 46-year-old got new hope when she learnt of a new type of treatment – bronchial thermoplasty – being performed by Professor Keertan Dheda at Netcare’s UCT Private Academic Hospital.

The facility, along with Groote Schuur Hospital, is the only accredited facilities on the African continent to offer revolutionary treatment, which Dheda points out is not a cure, but improves the quality of life a great deal.

Gerda jumped at this opportunity. In fact, Gerda’s friends and family managed to collect the funds needed to get her the treatment.

She has already been twice and has got one more due in two weeks’ time.

Sy se tot dis ver loop alles klop dissel boom.

Gerda says life has made a complete about turn for her and her family.

And this is why i- smile loves to keep an eye on biotech, because of it’s potential to give people a brand new lease on life. This mother of three who had previously not dared to dream, can rekindle those dormant wishes again.

Personally, I can’t wait to hear her hit a really high and very long note.

WEDNESDAY

Ten years ago a Harvard University student’s experiment called THE Facebook went live for the first time. It’s initial aim – to become an online social media platform for university students.

Fast forward to today and there are some people who swear that they will literally die, if Facebook ceased to exist. But the relatively young global powerhouse has also become highly valued as a marketing tool. Steven Bayhack is from Cape Town-based Fontera Digital Works. He says Facebook has become virtually indispensable in business these days.

Facebook has monetised itself; listed on the NYSE and become successful at laser sharp target marketing. Steven says the relationship between Facebook and smaller business has become a symbiotic one.

Since its inception, Facebook has broken just about every business model and growth projection. And with well over 1.2 billion users, Steven says it’s not showing any sign of abating.

No doubt that brand and tech savvy business have benefitted from Facebook. Of course the big winner is the social network’s baby-faced founder Marc Zuckerberg, who is now one of the richest people on the planet. But Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg reminds us of exactly how far Zuckerberg has come since the first time they met to negotiate her employment.

And let that be yet another reminder of how hard work and determination can sometimes pay off in a big way.

THURSDAY

Last year, i-smile kept you up to date with the Sanlam / Business Partners Entrepreneur of the year competition and many complained afterwards that they had not been given enough time to prepare and enter this prestigious ceremony.

Well, now we are making sure that you have ample time to get your entrepreneurial ducks in a row, so to speak. Next week, the awards organisers are launching the Western Cape leg of the competition and it’s the first time that we in this province gets some of the focussed attention. Executive Director of Business Partners, Christo Botes explains.

We all know that these days small businesses hold a country’s economic growth in their hands. It’s also where job creation hopes can be best realised. Now in its 26th year, the Entrepreneur of the Year competition aims to boost the culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa.

Christo says there are hundreds of potential winners in the Cape. The launch and calls to enter takes place next week.

This is a great way for you to test your small business against your peers countrywide.

And really anyone can enter. Last year’s winner Tommy Makhatho owns a cash and carry in Qwa Qwa in the Free State and he employs close to 700 people and creates numerous other opportunities. And Christo says the prizes are not to be sneered at either.

All sounds very with it in my opinion so get cracking. And that website again is www.eoy.co.za. The actual awards ceremony takes place in JHB in September.

FRIDAY

Last week i-smile told you about an American company that specialises in training for the new emerging tycoon market of commercial spaceflight. For around R500 000, Waypoint-2-Space gives you a week-long training in G-force tolerance, microgravity and other kinds of courses needed by space tourists and would-be astronauts.

This week we continue this theme by visiting the International Space Station for a fascinating tour of daily life challenges. Suni Williams is our resident astronaut guide who starts by explaining the sleeping cubicles, which are just big enough for one person

The ISS is basically one massive lab where several nations are able to conduct some ground-breaking research in just about every field. All of this is of course done in a constant weightless environment, which Suni explains means they have to think very differently.

For some reason, most people want to know about how astronauts relieve themselves. But en route to the heads. So in a personal emergency, you first got to make sure that you open the right door on your way to the bogs.

Suni has a wonderful diplomatic way of explaining bog procedure – brace yourselves.

Just out of interest, Suni made this recording while the ISS was flying over South Africa.

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