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Fewer Billionaires, Poorer Billionaires On African Continent In 2019

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Altogether, the 20 African tycoons are worth $68.7 billion, down from $75.4 billion for last year’s list. However, the average net worth for each list member this year has climbed to $3.4 billion from $3.3 billion in early 2018.


Buffeted by plunging stock prices and weaker currencies, the number of African billionaires has shrunk to just 20, down from 23 a year ago. Four people fell off Forbes’ annual list of the continent’s richest since last year while one returned to the ranks after a four-year absence. All but four members of the list have smaller fortunes than a year ago.

For the eighth year in a row, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria is Africa’s richest person. His estimated $10.3 billion net worth, however, is nearly $2 billion less than a year ago, primarily due to a roughly 20% drop in the stock price of Dangote Cement, his most valuable asset.

The continent’s second richest is Mike Adenuga, also of Nigeria, worth an estimated $9.2 billion. Adenuga owns Globacom, which is Nigeria’s third largest mobile phone network, plus oil exploration firm Conoil Producing, extensive real estate holdings in Nigeria, and a network of 12,000 cell phone towers. His net worth has climbed dramatically from $5.3 billion in January 2018 as a result of more detailed information provided by him about his assets.

Number three in Africa is diamond heir Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa. His grandfather founded diamond mining firm DeBeers, which Nicky ran and then sold to mining giant Anglo American for $5.1 billion cash in 2012. He is currently worth an estimated $7.3 billion, down from $7.7 billion a year ago.

Among the few on the list who are richer than a year ago is Strive Masiyiwa of Zimbabwe, worth an estimated $2.3 billion, up from $1.6 billion last year. He’s richer due to a rise in the share price of Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and a new investment that boosted the value of his stake in fiber optic and satellite services firm Liquid Telecom.

In a per country ranking, Egypt and South Africa are tied with five billionaires each, followed by Nigeria with four and Morocco with two. Forbes found one billionaire each from Algeria, Angola, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The three South Africans who fell off since last year’s list are Stephen Saad, founder of generics drug firm Aspen Pharmacare; Desmond Sacco, chairman of iron ore mining company Assore Group; and Christoffel Wiese, founder of retailer Pepkor and former chairman of furniture retailer Steinhoff International, which acquired Pepkor in 2015. Steinhoff is still reeling from an accounting scandal that was disclosed in December 2017, and shortly afterwards, Wiese stepped down as chairman of the company. The fourth dropoff is Onsi Sawiris of Egypt, who owns a stake in Netherlands-based fertilizer and chemical producer OCI N.V. All four fell off due to a decline in the stock price of their main asset.

Nigerian cement mogul Abdulsamad Rabiu, who runs and owns the BUA Group, returns to the list for the first time since 2015. He merged his Kalambaina Cement firm into publicly-traded Cement Company of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled, in late 2018. Rabiu now owns 97% of the list entity. Kalambaina, which operates a new cement production facility, started selling cement in mid-2018. Separately, Rabiu’s OBU Cement recently expanded its operations, adding a new production line.

Two of the 20 billionaires are women: Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos; and Folorunsho Alakija of Nigeria. Dos Santos’ fortune declined to an estimated $2.3 billion, down from $2.7 billion a year ago, primarily due to a drop in value of her stock holdings in oil firm Galp and communications firm Nos – both in Portugal – and a decline in the value of Angolan mobile telecom firm Unitel, of which she owns 25%. Unitel is in an arbitration with one of its shareholders, Brazilian telecom firm Oi, which claims it is owed $608 million in unpaid dividends from five years through 2014. (Unitel did not respond to a request for comment.)

Nigeria’s Alakija owns a stake in one of the most productive oil fields in Nigeria, currently operated by Chevron. Her net worth dropped due a decline in the value of the oil field, in part because its production has leveled off.

Altogether, the 20 African tycoons are worth $68.7 billion, down from $75.4 billion for last year’s list. However, the average net worth for each list member this year has climbed to $3.4 billion from $3.3 billion in early 2018.

METHODOLOGY

Our list tracks the wealth of African billionaires who reside in Africa or have their primary businesses there, thus excluding Sudanese-born billionaire Mo Ibrahim, who is a U.K. citizen, and billionaire London resident Mohamed Al-Fayed, an Egyptian citizen. (Strive Masiyiwa, a citizen of Zimbabwe and a London resident, appears on the list due to his expansive telecom holdings in Africa.) We calculated net worths using stock prices and currency exchange rates from the close of business on Friday, January 4, 2019.  To value privately-held businesses, we couple estimates of revenues or profits with prevailing price-to-sales or price-to-earnings ratios for similar public companies. Some list members grow richer or poorer within weeks– or days – of our measurement date.

1. Aliko Dangote

Net worth: $10.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar, flour

Age: 61

Country: Nigeria

Did You Know?

-Dangote’s grandfather was a successful trader of rice and oats in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city.

-Dangote told Forbes that when he was young, he bought sweets, gave them to others to sell, and he kept the profits.

Nigeria is one of the best-kept secrets. A lot of foreigners are not investing because they’re waiting for the right time. There is no right time.


Aliko Dangote

2. Mike Adenuga

Adenuga, Nigeria’s second richest man, built his fortune in telecom and oil production. His mobile phone network, Globacom, is the third largest operator in Nigeria, with 43 million subscribers. His oil exploration outfit, Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. Adenuga got an MBA at Pace University in New York, supporting himself as a student by working as a taxi driver. He made his first million at age 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.

Did you know?

-Mike Adenuga made his first million at age 26 selling lace and distributing soft drinks.

3. Nicky Oppenheimer & family

Net worth: $7.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Diamonds

Age: 73

Country: South Africa

Oppenheimer, heir to his family’s fortune, sold his 40% stake in diamond firm DeBeers to mining group Anglo American for $5.1 billion in cash in 2012. He was the third generation of his family to run DeBeers, and took the company private in 2001. For 85 years until 2012, the Oppenheimer family occupied a controlling spot in the world’s diamond trade. In 2014, Oppenheimer started Fireblade Aviation in Johannesburg, which operates chartered flights with its fleet of three planes and two helicopters. He owns at least 720 square miles of conservation land across South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Did You Know?

-Oppenheimer owns Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, the largest private game reserve in South Africa.

-Oppenheimer is a sports fan and plays squash, golf and cricket. Notepads in his office read: “Things I must do before cricket”.

4. Nassef Sawiris

Net worth: $6.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Construction, chemicals

Age: 57

Country:  Egypt

Nassef Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Naguib is also a billionaire. Sawiris split Orascom Construction Industries into two entities in 2015: OCI and Orascom Construction. He runs OCI, one of the world’s largest nitrogen fertilizer producers, with plants in Texas and Iowa; it trades on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange. Orascom Construction, an engineering and building firm, trades on the Cairo exchange and Nasdaq Dubai. His holdings include stakes in cement giant Lafarge Holcim and Adidas; he sits on the supervisory board of Adidas.

Did You Know?

-A University of Chicago graduate, he donated $20 million to the school in 2015 to fund scholarships in his father’s name for Egyptian students.

-Nassef Sawiris teamed up with Fortress Investment Group’s Wes Edens to purchase a majority stake in Aston Villa Football Club.

5. Johann Rupert & family

Net worth: $5.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Luxury goods

Age: 68

Country: South Africa

Rupert is chairman of Swiss luxury goods firm Compagnie Financiere Richemont. The company is best known for the brands Cartier and Montblanc. It was formed in 1998 through a spinoff of assets owned by Rembrandt Group Limited (now Remgro Limited), which his father Anton formed in the 1940s. He owns a 7% stake in diversified investment firm Remgro, which he chairs, as well as 25% of Reinet, an investment holding co. based in Luxembourg. In recent years, Rupert has been a vocal opponent of plans to allow fracking in the Karoo, a region of South Africa where he owns land.

Did You Know?

-He also owns part of the Saracens English rugby team and Anthonij Rupert Wines, named after his deceased brother.

-Rupert says his biggest regret was not buying half of Gucci when he had the opportunity to do so for just $175 million.

6. Issad Rebrab & family

Net worth: $3.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Food

Age: 75

Country: Algeria

Issad Rebrab is the founder and CEO of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately-held company. Cevital owns one of the largest sugar refineries in the world, with the capacity to produce 2 million tons a year. Cevital owns European companies, including French home appliances maker Groupe Brandt, an Italian steel mill and a German water purification company. Rebrab has plans to build a steel mill in Brazil to produce train tracks and improve transportation logistics for sugar, corn and soy flour exports. His five children workat Cevital.

Did You Know?

-Rebrab is the son of militants who fought for Algeria’s independence from France.

-Cevital helped finance a biopic on Algerian resistance hero Larbi Ben M’hidi, who was executed by the French in 1957.

We [Algerians] have great potential; we can make up for lost time.


Issad Rebrab

7. Naguib Sawiris

Net worth: $2.9 billion

Origin of wealth: Telecom

Age: 64

Country: Egypt

Naguib Sawiris is a scion of Egypt’s wealthiest family. His brother Nassef is also a billionaire. He built a fortune in telecom, selling Orascom Telecom in 2011 to Russian telecom firm VimpelCom (now Veon) in a multibillion-dollar transaction. He’s chairman of Orascom Telecom Media & Technology–renamed Orascom Investment Holding to reflect investments in other sectors. Family holding La Mancha has stakes in Evolution Mining, Endeavour Mining and Golden Star Resources, which operate gold mines in Africa and Australia. In 2017, he shifted ownership of La Mancha to his mother, Yousriya Loza-Sawiris, for estate planning purposes.

Did you know?

-Sawiris helped found the Free Egyptians, a liberal political party, at the onset of Egypt’s uprisings in 2011

-In 2015, he offered to buy a Greek or Italian island to house Syrian refugees, but Greece and Italy turned him down.

I want to feel good about having done something good. Provide me with the island and I will do the rest.


Naguib Sawiris

8. Koos Bekker

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Origin of wealth: media, investments

Age: 66

Country: South Africa

Bekker is revered for transforming South African newspaper publisher Naspers into an ecommerce investor and cable TV powerhouse. He led Naspers to invest in Chinese Internet and media firm Tencent in 2001 – by far the most profitable of the bets he made on companies elsewhere. Naspers has a 31% stake in Tencent, and Bekker serves as a non-executive director at the Chinese company. It sold a 2% stake in Tencent in March 2018, its first time reducing its holding, but stated at the time it would not sell again for 3 years. Bekker, who retired as the CEO of Naspers in March 2014, returned as chairman in April 2015.

Did You Know?

-His Babylonstoren estate, nearly 600 acres in South Africa’s Western Cape region, features architecture dating back to 1690, a farm, orchard and vineyard and more.

-Over the summer of 2015, he sold more than 70% of his Naspers shares.

8. Isabel dos Santos

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Investments

Age: 45

Country: Angola

Dos Santos is the oldest daughter of Angola’s longtime former president, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in fall 2017. Her father made her head of Sonangol, Angola’s state oil firm, in June 2016, but Angola’s new president removed her from that role in November 2017. Forbes research found that while president, Isabel’s father transferred to her stakes in several Angolan companies, including banks and a telecom firm. She owns shares of Portuguese companies, including telecom and cable TV firm Nos SGPS. A spokesperson for Isabel told Forbes that she “is an independent business woman and a private investor representing solely her own interests.”

Did You Know?

-Isabel dos Santos is nicknamed “the princess” in Angola.

-Santos’ mother, Tatiana Kukanova, met her father while he was a student in Azerbaijan. The couple later divorced.

8. Mohamed Mansour

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 70

Country: Egypt

Mansour oversees family conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (D.1976) in 1952 and has 60,000 employees. Mansour established General Motors dealerships in Egypt in 1975, later becoming one of GM’s biggest distributors worldwide. Mansour Group also has exclusive distribution rights for Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and seven other African countries. He served as Egypt’s Minister of Transportation from 2006 to 2009 under the Hosni Mubarak regime. His brothers Yasseen and Youssef, who share ownership in the family group, are also billionaires; his son Loutfy heads private equity arm Man Capital.

Did You Know?

-Mansour’s father lost his fortune, when Egypt’s then president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, expropriated his cotton trading company in 1964.

-Mansour worked as a busboy in a pizza parlor while at North Carolina State University to pay for college.

Empowering best in class management teams is the only way to transform a local player into a diversified conglomerate with multinational exposure.


Mohamed Mansour

8. Strive Masiyiwa

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Telecom

Age: 57

Country: Zimbabwe

Masiyiwa overcame protracted government opposition to launch mobile phone network Econet Wireless Zimbabwe in his country of birth in 1998. He owns just over 50% of the publicly-traded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, which is one part of his larger Econet Group. Masiyiwa also owns just over half of private company Liquid Telecom, which provides fiber optic and satellite services to telecom firms across Africa. His other assets include stakes in mobile phone networks in Burundi and Lesotho, and investments in fintech and power distribution firms in Africa. He and his wife Tsitsi founded the Higherlife Foundation, which supports orphaned and poor children in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Burundi and Lesotho.

Did You Know?

-After studying at university in Britain, Masiyiwa worked at ZPTC, Zimbabwe’s phone company.

-He left ZPTC to start an engineering services firm, then sold it and founded Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, but had to battle the government in court for years.

8. Patrice Motsepe

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Origin of wealth: Mining

Age: 56

Country: South Africa

Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, became a billionaire in 2008 – the first black African on the Forbes list. In 2016, he launched a new private equity firm, African Rainbow Capital, focused on investing in Africa. Motsepe also has a stake in Sanlam, a listed financial services firm, and is the president and owner of the Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club. He became the first black partner at law firm Bowman Gilfillan in Johannesburg, and then started a contracting business doing mine scut work. In 1994, he bought low-producing gold mine shafts and later turned them profitable.

Did You Know?

-In 2013, the mining magnate was the first African to sign Bill Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half his fortune to charity.

-Motsepe benefited from South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) laws, mandating that companies be at least 26% black-owned to get a government mining license.

13. Aziz Akhannouch & family

Net worth: $2.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Petroleum, diversified

Age: 58

Country: Morocco

Aziz Akhannouch is the majority owner of Akwa Group, a multibillion-dollar conglomerate founded by his father and a partner, Ahmed Wakrim, in 1932. It has interests in petroleum, gas and chemicals through publicly-traded Afriquia Gaz and Maghreb Oxygene. Akhannouch is Morocco’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and the president of a royalist political party.

14. Mohammed Dewji

Net worth: 1.9 billion

Origin of wealth:  Diversified

Age: 43

Country: Tanzania

Mohammed Dewji is the CEO of METL, a Tanzanian conglomerate founded by his father in the 1970s. METL is active in textile manufacturing, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in eastern, southern and central Africa. METL operates in at least six African countries and has ambitions to expand to several more. Dewji, Tanzania’s only billionaire, signed the Giving Pledge in 2016, promising to donate at least half his fortune to philanthropic causes.

Did You Know?

-Dewji retired from Tanzania’s parliament in early 2015 after completing two terms.

-Dewji, who is known as Mo (short for Mohammed), launched Mo Cola several years ago to compete with Coca-Cola.

15. Othman Benjelloun & family

Net worth: $1.7 billion

Origin of wealth: Banking, insurance

Age: 86

Country: Morocco

Benjelloun is CEO of BMCE Bank of Africa, which has a presence in more than 20 African countries. His father was a shareholder in RMA Watanya, a Moroccan insurance company; Benjelloun built it into a leading insurer.  Through his holding company FinanceCom, he has a stake in the Moroccan arm of French telecom firm Orange. Benjelloun inaugurated a $500 million plan to build the 55-story Mohammed VI Tower in Rabat. It will be one of the tallest buildings in Africa. FinanceCom is part of a project to develop a multibillion-dollar tech city in Tangiers that is expected to host 200 Chinese companies.

Did You Know?

-He co-owns Ranch Adarouch, one of the biggest cattle breeders in Africa.

-Benjelloun and his wife received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award for building schools in rural Morocco in 2016.

16. Abdulsamad Rabiu

Net worth: 1.6 billion

Origin of wealth: Cement, sugar

Age: 58

Country: Nigeria

Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in cement production, sugar refining and real estate. In December 2018, Rabiu merged his privately-owned Kalambaina Cement company with listed firm Cement Co. of Northern Nigeria, which he controlled. His BUA Group also owns Obu Cement, which expanded its production with a new line in 2018. Rabiu, the son of a businessman, inherited land from his father. He set up his own business in 1988 importing iron, steel and chemicals.

17. Yasseen Mansour

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Origin of wealth:  Diversified

Age: 57

Country: Egypt

Mansour is a shareholder in family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (d.1976) in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. His brothers Mohamed and Youssef are also billionaires and part owners of Mansour Group. He’s chairman of Palm Hills Developments, one of Egypt’s biggest real estate developers.

Did You Know?

-U.S. private equity firm Ripplewood has a stake in Palm Hills Developments.

-Mansour Group is the sole franchisee of McDonald’s in Egypt, as well as the distributor of Gauloises cigarettes.

18. Youssef Mansour

Net worth: $1.2 billion

Origin of wealth: Diversified

Age: 73

Country: Egypt

Mansour is chairman of family-owned conglomerate Mansour Group, which was founded by his father Loutfy (d.1976) in 1952. Mansour Group is the exclusive distributor of GM vehicles and Caterpillar equipment in Egypt and several other countries. He oversees the consumer goods division, which includes supermarket chain Metro, and sole distribution rights for L’Oreal in Egypt. Younger brothers Mohamed and Yasseen are also billionaires and part owners of Mansour Group.

Did You Know?

-Former Egypt President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized his father’s original cotton trading business.

-Mansour is a founding member of the American Egyptian Chamber of Commerce.

19. Folorunsho Alakija

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Oil

Age: 68

Country: Nigeria

Folorunsho Alakija is vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company with a stake in Agbami Oilfield, a prolific offshore asset. Famfa Oil’s partners include Chevron and Petrobras. Alakija’s first company was a fashion label whose customers included the wife of former Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida. The Nigerian government awarded Alakija’s company an oil prospecting license in 1993, which was later converted to an oil mining lease. The Agbami field has been operating since 2008; Famfa Oil says it will likely operate through 2024.

19. Michiel Le Roux

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Origin of wealth: Banking

Age: 69

Country: South Africa

Le Roux of South Africa founded Capitec Bank in 2001 and owns about an 11% stake. The bank, which trades on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, targets South Africa’s emerging middle class. He served as chairman of the board of Capitec from 2007 to 2016 and has continued on as a board member. Le Roux previously ran Boland Bank, a small regional bank in Cape Town’s hinterland.

Did You Know?

-The bank has more than 800 branches and over 13,000 employees.

-Fellow South African Jannie Mouton’s PSG Group owns a 30% stake in Capitec Bank

Health

5 Ways To Cope With The Self During Isolation

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As Covid-19 continues to spread ruthlessly across the globe, governments have enforced lockdowns in countries to slow the infection rate. And this has meant restricted movements of people and work from home. As the globe’s population practises self-isolation and social-distancing, the lack of the familiar can lead to further stress and mental health issues. Establishing coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety and depression during these times is crucial. Healthcare practitioner and counselling psychologist, Nkateko Ndala-Magoro, through the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s Facebook platform, lets us in on five self-help strategies to deal with depression.

Get active: “It is hard I know to stay active while you are confined. The benefits of staying active is the release of feel good hormones that are in contrast with the hormones that exacerbate depression. Being active also helps regulate your heart beat; for people suffering from anxiety, the regulation of breathing might help with the severity of the anxiety/panic attack.”

Take time to sleep: “I know people are already feeling like they do not have any more positions of sleep because of sleeping too much during lockdown. I encourage that people get as much quality sleep as possible in this time. Sleeping has benefits on our health and wellbeing in general, let alone on our mental health on many levels.”

Read: “Keep yourself busy by reading. There is a wealth of information in books. There are many online platforms including Amazon, which have made available e-books for free. Read self-help books and fiction to escape the reality; and any other books that interest you.”

Learn a new skill: “This will also keep you interested as mastering something new takes a lot in terms of focus and energy.”

Connect with loved ones: “Connect with your loved ones via video chats. Journal and work on things you have been meaning to work on to give you a sense of accomplishment.”

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Lists

The Five Trends To Future-Proof Your Business

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Some of these fads were slowly building in the previous decade, others are still nascent, but need your full attention to prepare your business for the times ahead.

1. AI and machine learning

Key takeaway: Automate repetitive tasks, but be wary of automating inefficiencies and biases.

You’re surrounded by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: from the recommendations Netflix makes based on your viewing history to those pesky adverts that track you around the internet. As Bronwyn Williams, a trend analyst at Flux Trends in South Africa, explains, “Most of what you think is AI is actually machine learning.” Williams emphasizes that fears about AI “stealing jobs” are overrated, and most businesses will see the arduous, repetitive tasks given to machines, freeing up humans for analysis and critical thinking. She warns businesses to remember it’s the human interaction that differentiates one offering from another. “Don’t automate away your value. Look under the hood and make sure you understand why you are automating something – and be careful not to automate inefficiencies.” Looking at automated HR processes, companies have discovered that even unconscious human biases are learned by machines (for example, CVs belonging to certain genders and races are discredited. Machines are not born neutral – especially if they’re learning from humans.) Embrace machine learning, but do so with a pinch of salt.

2. Driverless cars and the supply chain

Key takeaway: Autonomous cars are still about 15 years away, but it’s best to prepare your fleet and supply chain choice now.

The automotive industry is going through some major changes: electric cars, the growth of services like Uber and Lift, and lastly, the development of autonomous vehicles. Though the first two will impact everyday consumer experiences, it’s self-driving cars that will massively alter businesses and their supply chains across Africa in the next decade. “As convenience and efficiency are the cornerstones of the fleet industry, there is no doubt self-driving vehicles will start making a play for their share of the fleet industry sooner rather than later,” explains Sudesh Pillay on fleet management company EQSTRA’s online platform. The supply chain will no longer be affected by driver fatigue and human error. Driverless cars will also dramatically impact accident rates (lowering them by 90%, according to some estimates) and supply chain efficiency. As Innovation Group’s Future Now report indicates, autonomous cars face some serious challenges across Africa before they can become a practical alternative to human drivers. “There is a vision, in the not-too-distant future, in which self-driving cars hold a lot of promise…. Others are more skeptical about the practical feasibility, especially in Africa where the infrastructural limitations (roads, electricity etc.) hold back the vision, at least in the foreseeable future. Our research indicates that self-driving cars may only become a reality in South Africa in [15] or more years and that this may spur innovative advances in infrastructure, energy services and ultimately the look and feel of roads and cities.”

3. Climate crises and

natural disasters

Key takeaway: Hire a Chief Sustainability Officer to

start building climate resilience into your business.

“Now is the time to start thinking seriously about resilience,” says Hugh Tyrrell, Director at Green Edge, a corporate mentoring initiative in Cape Town that helps businesses develop sustainably. “The big brands have Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO). This role is in the C-suite and is forward-thinking,” Tyrell explains. CSOs look at how businesses can start developing their own power, lower their eco-footprint and manage their resources better. Looking to the big corporate trendsetters, there are some major shifts in corporate strategy focusing on a sustainable business model instead of growth at all costs. Unilever, for example, is holding their suppliers to the same eco-friendly standards that they themselves are working at, says Tyrrell. Natural disasters associated with the climate crisis are already affecting African businesses too. Explains Tyrrell, “In agriculture, which is a big sector in Africa, we are seeing the effect of droughts or floods. Others have to work more closely with their suppliers to ensure supplies come in good condition and on time.” Mining is another industry heavily impacted by the climate crisis – and the push by consumers for more environmental-friendly solutions. 

4. The age of cyberattacks and data breaches

Key takeaway: Make sure your IT department includes

skilled data protection specialists.

As businesses innovate and rely less on physical hardware like servers, and start instead relying on the cloud, they can expect to see a massive uptick in cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches. This trend increased exponentially in 2019 (even the City of Johannesburg in South Africa was held by ransomware) and is set to explode in the coming decade. Added to this, businesses are collecting more data than ever before, particularly for marketing purposes and to tailor their product offerings. Because of this, businesses should prepare themselves for the onslaught by firstly, taking their online security very seriously, secondly, training their staff (employees are the weakest link in any security chain) and thirdly, putting more budget behind appropriate security measures. “The demand for narrow cybersecurity expertise is driven by a constantly changing threat landscape, as well as evolving technologies, such as cloud or IoT. As a result, we see the bigger demand in, for example, threat intelligence analysts and dedicated threat intelligence services, and experts for cloud platform protection. The call for data protection specialists is seen in both technical and regulatory and compliance aspects,” says Alexander Moiseev, Chief Business Officer at online security software Kaspersky.

5. The remote workforce

Key takeaway: Flexi-hours and working remotely are practical ways to combat challenges like loadshedding and traffic.

With intermittent power supply (particularly in South Africa), increasing traffic and less reliance on physical IT infrastructure like servers, the remote and flexible workforce is becoming a norm. Says Moiseev, “The working model is already being changed, with 40% of small and medium companies regularly allowing their employees to work at locations outside the office — from home or while traveling.” In addition, health scares like the coronavirus are amplifying these trends. “Apps that enable remote working are having a moment,” explains Williams. “You now get filters to add makeup to video conferences so you don’t have to dress up when you’re working from home.” Many employees expect the flexibility of remote working when job hunting, and businesses reap the benefits of agility.  

-Samantha Steele

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Featured

The Top 5 Emerging Crazy Tech

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A pick of some of the weirdest, coolest tech that could come hurtling our way this year.

  1. A bot that delivers toilet paper

Forgot to instal toilet paper in the loo? The Charmin RollBot is designed to carry a roll of toilet paper on two wheels. With the press of a button on your phone, the RollBot will help with your sanitary requirement.

Using Bluetooth, the bot will commence its mission; an infra-red sensor able to navigate its way to you. According to Business Insider, there’s no price or release date for RollBot, nor is it clear if it will ever be released as a consumer product. Charmin calls RollBot a “conceptual prototype”. The brand unveiled the bot last month at the CES 2020 expo in Las Vegas.

2. The Cyrcle phone

If for any reason you got bored of your rectangular handset, the circular phone is always an alternative offering a different view and take. According to the makers, the phone was designed with the Generation Z, female audience in mind. It’s round and features two headphone jacks. The device was designed by a US-based startup delivering a shape that it says is more “sensual”. The company reckons it will be ready to launch in a year’s time.

3. A smart bed

There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. But it’s not always possible to have the best sleep every day. Or is it? There is a bed that’s guaranteed to give you your beauty sleep the way you want it.

Sleep Number Climate 360 has a mattress with features that warm your feet to help you sleep faster. It will also help you stay asleep by cooling your body, and balance your temperature with your natural wake and sleep cycles.

But what’s most intriguing is the fact that the bed also gives you a Sleep IQ score for personalized sleep insights. It measures your heart rate, breathing and movement, tracks your circadian rhythms and can show how your heart rate varies. The smart bed received the CES 2020 Best of Innovation award and is only expected to be available in 2021.

4. Self-changing trash can

For those who dread taking out the trash, this device is possible a no-brainer. Apart from its motion sensors to detect when you need to throw trash, when it’s full, it will automatically seal the trash bag and line the bin with a new one, all with a press of a button.

Even if the bin is overflowing, the top compartment will lift up so it can still seal the bag shut without any mess. The bin, called the Townew bin, was designed by a Canadian company, Knectek Labs.

5. Vertical TV

Just when we were getting used to wider TVs, it seems taller screens may soon be coming to your living room. Samsung’s Sero TV vertical-oriented will soon be hitting markets.

The TV can not only work in the traditional horizontal format, but is also able to turn on its side for playing vertical videos in portrait style.This might come in handy when watching videos from social media platforms such as TikTok or Instagram that deal primarily with vertical videos.

It sits on a stand that prevents it hitting the floor when turning, and can be paired with a phone so that it automatically orientates it correctly based on what’s beamed from the handset. According to TechRadar.com the pricing and availability are yet to be revealed, but the Sero will be leaving Korea and is headed to the US and “several global markets” later this year.

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