Connect with us

Technology

From Africa To Mars

Published

on

Prev1 of 2
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

As humanity explores new frontiers in space, the 50th anniversary of man landing on the moon serves as a reflection of where we have come from, and where we are to go next. What does it mean for the estimated $7 billion space industry in Africa?


July 20, 1969, will always be remembered as the year man made earth-shaking history.

It was one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo 11 became the first aircraft to land safely on the moon.

In Africa, just a year after this historic moment, Kenya launched its first satellite named Uhuru, meaning ‘freedom’ in Swahili.

It was Africa’s giant leap. It was sponsored by NASA and was the first earth-orbiting mission dedicated to celestial X-ray astronomy.

READ MORE | #30Under30: Technology Category 2019

It is speculated that in 1970 and 1973, Kenya was given two rocks collected from the Apollo 11 and 17 lunar missions. Since then, more African nations have joined the space race.

“The space industry is worth $400 billion and in Africa, the space industry is worth up to $7 billion,” Nigerian space enthusiast and entrepreneur, Oniosun Temidayo, says.

He grew up in Oyo State in the southwest of Nigeria, thousands of kilometers away from where the Apollo mission took place, yet he is fueled with passion for the space industry.

Temidayo is the founder of Space in Africa, a platform that covers business, technology, discoveries, events and political news on the African space and satellite industry.

As per his research with Space in Africa, it is expected that by 2024, at least 15 African countries would have launched at least one satellite into space.

These include Algeria, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan and Tunisia. Senegal has set a two-year target to launch its first nanosatellite.

“The total projected number of satellites by African countries is rising from 35 to 64 within the same period; a 83 percent increase in the number of satellites in the region,” Temidayo says.

According to the African Space Industry Annual Report 2019: “The aggregate GDP of the continent has doubled in the last 10 years, to over $2.2 trillion. The African space market is now worth over $7 billion annually, and we project that is likely to grow over 40% in the next five years to exceed $10 billion by 2024.”

There are many commercial ventures aligned to investing in the space industry in Africa.

The report states that over 85,000 people are employed in the African space industry.

“African engineers built 14 of the 35 satellites, including those they built in Africa and others using facilities outside of Africa,” the report said, implementing the continental space policy under the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063.

Egypt was approved as host country for the headquarters of the new African Space Agency passed by the AU.

One of the agency’s objectives is strengthening “space missions on the continent in order to ensure optimal access to space-derived data, information, services and products”.

Africa’s plans have surely sky-rocketed in this regard.

READ MORE | Africa Takes to the Stratosphere and Beyond

It has been 17 years since South African-born tech entrepreneur, Mark Shuttleworth, became the first African in space.

Called the ‘Afronaut’, at 28, he became the second-ever space tourist flying to the International Space Station as a member of the Soyuz TM-34.

He paid about $20 million to spend eight days there; a dream only a few could afford then – and even now.

Today, Temidayo aspires to reach for the stars like Shuttleworth did.

But until then, he continues to build a body of work on the African space economy.

50 years of the lunar landing

Last month, Temidayo and his team celebrated the 50th anniversary of Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the Moon.

To celebrate, his team featured 10 of the brightest young professionals under the age of 30 who are doing incredible work in the African space industry, calling them ‘The Future of the African Space Industry’.

“These are 10 young professionals below the age of 30. Their work cuts across space engineering, geospatial technologies, space law and business development. They are already influencing the growth of the industry,” he says.

“The exciting thing about this is that, they are mostly women,” Temidayo reveals.

READ MORE | 3D Printing: From Spaceship Engines To Personalized Orthotics

Thousands of kilometers away, another man was also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission – Aldrin, the man who was on the moon with Armstrong, and who turned 89 this year.

“Ten, nine, ignition sequence start, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero, all engines running. We have a lift off, lift off on Apollo 11,” were the immortal words on the space intercom during Apollo 11’s launch.

On the day, 530 million TV viewers watched the astronauts take their first steps on the moon.

“The moon landing was not just a US achievement. It was a global achievement,” Temidayo says.

Reflecting on the mission, Aldrin posted a tweet with an image of him and his fellow Apollo 11 astronauts, including mission commander Armstrong, examining a lunar sample brought back from the moon.

As part of the celebrations, Buzz Aldrin Ventures had a party planned; the Official Apollo XI 50th Anniversary Gala at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library’s Air Force One Pavilion in Simi Valley with himself to honor the mission, team and crew that made history in 1969.

For his journey to space, it is reported that Aldrin carried wine, bread, and a chalice for communion while Armstrong carried a piece of the wooden propeller of the Wright Flyer (the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft built by the Wright brothers).

“When we made it to the moon, it was uncharted territory – literally! Our 21-day quarantine was a necessary precaution at the time… we didn’t know if there were any microorganisms on the moon,” Aldrin said in a Twitter post.

Meanwhile, NASA rolled out numerous activities for anyone to get involved in the 50th anniversary celebrations.

NASA says it is working to establish a permanent human presence on the moon within the next decade to uncover new scientific discoveries and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy.

Prev1 of 2
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

Technology

‘AI Is A Powerful Tool’

Published

on

Research forecasts that by 2025, machines will perform more current work tasks than humans. Murat Sonmez, member of the managing board, and Head of the Centre for the WEF Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, expands on the role humans might play.


The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is at the center of the current economic frontier. In reality, is Africa prepared for such changes?

Moving quickly and being agile are key principles of success in the 4IR. Any country can succeed if they take on this mindset. A few years ago, Rwanda saw the opportunities drones, a 4IR technology, brought to their country.

They helped save over 800 lives by delivering blood to remote villages. To scale this, the government worked with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) drones’ team to create the world’s first agile airspace regulation. Now, we see countries in Africa and around the world looking to the Rwandan model.

READ MORE | 5 Ways Tech Can Revolutionize Education

What feasible solutions can  artificial intelligence (AI) offer in terms of forecasting natural disasters, droughts food security on the African continent?

AI can help predict diseases, increase agriculture yields and help first responders. It is a powerful tool for governments and businesses, but it needs a lot of data to be effective.

For AI to be all that it can be, countries and companies need to work together to build frameworks for better management and protection of our data and ensure that it is shared and not stored in silos. Data is the oxygen of the (4IR). If countries do not leverage data and have their policies in place, they will be left behind.

There is a growing concern that the 4IR will strip people of jobs, of which there is already a shortage. How true is this?

The world is going through a workplace revolution that will bring a seismic shift in the way humans work alongside machines and algorithms.

Latest research from the WEF forecasts that by 2025, machines will perform more current work tasks than humans, compared to 71% being performed by humans today.

READ MORE | Roadmap For African Startups

The rapid evolution of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create 133 million new roles in place of 75 million that will be displaced between now and 2022.

Consumers have real concerns around the potential harm technology can cause in areas such as privacy, misinformation, surveillance, job loss, environmental damage and increased inequality. What ethical precautions are being considered in the robotics space?

Now more than ever, it is important to incorporate ethics into the design, deployment and use of emerging technology. Innovating in the 4IR requires addressing concerns around privacy and data ownership, while attracting the skills and forward-looking thinkers of the future.

There are big challenges and bigger opportunities ahead. We have seen many companies and countries create ethical and human rights-based frameworks. What’s important is they are co-designed with members of both communities along with academia, civil society and start-ups.

A multi-stakeholder approach will result in a more holistic set of guidelines and principles that can be adopted in many different industries and geographies.

READ MORE | It’s Time For Africa’s Gazelles To Shine

What changes need to take place for the African continent to be on par with global developments, and are there tangible goals set?

The 4IR provides governments the opportunity to be global leaders in shaping the next 20 to 30 years of science and technology. It is important they create an environment where companies can innovate.

The other tenet is to be open to working across borders and learning from each other. The global health industry has access to mountains of data on rare diseases, but it is trapped within countries and sometimes even within the hospital walls.

If we can build trust and find innovative ways to share the data while protecting privacy, we can employ tools like AI to help us cure disease faster. Countries and companies need to have the right governance frameworks and mechanisms in place for these breakthroughs to happen. It is possible to do these things now, but we need to work together to make it happen.

Continue Reading

Current Affairs

Businesses At The Heart Of A Greener Future

mm

Published

on

With every day that passes by it becomes more apparent that the Earth is deteriorating and time is running out to save it. Scientists have estimated that we have less than a decade to save the planet before it is irreversibly damaged, mainly due to climate change.

Businesses claim the largest percentage of global emissions (at approximately 70% since 1988, according to The Guardian) which is an alarming statistic, especially in a time when the planet’s well-being is being compromised.

Many large business corporations are hastily coming on board with operating sustainably by transforming their practices and placing business ethics at the forefront of their priorities.

READ MORE | The Most Sustainable Companies In 2019

Last week, a round table discussion was held at the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel, Sandton hosted by Environmental Resources Management (ERM) – the world’s largest sustainability consulting firm. Their aim was to discuss how imperative it is for African businesses to get on board with sustainability.

“We have been talking about how to be sustainable for a long time but now it is time for us to do sustainability,” says Thapelo Letete, Technical Director of ERM.

An engaging and thought-provoking panel discussion ensued with representatives from ERM and mining companies, Anglo American and Gold Fields. They emphasized the importance of sustainability being recognized by investors, especially in mining and oil companies that rely solely on Earth’s natural resources.

Civil society has a colossal role to play in ensuring the sustainability of businesses. Due to the law of supply and demand in production, consumers are being urged to be mindful of their buying habits and to make sustainable decisions. These are as simple as minimizing the utilization of plastic straws by replacing them with metal or paper straws and reusable shopping bags and by recycling selected items.

READ MORE | Challenging The Gender Divide

“Research suggests that socially and environmentally responsible practices have the potential to garner more positive consumer perceptions of (businesses), as well as increases in profitability,” according to an entry in Sage Journals published in May.

The advancement of science, artificial intelligence and the rapid growth of the technological industry make it an undeniable fact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is underway. Many businesses across the globe seem to be well prepared for this change. However, businesses in Africa seem to be vulnerable. 

“It is difficult to say that all businesses in Africa are prepared for it. It is not a country specific thing but it does vary across corporations. There will be businesses that are well prepared and businesses that are not so well prepared,” says Keryn James, CEO of ERM.

A large part of sustainability also relies on empowerment and equality. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest number of female-owned businesses who contribute a large amount of money towards their respective countries’ GDPs. However, most of these businesses struggle with the issue of scaling.

“Women sometimes underestimate their ability and they don’t necessarily  have the confidence that they should have about the value that their businesses present. Women often take less risks than men,” says James.

“The issue of scaling is one that we see globally. One of the issues are access to funding to support in the investment and growth of their businesses.”

READ MORE | Mastercard: Diligent About Digital In Africa

Going forward, the availability of mentorship programmes and skills development opportunities for women, especially black women in business should be encouraged.

According to a study done by the UN Women’s organization, an average of 3 out of 7 women score higher in performance when they are placed in senior managerial positions. Additionally, if more women work, the more countries can exponentially maximise their economic growth.

Women will be empowered when given the correct skills and opportunities to be able to run their own businesses independently which would ultimately lead to the scaling of female-owned businesses in Africa and sustainable development.

The Nedbank Capital Sustainable Business Awards aim to recognize the efforts of businesses that operate sustainably and to encourage other corporations who intend to adopt more sustainable strategies into their practices. Initiatives such as these prove that business value also depends on how sustainable they are.

It is clear that the prioritization of sustainability and accountability in businesses is the only way forward in the midst of this global crisis. With a combination of will and the rigorous work that African businesses have put into sustainability initiatives and strategies, it is easier to be optimistic about our planet’s wellbeing.

-Buhle Ntusi

Continue Reading

Current Affairs

Ex-Google Staffer Says After Split With Chief Legal Officer David Drummond: ‘Hell Does Not Begin To Capture My Life’

mm

Published

on

By

Former Google employee Jennifer Blakely has written a scathing blog post with allegations about how her affair with chief legal officer David Drummond unfolded.


A former member of Google’s legal team who says she had a child with the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, has written a scathing blog post about the way that their relationship unfolded within the search engine giant, including that he issued “terrifying threats” to take custody of their child after initially refusing to pay child support.

In a Medium post, Jennifer Blakely says that she was inspired to detail her experience after an explosive New York Times story last fall put a spotlight on how the company shielded top executives from harassment claims and sparked massive employee protests.

“Looking back, I see how standards that I was willing to indulge early on became institutionalized behavior as Google’s world prominence grew and its executives grew more powerful,” Blakely writes.

READ MORE | Google, Facebook, Twitter Fail To Live Up To Fake News Pledge

“Women that I worked with at Google who have spoken to me since the New York Times article have told me how offended they were by the blatant womanizing and philandering that became common practice among some (but certainly not all) executives, starting at the very top.” 

While her relationship with the married Drummond was included in the Times story and first reported byThe Information in November 2017, this is the first time Blakely has written about the experience herself.

Drummond is one of several current and former Google executives who has reportedly had relationships with employees or extramarital affairs, including Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, and Andy Rubin.

READ MORE | Calling Out Sexual Harassment

Blakely alleges that after their relationship ended, Drummond had another relationship with a subordinate, which is against Google’s workplace policy. He is still employed by Google and made more than $47 million last year. 

Blakely says that she started working in Google’s legal department under Drummond in 2001 and that after he told her that he was estranged from his wife, they began a relationship in 2004. She says the two had a child together in 2007 and that Google’s human resources department then told her that one of them had to leave the department.

She moved to sales, an area where she had no experience, and subsequently struggled with her work. Blakely alleges that after she ultimately left the company at Drummond’s urging in 2008, but that while they were living together in Palo Alto, he broke off their relationship via text message.

“‘Hell’ does not begin to capture my life since that day,” she writes. “I’ve spent the last 11 years taking on one of the most powerful, ruthless lawyers in the world. From that fateful night forward, David did things exclusively on his terms.” 

She alleges that Drummond initially refused to see their son or pay child support, and then fought against her in a custody battle. While she says they ultimately reached a settlement and he began paying child support, she writes that “months or years” would go by when he wouldn’t see their son. In 2014, Drummond allegedly showed her an article about Eric Schmidt’s reported history of extramarital affairs during an argument, implying that the executive’s position granted him impunity.

READ MORE | Young women in Soweto, South Africa, say healthy living is hard. Here’s why

“His ‘personal life’ (which apparently didn’t include his son) was off limits and since I was no longer his ‘personal life’ it was time for me to shut up, fall in line and stop bothering him with the nuisances or demands of raising a child,” Blakely writes.

Blakely’s story is the latest in a string of public posts from former Google employees highlighting issues with the company’s culture and policies (or their lack of enforcement).

One of the women who helped organize last fall’s protests, Claire Stapelton, recently wrote about her experience with retaliation, another employee detailed the disappointing way the company’s human resources department dealt with her harassment reports, and former senior engineer Liz Fong-Jones posted about “grave concerns” with the company’s decision making in general.

The outspokenness of Google employees exemplifies — and has helped spur — a broader activism in the tech sector that has seen workers speaking out against their employer’s internal policies and business decisions.

Blakely’s post also taps into the larger #MeToo movement which has drawn attention to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace across industries.

“Until truth is willing to speak to power and is heard, there’s not going to be the sea change necessary to bring equality to the workplace,” she writes.

Neither Google nor Drummond immediately responded to a request for comment. 

This story is developing.

-Jillian D’Onfro; Forbes

Continue Reading

Trending