Africa Teen Geeks show off coding skills at #Hack4Justice event

he is the founder of Africa Teen Geeks, a Non-governmental Organisation that teaches children how to use software coding successfully. “We have children from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as those who do not have access to this training at their school. They attend class every Saturday from 8.30am to 1.30pm at Unisa’s Florida campus,”she said.

The training is open to anyone, and they have children from as young as five attending the classes where they are taught the basics of software coding. “We are partnered with Oracle Academy which enables us to offer the learners that are 16 and older the opportunity to obtain their Java certification. We use these classes to prepare them for the Java exams, which are internationally recognised,” she said.

Three of the learners – Neo Radebe (13), Layla Khumalo (13) and Abraham Tsiri (17) – were chosen as the winning team during the recent #Hack4Justice event, a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Education For Justice event.

The event was held over two days at the Unisa Florida campus, and participants had to battle it out at the keyboard and develop educational games focused on justice and rule of law issues.

All three of them were in agreement that they were excited – but also nervous – about participating in the competition. “We did not have any time before the event to work on ideas, we had to come up with an idea, and the completed app during the two days. It was a bit stressful. But we were happy to have won,” Layla said with a big smile.

Lindiwe Matlali, the founder of Africa Teen Geeks. Photos: Adéle Bloem

The group developed a mobile app called Justice Quiz, where users had to choose answers on either abuse or corruption, scoring points for each correct response.

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African Banks not offering desperately needed mobile solutions

In Africa, banking the unbanked remains a pressing need. Roughly 700-million Africans are financially excluded – denied economic citizenship.

Banked: Mobile banking apps favour urban people with access to smartphones, such as this customer of Sidian Bank in the Kenyan bank’s headquarters in Nairobi. Picture: REUTERSDiscussions on the issue raise the same question, time and again: why aren’t traditional banks offering mobile solutions to potential customers who desperately need them?

The American Bankers Association claims it costs between $150 and $250 to open an individual bank account through traditional channels. Over more than a decade, around the world, it has been proven that alternative, disruptive technology such as mobile and branchless banking can reduce this cost by more than 90%, while still complying with local regulations.

Vast parts of Africa remain unconnected. In countries where connections are offered, the cost of data is often sky-high and connections are typically available only in urban areas — not rural areas or the locations of the mass unbanked.

The view of some that unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) — also known as “quick codes” — is dead may well be misplaced.

App-based mobile banking certainly serves a purpose, but it is a far cry from meeting the needs of the mass market in terms of them becoming financially empowered and included.

Traditional banks across Africa need to rethink how they offer mobile banking to the masses — and quickly. The cost of data is out of their control, and shows no signs of being driven down.

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Mobile Apps That Are Saving Lives In Africa

Technology has an important role to play in African daily life, and in fact, some mobile apps that have been created contribute to saving lives.

Image result for mobile apps in africaMobile apps are easily accessible, often free or cost-effective, and can be used on the go.

Whether helping to enhance healthcare, assist with security or summon law enforcement, the mobile apps on this list have been designed specifically to deal with challenges and assist African communities with crucial elements of their lives.

Here are 12 mobile apps that are saving lives in Africa.

Medicapt

This app helps doctors to document evidence of sexual violence in the DR Congo, recording medical examination results digitally along with photos of injuries, which can be sent to police or lawyers as necessary, potential saving lives in the process.

Hello Doctor

Available in 10 African countries, Hello Doctor provides healthcare information that is updated daily, while providing access to healthcare advice via doctors who answer questions posed to them by users of the mobile application.

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WhatsApp hurting mobile revenue in African telcos want to fight back

Mobile revenue growth has declined in sub- Saharan Africa since 2013 and is expected to continue its downward trend until the end of the decade—despite a fast-growing subscriber base.

Image result for mobile apps in africa

Much of the drop has been attributed to the use of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. With more subscribers showing a preference to chat and and make voice calls via these platforms, there’s an “increasing cannibalization of traditional voice and messaging revenues,” according to a new Mobile Economy report by the GSM Association (GSMA) trade organization.

At stake for Africa’s telcos is the significant capital investment made to build out mobile networks. The industry is expected to spend around $31 billion to expand across sub-Saharan Africa over the next four years, says GSMA.

Telco executives argue that to see a return on that investment, voice and SMS revenue growth will need to match or outperform previous years. “You can’t adjust your costs for building the same quality of network,” a senior executive at one of Nigeria’s main telcos told Quartz, referring to a problem of “voice transference” as more Nigerians use WhatsApp in particular.

Services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have been subject of debates by local mobile operators and regulators. Last year, Nigeria’s telecoms regulator claimed that amid diminishing revenues, OTT services overwhelm local operators’ networks and leave them with little incentive to invest and improve broadband capability. South African operators also have complained about OTT services freeloading on their networks.

“They don’t pay taxes, don’t develop infrastructure, they don’t even open offices and create jobs. They are undermining our industry.” complained a senior executive at one of South Africa’s largest mobile operators, who asked not to be identified as he did not have permission to speak publicly on the topic.

Local regulators keen to be seen as supportive of digital platforms favored by young people also do not want to discourage investors—or harm tax revenue—by ignoring the complaints of the phone companies.

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