Project Isizwe, a new initiative from Alan Knott-Craig Jr, seeks to bridge the great digital gap, bringing the Internet, with its cat memes, Zwelinzima Vavi Twitter rants and yes, the best of Daily Maverick to those South Africans struggling to connect. An initial stage of the project was unveiled in Pretoria last week. Quite the Dezemba bonus for the Capital. By KHADIJA PATEL.
We live in a world that embraces - no, virtually demands - rankings. Rankings of virtually everything and everyone. Top tennis players, highest scoring percentage or batting average for soccer, basketball and baseball players, richest men (or women), most frequently cited scientists and economists in other people’s publications, the world’s highest grossing films, television shows with the most viewers, songs with the largest number of cover versions and sales. J BROOKS SPECTOR trawls through the Forbes rankings of world most powerful.
Last year, the equities market experienced the debacle of the Facebook IPO, in which a botched day on the trading floor left a bad taste in the mouth of those who had pumped $16 billion into the social media company. With that no doubt securely in mind, the folks behind Twitter are going for a somewhat different approach. Will it work? By RICHARD POPLAK.
Michael Jordaan won plaudits for his time at the helm of First National Bank. When he said earlier this year that he’d be stepping down from his role as FNB CEO, he said he might be interested in getting involved with “innovation technology”. On Monday, he announced his first post-FNB role: as the new chairman of the board of directors for cellphone-based social network Mxit. REBECCA DAVIS asked Jordaan what he had in mind for the position.
This week has proved a landmark in the history of the videogame industry. First, the fifth entry in the notorious Grand Theft Auto franchise grossed a staggering $800 million in its first 24 hours. And the man who transformed Nintendo from a playing card company into a revolutionary electronic gaming icon, Hiroshi Yamauchi, has died at 85. From Donkey Kong to beating hookers with a lead pipe, gaming has come of age. By RICHARD POPLAK.
There could be no winners in the high-stakes poker game over who will head the United States Federal Reserve when the current chairman, Ben Bernanke, steps down in January. That’s because in characteristic fashion, President Obama fumbled the cards, flipped over the table, accidentally choked out the dealer and set the casino on fire. The good news, however, is that the man who helped implode the global financial system will not become the most powerful economist in the world. By RICHARD POPLAK.
Financial website Moneyweb announced late last week that they are taking the Media24-owned website Fin24 to court for what they term “systematic plagiarism on an industrial scale”, for Fin24’s habit of repurposing stories first published on Moneyweb. From their side, Fin24 argues this kind of content aggregation is now standard practice internationally for sites like the Huffington Post. It’s a very interesting case, and the first of its type in South Africa. Are sites like Fin24 parasitic, or is Moneyweb failing to keep up with the times? By REBECCA DAVIS.
If a new project is rolled out as widely as planned, Tshwane residents may find themselves able to get online while strolling down public roads. Last week, Tshwane became the second municipality in South Africa, after Stellenbosch, to announce that it was rolling out free Wi-Fi for the use of its citizens. While this will initially be restricted to certain sites, the aim is for the entire Tshwane landmass to be Internet connected within the next three years. Those behind the project believe that Internet access has an increasingly indispensable part to play in Africa’s economic development and education. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Here’s a business idea for ya: Instead of schlepping foreigners around in covered 4x4s, handing them endless bottles of petroleum swathed water and feeding them strips of our locally dried meat product, how about taking them where the really dangerous animals lurk? Prague’s CorruptTour is tailor-made for the South African milieu. Someone could make, ahem, a killing. By RICHARD POPLAK.
Henry Ford was born 150 years ago this week (30 July 1863). He didn’t invent the automobile; he didn’t invent mass production or the assembly line; but by harnessing these together he put country behind the steering wheel of an affordable motor vehicle that helped revolutionise society and manufacturing. Famous for saying the customer could have their Model T vehicle in any colour they wanted, just as long as it was black and his hopes for world peace through mass consumerism, he was nearly as infamous for his notorious anti-union strikebreaking at Ford assembly plants and his virulent anti-Semitism. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look backward over Ford’s world.
The Advertising Standards Authority is in the news again, this time for its ruling that an ad for the City of Johannesburg must be withdrawn for making misleading claims about the city’s financial and environmental health. In recent years the ASA has had a mixed reputation, and its rulings regularly cause a bit of a stir. REBECCA DAVIS tried – with limited success – to investigate how the body actually makes its decisions.
Nairobi-based Ushahidi, better known for its crowd-sourcing software that helps map violence, has just entered the hardware business. Sticking to their populist roots, it crowd-funded the start-up capital to produce a new type of Internet modem that’s designed by Africans, for Africans. SIMON ALLISON wants one.
Black Economic Empowerment has not always had a positive image in the media. This is partly thanks to a few individuals who became mega-rich overnight on the back of BEE, while the majority of black people, who were supposed to benefit, remained poor. One company that has done things differently is Brimstone Investment Corporation, which was founded in 1995 with money collected from former anti-Apartheid activists: teachers who had taken retrenchment packages and other ordinary people from the Cape Flats. Interview by RYLAND FISHER.
Shuttleworth Fellow Arthur Attwell is on a mission to supply South Africa with cheaper, more convenient access to books – and he doesn’t believe that e-books are a solution for the time being. His social enterprise, Paperight, enables regular photocopy shops to print perfectly legal copies of books for customers, at a far lower price than they’d pay in a traditional bookshop. REBECCA DAVIS finds out how.
J Arthur Brown has been one of the most unpopular men in South Africa for a long time now. As the former CEO of Fidentia, he was at the wheel while R1,4 billion went missing from funds administered by the firm, including a fund meant to support widows and orphans of mine workers. It remains one of the biggest corporate scandals in South Africa’s history. Last week, to the shock and disgust of many, the Western Cape High Court ended six years of legal proceedings by handing Brown only a R150,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence. But Brown is receiving loyal support from an unexpected quarter: some of the very people whose money disappeared under his watch, and who most need it back. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The proposed Licensing of Business Bill has been lambasted by critics as draconian and impossible to implement successfully. These concerns are not limited to big business alone. On Thursday, the Free Market Foundation (FMF) presented two traders who warned that it could lead to unprecedented corruption and abuse of power. Luckily for us all, it is so badly written that it will never pass constitutional muster in its current state. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
Seated at Constitutional Hill, that symbolic custodian of SA’s Bill of Rights, the Awethu Project has a bold plan to create a more equal country that offers better opportunity to micro-entrepreneurs who’ve been disadvantaged by virtue of their education, Apartheid or class. The mission is to seed successful jobs and to create employment - lots and lots of employment. By MANDY DE WAAL.
In an interview last week at his modest office in Parow Industria, north of Cape Town, RYLAND FISHER spoke to Christo Wiese about, among other things, growing up in Upington, his success in Africa, his spat with SARS and getting caught at Heathrow taking millions of rands in a briefcase into London.
The Free Market Foundation has added its voice to those wanting the Licensing of Businesses Bill scrapped, calling it “draconian and “unworkable”. GREG NICOLSON spoke to the independent policy organisation’s chairman, Herman Mashaba, about why he is so vehemently opposed to the legislation and why the Free Market Foundation is taking the ministers of labour and justice to court.
The New Age, the pro-government newspaper owned by the Gupta family scored some R125 million in advertising in 2012, almost R75 million of it from government, parastatal or government-linked organisations. Not too bad for a brand-new newspaper that in 2012 didn’t even have certified circulation figures. It is likely The New Age will at least repeat this success in 2013, despite eschewing the print media industry’s gold standard for circulation measurement. By MANDY DE WAAL.