Tag Archives: South Africa

#data will fall

In a ground-breaking move, South African mobile operators have announced a deal whereby people who cannot afford data would be able to barter their goods in exchange for data bundles. The new deal is set to come into effect in 2017 as some ground work needs to be done to design a structure of how this system will work practically.

Speaking to reporters, Vodacom’s Jal nied ta jus Pay said, “we are tired of the FOMO that is going on out there because people cannot afford data and as one of the biggest networks in the country we have taken it upon ourselves to bring data to the people.”

 

The system will see collection centres being set up across the country to collect goods and other items in exchange for airtime/recharge vouchers. Although it is still unclear what goods will be exchanged for which amounts of airtime, unconfirmed reports also suggest that those who have nothing to exchange will even be offered the chance to get contract deals as long they can work it off in 24 months.

 

The deals on offer range from getting a Huawei p9 with 1G of data per month in exchange for doing the Vodacom CEO’s gardening for 2 years to getting an S7 with 5G of data per month for doing lap dances at Teasers on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The latter deal would see the club covering your contract costs.

 

Experts around the world are hailing this new cost model as the way most mobile network providers will go especially in developing countries where data costs are so prohibitive that some people are even unable to respond to friend requests from as far back as 2 years ago.

 

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Communication said, “hopefully this brings down the cost of airtime and who knows people could free up more money to afford university fees making the feesmustfall hashtag obsolete and in turn all the (insertproblemhere)mustfall hashtags”

Why passports are a disadvantage in South Africa

Since I arrived in South Africa in 2005 I’ve found that doing any dealings with banks, western union, letting agents, Insurance companies, furniture shops, post offices, security guards at most Johannesburg residential complexes and DHL (by DHL I mean all shipping companies) always leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.

It amazes me how all these groups of people seem to want different documents from me to verify my identity every time I need to make use of their services. In a normal world it is usually enough to provide some form of valid ID and proof of address when dealing with most companies in the service industry. However in South Africa, particularly if you are human being of the foreign variety, sometimes these requirements morph into an exercise that seems akin to trying to get a visa to visit the planet Krypton (No it does not exist).

For example, I tried sending money through Western Union. I had my passport and proof of residence with me simple enough right? Wrong! I was told that since I am not South African I would need to provide my passport, my valid work permit, proof of address, a 3 month bank statement, a recent pay slip not older than 3 months and a letter confirming my employment.

After a return journey home to fetch all these documents, a quick call to our bemused HR lady to email me the employment stuff and a quick turn to the print shop I found that the lady who had served me earlier had left and there was a new lady at the counter. She proceeded to give me forms that I duly filled in. She made copies of my passport, my permit, my proof of residence, my bank statement, handed me back my pay slip and confirmation of employment letter saying I wouldn’t need them and processed my transaction.

The next time I went to Western Union you can guess like any logical human being I took with me the documents that had been needed the last time only to be told again that I still needed my pay slip and a confirmation of employment letter. The only difference was that this time these documents were actually copied.

On a separate occasion I tried to visit a friend living in one of the flats in the Johannesburg CBD. All these flats require that you sign in at the entrance (most of which are manned by security guards) using some form of ID. Upon signing in I was about to enter when I was told by the security guard that I could not enter the flat because he had noticed that my work permit had expired. When I explained that my passport was valid and I was awaiting the outcome of my new application for a work permit (this is not to say that I understood why I needed a work permit to visit a friend) his response was that sadly he could not let me in because after all rules were rules. It seems even for a mere visit to a friend I needed a valid work permit.

Then there was the time I tried to register an online profile with Edgars (a clothing store) so that I could manage my account with them (I have learnt that using the internet often means I do not have to deal with people and this is usually an advantage because the computer has no idea that I am not South African. Or does it? Anyway that’s another story). I got to the part where you enter your ID number and I entered my passport number only for ‘the system’ (a word I hear a lot round these parts) to reject my registration saying I needed to enter an ID number that was 13 digits long (the format for all South African ID numbers). In my anger and disappointment at this obvious example of discrimination I did what any self-respecting person would do … I wrote a letter to them. Not counting the automated response that came seconds after I sent the letter, I have not heard back from them.

I have had many experiences like this and as a result have resorted to moving around with everything. So the next time you are rummaging through my bag (maybe that would also be a requirement for some service I need from you) do not be surprised if you find my passport, work permit, 3 month bank statement, proof of address, letter of employment, pay slip, my employment contract, police clearance certificate, signed medical certificate proving that I am fit and healthy attached to radiological reports, marriage licence, University transcripts, degree certificates, my 1st place ribbon from the egg and spoon race I won back in crèche and my Pokémon cards in case the requirements at a bank state that I need to battle and defeat another Pokémon before I can be given a line of credit.

Are you a foreigner? What is your experience of South Africa?

African leaders meet like ‘Africans’

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma proves that thinking like an African is not so bad if done in moderation

Pretoria –

African leaders on Tuesday opened talks in South Africa to discuss the formation of a panel that will consult on the creation of a committee that will confer to set up a forum that will moot the idea of different representatives meeting to exchange views on the possibility of the use of a rapid-deployment emergency force to swiftly intervene in crises on the continent.

The proposed new force will assist the continent pending the operation of the long-planned AU African Standby Force.

Jacob Zuma, the South African president , stated that the aim of the summit is to let leaders know that when it comes to security, “thinking like Africans in Africa in general” is not such a bad thing.  He added that the meeting would “enable Africa to act swiftly and independently in response to the urgent security challenges this continent faces”, except in Malawi where the dire state of the national road there makes it hard for anyone to act at all let alone act swiftly.

Apparently this decision came about due to the perceptive  and revolutionary realisation that 10 years was a long time to wait for “swift African responses to crises that arise on our continent..while the building blocks of the African Standby Force are carefully being put in place”.

The AU’s standby brigade has made little progress since its inception. A decade ago it was proposed that the force would be made up of 32 500 troops and civilians drawn from the continent’s five regions. Of the 32 500, only one has turned up. It’s not clear whether this lone ranger is actually part of the force or if he is the security guard of the site where the proposed base of the proposed force would have been built.

Name change expert, Diddy, formerly known as Puff Daddy, commented that “it probably has a lot to do with the use of the word brigade instead of force. I remember that when I was still called Puff Daddy the Puff got between the fans and I hence it was dropped in favour of Diddy. Now that the African standby brigade has a new name we should see it become more effective”. Other experts echo this view even stating that since the Organization of African Unity became the African Union things have been happening a lot faster in this body because of dropping the word “organization” from its name.

The meeting is being attended by countries that have said they are willing, in principle, holding all factors constant and provided the AU provides their soldiers with sunscreen that has SPF 15 or higher, to contribute to the force. It was not immediately clear how many countries have so far pledged troops to the new force.

The new force will be known simply as the African Capacity for Immediate & Swift Response to Crises in the Greater Africa bar Malawi (ACISRCGAM). – norushinafrica

photo credit: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea via photopin cc

You can’t open a Steri Stumpie #butyougotthatiPhone5though

350ml bottle of stei stumpie
If you can’t open this without spilling you do not need an iPhone…any iPhone.

I was well on my way to saving up for an iPhone4 when I heard that Apple had released the iPhone5. As far as technology goes I know enough to get by in today’s world. I know that when my TV is not working I must first make sure I am facing the screen before I call for help. I know that repeatedly pressing the up or down button while waiting for an elevator will not make it come to where I am any faster. I also know that there are no little people inside my TV.

I am a lot of things but what I’m not is one of those people who queue outside a store at odd hours of the morning waiting to buy the newest edition of a phone. I am not alone. Mere observation around the time the iPhone5 launched will tell you that around Africa there wasn’t a rush to buy the iPhone5 as was seen across the developed world. This is mainly because the iPhone5 is expensive and out of reach of most average Africans. That said there are still many people here who can afford to buy it.

I am all for technological advancement. I get excited when new gadgets are invented that make our lives easier while at the same time making the goal of getting a six-pack harder. However, I think that advancement in one aspect of our lives i.e in phones; TVs and cars etc. should match advancement elsewhere. I will give you some examples.

In an age where we have smart phones, like the iPhone5 you’d expect that the guys at Steri Stumpie (South Africa’s current number one flavoured milk brand) would have by now figured out how to make a 350ml bottle of the stuff that opens easily without spilling all over the place. The current 350ml bottle of the flavoured milk is covered by foil that is notoriously hard to crack open without pulling really hard resulting in a jolt that catapults the first 10ml of the stuff all over whatever and whoever is in front of you at the time of opening.

You’d think that in an age where some cars can almost drive on autopilot we would by now have a machine that can put the thread into the eye of a needle so that you don’t have to do it yourself.

You would think that here in South Africa and around Africa by now we would have an efficient public transport system that makes it easier for people in remote areas without cars to plan their days and get around.

Instead, what we have is an iPhone that has a taller screen, a whole 0.5 inches more than its predecessors, a faster processor, a new operating system and still no slot for a memory card.

Most Africans might not have satellite television, computers or cars but almost everyone has a mobile phone. This continent presents a large market for mobile phone manufacturers so they ignore us at their own peril. However they face a challenge in making their products affordable so that we don’t have a situation where you are so broke you eat cornflakes with a fork just to save milk #butyougotthatiPhone5though.

Steve Biko 1946 – 1977

The cover of "I write what I like"
The cover of “I write what I like”

September 11 is a date that will forever live in infamy in the United States and around the world as the day terrorism showed its ugly face. September 12 is a date that will forever live in infamy around the world as the day after the day that terrorism showed its ugly face.

For South Africans and all involved in the black consciousness movement September 12 has a different significance. It is remembered as the day that Steve Biko died. He was one of the founders of the black consciousness movement in South Africa.

If one relied solely on television for news, one could be forgiven for letting this date slip past without much pomp. Even for a struggle hero it’s tough when your memorial has to compete with the memorial of two jumbo jets crashing into two very iconic buildings as far the New York skyline is concerned.

I watch TV a lot and I must say during that week, I saw planes, I saw explosions, I saw aliens, I saw Ben 10 but I didn’t see Steve Biko much.

Steve Biko’s question to the world at the time was very simple: ‘what is the state of the black world?’ Today my question is just as simple: what is the state of the African world?

Well, where do I start? We are held to ransom by politicians who were born in an age where having your picture in black and white was just the way you had to have it and not a choice. In between burps that smell of foie gras and caviar, they go on and on in their speeches about how the youth of today have lost focus and how they died for this freedom that we take for granted.

We have a leader in South Africa who has 5 wives, goes on record as saying he took a shower to reduce the risk of contracting HIV and reads slower than the cookie monster on Sesame Street. We have a leader in Zimbabwe trying to be president and yet he ignores a court order to marry a second wife.

Still in South Africa, we have a situation were black people and other groups are still massively under represented in decision making roles especially in upper management roles in business.

We have a police commissioner who presides over the killing of 34 miners who were protesting (carrying weapons) for better wages. This commisioner replaced the commissioner who replaced the commissioner who was put in jail for corruption.

Plan A is not working. Come election time, what do we say to ourselves? Let’s try plan A again! We vote these same people into power then spend the next five or however years complaining about how corrupt they are.

Steve Biko died attempting to put together a united black front. I wonder what he would say were he alive today about the state of the black world. What is abundantly clear is that at the rate we are going, the black world and the Trade centre Towers might have more in common than we think. Just like the people on those American Airlines planes, we are on our way to crash but unlike them we are in a position to do something about it.

To quote Ben Okri, who spoke at Biko’s memorial lecture “there are three Africas. The one we see every day. The one they write about. And the real magical Africa we don’t see unfolding through all the difficulties of our time, like a quiet miracle.”

In years to come the Africa we become will depend on each and every one of us.