The will of the people

By Vusumzi Nobadula

The new definition of power is “the ability to exclude others”. This exclusion used to be done by racially superior groups in the past, stretching back 30 to 50 years in this country. Now it is being carried out by the same people who used to be the victims of this exclusionary system against their own kith and kin who, because they have not been party to corrupt secret deals, found themselves on dire straits, surviving on scraps of rotten food falling from the tables of the high and mighty – the new powerful elites made up of political, economic, religious, academic and criminal oligarchies. People with newly found personal wealth, who take no prisoners in their ruthless pursuit of material wealth and power – and who have no conscience or compassion for those who have been denied the chance to make it in this world.

It is a ruthless state of affairs where aggrieved poor blacks are forced to live with foreign homicidal criminals in their midst in the name of social cohesion – and when they raise their voice complaining about the imposition of these murderous groups on their areas, the powers that be shut them out by ignoring their calls and insult them by calling them “criminals”, Afrophobic murderers” and “thieves”. When they call radio stations to complain about this forced reintegration of the same criminals they have chased out of their communities, they are met with a steely resolve from radio presenters who have been told in advance by their employers how to deal with people speaking on behalf of poor blacks. These radio presenters tell them to shut up and accept these despised people in their areas despite the fact that their lives are at risk. All in all, they are denied any form of public platform to raise their concerns. When they march, they are shot with live ammunition and rubber bullets by the police, some dying or losing their eyes and suffering all sorts of serious injuries in such violent confrontations with the forces of darkness that bring only misery to the lives of poor blacks.

As a person who follows prime time news religiously, it is very depressing to see state officials and celebrities having a go at poor blacks, calling them all sorts of names in front of millions of TV viewers, using the mass media to drive home their venomous hatred of poor people. These powerful people conveniently forget that not everybody has benefited from SA’s so-called freedom, despite the fact that the country is rich and is the most advanced economy on the continent – with six major urban centres brimming with some of the country’s richest and poorest people alike, that is, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. To me, SA is the richest country in Africa because every poverty-stricken person runs to SA.

Fortunately, not everybody believes the oft-repeated claim by our political leaders and news readers on the national broadcaster and other media platforms that we are now free – and we live in a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic country. Not everybody is going to believe that. Not with the state of affairs as demonstrated by the almost daily marches and protests by disgruntled workers and residents alike; the deep psychological scars left by the massive damage done by outbreaks of deadly fires in the country’s informal settlements; pictures on prime time news showing uninhabitable student living quarters in the historically black universities; collapsed health care and education facilities in some provinces; corruption in high places; porous borders bringing into the country some of the world’s most dangerous criminals; muti killings; serial rapists on the loose; human trafficking and violent crime.

This is a very bad state of affairs. The bad images in the mass media give SA a bad name. That is why something must be done by the citizenry – if the authorities do not act expeditiously – then the people themselves must make it their mission to arrest this downward slide to a completely immoral society.

It is only the will of the people that can restore this country to what was envisaged by the leaders who propagated its non-racial and egalitarian ethos during the reign of the UDF in the mid-’80s. During those dark days of apartheid, people had great faith in their leaders. They never doubted their integrity. I do not see any problem why we can fail now to muster all the strength that is still there in the country to return to such high standards of morality.

I say this because there are still good men and women in this country who want to see our country and its people succeed – people such as political economist Moeletsi Mbeki and political giant Dr Motsoko Pheko.

The African-American political philosopher, Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture), addressing a rally on 17 February 1967 in the US on the occasion of Huey P Newton’s birthday, said: “It is the will of the people that determines the course of the war.”

Operation Rösselsprung (German for knight’s move in chess) was a combined airborne and ground assault by the German XV Mountain Corps on the headquarters of the Yugoslav Partisans located at Drvar aimed at capturing or killing their leader, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, and destroying his headquarters. The operation was launched on 25 May 1944.

The airborne assault was preceded by heavy bombing of the town by the Luftwaffe (German Air Force). But despite the superior German airpower, the operation was a failure, as Tito and his principal headquarters staff escaped. The operation failed because the people who were defending him were determined to protect him. That is the will of the people – and 6 000 Partisans lost their lives defending Tito. Only 576 German soldiers perished in that engagement.

What is important here is not the question of the numbers of dead or wounded, the main issue is that the German High Command did not achieve its primary goal, that of capturing or killing Marshal Tito.

There are a few cases where the will of the people had prevailed over a superior power – most notably the successful defence of Stalingrad during World War 2; Cuban fighters successfully repelling the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1959; and the Vietcong defeating the US in 1975.

If these good men and women fail to grasp the earliest opportunity to do something about this parlous state of affairs, the warning by British political philosopher Edmund Burke who said almost 200 years ago: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” will ring true.

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Develop your own countries

There seems to be no rest or peace of mind for the average African person. Ordinary citizens of South Africa, the last country to attain freedom on the African continent, are now besieged by international criminal gangs and members of organised crime who have exploited the opening of the country’s borders in 1994 by the new ruling elite and moved in and set up regional headquarters in Johannesburg – and a horde of impoverished people from the African land mass up north, South-East Asia and Central Europe looking for greener pastures – and therefore finding themselves in a direct collision course with South Africa’s own 22 million poverty-stricken citizens, fighting over scarce resources and the crumbs thrown at them by members of the white established wealth and the few co-opted African comprador capitalists.

After reading an article by Percy Zvomuya headed “Africans face new perils on the seas” (Mail & Guardian, November 1 to 7 2013) about the case of 360 African souls who had drowned off the Italian island of Lampedusa in October of that year; and a story by Jeff Wicks of News24 on Monday, 13 April 2015 titled “KZN xenophobic violence spreads to KwaMashu”, about the continued attacks on foreign nationals in that province, where foreign-owned shops in Umlazi and KwaMashu in Durban were torched the previous Sunday night, I reached the following conclusion: these kinds of deaths and social upheavals are not necessary. African people are not supposed to die like this on the high seas or be hunted down like wild animals by residents of depressed areas given that this continent is rich in both natural resources and human capital.

This continent has produced some of the best leaders and thinkers over the years – especially after World War 2 – leaders who played a major role in the struggle to liberate the continent from colonial rule and state-sanctioned racial segregation. Great leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Robert Sobukwe of South Africa come to mind. During the same period Africa has produced equally great thinkers such as Frantz Fanon and Cheikh Anta Diop, who wrote books about the problems the continent had to confront and thereafter solve. We are not short of any reference points that can help us bring about stability in most countries on the continent.

In an article written for the World Bank’s “Africa Can End Poverty” blog in September 2012, titled “What will it take to end poverty in Africa”, Shanta Devarajan offers some very powerful solutions to the twin problems of poverty and corruption in Africa, which compel impoverished people like the ones who drowned off Lampedusa island to take major risks looking for greener pastures in Europe and elsewhere.

His advice is summarised here as follows: ”… Governments must provide primary education so that poor children can have access to learning. Education, health and infrastructure are important for escaping poverty. The question is: why has there not been more education, health and infrastructure for poor people? The answer is not simply a lack of money. The problem is that much of the money spent on these sectors is captured by powerful elites before it reaches the poor.”

I want to argue that functional states in Africa must come to the rescue of mismanaged states because running away from one’s country does not solve any problems for the displaced person as most countries of the world are also struggling, having to deal with the consequences of the global financial crisis that began in 2008. People must be assisted in such a way that they develop their own countries and not be forced to run away from economic hardships and civil wars started by warlords who are fighting over public resources. The continent needs new ways of doing things because this poverty is unnecessary. Also, the problem of irregular migration can be stopped if African leaders put the interests of their people first.

As a starting point towards the route of inclusive socio-economic upliftment of marginalised communities in Africa (and in Latin America), decision-makers in beleaguered African countries can use human developmental models such as Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs to prioritise their needs and requirements.

This deliberate reconfiguration of Maslow’s theory – where he ranks our needs as human beings ranging from the need for shelter and food as the primary need up to self-actualisation being at the apex of these needs – can therefore be used in the developmental trajectory of political entities, whether economically highly developed or not, and set clear benchmarks as indicators of where they are headed.

I strongly believe that if the nations of the developing world can subjectively and consciously strive towards overcoming their primary needs such as providing quality education for their citizens, coupled with adequate healthcare facilities and structured urbanisation for the urban poor and accelerated service delivery for those living in rural areas – then it is obvious that these newly empowered citizens will display hitherto unknown levels of enhanced civic pride and healthy competition among themselves.

This state of affairs will make it possible for these countries and their people to achieve great things in life and put them higher up in the constellation of the world’s most powerful [and free] countries. This last stage will constitute what would have translated as self-actualisation – in the broader scheme of Maslow’s thought processes.

Thinkers and other people with higher mental abilities must consciously make use of these theories as summarised above because a lot of deep thinking was involved in putting these thoughts together on the part of these theorists – with the express aim of making this a better world for all of us who live in it. With the right frame of mind with regard to the general populations of these countries and a strong political will on the part of the political elites governing these people – this can be done and everybody will be directly involved in putting paid to all human suffering as we know it.

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Bold move to bring peace in Africa

By Kuhle Mkize

(This is an update and edited version of the our post published on 12 August)

In a bold move to find ways of how peace can be brought to last in war-torn areas on the African continent – and also how women can contribute to such efforts, the Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR) hosted a seminar at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town on Monday, 11 August 2014 to discuss how women can participate in this regard.

“This is wonderful opportunity for all of us during this month, the Women’s Month – to look at this very important issue of peace,” said former deputy minister of health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, who chaired the seminar.

One of the keynote speakers was Mara Glennie, an activist for women’s rights and the founder of Transform Education About Rape and Sexual Abuse (Tears).

Glennie talked about the importance of the role of women in bringing about lasting peace on the continent and also said that peace begins at home, within the family structure.

“Most of the time we do not have a plan and a purpose, for instance we can form discussion groups in our communities and agree to do things together, men and women. We must first empower women in our communities so that their voices and ideas can be respected and acted upon just as their male counterparts are. This will be the first step that will lead to people in these communities being in a position where they can now tackle the bigger issues of conflict resolution and peace making,” she said.

Another guest speaker was Netsai Mushonga, the senior manager at CCR responsible for the finding ways to intervene in conflict-riddled areas on the continent, with the aim of bringing peace in these areas.

She also believes that if peace-making efforts can begin at home, within the family, then this attitude can move to the community, and then the whole nation and eventually to the whole world. She said we need to actively spread the message of peace across the continent.

“Men and women have a crucial role to play in building peace in Africa. We can successfully bring about peace on the continent by working as family units and members of our communities without any additional cost to us,” said Mushona.

A member of the audience, Nonhlanhla Jali, highlighted the challenges women face when they try to make an impact in society because women live and work in male-dominated societies across the continent. She alluded to the fact that patriarchal culture stifles efforts by women to play a meaningful role in shaping their communities in the right direction.

She said at times women fall into the trap of emulating men in order to survive in these male-dominated societies. They adopt a masculine attitude to look tough, not knowing by doing that they perpetuate the same stereotypes that lead to conflict in the first place.

“Some even fight in wars and in armies just to survive, fighting in wars started by men,” she said.

In conclusion, Mushonga also talked about the fact most countries in Africa and all over the world spend millions of dollars buying arms to perpetuate wars and regional conflicts, and not enough on critical areas such as education and health of their citizens.

“Important areas such as health, education and infrastructure development are not being prioritised. More money is spent on things that do not bring peace. We should get our priorities right,” she said.

Seminars like these encourage people from all different walks of life to speak out about these burning issues, creating an opportunity for them to exchange ideas and learn from one another.

In her concluding remarks, Glennie urged women to work towards building a more caring society wherever they find themselves, a society that remembers that we need each other.

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Women Advocating Peace

This Article has been update and edited and the new version can be found here

Peace in Africa is an emotive issue that affects everyone living in the continent. In pursuit of means of how women can contribute to peace; The Centre for Conflict Resolution Cape Town (CCR) took an initiative to discuss how women can participate.

“This is wonderful opportunity for all of us during this month, women’s month. To look at a very important issue; the issue of peace.” said Ms Nozizwe Madlala –Routledge

The dialogue was extended to the public and all organizations that wanted to participate in it. One of the keynote speakers was Ms Maria Glennie; who is an activist for women’s right and the founder of Transform Education About Rape and Sexual Abuse (TEARS).

Ms Glennie highlighted how important the role of women is in order to uphold peace and that peace begins at home.

“A lot of times we don’t have a plan and a purpose; one could form discussion circles in their community and agree to do things together. To empower first in your community is a small step towards tackling bigger issues. Than together with your community you can tackle the bigger issues” she said.

Ms Netsai Mushonga; who was also a key note speaker is the senior manager responsible for the Conflict Intervention and Peacebuliding support project at CCR Cape Town.

She believes peace and tolerance should start from the family, then community, then at the national and global level.

“Women and men have a role to play in building peace in South Africa. We can successfully build peace at the family and community levels without any additional recourse” said Ms Mushona

Ms Nonhlanhla Jali highlighted that challenges that women face in order to make an impact is that women live and work in a male construct environment.

“When we work in that environment we adopt male attributes; masculine ways of surviving. This foreign to us, but it gets to that point that women in their 50’s getting out of the cooperate sector because it’s hard.” she added

Ms Mushonga expressed her concerns that countries spend millions of money on military and war efforts and not enough on other issues.
“Adequate resources such as health, education and infrastructure development are not being prioritised. More money is spent on items not bringing peace; we should get our priorities right” she further said

Ms Jali encouraged women to tap into their natural talents of being nurtures, peace builders, and conflict resolvers. In order to transform the institutions’ that they work in; so that those qualities can used to get what they want.

Dialogues like these encourage everyone from different spheres to speak their minds; setting an opportunity to exchange ideas and learning from one another.

“. It all starts in these forums where we influence each other; the cross pollination of thoughts and ideas start here” said Ms Jali

Ms Glennie urged women to start the philosophy of being a more caring society, society that remembers that we need each other. Furthermore she said that women should know that saying NO; is their right.

Kuhle Mkize


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Nigeria conference

News Release, Media Accreditation Opens for First World Economic Forum on Africa in Nigeria
Maxwell Hall, Senior Media Manager, World Economic Forum, Tel.: +41 (0)79 329 3500; E-mail:

The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7-9 May 2014
Under the theme, “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”, over 900 participants are expected to take part in the meeting.

Media can register for the meeting at
Geneva, Switzerland, 27 February 2014 – Media accreditation opens today for the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa, which will take place in Abuja, Nigeria, from 7 to 9 May 2014. Convening under the theme “Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs”, the meeting will provide an unrivalled gathering for senior decision-makers from industry, government, academia, civil society and the media to understand and shape Africa’s future.

To cover this event, please register online at before Friday 18 April. As the number of accreditations issued is strictly limited, we will not be able to accommodate late registrations. No accreditation will be granted on site. To facilitate the visa application process, we encourage you to register early.

The World Economic Forum on Africa will focus on the continent’s efforts to strengthen competitiveness, invest in human capital, boost strategic infrastructure and build resilience in a volatile global environment. Participants will help to determine how to better address challenges of fluctuating commodity prices, rising inequality and youth unemployment.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting are:

Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom
Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Heineken, Netherlands
Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria
Bineta Diop, President, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland
Jabu A. Mabuza, Chairman, Telkom Group, South Africa
Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, India
John Rice, Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR

Notes to Editors

Follow the World Economic Forum on Africa at
Download photos from the event at
Watch live webcasts of sessions at
Follow the Forum on Twitter at and (hashtag #WEF)
Follow tweets from participants on our twitter list at
Read the Forum blog at
Become a fan of the Forum on Facebook at
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The Forum Media App is available here

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Future technologies

The following article first appeared on the World Economic Forum website. Industry Agenda: Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2014, From the Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies. Context and Objectives – Technology has become perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. While never without risk, positive technological breakthroughs promise innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time, from resource scarcity to global environmental change. However, due to a lack of appropriate investment, outdated regulatory frameworks and gaps in public understanding, many promising technologies are constrained from achieving their potential.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies identifies recent key trends in technological change in its annual list of Top 10 Emerging Technologies. By highlighting the most important technological breakthroughs, the Council aims to raise awareness of their potential and contribute to closing gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding. For 2014, the Council identified 10 new technologies that could reshape our society in the future. The 2014 List of Emerging Technologies Body – adapted (1) Wearable Electronics From Google Glass to the Fitbit wristband, wearable technology has generated significant attention over the past year, with most existing devices helping people to better understand their personal health and fitness by monitoring exercise, heart rate, sleep patterns, and so on. The sector is shifting beyond external wearables like wristbands or clip-on devices to “body-adapted” electronics that further push theever-shifting boundary between humans and technology.

The new generation of wearables is designed to adapt to the human body’s shape at the place of deployment. These wearables are typically tiny, packed with a wide range of sensors and a feedback system, and camouflaged to make their use less intrusive and more socially acceptable. These virtually invisible devices include earbuds that monitor heart rate, sensors worn under clothes to track posture,a temporary tattoo that tracks health vitals and haptic shoe soles that communicate GPS directions through vibration alerts felt by the feet. The applications are many and varied: haptic shoes are currently proposed for helping blind people navigate, while Google Glass has already been worn by oncologists to assist in surgery via medical records and other visual information accessed by voice commands.Technology analysts consider that success factors for wearable products include device size, non-invasiveness, and the ability to measure multiple parameters and provide real-time feedback thatimproves user behaviour. However, increased uptake also dependson social acceptability as regards privacy. For example, concernshave been raised about wearable devices that use cameras for facial recognition and memory assistance. Assuming these challenges can be managed, analysts project hundreds of millions of devices in use by 2016.

Nanostructured Carbon CompositesEmissions from the world’s rapidly-growing fleet of vehicles are an environmental concern, and raising the operating efficiency of transport is a promising way to reduce its overall impact. New techniques to nanostructure carbon fibres for novel composites areshowing the potential in vehicle manufacture to reduce the weight ofcars by 10% or more. Lighter cars need less fuel to operate, increasing the efficiency of moving people and goods and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, efficiency is only one concern – another of equal importance is improving passenger safety. To increase the strength and toughness of new composites, the interface between carbon fibres and the surrounding polymer matrix is engineered at thenanoscale to improve anchoring – using carbon nanotubes, for example. In the event of an accident, these surfaces are designed to absorb impact without tearing, distributing the force and protectingpassengers inside the vehicle.A third challenge, which may now be closer to a solution, is that ofrecycling carbon fibre composites – something which has held back the widespread deployment of the technology. New techniquesinvolve engineering cleavable “release points” into the material at the interface between the polymer and the fibre so that the bonds can be broken in a controlled fashion and the components that make up the composite can be recovered separately and reused.

Taken together, these three elements could have a major impact by bringing forward the potential for manufacturing lightweight, super-safe and recyclable composite vehicles to a mass scale. Mining Metals from Desalination BrineAs the global population continues to grow and developing countries emerge from poverty, fresh water is at risk of becoming one of theEarth’s most limited natural resources. In addition to water for drinking, sanitation and industry in human settlements, a significant proportion of the world’s agricultural production comes from irrigatedcrops grown in arid areas. With rivers like the Colorado, the Murray-Darling and the Yellow River no longer reaching the sea for long periods of time, the attraction of desalinating seawater as a newsource of freshwater can only increase. Desalination has serious drawbacks, however. In addition to high energy use (a topic covered in last year’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies), the process produces a reject-concentrated brine, which can have a serious impact on marine life when returned to the sea. Perhaps the most promising approach to solving this problem is to see the brine from desalination not as waste, but as a resource to be harvested for valuable materials.

These include lithium, magnesium and uranium, as well as the more common sodium, calcium and potassium elements. Lithium and magnesium are valuable for use in high-performance batteries and lightweight alloys, for example, while rare earth elements used in electric motors and wind turbines – where potential shortages are already a strategic concern – may also be recovered. New processes using catalyst-assisted chemistry raise the possibilityof extracting these metals from reject desalination brine at a cost that may eventually become competitive with land-based mining of ores or lake deposits. This economic benefit may offset the overall cost of desalination, making it more viable on a large scale, in turn reducing the human pressures on freshwater ecosystems.

 Grid-scale Electricity Storage Electricity cannot be directly stored, so electrical grid managers mustconstantly ensure that overall demand from consumers is exactly matched by an equal amount of power fed into the grid by generating stations. Because the chemical energy in coal and gas can be storedin relatively large quantities, conventional fossil-fuelled power stations offer dispatchable energy available on demand, making grid management a relatively simple task.

However, fossil fuels alsorelease greenhouse gases, causing climate change – and many countries now aim to replace carbon-based generators with a clean energy mix of renewable, nuclear or other non-fossil sources. Clean energy sources, in particular wind and solar, can be highly intermittent; instead of producing electricity when consumers and grid managers want it, they generate uncontrollable quantities only when favourable weather conditions allow. A scaled-up nuclear sector might also present challenges due to its preferred operation as always-on baseload. Hence, the development of grid-scale electricity storage options has long been a “holy grail” for clean energy systems. To date, only pumped storage hydropower can claim a significant role, but it is expensive, environmentally challenging and totally dependent on favourable geography. There are signs that a range of new technologies is getting closer to cracking this challenge.

Some, such as flow batteries may, in the future, be able to store liquid chemical energy in large quantitiesanalogous to the storage of coal and gas. Various solid battery options are also competing to store electricity in sufficiently energy-dense and cheaply available materials. Newly invented graphene super capacitors offer the possibility of extremely rapid charging and discharging over many tens of thousands of cycles. Other options use kinetic potential energy such as large flywheels or the underground storage of compressed air. A more novel option being explored at medium scale in Germany is CO2 methylation via hydrogen electrolysis, where surplus electricity isused to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, with the hydrogen laterbeing reacted with waste carbon dioxide to form methane for later combustion – if necessary, to generate electricity. While the round-trip efficiency of this and other options may be relatively low, clearly storage potential will have high economic value in the future. It is too early to pick a winner, but it appears that the pace of technological development in this field is moving more rapidly than ever, in our assessment, bringing a fundamental breakthrough more likely in the near term.

 Nanowire Lithium-ion BatteriesAs stores of electrical charge, batteries are critically important in many aspects of modern life. Lithium-ion batteries, which offer good energy density (energy per weight or volume) are routinely packed into mobile phones, laptops and electric cars, to name just a few common uses. However, to increase the range of electric cars to match that of petrol-powered competitors – not to mention the battery lifetime between charges of mobile phones and laptops–battery energy density needs to be improved dramatically. Batteries are typically composed of two electrodes, a positive terminal known as a cathode, and a negative terminal known as an anode,with an electrolyte in between. This electrolyte allows ions to move between the electrodes to produce current. In lithium-ion batteries,the anode is composed of graphite, which is relatively cheap and durable. However, researchers have begun to experiment with silicon anodes, which would offer much greater power capacity.

One engineering challenge is that silicon anodes tend to suffer structural failure from swelling and shrinking during charge-discharge cycle. Over the last year, researchers have developed possible solutions that involve the creation of silicon nanowires or nanoparticles, which seem to solve the problems associated with silicon’s volume expansion when it reacts with lithium. The largersurface area associated with nanoparticles and nanowires furtherincreases the battery’s power density, allowing for fast charging andcurrent delivery. Able to fully charge more quickly, and produce 30%-40% more electricity than today’s lithium-ion batteries, this next generation of batteries could help transform the electric car market and allow the storage of solar electricity at the household scale. Initially, silicon-anode batteries are expected to begin to ship in smartphones within the next two years.

 Screenless DisplayOne of the more frustrating aspects of modern communications technology is that, as devices have miniaturized, they have become more difficult to interact with – no one would type out a novel on asmartphone, for example. The lack of space on screen-based displays provides a clear opportunity for screenless displays to fill the gap. Full-sized keyboards can already be projected onto a surface forusers to interact with, without concern over whether it will fit into their pocket. Perhaps evoking memories of the early Star Wars films, holographic images can now be generated in three dimensions; in 2013, MIT’s Media Lab reported a prototype inexpensive holographic colour video display with the resolution of a standard TV. Screenless display may also be achieved by projecting images directly onto a person’s retina, not only avoiding the need for weighty hardware, but also promising to safeguard privacy by allowing people to interact with computers without others sharing the same view.

By January 2014, one start-up company had already raised a substantial sum via Kickstarter with the aim of commercialising a personal gaming and cinema device using retinal display. In the longer term,technology may allow synaptic interfaces that bypass the eye altogether, transmitting “visual” information directly to the brain. This field saw rapid progress in 2013 and appears set for imminentbreakthroughs of scalable deployment of screenless display. Various companies have made significant breakthroughs in the field, including virtual reality headsets, bionic contact lenses, the development of mobile phones for the elderly and partially blind people, and hologram-like videos without the need for moving parts or glasses.

 Human Microbiome TherapeuticsThe human body is perhaps more properly described as anecosystem than as a single organism: microbial cells typicallyoutnumber human cells by 10 to one. This human microbiome hasbeen the subject of intensifying research in the past few years, withthe Human Microbiome Project in 2012 reporting results generatedfrom 80 collaborating scientific institutions. They found that more than 10 000 microbial species occupy the human ecosystem, comprising trillions of cells and making up 1%-3% of the body’s mass.Through advanced DNA sequencing, bioinformatics and culturing technologies, the diverse microbe species that cohabitate with the human body are being identified and characterised, with differencesin their abundance correlated with disease and health.It is increasingly understood that this plethora of microbes plays an important role in our survival: bacteria in the gut, for example, allow humans to digest foods and absorb important nutrients that theirbodies would otherwise not be able to access.

On the other hand, pathogens that are ubiquitous in humans can sometimes turn virulentand cause sickness or even death. Attention is being focused on the gut microbiome and its role in diseases ranging from infections to obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. It is increasingly understood that antibiotic treatments that destroy gut flora can result in complicationssuch as Clostridium difficile infections, which can in rare cases leadto life-threatening complications. On the other hand, a new generation of therapeutics comprising a subset of microbes found in healthy gut are under clinical development with a view to improving medical treatments. Advances in human microbiome technologies clearly represent an unprecedented way to develop new treatments for serious diseases and to improve general healthcare outcomes in our species.

 RNA-based Therapeutics RNA is an essential molecule in cellular biology, translating geneticinstructions encoded in DNA into the production of the proteins that enable cells to function. However, as protein production is also acentral factor in most human diseases and disorders, RNA-based therapeutics have long been thought to hold the potential to treat a range of problems where conventional drug-based treatmentscannot offer much help. The field has been slow to develop, however, with initial high hopes being dented by the sheer complexity of the effort and the need to better understand the variability of gene expression in cells. Over the past year, there has been a resurgence of interest in this new field of biotech healthcare, with two RNA-based treatments approved as human therapeutics as of 2014. RNA-based drugs for a range of conditions including genetic disorders, cancer and infectious disease are being developed based on the mechanism of RNA interference, which is used to silence the expression of defective or overexpressed genes.Extending the repertoire of RNA-based therapeutics, an even newer platform based on messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules is nowemerging. Specific mRNA sequences injected intramuscularly or intravenously can act as therapeutic agents through the patient’sown cells, translating them into the corresponding proteins thatdeliver the therapeutic effect.

Unlike treatments aimed at changing DNA directly, RNA-based therapeutics do not cause permanentchanges to the cell’s genome and so can be increased or discontinued as necessary. Advances in basic RNA science, synthesis technology and in-vivo delivery are combining to enable a new generation of RNA-based drugs that can attenuate the abundance of natural proteins, or allow for the in vivo production of optimized, therapeutic proteins. Workingin collaboration with large pharmaceutical companies and academia, several private companies that aim to offer RNA-based treatmentshave been launched. We expect this field of healthcare to increasingly challenge conventional pharmaceuticals in forging newtreatments for difficult diseases in the next few years.  Quantified Self (Predictive Analytics)The quantified-self movement has existed for many years as a collaboration of people collecting continual data on their everyday activities in order to make better choices about their health and behaviour.

But, with today’s Internet of Things, the movement has begun to come into its own and have a wider impact.Smartphones contain a rich record of people’s activities, includingwho they know (contact lists, social networking apps), who they talk to (call logs, text logs, emails), where they go (GPS, Wi-Fi, and geotagged photos) and what they do (apps we use, accelerometer data). Using this data, and specialized machine-learning algorithms, detailed and predictive models about people and their behaviourscan be built to help with urban planning, personalised medicine, sustainability and medical diagnosis.For example, a team at Carnegie Mellon University has been looking at how to use smartphone data to predict the onset of depression by modelling changes in sleep behaviours and social relationships overtime. In another example, the Livehoods project, large quantities of geotagged data created by people’s smartphones (using software such as Instagram and Foursquare) and crawled from the Web have allowed researchers to understand the patterns of movement through urban spaces. In recent years, sensors have become cheap and increasingly ubiquitous as more manufacturers include them in their products to understand consumer behaviour and avoid the need for expensive market research.

For example, cars can record every aspect of a person’s driving habits, and this information can be shown insmartphone apps or used as big data in urban planning or traffic management. As the trend continues towards extensive data gathering to track every aspect of people’s lives, the challenge becomes how to use this information optimally, and how to reconcile it with privacy and other social concerns. Brain-computer InterfacesThe ability to control a computer using only the power of the mind iscloser than one might think. Brain-computer interfaces, wherecomputers can read and interpret signals directly from the brain,have already achieved clinical success in allowing quadriplegics, those suffering “locked-in syndrome” or people who have had a stroke to move their own wheelchairs or even drink coffee from a cup by controlling the action of a robotic arm with their brain waves.

In addition, direct brain implants have helped restore partial vision to people who have lost their sight.Recent research has focused on the possibility of using brain-computer interfaces to connect different brains together directly. Researchers at Duke University last year reported successfully connecting the brains of two mice over the Internet (into what was termed a “brain net”) where mice in different countries were able to cooperate to perform simple tasks to generate a reward. Also in 2013, scientists at Harvard University reported that they were able to establish a functional link between the brains of a rat and a humanwith a non-invasive, computer-to-brain interface. Other research projects have focused on manipulating or directly implanting memories from a computer into the brain. In mid-2013, MIT researchers reported having successfully implanted a false memory into the brain of a mouse. In humans, the ability to directly manipulate memories might have an application in the treatment ofpost-traumatic stress disorder, while in the longer term, information may be uploaded into human brains in the manner of a computer file. Of course, numerous ethical issues are also clearly raised by this rapidly advancing field.

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National Lotteries Board
Newsletter to Stakeholders:

February 21, 2014
WARNING: No Fees For Lottery Applications & Workshops –

Pretoria, 21 February 2014. The CEO of the National Lotteries Board (NLB), Mrs Charlotte Mampane has issued a caution to NGOs across South Africa to beware of scammers who are using the NLB and the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund logos to try to scam vulnerable NGOs that are desperate to access funding.

“We have received information that crèches and day care centres have received invitations to attend a 3-day workshop in Pretoria that will help them access lottery funding and to pay a fee of R2000.00 into a bank account not linked to the NLB for transport and accommodation and meals”, said Ms Mampane. “We want NGOs to be assured that we do not charge any fees for workshops and, more importantly, we do not have any agents.”

During the call for applications, the NLB hosts workshops and sets up help desks across the country at no cost to attendees. NLB staff are present to assist applicants with the application process.

“There are also consultants that go out to schools when there is a call for applications and get the principals and governing bodies to sign blank application forms. The schools are unaware of what they are applying for. As soon as there is a payment, the consultants draw the entire grant. The NLB warns that the applicant is responsible for the grant and not the consultants. The main contact persons on application forms must be representatives of the applicant organisation and not consultants. Where there are management fees, the fees have to be reasonable and would not necessarily be covered by the NLDTF grant. NGOs must also follow the prescripts of the PFMA, especially with regards to procurement, warns the NLB.

The National Lotteries Board is concerned that unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the desperation of NGOs to raise funds. Our investigators are thoroughly investigating these scams and will take the necessary action to bring these people to book”, said Charlotte Mampane.
The National Lotteries Board has set up an anonymous fraud hotline and urges the public to alert the NLB of any fraudulent or suspicious activity and also misuse of lottery funding by calling the fraud hotline at 0800 012 013.


Pretoria, 21 February 2014. “In recent months there has been an increase in the number of illegal lotteries being advertised in the media. This leaves participants in these illegal lotteries unprotected and no guarantee that they can claim their prizes if they ‘win’”, said Prof Alfred Nevhutanda, the Chairperson of the National Lotteries Board (NLB).

The NLB is a statutory body that has been established in terms of the Lotteries Act (No. 57 of 1997) to regulate lotteries in South Africa. No one can run a lottery without having it approved and registered with the National Lotteries Board.

In terms of South African law, the following permitted lotteries must be registered in terms of lottery regulations:

The National Lottery, operated by a licensed operator (currently Gidani)

Lotteries incidental to exempt entertainment (lotteries conducted at a bazaar, sale, fete, dinner, dance, sporting event or similar events)

Private Lotteries (lotteries conducted in closed groups e.g. social or sporting clubs)

Society Lotteries (lotteries conducted by Non Profit Organisations as part of their fundraising drives)

In terms of section 56 of the Lotteries Act, no person shall conduct any competition or lottery unless authorised by the Board. Approval of the National Lotteries Board will be clearly reflected in all publicity material together with an approval number, said Prof Nevhutanda. The Lotteries Act further states that, any person who participates in, or conducts, facilitates, promotes or derives any benefit from a lottery, not authorised by the Act, shall be guilty of an offence.

One recent lottery that has been widely advertised involves a foreign couple resident in South Africa that are running an illegal lottery where the prize on offer is a villa in a wine area of the Western Cape. All monies paid to participate in this illegal lottery will be kept in a “Trust Account” in Austria. This lottery is web based and all the information and buying of lots is accessible from anywhere in the world.

The NLB is of the view that this lottery constitutes an illegal lottery.

Lotteries must have a social component in order to be considered for approval by the NLB. Even when approached, under no circumstances will the NLB approve a lottery where there intention is profit for the individual or group who intends to carry out such lottery. Using the guise of a lottery for the sale of properties will not be allowed.

The NLB warns South Africans to refrain from participating in Lotteries of such nature as they remain illegal in terms of South African law. Any person convicted of an offence in terms of the Lotteries Act shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment or both a fine and imprisonment.

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The five myths that are hurting entrepreneurship: By Krisztina “Z” Holly. This article first appeared on the World Economic Forum blog on 20 November 2013 – Studies linking entrepreneurship to job creation, not to mention the recent stock-market debuts of Twitter and Facebook, have sparked a new enthusiasm for start-ups. This trend should be music to my ears, given that I’m chair of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship – but it makes me wary. Not because start-ups aren’t a key to long-term economic growth. They are. It’s more because uninformed people may rush to become involved, and make mistakes, leading everyone to be disappointed.

Here are five myths that I believe are harming the future of start-ups:

1. If we could create more start-ups faster, we’d solve the job crisis
Many business accelerators – companies which help start-ups to grow – and universities around the world have started celebrating how many new companies appear each year. But they don’t seem worried about which of these are poised to grow and make a real impact.

Yes, new companies create new jobs. According to a 2010 study from the Kauffman Foundation, all net new jobs in the United States have been created by enterprises less than a year old. But much of that job creation quickly evolves into losses as the majority of start-ups contract or go out of business. A full 40% of new companies close within the first five years. It is the remainder, which grow, that lead to long-term economic growth.

At the same time, discussions about entrepreneurship policy are often sidelined by the interests of small businesses, which should not be confused with entrepreneurial ventures. Most small firms stay small and don’t add many new jobs. For example, in the United States, only 23% of businesses with revenues of less than $10 million have any payroll at all.

There’s no doubt that start-ups and small businesses play a significant role in the economy. But if we are looking for growth, we need to focus on scaling ventures, not just starting them.

2. The main benefit of entrepreneurship is job creation
New ventures are critical for innovation because they can challenge the status quo and are a breeding ground for new ideas and talent. They lead to a more productive use of resources, and are therefore a key component of a country’s competitiveness. They also encourage people to solve society’s problems. For many, they provide a path to economic independence, and can therefore serve as a driver for democracy. None of these benefits can be measured by counting the number of start-ups or jobs created.

3. Entrepreneurs are young
Several years ago, my colleagues and I surveyed 500 founders of successful start-ups. The resulting study, Anatomy of an Entrepreneur, found the average founder was around 40 years old, married and with more than six years’ industry experience.

These founders were leaving paid employment to pursue new ideas. They worked in, say, supply-chain management or manufacturing, and soon started to think of solutions to workplace challenges. These ideas don’t seem obvious to a 22-year-old, but they are business’ untapped resource. The entrepreneurs cited prior industry experience as the most important factor in their success.

4. Investing in entrepreneurship means investing in companies
Entrepreneurial communities are driven by people and ideas. As venture capitalist Brad Feld asserts in his book Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City, start-ups thrive when experienced founders mentor the next generation.

Meanwhile, many governments eager to support entrepreneurship are making misplaced investments. Mariana Mazzucato, economics professor and author of The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Private vs. Public Sector Myths, describes how the UK annually spends $8 billion on funding new companies and start-up programmes – more than it spends on teachers or universities.

But this is misguided. A 2012 study by Sergey Anokhin and Joakim Wincent discovered that start-up rates did not positively correlate with innovation in countries that didn’t invest in research and development. Why not? I would argue it’s because the start-ups were created in response to a lack of jobs rather than out of new ideas.

When start-ups struggle to grow, in most cases we need more skilled talent and good ideas connected to each other and to early-stage private sector investments. Governments should play their part by developing human capital through education, driving innovation through fundamental research, and implementing laws that lead to more efficient capital markets.

5. We should emulate Silicon Valley around the world
In a rush to support new ventures, we often use a one-size-fits-all approach, but each region is very different. “Success stories about Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey? They don’t resonate here in Nigeria,” says Eric Kacou, co-founder of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners. “We need regional role models and mentors that show how it can be done in Africa. We need resources that are appropriate for the kind of start-ups we have here.”

In an effort to help spread the word, and to highlight local resources, the Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship has partnered with the Kauffman Foundation to create the first truly global library of resources by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.

Today, we are launching the Global Entrepreneurship Library in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda. This growing repository for videos, lessons, case studies and document templates is being crowd-sourced by a worldwide network of founders and advocates across 138 countries. Please visit, spread the word and contribute.

Harnessing the power of entrepreneurship
Tech pioneer and entrepreneurship professor Bob Metcalfe said recently: “There are too many cargo-cult accelerators and Potemkin start-ups these days.” The risk is that the bubble will burst, leaving behind failed programmes and disgruntled investors, and poisoning the well for future opportunities.

Entrepreneurship requires long-term investments. It depends on a culture that accepts failure, agile and skilled talent, and a resilient ecosystem that will enable workers and ideas to flow easily from one firm to the next. Without these changes, efforts to support entrepreneurship will fall flat.

But if we can understand the mechanisms for how entrepreneurship happens, invest in developing the human capital and new ideas that drive it, and stay guided by a broader long-term vision, entrepreneurship can work its magic.

Author: Krisztina “Z” Holly is an entrepreneur, engineer and a contributor to Forbes. She is also the chair of the Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Fostering Entrepreneurship.

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Africa’s natural resources

Rich countries, poor people: will Africa’s commodity boom benefit the poor? By Anand Rajaram
This article first appeared on World Bank’s Africa Can Reduce Poverty blog on 12 November 2013 – Travelling across Africa these days you are likely to run into increasing numbers of mining, oil, and gas industry personnel engaged in exploration, drilling, and extraction across the continent. Although commodity prices are moderating, the discoveries being made in Africa offer the real prospect of significant revenue to many cash-poor, aid-dependent governments in the decade ahead. If you care about development, the question is whether these revenues will catalyze broad economic development and whether they will benefit the poor in Africa.

Conventional economic thinking would say yes, with suitable qualification. As long as governments allocate the revenues to viable public investments, particularly in economic infrastructure which countries lack (roads, power systems, hospitals, ports), income and employment growth would be stimulated and the poor would benefit, so the theory goes.

Conventional political thinking would say, probably not. Those who believe in the rentier theory of the state would argue that rents from natural resources would strengthen the incentive for mis-governance, for political elites to divert revenues to patronage and corruption and away from public goods that would benefit the poor. In countries such as Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique, that are expecting significant revenues from hydrocarbons, political analysts see the risk of reversal of nascent improvements in accountability which would set back efforts to reduce poverty.

Both arguments presume that governments actually collect a reasonable share of the revenue from oil, gas and mining concessions. While governments can be (and often are) skillfully duped by sharp legal, accounting and transfer pricing practices, basic neglect of public stewardship can also play a role. A recent article in the New Yorker describes how Guinea’s ageing President Lansana Conte gifted away, for a pittance, the right to mine the extraordinarily rich iron ore in the Simandou Mountains to an Israeli company, in effect losing almost five billion dollars that rightfully belonged to the people of Guinea.

Economists and political scientists appear to be converging to the view that the quality of institutions is the critical factor for countries to develop successfully, and to make effective use of natural resources. Institutions matter because they shape the incentives of politicians and political elites and determine the capacity of the state to perform. Politicians are unlikely to spend resources on public goods or on targeted subsidies to the poor if they can hold on to power by buying off key constituencies or if their political time horizon is short. Acemoglu and Robinson (2012) distinguish between “inclusive” and “extractive” institutions and demonstrate with vivid historical examples how, for much of history, powerful elites have established extractive institutions to capture resources for their narrow benefit, to the exclusion of the many. But we know very little about how inclusive institutions emerge and far less about how to create them over relatively short periods of time.

More than a decade ago, the World Bank tried to create a set of institutions in Chad, to ensure that the government would allocate oil revenues to benefit the broad population of Chadians, 62 percent of whom lived below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. But President Idris Deby Itno found these institutional arrangements irksome, they limited his discretionary authority to use the revenues to retain power and they were soon abandoned. One may draw the conclusion that grafting inclusive institutional solutions onto a political root stock that is deeply extractive offers little chance of success.

This is the dilemma for development agencies working to support poverty reduction in Africa and elsewhere. Institutions are critical but they need to be homegrown, shaped by a domestic consensus, and that takes time and the outcome is unpredictable. If political power is narrowly distributed, it is unlikely that natural resource wealth will be tapped to benefit the poor. There is a role for external actors to “nudge” the political equilibrium towards inclusive solutions and give the poor a political voice. Principles such as transparency of contracts, revenues, and public expenditure, can aid the process of domestic political debate but may themselves be resisted. Proposals to encourage governments to transfer a share of revenues directly to citizens, may also galvanize public engagement on the broader allocation of natural resource revenues. But how political elites will respond will vary. If institutional change is slow and resisted, the answer to the question on whether the poor will benefit from Africa’s natural wealth over the next decade may lean toward the negative if we continue to function with the current state of knowledge. All this argues for greater attention to the incentives of politicians and powerful elites and the design of institutions that are incentive-compatible and more inclusive, an important area for further policy research.

Note: A version of this blog appeared previously at the website of the International Network for Economics and Conflict at the United States Institute of Peace.

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