[South Africa] Digital Migration Has ‘Failed’ - MP

South Africa’s long-delayed project to migrate from analogue to digital terrestrial television has “failed”.
According to Democratic Alliance MP, and shadow minister of telecommunications & postal services, Marian Shinn.  On Tuesday, she said that, the programme “urgently needs to be revised” if South Africa is going to move off analogue broadcasts.

Digital migration is crucial not only for opening up South Africa’s terrestrial broadcasting sector to greater competition, but also making available the “digital dividend” bands of 700MHz and 800MHz for mobile broadband.
Shinn said in a statement that the project’s “failure” needs urgent intervention. She said she has written to Humphrey Maxegwana, chairman of parliament’s portfolio committee on communications, requesting that he hold a two-day public hearing of ICT stakeholders to evaluate the status of the roll-out, its technological relevance and affordability.

“The aim of these hearings should be to thrash out a new path for the switchover to digital broadcasting technology to free up spectrum used by analogue broadcasting for much-needed mobile broadband use, mainly in rural areas,” she said.

Shinn said that “after years of delays and political meddling”, the programme is now “being held up because of legal challenges to the revised broadcasting digital migration policy that [communications] minister Faith Muthambi bamboozled through her cabinet colleagues in March 2015”.

But Muthambi’s office has hit back, saying her record of delivery in digital migration “speaks for itself”.
The minister had reversed an earlier government decision on encryption of terrestrial broadcasting signals, decided that government-subsidized set-top boxes — as many as 5m of them were meant to be produced — will not be capable of receiving encrypted broadcasts. E.tv won a court challenge at the supreme court of appeal in Bloemfontein. Muthambi, with the support of MultiChoice, is now challenging that judgment in the constitutional court.

The constitutional court will hear the case next month.
“I maintain that, even if the court decides in Muthambi’s favour, a review is essential as the programme is obsolete, unaffordable and riddled with irregularities that mean that it cannot proceed in its current form and must be revised,” Shinn said.
In support of her contention that the project has failed, Shinn said government did not meet the International Telecommunication Union’s deadline of 15 June 2015 to switch off analogue broadcasting signals and failed to stimulate the entrance of new small and medium electronics manufacturers into the sector. Also, government failed to deliver 5m subsidized set-top boxes to identified indigent South African households.

“Poorer South Africans will continue to be excluded from economic opportunities, worldwide information flow and ease of communication with all spheres of government service delivery if the digital migration programme is not rapidly and radically revised.”
Meanwhile, the communications ministry has hit back at Shinn’s allegations, saying Muthambi’s record of delivery on digital migration “speaks for itself”.

Muthambi’s spokesman, Mish Molakeng, said: “It is imperative to note that the project was handed over to the ministry of communications on 30 January 2015. Three months later, on 18 March 2015, the policy was gazette. The first South African citizen received a subsidized set-top-box in Keimos on 17 December 2015. All this happened within a 12-month period.

“In October last year, the ministry successfully switched off the first analogue transmitter in the Square Kilometer Array areas in the Northern Cape and we continue to switch off many more in the area. The uptake of set-top boxes continues to gain traction nationally,” Molakeng said.

Source: Techcentral

[South Africa] Apple Sues Qualcomm in Antitrust Case

Apple has sued Qualcomm, accusing it of monopolizing the market for chips for wireless devices and withholding US$1bn in retaliation for cooperating with South Korean antitrust authorities.

Apple is demanding Qualcomm hand over money that was supposed to be a rebate for licensing fees. Qualcomm is holding back the money as punishment for Apple cooperating with Korean antitrust regulators, according to the complaint filed in San Diego, California where Qualcomm is based.

Apple also wants back some of the billions of dollars it claims it was overcharged in “Qualcomm’s illegal scheme” to control the market for mobile phone chips. It wants a court to change how Qualcomm charges for its technology in the future.

Qualcomm, the largest maker of mobile phone chips, has been under fire by regulators around the world for its patent licensing practices. The lawsuit filed on Friday is the first direct challenge by one of its biggest customers and threatens to upend how royalties are calculated by any owner of a patent on technology that underlies modern electronics.

Apple is facing pressure to squeeze more profit out of every iPhone after revenue declined last year for the first time since 2001, dragged down by lower handset sales. It typically sources the same component from several suppliers, which helps secure lower prices by forcing the manufacturers to compete on price.

“It is quite clear that Apple’s claims are baseless,” Qualcomm general counsel Don Rosenberg said in a statement. “Apple has intentionally mischaracterized our agreements and negotiations, as well as the enormity and value of the technology we have invented, contributed and shared with all mobile device makers through our licensing programme.”

Qualcomm also accused Apple of encouraging regulators to attack it in “various jurisdictions around the world” by “misrepresenting facts and withholding information”.
“Qualcomm built its business on older, legacy, standards but reinforces its dominance through exclusionary tactics and excessive royalties,” Apple said in a statement. “Despite being just one of over a dozen companies which contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined.”

The complaint also challenges the validity of some key Qualcomm patents for wireless technologies. Apple asks the court to rule that, if the patents are upheld, that the royalty amount is significantly lower than what Qualcomm charges now.

In December, South Korea, home to two of Qualcomm’s largest customers, fined the company 1,03 trillion won ($890m) and described its practices as monopolistic. Qualcomm has said it will appeal the decision.

Under the agreement with Qualcomm, Apple said it was forced to refrain from taking any steps to challenge Qualcomm’s business model.
Apple complied with investigation demands from Korean regulators, an action Qualcomm claimed was in violation of the agreement. In retaliation, Qualcomm withheld money that it was due to pay Apple in royalty rebates, the iPhone maker said.

Qualcomm offered to pay the money “if Apple retracted and corrected its statements to government agencies”, according to the complaint.
More trouble South Korean regulators aren’t the only authorities investigating Qualcomm.

The US Federal Trade Commission on 17 January filed its own antitrust suit against Qualcomm. The chip maker is also being investigated by the European Union and Taiwanese authorities.

At the heart of the dispute between Apple and Qualcomm is a push by phone makers with the support of regulators to reduce the patent royalties Qualcomm charges.
Qualcomm gets the bulk of its revenue from selling chips, but more than half of its profit from the separate licensing business. Its patents cover the fundamentals of cellular technology, allowing it to rake in billions in licensing fees. In other words, the chip maker gets paid regardless of whether its chips are used in mobile phones or not.

One common thread in all of the cases is the contention that royalty rates should be calculated as a percentage of the price of the components in the phone that Qualcomm invents and sells — measured in tens of dollars. Currently licensing is a percentage of the price of the entire phone, which is usually in the hundreds of dollars.

Companies collaborate to develop industry standards so that the devices can communicate with each other. Since they have the ability to ensure their inventions get included in the standards, they pledge to license on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms.
Qualcomm has breached that pledge by refusing to license its patents to Intel, a rival chip maker that’s been providing some chips to Apple for the past year, according to the complaint.

Bullying accusations
Apple accused Qualcomm of bullying it, threatening to withhold chip supply, forcing it to agree not to challenge Qualcomm’s patents and using Apple innovations to help its competitors.
Much of the money Qualcomm collects on the iPhone or iPad is paid by third-party manufacturers who pass along the cost, according to the complaint. Apple said Qualcomm can demand higher royalties because those manufacturers “have no incentive to negotiate”.

Apple said it’s not allowed to see those agreements, and believes Qualcomm gets paid multiple times on the same device. Since Qualcomm won’t give Apple a direct licence, it instead agreed to give Apple a rebate — money that it’s now withholding.

Source: Techcentral

Ideas Matter Research Fellowships for West African Scholars

The West African Research Association and The MasterCard Foundation have announced the recipients of the Ideas Matter Fellowship Program, a new fellowship which supports the research of young academics in the region focusing on women, technology and entrepreneurship.

The USD$4,000 grants will allow recipients to solve some of the most trenchant health and economic challenges facing Africa today.

In this inaugural competition, the Ideas Matter Doctoral Fellowship program received 63 applications from graduate students representing 10 West African countries and fields as diverse as biology, agronomy, political science, medicine, public health, chemistry and pharmacy. While only 17 of the 63 applicants were women, the three applications which rose to the top were all submitted by young women - attesting to the growing role of women in science and technology. The three candidates selected from this rich trove of applications are:
1.    Akomoun Blandine Kapko (Benin), Université d’Abomey-Calavi, will develop an inventory of plants used in the traditional treatment of typhoid fever, further working to identify and isolate their active properties.

2.    Osemudiamen Anao (Nigeria), University of Benin, will explore the health effects of a toxic common component of e-waste capable of acting as an endocrine disruptor, carcinogen and neuro-development toxicant.

3.    Gloria Tetteh-Kubi (Ghana), University of Cape Coast, will investigate measures aimed at reducing widespread pesticide use in cowpea cultivation, contributing to poverty reduction, food security and biodiversity conservation.

The Ideas Matter Fellowship Program reflects WARA and The MasterCard Foundation’s commitment to increasing opportunities for emerging West African scholars who are transforming ideas into active solutions to the challenges facing the region and the world at large.
Source: Biztechafrica

• Novartis Launches SMS For Life 2.0 in Nigeria To Improve Access to Essential Medicines

Novartis has launched an innovative technology-based healthcare program called ‘SMS for Life 2.0’ in Kaduna State, Nigeria. The program aims to increase the availability of essential medicines and improve care for patients across the region by using simple, available, and affordable technology.

SMS for Life 2.0 is a joint public-private partnership led by Novartis and supported by its partners, the Kaduna State Ministry of Health and Vodacom.

“Novartis is proud to partner with the Kaduna State Ministry of Health to implement the first ever SMS for Life 2.0 program,” said Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis. “Companies must join forces with the public sector to co-create innovative solutions to improve access to healthcare around the world. This is the first step in what we hope will be an impactful public health initiative, unleashing the potential of mobile technology and big data to increase the quality of care for underserved patients.”

SMS for Life 2.0 builds on the SMS for Life program launched by Novartis in 2009, which used cell phones to manage stock-outs of malaria medicines in more than 10,000 healthcare facilities in sub-Saharan countries. The new and enhanced SMS for Life 2.0 program will now use smartphones and tablet computers to address key operational challenges at peripheral healthcare facilities in Kaduna State. Local healthcare workers will be able to track stock levels of essential antimalarials, vaccines, and HIV, TB and leprosy treatments, and send notifications to district medical officers when stock levels are low. The program will also monitor surveillance parameters of malaria, maternal and infant deaths and seven other diseases, including measles, yellow fever and cholera. In addition, SMS for Life 2.0 will enable training of healthcare workers in local facilities using on-demand eLearning modules.

“We welcome the introduction of SMS for Life 2.0 in primary healthcare facilities, where we often face stockouts of medicines,” said Dr. Hadiza S. Balarabe, Executive Secretary of Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Agency. “With more than six million people, Kaduna is Nigeria’s third most populous state. We hope the program will improve healthcare services by expanding access to essential medicines, thus reducing disease prevalence in communities.”

Medicines do not always reach the patients who need them, particularly those living in remote areas. Running out of stock is a major hurdle in ensuring access to essential treatments. By increasing stock visibility, health authorities will be able to monitor stock levels of these medicines in real time. Furthermore, disease surveillance data combined with the stock reporting function can improve supply chain management, by allowing authorities to better forecast demand for the treatments. This will help to ensure people get the medicines they need in a timely fashion.

“Vodacom believes that mobile technology is a powerful platform to address healthcare problems in Africa,” said Vuyani Jarana, Chief Officer of Vodacom Business. “Our vision in partnering with Kaduna State is to support the development of productive societies which are healthy, well-educated and economically active. The SMS for Life 2.0 initiative will contribute towards better quality and more accessible healthcare services which will in turn contribute to an increase in life expectancy in Nigeria.”

In addition to the launch in Nigeria, Novartis and its non-profit partner Right to Care, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Zambian Ministry of Health to deploy SMS for Life 2.0 in up to 2,000 health facilities across the country. The program, which will include stock reporting, disease surveillance and eLearning, will be supported by Vodacom and is expected to launch in Q2 2017.
Source: Biztechafrica