[South Arica] Ex-Uber Driver Had no Prior Criminal Record

A former Uber driver accused of several robberies and rapes in Johannesburg had no prior criminal record, the online transportation company said on Monday.

He had cleared all their background checks before being employed, spokeswoman Samantha Allenberg said in a statement.

“Prior to this individual’s deactivation and arrest, he held a valid professional driver’s permit and he cleared all background checks — there was no evidence of a prior criminal record.”

She said all drivers that applied for a job with Uber needed to undergo a pre-screening process, which included a criminal background check.
On 16 July, it was reported that a woman was attacked and raped after getting into what she thought was an Uber taxi in Fourways. A case of rape, kidnapping, and robbery was opened.

In August, a couple was attacked after ordering an Uber ride home from the Movida nightclub in Sunninghill.

The man’s access to his Uber account was revoked when suspicions arose that he might have been involved in the attacks.

“When we identified the suspect after an internal investigation, we notified the police immediately. It is our standard practice to immediately suspend any individual who may be involved in suspicious activity pending further internal and/or police investigation,” Allenberg said.

It used the tracking and recording technology installed in every Uber taxi to help police with evidence that led to his arrest.

Uber urged all passengers to verify details before getting into their vehicles and share their driver and vehicle details and estimated time of arrival with a relative or friend.

The man was meant to have appeared in the Randburg magistrate’s court on Monday, but the matter was not put on the roll, a senior prosecutor said.

Source: Techcentral

SA-made Tag to Help Fight TB in Africa

A simple tag pioneered in South Africa could soon be used to curb the spread of tuberculosis in Africa. In efforts to better understand how the disease is spread, IBM engineer Toby Kurien and research scientist Darlington Mapiye have developed the concept of a tracking device which measures the proximity of TB patients.

“We had to look at what we could do to collect data about patients and how we can track infection,” Kurien said.
“The solution was to create a cheap sensor that could track when someone who has the disease comes into contact with a person who is not infected,” he added.

The device was developed in the Maker Lab at IBM’s second Research Lab in Africa, which is situated at the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Mapiye said that there was a stigma attached to people who had TB and that the device was developed to de-stigmatize the disease as well as further understand what kind of treatment patients needed.

“With the kind of data that is collected by the tags we are able to optimize what strategies are put in place and better understand how people come into contact with one another to contract the disease,” he said.

Mapiye added that from the information collected, which is then uploaded to a cloud server, they can then analyse the data to know what kind of treatment people need. “We are doing research into different areas and what people are already wearing. We are trying to make the device as invisible as possible by turning them into bracelets or watches,” Kurien said.

Mapiye said that no two devices would look the same, meaning that even when people came into contact with one another, they would not know whether they were indeed wearing a device.

Kurien also said that the device only tracked proximity with other devices and did not include a GPS or recording mechanism.

While the project is still in its research phase, the team is hoping to conduct trials in Johannesburg soon and thereafter in Kenya, where IBM’s other African research lab is based.

When rolled out, the tag is expected to be distributed among people who have the disease and also those who do not. It would also only be distributed among people voluntarily. The data collected from the tags is uploaded to IBM’s supercomputer, Watson, which offers a cloud service via more than 50 application programming interfaces.

The team are currently using Watson IoT (Internet of Things) for the TB project.

Source: Techcentral

[Nigeria] Facebook to Launch Africa Satellite This Week

Facebook will launch a satellite later this week to extend Internet access to rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. The satellite will “beam down connectivity”, the CEO said in a presentation on Wednesday in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

“We built these solar-powered drones that are basically like a cellphone tower in the sky. They can go over really remote rural locations and beam down connectivity to make sure networks spread and reach everyone.”

The US social media company opened its first Africa office in Johannesburg last year and agreed to a deal with Paris-based Eutelsat Communications to launch the satellite.

The move is intended to enable Facebook to add users in parts of the continent that don’t have internet access, increasing the company’s reach.
While Internet delivered via satellite is usually a costly option in the developing world, Zuckerberg said he planned to make accessing the network affordable.
“It’s not much good having the infrastructure if people cannot afford to use it,” he said.

Facebook had 84m users in sub-Saharan Africa at the end of July, compared with 1,7bn worldwide. To overcome obstacles such as the lack of high-speed connectivity on the continent, the company rolled out products that can function on slower connections, including Facebook Lite.

Source: Techcentral

Future Will be Built in Africa - Zuckerberg

Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has said the “future of the world” will be built on the African continent. He made the statement during his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa, where he visited Lagos, Nigeria.

A small group of media were invited to a live stream of the Nigerian event in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“The thing that is striking [about Nigeria] is the entrepreneurial energy. I think when you’re trying to build something, what matters the most is who wants it the most. This is where the future is going to be built,” Zuckerberg said from Lagos.

He said that once the world woke up to the entrepreneurial energy coming from Africa, the continent would begin to change the world.

“You feel that here, as soon as you get off the plane and start talking to people, you feel that passion and entrepreneurial energy,” Zuckerberg added.
His surprise visit to Nigeria, Facebook’s largest African market with over 18million users, was to learn more about the country with a focus around entrepreneurship and web development.

“If you want to connect everyone in the world, then making sure everyone has access to the Internet is a really important thing,” he said.

During his discussion with Nigerian media, Zuckerberg made mention of Facebook’s key projects aimed at connecting developing communities to the internet. One such project, Free Basics, aimed at providing people with access to basic services on their mobile phones in areas where Internet access may not be as accessible as in more developed areas, is currently being brought to South Africans by Cell C.

“Whether you care about connecting people, friends and family or helping people startup businesses, the internet is one of the most fundamental parts of infrastructure that I think needs to exist,” Zuckerberg said.

“Growing small businesses is an important part of communities. So far, 60m businesses have pages have been created on Facebook. We are giving people the same tools that only big companies would have had access to,” he added.

Source: Techcentral