Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership News

The Undeniable Importance of ICT Amidst COVID-19

Introduction Over the years, Information Communications Technology has completely revolutionised the world we live in. ICT impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives – from how we work and learn to how we communicate and socialise. In fact, ICT has become such an intrinsic part of modern day society that it is easy to overlook the crucial role it plays. Locating Within Today’s Landscape The emergence of the COVID-19 virus has completely shifted this paradigm, bringing ICT’s critical role to the forefront. The pandemic continues to have a devastating effect on all sectors of society (economic, health, education, business, social etc.) and many countries have been forced to enter a state of lockdown to curb the spread. It has become clear that ICT is the only tool capable of sustaining a lockdown of this nature. Consequently, every sector of society is relying on ICT, now more than ever, to remain afloat. Effect on Sectors of Society Digital health solutions have played a fundamental role in the fight against COVID-19, with technology being used to identify, track and test the virus. Without ICT, the COVID-19 virus may not have been identified as early as it was. BlueDot, a Canadian start-up, was one of the first organisations to identify the emergence of the mysterious flu-like virus in Wuhan, China. They used an AI-driven surveillance algorithm to track the virus and give advanced warning to government agencies, health officials, frontline hospitals and airlines, days before the outbreak. AI’s ability to analyse massive amounts of data to predict results on large datasets accurately is also being used in South Africa’s fight against the COVID-19 virus. Contact tracing is being used to track and trace the virus in provinces that have been most affected, and publicly accessible interactive dashboards are being used to track the number of infections, recoveries and fatalities in the country. This has greatly assisted the Government in making well-informed, data-driven decisions. AI is also being used to identify faster and more precise testing methods. Researchers in New York have developed an algorithm that quickly detects COVID-19, using AI in conjunction with imaging technologies. The algorithm looks at CT scans of the patient’s lungs, along with the patient’s symptoms and bloodwork to quickly make a diagnosis. Not only is this method quicker and more accurate than the current viral tests, it also solves other challenges including the shortage of test kits and the possibility of false-negatives. AI is also being used to identify faster and more precise testing methods. Researchers in New York have developed an algorithm that quickly detects COVID-19, using AI in conjunction with imaging technologies. The algorithm looks at CT scans of the patient’s lungs, along with the patient’s symptoms and bloodwork to quickly make a diagnosis. Not only is this method quicker and more accurate than the current viral tests, it also solves other challenges including the shortage of test kits and the possibility of false-negatives. Technology has also assisted with the dissemination of up-to-date and reliable COVID-19 information – another central component in the management and mitigation of the virus. Members of society are only able to make informed decisions when they are kept informed. The South African Government achieved this with the use of WhatsApp. This well known instant messaging platform has allowed the Government to disseminate up-to-date COVID-19 information to millions of South Africans in 5 official languages. ICT has not only played an important role in the direct fight against the COVID-19 virus but also in dealing with its after-effects. Businesses, educational institutions and everyday South Africans have turned to technology platforms to maintain some form of normalcy during the national lockdown.

The Undeniable Importance of ICT Amidst COVID-19 Read More »

How to Prepare for a Career that Doesn’t Yet Exist

How to Prepare for a Career that Doesn’t Yet Exist On 12 September, 2018, UNICEF hosted the TomorrowReady event — a discussion regarding how tech and innovation are going to shape the future for children and young people. “We have to prepare the children across the world for the churn that’s coming” – Nicholas Thompson, WIRED I went behind-the-scenes to get some advice from the panelists: Nicholas Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of WIRED; Stephanie Sy, CEO and Lead Data-Scientist of Thinking Machines; and Hannah Godefa, a current university student and advocate for education and girls.   Explanation. Here are six ways you can proactively prepare for a tech-centric career … even if it doesn’t exist yet!   1. Familiarize yourself with how machines work and communicate One of the coolest things about technology is that it’s always changing, and no one knows for sure what will be the next big thing. The tech we use now will be irrelevant in the future, but learning to be comfortable while working on and communicating with machines will be an essential qualification for any job. Basic computer skills like typing, navigating the internet, or finding information are the ways in which humans can communicate with machines, so studying this language as a young person will make you better prepared to quickly adapt to new technologies valuable to your future employer.   2. Foster a culture of resilience and diversity Everyone wants to be successful, so accepting that something didn’t work like you thought it would is hard. We need to create a culture that accepts failure as part of the learning process, so that when we’re the ones leading institutions we can encourage others to try out new innovations without fear. Young people will also be major influencers in pushing companies towards more diverse workplaces. Teamwork, leadership, and communication skills will be even more important, since collaboration and creativity are what set humans apart from machines.   3. Get ready for artificial intelligence, because it’s here to stay Artificial intelligence (AI) systems are continuing to get smarter, and it’s undoubtedly going to change the way we work and the type of jobs that will be available in the future. AI will start to fill jobs that used to require human intelligence, like translating, visual perception, and even decision-making. But don’t worry – the adoption of AI across job markets means new jobs for young people. We can start preparing for these careers by getting familiar and interacting with AI technology in everyday life – like personal assistants on your smartphone, smart homes devices, video games, and recommendation algorithms on many apps.   4. Learn to love open data, and make sure others do too Open-data platforms, where organizations can share and collaborate on data, help make things more efficient for everyone. Smaller organizations may have more of an ability to adopt and try out new innovations, while big organizations are better able to collect and evaluate large amounts of data. Young people should take advantage of, and therefore encourage organizations to continue creating open-data sets. Thanks to the Internet, information can easily be accessed and shared across the world, so don’t underestimate the contribution you can make when you’re able to access the right information. “The capacity to accept failure is key for innovation“ – Stephanie Sy, Thinking Machines 5. Take advantage of all the educational opportunities you can find You can make yourself more qualified for a future career by making use of the free online tools and courses available on almost any topic or skill, which will improve your resume and help you stand out as a candidate. Hannah Godefa specifically mentioned Coursera and W3Schools as tools that she’s used for online learning. Online education is especially great for learning to code, which will be an increasingly essential skill for new jobs.   6. Stay flexible and open to change Learning to be flexible and adapting to changing work environments is crucial for careers of the future, and being open to change sometimes means getting out of your comfort zone. People tend to solve the problems they see around them, so if you’re not exposed to the problems that most need solving, then you won’t be a leader in finding the solution. Travel, read, watch, and learn as much as you can, so that you can make the best decision for you when it’s time to pick your career.   By Noelle Elmore News provided by UNICEF

How to Prepare for a Career that Doesn’t Yet Exist Read More »

The Time is Now to Future-Proof Learning

The Time is Now to Future-Proof Learning CEO of Belgium Campus, Enrico Jacobs, explains the importance of preparing students and the workforce for Industry 4.0 The world labour market is at the dawn of a significant transformation as it prepares to maintain pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Industry 4.0 is here and it is calling for future-oriented skills and educational reform.   Explain. Nowhere is this felt more than in sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of 25, making it the world’s youngest region. And, by 2030, according to the World Economic Forum, the region will be home to more than one-quarter of the world’s under-25 population. So what does a globally-connected population mean for the region? How do educators unlock this latent talent and prepare millions of bright young minds for their future work? I have always emphasized the dexterity of technology and its role as an enabler, and now, I add to its capacity as an equaliser, providing immense opportunity. From access to education and jobs, Industry 4.0 will welcome a new era brimming with opportunities for economic prosperity, societal progress and individual growth.   Building a Pipeline of Future Skills I recently read an informative study undertaken by the World Economic Forum (WEF), The Future of Jobs 2018, detailing how education and work in Sub-Saharan Africa will determine the livelihoods of nearly a billion people in the region and drive growth and development for generations to come. As one of the youngest populations in the world, the report stressed how it is imperative that adequate investments are made in education and learning that will hold value in the labour market; preparing citizens for the world of tomorrow. “According to this WEF report, in South Africa alone, 39 percent of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 as compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015. As an educator, these are some alarming statistics, though, ones we are ready to address as we constantly work with top universities around the world to design future-ready curricula for our students“ It is common knowledge that South Africa has a huge and growing problem with its critical skills shortages in most sectors of the economy. As a nation, we do not have a workforce with the requisite skills to make a difference in our local economy, which needs to be addressed if we are to have any chance of competing in the global marketplace. The country has, for a number of years, been suffering from a major skills shortage, particularly in technical fields such as ICT and engineering. We need to foster innovation and home-grown solutions, taking a global approach to local problems. All too often, I see local organisations looking abroad for candidates with the required skill set, when all we need do is support local innovation and education which in turn fosters a broader economic impact.  The Future is Collaborative Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, recently highlighted the great promise that awaits us. The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, he explained, dramatically improving the efficiency of organizations and even managing assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions. The outlook is far more positive than it is negative, and even with concerns of redundancy of jobs, the opportunities far outweigh these. Technology, robotics and artificial intelligence are not about replacing jobs. Scientists think tanks and economic forums the world over have argued that Industry 4.0 is in fact, about creating a new world of collaboration between humans and machines, and jobs will need to evolve. In news media, too often we hear reports about low-skilled jobs being replaced by technology. When in fact, historically, technology creates more jobs than it does away with. I am of the belief that what will emerge in coming years will be an advent of more collaborative jobs between humans and robots. As human beings, technology will never supplant skills such as supervision, creativity and emotional intelligence. In truth, while artificial intelligence begins to impact the workforce and automation replaces some existing skills, industry giants are seeing an increased need for emotional intelligence, creativity, and critical thinking, for example. At Belgium Campus, we work hard to ensure students are encouraged to challenge, think and explore through knowledge-led and practical methodologies. We focus intrinsically on co-creation at our Campus and believe that for the next five to ten years, all students and current employees need to become fluent in technology through educational reform and upskilling. It is imperative that businesses take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling, Workforce transformations are no longer an aspect of the distant future. As shown in the five-year outlook of the WEF report, by 2022, no less than 54 percent of all employees will require significant re-skilling and upskilling.   Creating Imagineers At Belgium Campus, we have long abandoned archaic teaching methods that don’t deliver results. We have reimagined a student-centric approach where we reverse engineer our operations to address the learner’s specific talents, needs and capabilities. Our curricula ensures our students have the right workforce composition and skill sets needed for the future. “We place the philosophy of critical thinking as a key objective in all our curricula and believe that it is imperative that the future generation need a firm grasp in this way of thinking, especially in the way they look at problems and solve them. Critical thinking is fundament al” To this end, we exceed expectations by deploying a completely unique instruction strategy. Firstly, to equip all our students to become true visionaries in their discipline, because IT people see solutions, connecting the dots and making patterns, where others don’t. Secondly, to drive the kind of innovation that cuts through all industries and make a meaningful contribution to society. The future-proofed learner

The Time is Now to Future-Proof Learning Read More »

Dare To Disrupt

Dare To Disrupt In the tech space, it’s expected that people who choose to work in this world are natural game changers and innate innovators. But it’s important to realise that you don’t get to that place of vision and excellence overnight. The greatest tech geniuses in this world have wisdom to share on how to find the inner and outer resources you need to, well, change the world. But as any tech icon will tell you, it takes time, patience, multiple failures, and a good, hard look at what makes you tick. It all begins with you. In his thought-provoking book, Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation, self-confessed serial disrupter Jay Samit dishes out life lessons along with tech talking points. ‘All disruption begins with introspection’, says Samit. You need to go inward and explore your strengths and weaknesses, before you can take on the world. He’s also a great advocate of self-belief: ‘In life, you get what you believe you deserve.’ If you don’t believe in yourself, others are unlikely to do so either. So, Samit offers several life hacks and serious advice on how to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the future, and how to find a way to overcome obstacles. He’s a firm believer in the value of failure: ‘Success doesn’t teach as many lessons as failure,’ he admits, and it takes a seismic shift in mindset to view failure as an opportunity rather than as a fault. Samit is also a great believer in practicality/practical application. Great ideas are a dime a dozen, and often die in the research lab. It’s how you bring that idea to life that matters most: ‘The best big idea is only going to be as good as its implementation.’ Finally, Samit reinforces the notion that dreaming, and dreaming big, is something you need to give yourself permission to do. Once you’re in that creative, visionary space, all you need to do is set out a timeline to make the dream a reality. After all, according to Samit, ‘A dream with a deadline is a goal.’ Elon Musk is another innovator with inspiring insights. He pushes the idea of persistence. In the tech world, there will always be resistance, or, on occasion, the tools you need to implement your great idea might not exist yet. You have to simply push through: ‘Persistence is very important… When something is important enough, you do it.’ Musk believes that tech experts are not there to do things differently; their chief aim is to do things better. If you’re not improving the world in some way, you’re not fulfilling your obligation as an innovator. So, disruption is not for disruption’s sake; it’s to add value to society. His mantra is, ‘If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.’ Musk encourages agency and action – you don’t get things done from the side lines; you have to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. ‘Either watch it happen or be a part of it,’ says Musk, favouring the latter. Musk also believes that there is an inner innovator in all of us. It’s all about accessing that part of ourselves and having the self-belief to see things through: ‘It is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary,’ he believes, but the focus is on the word ‘choose’; it has to be a deliberate decision you make, a conscious path you take. Another tech trailblazer who has carved out his own path is entrepreneur extraordinaire, Richard Branson. He’s a big believer in dreaming big. ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.’ Powerful stuff, but it’s how you action your dreams that matters most. Branson believes that practice makes perfect: ‘Chance favours the prepared mind. The more you practice, the luckier you become.’ Expertise is a key entrepreneurial skill, but the only way to get there is through effort: ‘The best way to learn about anything is by doing,’ he says. And he’s a firm fan of the power of the collective. He created a council of Elders – amongst whom was our beloved Madiba – to serve as a global advisory body because he advocates that we surround ourselves with extraordinary people, and more importantly, we need to ‘always look for the best in other people.’ Branson’s key takeout for success in life is all about cultivating a positive attitude. It will open doors – to creativity and purpose – but, more importantly, it will make life a whole lot more interesting. In his own words, ‘Life is a hell of a lot more fun if you say yes rather than no.’ Saying ‘yes’ is a core attribute of Google co-founder Larry Page. He advises that future innovators develop ‘a healthy disregard for the impossible’ and that ‘we should be building great things that don’t exist.’ It’s this visionary instinct that is essential for a life lived in the tech space. If you can think it, you can do it. But you have to cultivate a little craziness to make it happen. ‘If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things,’ he suggests. So, if you’ve always felt a little like an outsider, or sensed you’re not always understood, this should serve you well in coming up with a little ‘crazy’. In the tech zone, difference is a differentiator, and you should seek out other who share your edgy energy. Page is another champion of the power of the collective to change the world: ‘Small groups of people can have a really huge impact’, so start creating your community of cohorts now, so that when the time comes to take that tech leapt, you’ll be in good company. And Page believes it’s all in the leap – leap high enough and you’ll succeed: ‘It’s very hard to fail completely if you aim

Dare To Disrupt Read More »

The democratisation of space… and science!

The democratisation of space… and science! When Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy took to the skies on a balmy afternoon on February 6th this year, the event marked more than just the thrilling launch of the most powerful rocket booster in the world. Impressive as the launch was, what was really significant was that it signaled what Bill Nye, charismatic CEO of the Planetary Society, called ‘the democratisation of space.’ ‘The idea,’ said Nye, ‘is to democratise space to lower the cost of getting to many destinations in our solar system.’ A case in point is that the Falcon Heavy was developed through private capital, with no government funding at all. This opens the field for a competitive, rather than a monopolistic approach to space travel, inviting other players into the field. The launch also signaled the advent of fully reusable rocket architecture – which, in itself, will dramatically reduce the costs of future space missions. But, more importantly, as the costs of such ventures drop, the missions are set to become more accessible to ordinary people, rather than just government agencies, satellite companies, moneyed über-celebrities and tech billionaires. Lunar tourism looks like a rapidly approaching possibility, rather than just a fantasist projection. Indeed, Falcon Heavy is designed to carry tourists into space beyond LEO (Low Earth Orbit), on a trajectory to the Moon, Mars and several asteroids. But, so far, the only payload that Falcon Heavy launched into space was Musk’s personal cherry-red Tesla Roadster, with David Bowie’s iconic song ‘Life on Mars’ stuck on replay. Musk’s Tesla was sent into orbit around the sun, but is headed for a Mars-adjacent orbit. Musk has since tweeted pics from cameras located on the Roadster. Once again, by sharing these images with the public, Musk is advocating for accessibility: no longer the preserve of secretive government agencies, space travel – through key players like Musk – is making it into the mainstream, bringing real-time images into the public domain, and educating people about future possibilities. Twitter has become the new province of science, with daily discoveries and breakthroughs communicated to users in the space of 280 characters. It’s a liberating departure from previous epochs, where science operated like an inner-circle cartel, and was corralled into spaces outside the reach of Joe or Jane Public. As much as space is set to be democratised, so too is science per se. It might be said that it is inevitable that all technological breakthroughs will eventually filter down into the mainstream. And so it should be. With increased openness and awareness, it makes for a better-informed public, and allows for public engagement and input. It gives members of society a greater sense of agency. And this is always a good thing. As we witness democratic movements around the world standing up against governmental authoritarianism, against right-wing policies and attempts to shut down social media platforms, people’s power comes increasingly into play. And, as any techie or innovator knows, science usually thrives best in an environment of freedom and opportunity. At Belgium Campus, we recognise that bright minds thrive best when offered the space in which to create. That’s why we’ve constructed physical innovation spaces called ‘Learning Factories’. Here, our students are given the space and tools to take their ideas from prototype to marketplace. One such project is our Velocity Project, which comes to fruition in April 2018. We also offer access to the field of Aeronautics, and have a full-scale airport hangar for our students to tinker in. They’ve explored everything from missile-lock technology on fighter jets to seatbelt light activations on Boeing 737s. With access like this, and with SpaceX leading the way to a space democracy, the future of aeronautics and space travel looks set to soar.

The democratisation of space… and science! Read More »

Let Technology set you free

Let Technology set you free We’re moving towards an increasingly virtual world, which, in spite of the pitfalls, offers us tremendous personal freedom. Think of driverless cars and smart supermarkets like Amazon Go, which promise queue-free, check-out free shopping. With technology set to liberate us increasingly as the future unfolds, we can look forward to the advent of dramatically increased individual autonomy. But, as always, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Amazon launched its first Amazon Go store in Seattle in late January. Marketed as ‘Just Walk Out’ shopping, with taglines like ‘No lines. No checkout. (No, seriously).’, it sounds blissfully uncomplicated and effortless. It begins with an app, linked to your credit card, which allows you to scan in, enter the store and start shopping. The technology behind it is not new, but the application is breathtakingly clever. Hundreds of highly-accurate cameras located throughout the store read the product labels of the items you pick or place back on the shelves. They also track your movements around the store, and, as you leave, the items are charged to your Amazon account. There are also sensors set in the shelves, which collect data about your preferences. It’s obvious that, once you become a frequent shopper at Amazon Go, your preferences will be stored on the system, and your phone might guide you towards other items that you may not have previously considered. Much like Amazon’s online portal, where the line, “If you like X, then you might like Y”, pops up to guide consumers to other options, the Amazon Go app might help you discover new delights on the shelves. From there, you’re free to fill your basket or cart at leisure, change your mind and put items back on the shelves, or grab a last-minute must-have. When you’re done shopping, you simply walk out of the store. Shoppers who’ve experienced this brave new world of shopping have had mixed reactions – from those who feel it’s bracingly simple and accessible, to those who feel that it lacks the human touch. Whatever the reaction – cognitive dissonance or complete infatuation – it certainly signals a shift in the way we shop. Ironically, Amazon created the flagship store partly to get closer to its customers. With e-commerce at its heart, Amazon’s opportunities for interpersonal contact are somewhat limited, with massive warehouses scattered in remote locations. This is Amazon’s way of trying to get personal. And yet, there’s not much room for chit-chat at the store. You can walk in and out without any human interaction at all, if you choose. And, yes, there is something wonderfully liberating in that. At the end of a long, hard day at work, it absolves you of the need to queue, make small talk, deal with more challenges at the end of an already challenging day. It’s ease of use exemplified. Fuss-free, failproof bliss. A moment of peace and calm before you get home to whatever domestic chaos and energy await you there. But the real challenge is what we do with our freedoms. As driverless cars provide us with the much-needed opportunity to work while we commute, and as technology becomes increasingly automated so that we have more and more leisure time on our hands, we need to check in with ourselves to determine how we will, indeed, spend that newly freed-up spare time. If we fill it up with more work, less inter-personal time, more screen time, then we can hardly claim to be liberated. ‘Enslaved’ would be the term that springs to mind. It’s finding the balance that is the greatest challenge. And using our newfound freedoms to build better lives. By better, we don’t mean busier. We mean more time spent with people who matter to us, time spent doing meaningful activities that enrich us and make us more fully human. Technology has always been a bit of a double-edged sword. From ancient tech disruptions like agriculture, to yester-year’s inventions like the printing press, the pencil, the bicycle, the lightbulb, etc., each and every generation has faced the same balancing act. The secret to successfully embracing successive disruptive technologies seems to lie within us, and how we use these to enrich rather than deplete our lived experience. Finally, technology, and its freedoms, seem to be what we make of it.

Let Technology set you free Read More »

From ‘tweet to street’: Real world applications in real time.

From ‘tweet to street’: Real world applications in real time. The gap between an idea and its execution – between thought and app – is growing increasingly narrow, opening up a rich playing field for youthful innovators. Today, more than in any previous historical epoch, the arc from the conception of an idea (dreaming it up) to its execution (creating a product in the real world) is shorter than ever before. With global connectivity and cross-border access to data and resources, with crowdfunding and collaborative hubs, it is easier than ever to take an innovative idea in your head and make it real. This kind of rapid innovation and application is reshaping the world as we know it, with new apps and technologies launching almost daily on the global stage. This is encouraging, because, as we are firmly located in the epoch known the Anthropocene (defined by scientists as dating from 1945) – which is a period in which humans have a greater impact on the planet than any other species or natural force – we are going to need to solve problems as quickly as we create them. But not for nothing are we known as Homo Sapiens Sapiens – knowing man. Today, more than ever, our capacity to know ‘stuff’ is growing exponentially. Need to know about thermo-nuclear reactions, positron-emission tomography, biomimetics, capacitive crosstalk or simulated annealing? You have multiple university libraries, search engines, digital catalogues and online articles at your fingertips to help you find out. There’s a blog or a manual on practically every subject on the planet, so that your ability to transform a thought (a bright idea) into an app (a real-world application) can happen almost instantaneously. And innovators and imagineers are getting younger and younger. Millennials seem to be coming up with substantive solutions to real-world problems. Top teens have invented apps that enhance the sound quality of stethoscopes, providing a visual graph on a screen; they have worked on gene sequencing, identifying ‘chimeras’ (two genes that connect to form a unique protein) in rare carcinomas; they have helped to augment the accuracy of FNA (Fine Needle Aspirates) tests for early breast cancer detection. They have designed computer programmes that identify inhibitors that will render deadly flu viruses non-contagious. These are life-saving innovations and, across the globe, other young millennials are making a difference through playful innovation and insatiable curiosity: like the 17-year-old who developed a tool for tracking and ‘cleaning up’ inactive satellites and other space debris, in order to avoid space collisions. In fact, tech millennials have made an impact in virtually every realm of human experience and endeavour. Their methods are often cheap, home-made and cost-effective – from easy water filtration and purification systems for rural areas, to a $10 Global Inlet Director – a simple piece of plastic that can redirect the air flow in an aeroplane cabin to reduce contagious disease transmissions by 55%. Whereas, in the past, innovations were slow to filter down from research labs to reach real people on the street, today, the gap between an idea and access to its applications is narrowing dramatically. It’s a short moment from a tweet (someone broadcasting their idea to the world), to the street – people who can benefit from that new technology. And it often begins with online play. The abundance of bloggers and YouTubers out there means that ideas are circulating at an unprecedented rate. Kids can watch YouTube videos showcasing ‘life hacks’, demonstrating recycling, repurposing and upcycling ideas, providing step-by-step lessons on how to do just about anything on the planet. It’s an epoch marked by an unparalleled fertility of ideas, with cross-pollinations and collaborations across continents. Kids are engaging and talking to each other like never before, albeit often in a virtual space, within a virtual community. And funding for tech projects is now within reach of innovative millennials. Crowd-funding, online campaigns and social networks provide massive audiences who are keen to donate cash to the next compelling project. With this kind of inventiveness, coupled with access to data, professional networks and resources, the future looks promising. And while humans continue to ransack the planet to meet their energy and consumer needs, they’re equally capable of coming up with practical, accessible solutions that undo the damage. The gap between idea and app is narrowing daily.

From ‘tweet to street’: Real world applications in real time. Read More »

Be the change, because change is opportunity.

Be the change, because change is opportunity. As we embrace change and disruption as the new normal, we need to abandon a fear-based response, and see the challenges of change as a gateway to new opportunities.   Our typical human response, when confronted by the new and unfathomable, is the ‘fight or flight’ instinct with which we are all hardwired. We either try to deny that change is happening, and cling to outdated beliefs and stratagems, or we kick back with resistance. But if, instead, we trusted in the organic, evolutionary flow of ideas, and embraced the uncertain future with boldness and bravery, we would open ourselves up to a world of possibility.   The future is all about increased customisation and personalisation, and a true devolution and democratization of power – a truly costumer or consumer-centric era, where meeting people’s individual needs and wants, in real time, is the way the future economy will work. And it’s already happening: globally, people are gaining greater agency in terms of political power, with online petitions, crowd-funded projects, and virtual mass action as the new political response.   In terms of tech, customisation is key. Already Adidas, with their Futurecraft 4D running shoes, will soon be rolling out 3D-printable midsoles that exactly match the wearer’s individual pronation tendencies and pressure points. ‘Printed’ in just under two hours, these customisable running shoes open up the possibility of a footwear store of the future that will allow customers to have their shoes built around their foot and its unique features, on site and while they wait.   Socially, micro-communities and minorities will increasingly find their voice – and purchasing power – as innovators and manufacturers try to open up new niche markets. So, for example, Nike has released a lightweight hijab (religious head garment) for female Muslim athletes. The Nike Pro Hijab is made of a high-tech material that is light and breathable, but sufficiently dense and heavy that it does not come off during competition or intense physical activity.   And this kind of individuated innovation is unfolding right before our eyes, never mind in the year 2050 – mugs that heat your favourite hot drink just right; pre-emptive medical clinics that offer gym facilities and genetic testing to optimize your individual health profile; lifts that move sideways, and not just up and down, to get you right where you need to go; bots that are designed to bond with you; eSight3 glasses that give legally blind people the gift of sight; an induction cook top with built-in sensor and thermometer linked to a cooking app to guide wannabee cooks to culinary excellence. Tailor-made tech on tap is already at our fingertips. So, imagine the world of opportunity that awaits.   In South Africa, the social challenges facing us daily are opportunities hiding in plain sight, and if we positively embrace (rather than fear) change, find solutions pro-actively and encourage a culture of fearless innovation, we stand to turn our economy around. That’s why Belgium Campus creates a consolidated curriculum that takes learning beyond the lecture hall and into the real world. Belgium Campus’s unique Participative Development Model for Education (PDM) builds an arc from academic learning to real-world application and employability, breeding innovators and future scientists who will make a meaningful contribution to society.   As a higher education institution entirely devoted to ICT, Belgium Campus positions you to unlock your potential as a software engineer, software developer, systems architect, business intelligence expert, data analyst, systems and infrastructure expert, data miner or web developer. We have also introduced a totally novel paradigm – the opportunity to specialise in artificial intelligence, data sciences and cyber-security, all developed in collaboration with leading industry experts.   Belgium Campus offers local and International internships, mobility and exchange programmes and learnerships, and has created ‘Learning Factories’ – creative, hands-on, physical work spaces, where students can develop prototypes and test them, allowing them to innovate real applications for the real world, right from year one of their studies. These factories are, in effect, incubation hubs for real-life applications, in collaboration with academic and industry experts, and cover fields where technological interventions are sorely needed: Aeronautics (we have a full-scale airport hangar), Smart Farming, Mobile Health, Education and Creative Economies.   Belgium Campus offers you the complete tool kit you need to become a changemaker of the future.

Be the change, because change is opportunity. Read More »

How do we set our youth up for success in 2018 and beyond?

How do we set our youth up for success in 2018 and beyond? Another academic chapter has closed, and while we reflect on the achievements of 2017, we also look toward the future.   It’s increasingly obvious that the way we do things is changing at a faster rate than ever before. Society, communities and businesses are advancing rapidly and becoming smarter. Take a look around you and notice the innovations, technological improvements and disruptions that are changing how we live and interact. But an area where South Africa is lagging behind, is in the field of education. Providing access to tertiary education for South Africa’s youth remains a priority, but what we fail to realise is that the current education curriculum prepares students for a work environment that is shifting so rapidly that it no longer demands the graduates that universities produce. Armed with a qualification for a discipline that is no longer needed, compounded by a swiftly-changing work environment, our youth are being set up for failure.   According to job advertising search engine, Adzuna, four out of the top five most in-demand jobs of 2017 in South Africa included roles stemming from the ICT the sector. Developers, Java developers, PHP developers and web developers were in demand, with only financial accountants being the ‘traditional’ job still sought after. So, it is clear that there needs to be a shift in thinking to prepare the current crop of school-goers and school-leavers for the world of tomorrow. How do we set our youth up for success – and not failure – in 2018 and beyond?   Developing our youth Africa is expected to have the world’s largest working-age population of 1.1 billion by 2034. With its young population and growing labour force, Africa will take centre-stage to unleash youth development in a new way. An entrepreneurial culture should be instilled, along with problem-solving skills and critical and creative thinking, through learned experiences and mentoring. It is critical to unlock opportunities for the youth demographic if we want to see success in South Africa. This should be seen as an advantageous opportunity rather than a challenging problem.   Embracing urbanisation through sustainability With 40% of the population living in cities, Africa is more urbanised than India (30%) and almost at par with China (45%). Furthermore, 60% – 64% of South Africa’s population is urbanised. Rapid urbanisation will create challenges for cities, but sustainable and well-managed cities will lay the foundation for fully-functional communities, inclusive working environments and, ultimately, for education to flourish. Universities will have a critical role to play in contributing to sustainable societies, in terms of its relationships with society, government, business and basic public services like health.   Empowering communities While mega-cities flourish and thrive, we need to turn our attention to underdeveloped, rural areas, and empower people to make a living and a success out of their hometowns and communities. People need to help each other to recognise opportunities in their communities and to turn assets into entities, to stem the mass exodus of people to major metropoles and to harness the human potential on their doorstep. Technology will play an influential role in connecting more people with each other, in uplifting and developing rural areas, and in providing the tools needed to run business ventures.   The role of universities in nurturing communities Universities need to evolve as society evolves. In a discussion at the International PASCAL Conference in partnership with Belgium Campus and the University of Johannesburg, it was agreed that government, society, industry and academic managers must rethink how they can ensure that the current university will evolve into an entrepreneurial and engaged organisation, whose aim it is to strive for the authentic fulfilment and upliftment of the people and their communities.   Furthermore, universities should try to articulate their own identities as higher-learning institutions, and should work towards creating meaningful, localised curricula, rather than trying to emulate the models offered by International ranking systems, which often completely disregard the unique features and challenges of the African situation.   Sources: 14th International PASCAL Observatory Conference 17-19 October 2017 Report: Trends 2017, Between Cities and the Rural: The Role of Universities in Developing our Societies https://www.fin24.com/Economy/sas-five-most-in-demand-jobs-of-2017-20171031 https://www.infrastructurene.ws/2017/03/07/africas-urbanisation-makes-it-the-prospering-continent/#

How do we set our youth up for success in 2018 and beyond? Read More »