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Number Boost takes top innovation spot

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Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game.

Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game.

Number Boost has won the South African leg of the NTT Open Innovation Contest.

Hosted by Dimension Data and NTT Data, in conjunction with Silicon Cape, the competition was held in Cape Town this year for the first time and recognises start-ups that work on solutions that aim to address the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are very proud to have won such a prestigious contest and look forward to the opportunity that this will present to develop the business further,” said Alex Conway, founder of Number Boost, a Cape-based data science studio that builds custom artificial intelligence solutions.

Bright ideas and blossoming businesses were the name of the game as the ninth Open Innovation Contest kicked off on Friday. Setting the scene for a morning of business pitches, Wesgro CEO Tim Harris described Cape Town as South Africa’s “new economic hub” and the perfect entry point to the rest of the African continent.

Tech is creating what one might call the ‘convergence economy’, bringing together some of the Western Cape’s biggest sectors – manufacturing, services and agriculture – to create new and innovative business opportunities, he explained.

Kotaro Zamma, head of Open Innovation at NTT Data, noted the spirit of the contest is not just to hand money out to the most promising businesses. “This is not because we are stingy. But rather because we want to work with and develop new businesses.”

The ultimate winner of the global competition will secure a three-month mentorship with NTT Data; an opportunity that is likely to result in further collaboration going forward.

The eight local businesses that were competing for a spot at the global final of the competition, taking place in Tokyo in March, include:

Sensor Networks: This Cape Town-based start-up uses Internet of things sensors to help insurance companies and customers manage home-based risks.

Alvarita: A compact device that tests nitrate levels in everything from fruits and vegetables to water.

Ecoslips: A business launched in an effort to convert paper receipts into digital slips that are sent straight to the purchaser’s cellphone.

Zumbudda: A platform that allows patients to chat to healthcare professionals in real-time, online.

Number Boost: This small business uses CCTV monitoring and deep learning to minimise customer friction in a variety of settings.

Hairwego: A mobile application that uses machine learning algorithms to connect users with hair care professionals based on their unique preferences.

New Economic Model: A supply and demand-based economic model that aims to address societal challenges.

ThinkBrainwave: A solution that disrupts the education system via user-generated content tutor management backed by artificial intelligence and deep learning.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, we are very proud to be part of accelerating the ambitions of individuals and to be investing in South Africa’s economy through initiatives such as the NTT Open Innovation Contest,” concluded Dimension Data’s CEO for Middle East and Africa, Grant Bodley.

“We wish Number Boost all the best in competing with the other regional winners in Tokyo.”

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African News

Trump allows attorney general to declassify information about origins of Russia probe

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FILE PHOTO – U.S. Attroney General William Barr passes President Donald Trump as he heads to the podium to speak during the presentation of Public Safety Medals of Valor to officers in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an order allowing Attorney General William Barr to declassify any information Barr sees fit during his review of the events that prompted the FBI to open an investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The order also directed leaders of the U.S. intelligence community and other departments and agencies to cooperate with Barr during his review.

Reporting by Steve Holland and Makini Brice; Editing by David Alexander

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Botswana To Resume The Hunting Of Elephants : NPR

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Elephants eat foliage at Botswana’s Mashatu game reserve in 2010.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images


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Elephants eat foliage at Botswana’s Mashatu game reserve in 2010.

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Botswana’s government is lifting a ban that protected its elephants from being hunted, part of a series of decisions that could have lasting impacts on the country’s conservation efforts.

In a letter to reporters, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism referred to elephants as predators and said their numbers “appear to have increased.” It said a subcommittee found that conflicts between humans and elephants had risen, harming livestock and the livelihoods of Botswana’s people.

The announcement marked a sharp departure from the policies of former President Ian Khama, who suspended elephant hunting after data showed the population in decline. The ban took effect in 2014 but did not stop hunting in registered game ranches.

In May, Botswana’s newly elected president, Mokgweetsi Masisi, made international headlines for giving three African leaders stools made of elephant feet.

In June, he requested a review of the ban on hunting elephants.

His study group recommended “regular but limited elephant culling,” in addition to establishing elephant meat canning for pet food and other products. Among other conclusions, it recommended the government expand Botswana’s safari hunting industry.

Authorities said Thursday that the government accepted all recommendations except the regular culling of elephants and the establishment of meat canning. “This was rejected because culling is not considered acceptable given the overall continental status of elephants. Rather, a more sustainable method such as selective cropping should be employed,” the government said.

Conservationists around the world took to social media to denounce the government’s reversal on elephant hunting.

“Horrific beyond imagination,” said Paula Kahumbu, CEO of the Kenya-based WildlifeDirect. She said hunting was an archaic way to address the problems of living with mega fauna. “Africa, we are better than this,” she tweeted.

German organization Pro Wildlife wrote that hunting was a bloody sport, “#cruel, outdated, unethical and often undermining” conservation.

Other groups celebrated Botswana’s announcement, including Safari Club International, a U.S.-based organization that supports regulated trophy hunting.

President Paul Babaz called it “heartening” in a statement. “These findings clearly show that hunting bans actually hurt wildlife conservation; hunting is the key to providing the necessary revenue to fund anti-poaching efforts and on-the-ground conservation research,” he said.

Fewer than 400 elephant licenses will be granted annually, the government of Botswana announced on Twitter Thursday. It said it was planning for “strategically placed human wildlife conflict fences” and compensation for damage caused by wildlife. All migratory routes for animals that are not considered “beneficial” to Botswana’s conservation efforts will be closed, including an antelope route to South Africa.

Northern Botswana is home to Africa’s largest elephant population, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The population grew steadily from 80,000 in 1996 to 129,000 in 2014.

It happened as habitat loss and poaching devastated elephant populations across Africa. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, poachers slaughtered 100,000 African elephants, National Geographic reported.

Last September, the carcasses of 87 elephants were found close to a protected sanctuary in Botswana. They had been killed for their tusks.

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With both Houses of Parliament in place, it’s all eye…

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