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Accenture makes multiple buys | ITWeb

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Paul Booth.

Paul Booth.

Welcome to my first column of 2019. As seems to be the norm over the holiday season, the international ICT market has been dominated by over 50 acquisitions or investments during the past six weeks, including several by Accenture. Dell’s listing was also in the spotlight.

At home, investments involving Naspers and MTN’s settlement in Nigeria were the main local events.

Key local news of the past six weeks

* Mixed interim numbers from PBT Group, with revenue down but back in the black.
* Very good year-end figures from Labat Africa, with revenue up 41% and profit up 173.9%.
* A mixed trading update from Sebata Holdings.
* Adapt IT Holdings acquired the Wisenet Group, which operates in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, for R53.6 million. The Wisenet Group provides a software as a service (SaaS) learning relationship management system (student life cycle management and compliance) to vocational training institutions, called Registered Training Organisations.
* Experian bought Compuscan and ScoreSharp. Compuscan is a South African-based credit bureau that provides consumer and commercial credit information within the country and other African nations. ScoreSharp is a specialist credit risk management consultancy that forms part of the Compuscan Group.
* Hero Telecoms purchased Bloemfontein-based Ntelecom, a VOIP and WISP, which offers high-speed Internet connections via both wireless and fibre.
* First Carlyle Growth V, through its wholly owned subsidiary, acquired Amecor, a company that offers a range of exclusive technologies relating to security, electronics and networks.
* Naspers and Canada’s state pension fund led a $540 million investment in Byju’s, an Indian educational technology start-up.
* Naspers made a $600 million investment in Swiggy, India’s online food delivery company.
* Global video streaming service Acorn TV made its debut. It is run by RLJ Entertainment, which is owned by AMC Networks. Besides the Web site, Acorn TV is available as an Acorn TV app on Apple TV, Android, iPhone, iPad and Roku streaming players.
* Seasoned ICT forerunner and Datacentrix CEO Ahmed Mahomed has been honoured for his leadership and wealth of experience at executive management level, receiving the coveted title of ‘Businessperson of the Year’.
* UK-based BlueFinity International has signed a distribution agreement with local ICT distributor Axiz to bring BlueFinity’s Evoke app development platform to SA and the African market.
* EY has created a strategic partnership with Motlanalo Chartered Accountants and Auditor, a 100% black women-owned audit and advisory practice.
* Micromax, a handset maker, will enter the local market via Vodafone/Vodacom.
* Naspers’ N ordinary shares are included in the initial list of equity securities on A2X, which started trading on 27 December 2018.
* Renewed JSE cautionaries by the Huge Group, Labat Africa and MTN.
* A withdrawn JSE cautionary by Stella Capital Partners.
* The appointments of Pieter Holl as CEO of The Innovation Hub; Andrew Openshaw as COO of the Huge Group; Vincent Raseroka as Group CEO of 4Sight Holdings; Ian Russell as interim chairman of Ellies; and Antonie van Rensburg as chief digital officer of 4Sight Holdings (was CEO).
* The departure of McLean Sibanda, acting CEO of The Innovation Hub.

* Satisfactory nine-month figures from Bharti Airtel East Africa units, with revenue up and back in the black.
* CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, made a $180 million investment in Pan-African telecoms group Liquid Telecom.
* Airtel Niger, the local wireless unit of Indian telecoms firm Bharti Airtel, has been ordered by the government of Niger to close its offices in the West African country because of a tax dispute.
* Cabo Verde Telecom has signed an agreement with EllaLink to provide direct connectivity from Europe and Latin America to the Cape Verde Islands. The EllaLink subsea cable system will be a four fibre pair submarine cable and is due to be operational by 2020.
* On-demand video streaming start-up iflix, an emerging markets rival to Netflix, has effectively pulled out of Africa after selling its business in the region to telco group Econet Global. The deal sees Econet buying the Malaysia-based iflix’s remaining stake in iflix Africa, to add to its existing significant stake in the company. The initial investment by Econet came in early in 2018, eight months after iflix first launched its service in sub-Saharan Africa in June 2017.
* The Mauritius Africa FinTech Hub has been launched, appointing Michal Szymanski, a seasoned veteran in the business incubation space, as its CEO.
* MTN Ghana has been fined $1.8 million by the country’s telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority, over poor quality of service.* MTN Nigeria Communications and the Central Bank of Nigeria have reached an out-of-court settlement ($53 million) regarding the dispute on the alleged improper repatriation of over $8.1 billion profit from Nigeria.
* Barely two months after Teleology Holdings received approval to take over the operations of 9mobile as the preferred bidder, Teleology Holdings has expressed its dissatisfaction with the business relationship with its local partner, 9mobile Nigeria, and has decided to pull out of the 9mobile project.
* The appointment of Dion Shango as CEO of PwC Africa (was CEO of PwC SA).
* The departure of Hein Boegman, CEO of PwC Africa.

* Accenture acquired Adaptly, an ad-tech company that helps marketers buy targeted ads across online platforms, including Amazon, Google and Facebook; Enaxis Consulting, a firm with deep experience in digital capabilities, data science and agile project delivery; and Knowledgent, a data intelligence company.
* Amazon bought CloudEndure, an Israeli cloud computing firm.
* Apple purchased UK-based Artists and Repertoire, and creative services company Platoon.
* Avnet acquired Softweb Solutions, a privately held software and artificial intelligence (AI) company that delivers innovative software solutions for Internet of things (IOT) applications and systems designed to increase efficiency, speed time to market, and help businesses transform.
* Cisco Systems bought Luxera, an optical chip technology company, for $660 million.
* Cognizant purchased Mustache, a privately held creative content agency.
* DXC Technology acquired Luxoft, a software development company, for $2 billion.
* Google bought DORA, a digital transformation and DevOps research firm; and a start-up named Superpod, which built an app allowing users to post questions and receive answers from experts quickly.
* HCL Technologies purchased certain software products from IBM, including Appscan for secure application development, BigFix for secure device management, Unica for marketing automation, Commerce for omni-channel e-commerce, Portal for digital experience, Notes & Domino for e-mail and low-code rapid application development, and Connections for work-stream collaboration. The deal was worth $1.8 billion.

Twitter has been accused of violating a messaging technology patent owned by Rainey Circuit.

* Kaseya acquired IT Glue, a company that works in IT documentation.
* NEC bought KMD, Denmark’s largest IT company, for $1.23 billion.
* Silver Lake purchased a majority stake in General Electric digital unit’s ServiceMax, a cloud-based provider of software used in inventory and workforce management.
* TIBCO Software acquired French data management company Orchestra Networks, in a move that will bolster its ability to help clients organise customer data.
* Verisk bought Rulebook, an industry-leading provider of business intelligence and software solutions for the London insurance market.
* BMW, Microsoft and others made a $200 million investment in start-up Graphcore, a UK-based firm that designs semiconductors for AI applications.
* The following patent and lawsuit activity:
* Qualcomm has won a preliminary order from a Chinese court banning the importation and sale of several Apple iPhone models in China that the court found violated two of Qualcomm’s patents.
* Washington DC attorney general Karl Racine is suing Facebook for what he says is the social media giant’s failure to protect the privacy of its users and deception about who has access to user data coming out of last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal.
* Twitter has been accused of violating a messaging technology patent owned by Rainey Circuit, a Texas patent holding company.
* Huawei Technologies has filed a lawsuit against InterDigital in China, alleging the US technology firm had not licensed its intellectual property on fair terms.
* Accenture has formed a strategic alliance with and acquired Select Professional Services Assets from Zafin, a financial software firm.
* Dell has returned to public markets, thus becoming a publicly listed company on the NYSE, without undergoing an IPO.
* General Electric has sold most of its stake in Pivotal Software and now holds only 7%.
* The annual re-ranking of the NASDAQ-100 Index, comprising the 100 largest non-financial stocks listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market, was announced. From a technology viewpoint, AMD, NetApp and VeriSign joined the index and Seagate Technology and Vodafone left the index.
* Excellent quarterly results from Guidewire Software (back in the black).
* Very good quarterly figures from Comtech Telecommunications (back in the black) and Smart Global Holdings.
* Good quarterly numbers from Adobe, Broadcom, D&H, Jabil Circuit, Micron Technology, Photronics, Synopsys and TCS.
* Satisfactory quarterly results from Accenture, BlackBerry (back in the black), FactSet Research, Paychex, SAIC, Synnex and Verint.
* Mixed quarterly figures from Ciena, Methode Electronics and Red Hat, with revenue up but net income down; and from Avaya, Oracle and VOXX International, with revenue down but net income up.
* Quarterly losses from CalAmp, Cloudera, Coupa Software, DocuSign, Domo, Finisar, HPE, IDT, Marvell Technology Group, MongoDB, Okta, Pivotal, SeaChange International, SecureWorks, Smartsheet, Volt Information Sciences and Zscaler.
* Half-year losses from Carphone Warehouse and Gridsum.
* A full-year loss from BSNL (India).
* The appointments of Tim Archer as CEO of Lam Research; Bant Breen as CEO of Harte Hanks; Ursula Burns as CEO of Veon; Anton Chilton as CEO of QAD; Christian Mauad Gebara as CEO of Telefonica Brasil; Filip JL Gyd’e as CEO of CTG; SY Hsu and Samson Hu as co-CEOs of Asustek Computer; Aleksandr Komarov as CEO of Kyivstar in the Ukraine; Yatish Mehrotra as CEO of cloud telephony firm Knowlarity; Denis O’Brien as interim CEO of Digicel; Mike Parrottino as CEO of LinkRunner; Pierre Poignant as CEO of Lazada Group; David Rowland as interim CEO of Accenture; Patrick Tillieux as CEO of OSN; and Tom Tisko as CEO of BullsEye Telecom.
* The resignations of Martin Anstice, CEO of Lam Research; and Jerry Shen, CEO of Asustek Computer.
* The retirement of Arthur Crumlish, CEO of CTG.
* The departures of Pierre Naterme, CEO of Accenture; Lucy Peng, CEO of Lazada Group (remains executive chairman); and Yang Weidong, president of Youku.
* The death of Alex Matuschka von Greiffenclau, CEO of Digicel.
* Planned IPOs from Afiniti, a US software firm; Pinterest, the online image-search company; and Slack, the workplace messaging company.
* IPO filings in the USA from Lyft and Uber, both ride-hailing companies.
* A satisfactory IPO in Hong Kong from Softbank’s Japanese telecoms unit.
* A good IPO in Hong Kong from Chinese telecoms software firm AsiaInfo Technologies.
* A good IPO on the NYSE by Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the largest online music entertainment platform in China.

Research results and predictions

* EMEA/Africa:
* According to IDC:
* The META personal computing devices (PCD) market, which is made up of desktops, notebooks, workstations and tablets, will slump to its lowest levels in a decade next year. IDC forecasts overall PCD shipments for the region of 19.6 million units in 2019, the lowest total since 16.5 million units were shipped in 2009.
* The North Africa mobile phone market, which comprises Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, saw year-on-year shipment growth of 11.5% in Q318. Overall shipments for the quarter totalled 8.2 million units, with the growth primarily being driven by rising demand for feature phones across each of the region’s country markets.
* The EMEA server market reported a year-over-year increase in vendor revenue of 24.5% to $4 billion, and a year-over-year increase of 2.9% in units shipped to 551 000.
* Shipments of wearable devices in EMEA grew 55% year over year to 6.6 million units in Q318. Basic wearables, including wristbands, grew 48% year over year to represent 55.5% of the market. Smart wearables, including smartwatches, increased 65% from the same period last year.
* The integrated systems market in EMEA showed significant growth in 3Q18, reporting $873 million in user value, with year-on-year growth of 20.1%.

* Worldwide:
* According to IDC:
* Global shipments of wearable devices reached 32 million units in Q318, up 21.7% from the previous year.
* Worldwide spending on robotics systems and drones will total $115.7 billion in 2019, an increase of 17.6% over 2018. By 2022, IDC expects this spending will reach $210.3 billion, with a CAGR of 20.2%.
* Unit shipments for the global personal computing devices market, comprising traditional PCs (made up of desktops, notebooks and workstations) and tablets, was expected to decline 3.9% in 2018. This contraction is expected to continue throughout the forecast period, as the market further shrinks to 378.3 million units shipped in 2022, with a CAGR of -1.8%.
* Vendor revenue in the worldwide server market increased 37.7%, year over year to $23.4 billion during 3Q18. Worldwide server shipments increased 18.3% year over year to 3.2 million units in 3Q18.
* Worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to decline by 3% in 2018 before returning to low single-digit growth in 2019 and through 2022.
* Vendor revenue in the worldwide enterprise storage systems market increased 19.4% year over year to $14 billion during 3Q18. Total capacity shipments were up 57.3% year over year to 113.9 exabytes during the quarter.
* Worldwide spending on IOT is forecast to reach $745 billion in 2019, an increase of 15.4% over the $646 billion spent in 2018. IOT spending will maintain a double-digit annual growth rate throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022.

* JSE All share index: Up 5.9%
* FTSE100: Down 0.9%
* DAX: Down 3.3%
* NYSE (Dow): Down 6%
* S&P 500: Down 5.9%
* Nasdaq: Down 4.9%
* Nikkei225: Down 7.9%
* Hang Seng: Up 0.1%
* Shanghai: Down 1.3%

* International:
* A possible IPO in the US by SA-founded Clickatell.
* Private equity firm Thoma Bravo buying security software company McAfee from TPG Capital and Intel.
* Chinese conglomerate HNA Group selling Ingram Micro to private equity firm Apollo Global Management. HNA is seeking $7.5 billion.
* US president Donald Trump signing an executive order that would bar US companies from using telecoms equipment made by China’s Huawei and ZTE.

* South Africa:
* Telkom SA making a bid for Cell C.

Inc magazine recently published its list of ’50 World-Changing Start-ups to Watch in 2019′. The list includes:
* 3: Bankity, a front-end digital banking app that allows users to track their expenses and thus better understand their finances.
* 6: CalypsoAI, a stealth Los Angeles-based company focused on solving AI cyber security issues.
* 15: Doorport, the provider of a capability that turns your smartphone into an intercom and a key for your building. Its flagship product, called Arrive, also lets you generate access codes for package deliveries and streams video to your phone, so you can see your visitors in real-time.
* 16: Doppler, a San Francisco software maker (not to be confused with the now defunct earbuds maker Doppler Labs) that claims its platform will help development teams shave eight or more hours from a project by remembering passwords for them.
* 34: NuID, a firm that creates and uses cryptography tools and blockchain technology to eliminate the need for businesses to store passwords and other authentication credentials.

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal

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People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.


People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

Montreal
– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in
Montreal.

The
worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

Israeli
strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

Speaking
after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

While
insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

Earlier
on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

Several
hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

Although
the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

The
SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

The
police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

Following
the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

Several
thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

“Terrorist
Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

Pro-Palestinian
protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.


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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do

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“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach

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Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)


Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe

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Miss Universe Andrea Meza


Miss Universe Andrea Meza

UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 IS ANDREA MEZA FROM MEXICO:


UPDATE:

THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 5:

1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru


UPDATE:

HERE ARE THE MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021 TOP 10 CONTESTANTS:

1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21 IN SWIMWEAR:


UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE TOP 21: 

1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam


 UPDATE:

MISS UNIVERSE SOUTH AFRICA NATASHA JOUBERT WALKS THE STAGE AT MISS UNIVERSE 2020/2021:


74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021

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By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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