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Four tech trends influencing agriculture in 20193 minutes read

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Technology continues to play an integral role in the development of agriculture globally whilst doubling up to help the industry break into new borders.

Dawie Maree is the Head of Information and Marketing for FNB Agriculture. He is of the opinion that agricultural technology innovation is evolving at an unparalleled pace, leaving farmers with no other choice but to adjust and reinvent themselves in order to compete, grow and sustain their businesses.

“The agricultural industry globally is successfully overcoming some of its prominent environmental and food production challenges through the use of new and advanced technologies, and South Africa is no exception,” says Maree.

He sheds some light on key tech trends to shape agriculture in 2019:

  • Vertical farming – this modern form of farming used to produce food in a smaller controlled environment through vertically stacked layers to save on water and fertilizer – is no longer just a ‘buzz word’, but reality. A number of farmers in South Africa are already successfully using this technology as part of their farming practices.
  • Mobile apps – smartphones are no longer just used for multimedia purposes and accessing information through the internet. Farmers are now actively using apps to monitor their crops via GPS, calculate feed, save water, get access to networks and markets, etc. Maree says mobile apps have become a key disruptor in the agricultural industry. Developers globally work round the clock to introduce app innovations that were once thought unimaginable but there are now apps that are able to spot over 430 weed species and identify their characteristics, at a punch of a button.
iCow App Kenya
  • Big Data – the industry is increasingly using data analytics to improve operational efficiency and yield prediction. Farmers are now able to implement complex systems that assist them with equipment management. This initiative is also combined with data on weather patterns, soil conditions as well as crops to be planted, to develop a formula to determine the best time and place to plant and harvest. Big data is also useful for forecasting demand for crops, yield on crops, as well as potential land size and usage of land.
  • Drip Irrigation – Factoring in the recent drought conditions which have had huge cost implications on South African farmers in the region of billions of Rands, there’s a lot of investment in the development of advanced drip irrigation technology, which allows farmers to limit wastage by efficiently delivering the exact amount of water to the soil, needed by their crops to grow.
Farmers use the technique of drip irrigation to plant lavender at an ecological base

“Farmers are urged to regularly research and educate themselves on new technological developments in the industry to avoid being left behind. Those who are still pessimistic, do so at their peril,” concludes Maree.

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How young people are changing the African narrative

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How young people are changing the African narrative

For non-Africans who have never visited the continent, the perception of the second largest continent in the world has always been that of a place of impoverishment and raw savagery; a place ravaged by horrible epidemic and war. 

This is largely attributable to an agenda-driven western media which sell these bogus tales about Africa to their global audience viewing the world through their reportage. Sadly, some of our local media are also guilty of this disservice to the mother continent.

As much as Africa, like other continents have its challenges, the positive stories to tell about the continent far outweighs the negativity found therein. 

The good news, however, is that young Africans – the new generation, are striving to change the negative narrative of Africa through their excellence in different fields within and outside the continent.

These young Africans are pushing the frontiers of knowledge in their respective fields of interests, discovering new things and making landmark achievements. Whether in Technology, Fashion, Literature, Music and more, they are forging paths necessary for the sustenance of development in Africa. These crop of individuals are passing the message that Africa has a lot to offer the world through its rich human resources. What better way to be true ambassadors of the continent? 

Let us take a look at some of the young individuals championing the change of an age-long African perception in their different fields.

Technology & Innovation

Over the years, we have seen some of the most innovative minds in technology come from Africa. Notable figures like Philip Emeagwali who invented the world’s fastest computer and who also won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer, Jelani Aliyu who designed the Chevrolet Volt,  Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, among very many others make this list.

One young African that is gradually making waves in technology is 35-year-old Jamila Abbas. Abbas is a Kenyan computer scientist and software engineer who is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of MFarm Kenya Limited. MFarm is an android application that Abbas developed to solve the challenge of lack of pricing transparency Kenyan farmers faced.

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MTN Nigeria test runs 5G in Calabar

The 5G trial kicked off with a launch in Abuja on Monday this week

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MTN Nigeria test runs 5G in Calabar
Photo credit: Twitter / MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria’s 5G innovation test train has moved to Calabar. The pan-African telecoms company announced this via its official Twitter handle.

The 5G trial kicked off with a launch in Abuja on Monday this week.

The event was attended by the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami, the ICT Infrastructure provider, Huawei, and other communications and technology stakeholders.

The highpoint of the Abuja event was the demonstration of the cutting-edge technology in virtual reality, gaming, 3D holographic communication and video conferencing at a test tube designed to show proof of concept. 

Photo credit: Twitter / MTN Nigeria

MTN Nigeria partnered with the Federal Ministry of Communications Technology and Digital Economy, Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC), Huawei (Abuja), ZTE (Calabar) and Ericsson (Lagos) to exhibit the proficiencies and potentials of 5G in driving economic growth and social inclusion.

“This is a historic moment for us as it means new possibilities for Nigeria and Nigerians. This innovation has definitely made us hungry for more.” an MTN Representative said.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Ali Pantami said that the new innovation is very critical to Nigeria’s economy as a result of numerous advantages like the issue of latency, speed, and digital revolution.

The 5G test is slated to run for three months on the trial spectrum allocated by NCC. This is to ensure that it is efficient and sustained. 

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Business

The growth of digital and online marketing in Africa

Is Digital Marketing for Africa? How have businesses gained by marketing online?

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Growth of digital marketing

Innovative changes have over the years, proven to be a constant. Ways of doing things are changing globally at a rather fast pace; things that affect the way we live, the way we travel, study, do business, run homes and families, interact with others etc.

The influence of innovation is simply overwhelming! One sector that has been touched by the transformative wind of innovation is the business sector. In this article, we are going to evaluate the growth of digital marketing in Africa. Before we dissect the topic, let us first look at the meaning of digital marketing.

What is digital marketing? 

Wikipedia defines digital marketing as the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium. From the definition provided by Wikipedia, one may sum up the meaning of digital marketing as the use of technologies in marketing as opposed to the traditional ways of marketing we all know.

Before the digital era, marketing and advertisements were only done using traditional methods such as public announcements, newspaper, radio, television, billboards, posters and flyers. Digital marketing on the other hand employ methods such as social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), e-Commerce marketing, content marketing among other methods.

Advertising has been taken to a whole new level through the help of online marketing. Business owners, especially startups in Africa now save millions hitherto used in running newspaper advertisements and paying for sessions on television channels that expire after a short time. They now spend less than half of that amount to advertise on various digital platforms, which enjoy more audience than the traditional means, including television and newspapers. 

The state of online marketing in South Africa

 In South Africa, a study by World Wide Worx in collaboration with Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that as at the year 2010 the number of South African internet users have grown beyond 5 million. Ever since figures continued to advance upwardly.

By 2016 the number of internet users stood a little below 29 million. That was more than half of South Africa’s 52 million population. With that number of internet users, digital marketing will continue to grow in leaps and bound in South Africa.

Kenya and Digital Marketing

In Kenya, the story is pretty much the same as in South Africa. If you are familiar with Kenya’s marketing terrain, you will understand how big it has grown in a very short period.  Just a couple of years ago, expensive traditional methods of marketing still thrived in the country but today the story has changed as around 22% of all media consumption in Kenya is digital.

What is more, this number is growing fast! The German online portal, Statista reported that Internet advertising spending in Kenya is expected to grow from US$72 million in 2015 to US$151 million in 2020.

Digital marketing in Nigeria

Digital Marketing started to gather momentum in Nigeria around 2012 with the entry of e-commerce platforms such as Jumia and Konga in the country. The period between 2015 to 2019 saw a massive increase of Small & Medium Enterprises in the country with a population of 190 million people.

According to Statista, Nigeria had 92.3 million internet users in 2018 and it is projected to grow to 187.8 million internet users in 2023. This was 47.1 per cent of the population in 2018. It is expected to climb to 84.5 per cent in 2023. With 92.3 million people using the internet, the place of digital marketing in Nigeria’s business space has been secured. The prospect for the growth of digital marketing in Nigeria seems pretty good.

From the situation reports in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – three of the largest economies in Africa, digital marketing is growing really fast in the continent. The future of Businesses in Africa can now be viewed better through the lens of the digital.

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