Defiant one-member board of SABC faces inquiry by MPs

Parliament is forging ahead with its plan to hold an inquiry into the crisis at the SABC including investigating the board’s ability to discharge its fiduciary duties, despite it now only having one nonexecutive director.
Defiant one-member board of SABC faces inquiry by MPsParliament’s ad-hoc committee tasked with holding the inquiry met for the first time on Tuesday to finalise the programme and witness list.

Two more board members, Vuyo Mhlakaza and Aaron Tshidzumba, have resigned, leaving the board with only its chairman, Mbulaheni Maguvhe.

Committee chairman Vincent Smith said the inquiry would continue as planned unless Maguvhe resigned, in which case their mandate to determine their fitness would end.

Maguvhe did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. He was defiant in October, saying he would not resign.

“They realised that it will be better to resign than face a litany of issues that Parliament will be bringing for the chairman [Maguvhe] it’s only a matter of time,” Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird said. He said the board crisis could also signal the end for Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC’s former chief operating officer.

The committee agreed on Tuesday that the two board members who had just resigned should also be called to testify.

Thirty witnesses will be called to give evidence, including the so-called SABC 8, former board members, Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

The SABC 8 are journalists who brought a Constitutional Court case against the SABC after being suspended for challenging the editorial policy of the public broadcaster. They were reinstated a few weeks later.

The inquiry is set to begin on November 29, and the committee hopes to conclude its work by 9 December. Witnesses called to testify could be given the option to request witness protection and to provide evidence in camera.

This after reports of incidents of intimidation and death threats targeted at the SABC 8 emerged at the weekend.

IoT vital for regional development

Etisalat Group, in collaboration with Cisco, unveiled a White Paper outlining its vision for the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). The White Paper – ‘Evolving the Service Provider Architecture for the IoT Era’ – provides a road map for how the service provider network will need to evolve to meet customers’ needs and adapt to the growing IoT market.
Abdelrahman Ibrahim
Abdelrahman Ibrahim
Analysts forecast that the worldwide IoT installed base will exceed 28 billion by 2020, while total market revenue could exceed US$ 7 trillion. IoT infrastructure must be able to support the demands of high data rates, large numbers of connected things, deep coverage, advanced data analytics, and security and data management capabilities, among other requirements.

“Etisalat has been at the forefront in creating new technology breakthroughs in the UAE and the IoT is in our DNA. We believe that the IoT is vital for regional development and have made a commitment to build best-in-class IoT capabilities to bring to the market. The whitepaper in collaboration with Cisco is an initiative that is aligned with Etisalat’s 2020 technology vision,” said Hatem Bamatraf, chief technology officer, Etisalat Group International. “Our shared vision identifies IoT as a key priority for Etisalat Group, to maintain its position as a leader in delivering next-generation platforms and services to the market.”

As a result, the White Paper provides operators with a road-map and practical approach that paves the way for the evolution in its capabilities and future network architecture needed to realise the potential of IoT.

Moving forward, this will involve managing a diverse network infrastructure, as access technologies continue to develop. It also highlights how service providers will need to invest new technologies and advanced networks to ensure the necessary capabilities are in place.

“The Internet of Things is profoundly disrupting business and commerce and shaping the future outlook for service providers. Etisalat Group has been working closely with Cisco to bring IoT-based solutions and the unprecedented opportunities they present to the markets in which it operates,” said Abdelrahman Ibrahim, CTO of Global Service Provider, Cisco Middle East.

“Together we are examining the building blocks of an SP architecture that can capture the full potential of IoT by delivering exceptional next-generation user experiences. Our collaboration will help define the future architecture that can be adopted by telcos in the region, building on our expertise in SP architecture transformation and our holistic vision for the IoT.”

The White Paper identifies current and potential activities where IoT will have an impact. These include: Healthcare, fitness and wellbeing, manufacturing, agriculture, utilities, extractive industries, surveillance, logistics, transportation, retail and finance, as well as new applications related to Smart Cities.

In addition, it outlines the key technologies which will help create more flexible network infrastructure, better able to meet the wide-ranging requirements of IoT. These are: Implementation of Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) & Software Defined Networking (SDN), Cloud and edge (fog) computing, Low-power wide-area (LPWA) technologies and 5G. The White Paper also addresses the new security challenges that arise from this new area of connectivity.

True value of IoT lies in it being the Internet of Humans

The Internet of Things (IoT) has caused unprecedented hype among technologists, software developers, futurists and industrialists. Estimates of the adoption of IoT vary from anywhere between 2.38-billion devices shipped in 2017 (Gartner) to 50.1-billion devices connected by 2020 (World Economic Forum).
True value of IoT lies in it being the Internet of HumansMcKinsey projects that IoT will be a $6.2-trillion industry by 2025. The public and private sectors have started investing heavily in IoT to capitalise on its uses and (projected) exponential growth: software company SAP plans to invest $2.2-billion in IoT by 2020, while India has announced a package of $2-trillion to connect 100 cities around the country.

A more efficient world

The uses of IoT – from smart autonomous cars that self-direct to less congested roadways during peak traffic hours, to home automation, to smart farming, and millions more – all have one thing in common: they are designed to make the world a more efficient place to live and work in. This efficiency is driven by access to quality data that did not exist before and matching this to data analysis and automation to deliver insights and solutions faster than has been possible before.

Pundits are quick to point to IoT-enabled clothing that can track the wearer’s fitness and health and inform nearby connected devices when it’s time to replace the piece of clothing (in an ideal world, per the pundits, the piece of clothing in question would interact with a connected device to order a replacement garment without the wearer even being aware of the need therefore in the first place). The combination of IoT and automation (enabled by AI/machine learning) is humanity’s surest step yet to the world imagined by the great science fiction writers of the past century.

Amid all this excitement and hype, we are at risk of missing one critical component to the success of IoT – and any other technology: the human element.

Whatever the inherent potential of a new technology, its success ultimately resides in if and how people adopt it. For IoT to live up to its promise of efficiency, safety and convenience, human beings – not processors and data – should be the focal point.

IoT and Industry 4.0

I believe there are three key elements that will drive IoT as the catalyst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, namely:

1. Using smart connected devices to enable people to make smarter decisions: Core to the premise of smart cities, smart cars, smart manufacturing and all manner of smart devices is that you can only manage what you can measure. Millions – billions – of connected devices generating real-time data give decision-makers unprecedented amounts of accurate information that enables them to identify and act on the best possible option at any given time.

While the devices that generate the data are invaluable, it is ultimately the human ability to determine context and extract value from the data that will realise the true benefits of the technology.

2. Providing real-time information to people and business to improve the customer experience: User experience (UX) is a concept nearly as hyped as IoT. The core premise is to make technology interfaces and processes as intuitive as possible to improve the experience of using software, products or services.

IoT adds a deeper layer to this – instead of waiting for the user to interact in a certain way and accommodating their preferred way of interaction through clever design, IoT can proactively introduce information or guidance to users before they are consciously aware that they need or want something. For example, a small-scale farmer can deploy sensors to his crops that feed critical information to a mobile app, advising him of optimal watering of his crops to produce a bigger yield while limiting water consumption.

3. Complete dedication to solving human problems: In essence, all technology needs to be useful, accessible and available for it to become part of mainstream consumer and business culture. IoT is no different. Through a combination of data analysis and automation, IoT should be able to remove day-to-day frustrations such as traffic congestion or queueing at the bank. It however needs to be consciously designed for this purpose, or IoT will remain an unfulfilled promise to people and businesses alike.

Without a focus on the human element, IoT is simply a solution looking for a problem. As with all truly transformative technologies, its success will ultimately depend on how well it adapts to the needs of a rapidly evolving and developing human population. All the fundamental elements are there to make IoT the technology that shapes this generation (and many generations to come). If we remember that, in the end, it is ourselves – not the technology we invent – that needs to be the priority.