HELENA – On St. Helena, the remote volcanic outcrop in the South Atlantic where Napoleon breathed his last, big changes are afoot -- well, big by St. Helena standards. In the heart of the capital, Jamestown (population 600), Constable Cowie is worried about the Christmas traffic; Craig, the dive-master, is checking his emails twice a day; and Lucille, the local taxi magnate, is introducing 24-hour shifts. For the 4,500 residents of the island, separated from Africa by nearly 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of ocean, the arrival this past weekend of the first ever commercial flight was cause for celebration and marked another step closer to their inclusion in the 21st century. Saints, as locals are known, only got mobile phones and the Internet 18 months ago, supplementing the five-day boat trip to Cape Town that represented their only connection with the outside world. Now, there is a weekly flight from Johannesburg -- via Namibia's Windhoek -- to the spectacular St. Helena airport, perched precariously on the edge of a cliff.
We are excited to announce our next MIIA event that will be hosted by PwC in V&A Waterfront, Cape Town on the 16th of August 2017 at 6pm. The theme of the event is "Data Science Applications to help businesses thrive in the Smart Technology Era" and we have speakers from PwC, Dimago, Cortex Logic and UCT. The Machine Intelligence Institute of Africa (MIIA) has also recently partnered with the Africa Data Forum and will be participating in the upcoming All Things Data Conference at the Westin, Cape Town on 29-30 August 2017. MIIA has decided to join forces with the Africa Data Science Association and will also have Board representation in this non profit organization that aims to ensure alignment between the academia and corporates on data science curriculum. We are excited to have many of the MIIA community members also participating in the upcoming Deep Learning Indaba at Wits, Johannesburg from 10-15 September 2017.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has partnered with five South African universities to launch the Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research (CAIR) on 24 May 2016. Based at the CSIR and chaired at the University of Cape Town, the centre aims to build research capacity in the field of artificial intelligence, and to ensure work reaches commercialisation. CAIR will also ensure artificial intelligence research is spread beyond the traditional institutions of the field. The five partner universities, or collaboration nodes, are the University of Cape Town (UCT), the University of Pretoria (UP), Stellenbosch University (SU), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and North-West University (NWU). The centre is funded by the CSIR, the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the participating universities, and the wide research scope of the programme is evident by the variety of university departments involved.
Startupbootcamp InsurTech has announced that the FastTrack tour will be coming to Cape Town on 11 October and Johannesburg on 13 October 2016. Exponential Ventures, the innovation unit of JSE listed financial services group, MMI Holdings, partners with Europe's leading accelerator programme to showcase South Africa's entrepreneurial talent in the global market FastTracks are open to innovative early stage startups specialising in insurance related areas: virtual and augmented reality; Blockchain; artificial intelligence and machine learning; Internet of Things and wearables; drones and robots; cyber security; data analysis and big data; life science and genome; MedTech and digital health; and customer experience. Exponential Ventures, the disruptive innovation unit of JSE listed company, MMI Holdings, has continued with its relentless pursuit of innovation by becoming an investor partner in the insurance incubator programme, Startupbootcamp InsurTech managed by Startupbootcamp a leading international startup accelerator. Startupbootcamp InsurTech has announced that the FastTrack tour will be coming to Cape Town on 11 October and Johannesburg on 13 October 2016. FastTrack days (or pitch days) are sessions where startups are given an opportunity to present their insurance related business idea to the Startupbootcamp InsurTech team and industry experts.
Say goodbye to those annoying internet lag times, South Africa. Microsoft has officially become the first major cloud service provider to open data centers in Africa. The company announced on Wednesday that two of its Azure cloud data centers have gone live in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. "The launch of these regions marks a major milestone for Microsoft as we open our first enterprise-grade datacenters in Africa, becoming the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacenters on the continent," wrote Microsoft Azure VP Tom Keane in the statement. The Redmond, Washington based company beat out fellow tech giants, like Amazon, which are also racing to open cloud data centers on the continent.