Items filtered by date: Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Android phones sometimes follow Apple's lead when it comes to key functionality features, and the next generation of smartphones could be no different. Future Android devices are expected to mimic one of the upcoming iPhone 8's most anticipated new features: 3D facial scanning.

Qualcomm's next generation of Snapdragon chips, which will be announced at the end of the year, will have greatly improved, new image signal processors (ISP) and will likely enable even better depth-sensing capabilities for smartphone cameras, according to a report from CNET.

That new processing power could potentially allow phones with the highest-tier Qualcomm chips — which in the current generation of devices include the flagships from OnePlus, Samsung, and HTC — to offer the same 3D facial sensing feature expected to replace Touch ID in the iPhone 8 as its go-to biometric security feature.

The new 3D scanning capability will ostensibly change the way we interact with our phones yet again, like when the iPhone 5S introduced Touch ID in 2013 and other phonemakers adopted it to follow suit. So Android devices will probably want to adopt the tech as soon as possible to stay competitive.

The new Qualcomm chipset will reportedly use infrared light sensors, which would likely be attached to a smartphone's camera module, to "measure depth and render high-resolution depth maps for facial recognition, 3D reconstruction of objects and mapping." Biometric security features would be one of the most obvious uses for the functionality, although it could also be harnessed for other things, like VR.

You can check out a demo of Qualcomm's 3D mapping and image reconstruction tech in the video below, but there's no footage of the biometric feature described in the CNET report.

Demo of Qualcomm's 3D mapping and image reconstruction

The chips could also help to improve Android cameras, which for many, specifically ex-Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra, lag behind Apple's latest dual lens setup in the iPhone 7 Plus.

The iPhone 8's 3D facial sensors (and everything else about the phone) haven't been confirmed yet, so it might be premature to call the feature the future of smartphone security. The rumor mill is strong however, and Qualcomm is ready to stake its own claim in the functionality — so you shouldn't be surprised if we're all unlocking our new phones with our faces by this time next year.

 

Credit: MASHABLE

Published in Telecoms

Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia said the trade and industrialisation programme of Government forms part of a Free Continental Trade Agreement agenda with the objective of creating a single market for goods and services.

He said Ghana would soon enjoy the privileges under the Trade Agreement that would ensure free movement of business persons to enhance investment. In addition, it would promote intra African trade through better harmonisation, coordination and facilitation regimes.

Vice President Bawumia said this at the closing ceremony of the Second Edition of the National Policy Summit organised by the Ministry of Information in Accra on Tuesday.

The two-day Summit, which featured the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was on the theme: “The Industrial Transformation of Ghana”. It brought together captains of industry, members of Parliament, the diplomatic community, policy think tanks, entrepreneurs and youth groups to deliberate on government policies and solicit inputs to ensure sustained growth and economic development.

The Vice President said the Free Continental Trade Agreement would resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships in regional economic groups and enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.

He said businesses and governments in Africa were supposed to take advantage of the Agreement by exploiting opportunities of the economics of scale, access to continental market and better re-allocation of resources across the Continent.

The Trade Agreement, the Vice President said, would bring to fruition a resolution passed by the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of States and Governments of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, which enjoined African countries to facilitate trade with each other.

He expressed satisfaction about the level of participation by the private sector since that demonstrates confidence in the Government’s industrial transformational agenda. Vice President Bawumia said the Summit was in line with the Government’s agenda of opening up spaces for dialogue and being a listening facilitator by using bottom-up approaches for policy formulation and decision-making.

“We know that we don’t have all the ideas and solutions that is why we have to constantly dialogue and interact,” he said.

“Even with the level of the Economic Management Team and with its powerful members, we regularly called on the private sector to dialogue on policies to get their views before we take certain decisions since this is the best way we can pursue our 10-point industrial development agenda,” he said. The Vice President said the Ministry of Trade and Industry, in the coming months, would start engaging stakeholders and sensitise the business community on the Continental Free Trade Agreement.

“We need your inputs; we want to encourage you to expand your perspectives on the emerging Africa. We, as government, will continue to engage in dialogue. In the end, it is your bold and entrepreneurial skills and your competitiveness that would determine how far and how much Ghana can take advantage of opportunities of Continental Free Trade,” he noted.

Ghana fully participated in the 16th Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) Forum held in Lome, Togo, from August 7-10, 2017 under the theme: “United States and Africa, Partnering for Prosperity through Trade”.

AGOA is a strategic framework through which Ghana seeks to expand bilateral trade and investment with the United States and it provides a duty free and quota free access to the US market. The Scheme was renewed in 2015 for another 10 years till 2025.

Vice President Bawumia said Government must take advantage of that preferential market and effectively utilise the Scheme by working together with the private sector and providing the needed interventions as stipulated under the AGOA.

On the Ghana International Trade Commission (GITC) Act, the Vice President said the Commission would help to regularise international trade in conformity with the rules and regulations of the world trade system.

He said the Commission would look into complaints by the private sector in matters of subsidies of imported products by foreign governments, dumping of such products onto the domestic market, tariff adjustment, settlement of disputes between importers and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority and any measure that affected fair trade.

Government, in the coming days, would inaugurate the Commission in order to deal with fair trade issues and enhance the competitiveness of the private sector in contributing to the industrial transformation agenda of the country.

 

- GNA

Published in Economy

Earlier this year heavy rains and thunderstorms caused havoc in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic nerve centre and one of Africa’s most populous cities. Residents woke up in many parts of the city to find their streets and homes flooded and their property, including cars and other valuables, submerged.

Pictures and videos later posted online showed dramatic and even bizarre scenes of flooding in the city, including the capture of a crocodile in the floodwater. Another video, which went viral, was one of a man kayaking in floodwater on one of the streets.

Lagos has not been alone. Suleija, a town near the capital city Abuja hundreds of kilometres away, suffered its own flooding challenge in early July. Heavy rains washed houses away and caused others to collapse, trapping occupants. Thirteen people were reported to have died.

Some of the worst flooding in recent memory happened five years ago in March 2012 when 32 of Nigeria’s 36 states were affected, 24 severely. More than 360 people were killed and almost 2 million people were displaced.

The seriousness of the flooding was attributed to a combination of two events: very heavy local rainfall and the release of excess water from the Lagdo Dam in nearby Cameroon, which feeds the Niger River.

Although the degree and seriousness of flooding in Nigeria fluctuates, flooding remains a recurring phenomenon in most parts of the country. The first factor aggravating flooding is climate change, which has been shown to contribute to more extreme storms and rainfall. Another factor contributing to flooding in cities is that Nigeria has experienced rapid urban growth and planning is poor.

The problem of flooding is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. In 2007, floods affected 1.5 million people across several countries in Africa, including Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Ghana, Ethiopia and Niger. Alluvial flooding is common for major rivers - such as Nile, Niger, Benue, Orange, Zambezi - in Africa. Major cities in Africa are also susceptible to fluvial flooding which occurs when excessive rainfall, over an extended period of time, causes rivers to overflow.

Why Nigeria suffers

Rainfall patterns in Nigeria (1978 to 2007) suggests that rainstorms are getting more intense. The data show that there are fewer rainy days, yet the total yearly amounts of rainfall have not changed much from previous decades. This means that more rain is falling on the days that there is rain, which in turn means that rain storms in the city are getting more intense, increasing the threat of flooding.

In addition to more intense rain storms, the other possible cause of flooding in coastal regions is rising sea levels. Although up-to-date data on the rising sea levels in Nigeria are scarce, it’s believed that if nothing is done, this is likely to aggravate flooding in the future, particularly in coastal cities.

Areas at risk include Lagos, which is on the coast, as well as the Niger Delta region which has many low-lying towns and villages. Being on the coast also makes these places more susceptible to storm surges. While these areas are no stranger to floods, evidence suggests that floods have become increasingly common and intense in recent times.

In the northern parts of the country, heavy rains are likely to cause rivers to overflow their banks and cause flooding in the adjoining states. The changes in rainfall patterns, particularly in frequency and intensity, have meant that these events have begun to happen more frequently.

In Nigeria’s cities, the most common cause of flooding after excessive rains is poor drainage systems that can’t cope. This is called pluvial flooding. Lagos provides a good case study.

Lagos as a case study

Lagos has been urbanising rapidly. By some estimates there will be 19 million in the city by 2050, making it the 11th most populous city in the world. It is also home to most of the country’s industrial, commercial and non-oil operations.

Urbanisation and industrialisation increase the number of roads and buildings. This in turn increases the proportion of surface area where water cannot be absorbed into the ground, leading to rapid runoff which then causes flooding during storms. And in cities that manage their infrastructure well, storm water drainage systems are built so that water can be directed to rivers efficiently and quickly.

Lagos has not kept up with its infrastructure needs. The growth and expansion of the city has been largely unregulated. The has resulted in inadequate and poor housing, the development of slum areas and inadequate water supply and waste disposal, among other problems.

What’s complicated the situation for Lagos is that many parts of the city were originally low-lying mangrove swamps and wetlands, which have been reclaimed and settled, mostly by poorer communities and more recently through concerted efforts by the government.

These low-lying areas are particularly at risk of flooding, and the situation is complicated by buildings being constructed on water ways, and bad waste dumping habits which block the drains.

70% of the population of Lagos live in slums, with the density of people being as much as 120,000 people per square kilometre. (The average population density of New York City is 10,384 people per square kilometre.)

What must be done

It’s clear Nigeria needs to take measures to cope with flooding. This will require both local and international interventions, and could include early warning and rapid response systems, flood data gathering and modelling, proper urban and spatial planning, flood emergency preparedness and political will.

The country can learn from others. For example, in Mumbai, India various measures have been implemented to reduce the impact of flooding. These have included an emergency control centre, automated weather stations, removal of solid waste from stormwater drains and the development of emergency response mechanisms. Nigeria must invest in these measures, and sustain them.

 

Andrew Slaughter, Researcher, Rhodes University and Nelson Odume, Researcher, Rhodes University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

A few hours after Kenya’s polling stations closed on Tuesday August 8th, the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission began transmitting live results.

But even before it had a chance to complete the tallying process, the opposition candidate Raila Odinga and his National Super Alliance (NASA) disputed the credibility and fairness of the process, claiming that they had garnered 8.04 million votes against Uhuru Kenyatta’s 7.7 million.

These results differed widely from the official electoral figures which on Friday placed Kenyatta in the lead with 8.1 million votes, and Odinga in second place with 6.7 million.

History seems to be on the side of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission: international observers – of which there were 400 at various stations on polling day – have by and large come out to say that the process was credible. If we take the practice of democracy as playing the game and abiding by the rules, then for Kenya the game is far from over.

In the end, the final judgement could be made by the country’s courts. The rules governing elections in Kenya are set down in the constitution which states that a candidate will be declared president if he or she has received more than half of all the votes cast in the election, and that at least 25% of the votes cast in each of more than half of the counties.

If indeed there is an election petition, both sides are heavily invested in the outcome. For Odinga it is do or die. He has unsuccessfully contested for the top seat three times. However, despite this being his last shot, he has maintained that legal recourse is not an option.

The future of his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka is also uncertain – results show that some of the candidates vying for gubernatorial seats on his Wiper party ticket were unsuccessful, thereby lowering his political party’s future value proposition.

For Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto the marriage of convenience is under pressure to continue for another five years to pave the way for Ruto’s succession.

Things that stood out

Despite the fears of post-election violence there was a lot of goodwill for this election to be a success. Campaigns for a “tribeless Kenya” and various activities that promoted peaceful elections were a part of the pre-poll fabric.

While there were multiple reports predicting violence, there was relative calm after voters had gone to the polls. And for the most part Kenyans have so far affirmed that no blood needs to be shed.

But there has been violence. Kenyans in low-income areas been caught up in deadly clashes with the police.

These incidents have been localised to opposition areas and the majority of Kenyans seem eager to return to normalcy. This resolve is being tested by the opposition alliance which announced on Sunday that it was preparing a post-election strategy. Many fear that this could heighten tensions further. The election, and its aftermath, provide an opportunity for Kenya to reflect on how the electoral process went and how, in the future, it can deal with complaints and inconsistencies better.

But there have been many positive reports on the election process. These, combined with what observers say was largely a free and fair election, have increased international confidence in Kenya’s election processes.

What was memorable

What will the 2017 election be remembered for?

The road to Canaan: The 2017 election was an incumbent election with polls consistently showing an incumbent win for Kenyatta. Nevertheless, the opposition colourfully portrayed their campaign as the Road to Canaan, with Joshua (their flag bearer Odinga) leading them to the Promised Land full of milk and honey. The biblical story of Joshua is of a military commander who takes the mantle from Moses. His mission is to take the Israelite tribes to the land of Canaan after 40 years of wandering. The story of Canaan is one of hope and the message resonated with many Kenyans.

The year of the independent candidate: Legislation that put a definitive end to party hopping after the party nomination process gave rise to the “big two” National Super Alliance and Jubilee Party coalitions.

In my opinion this legislation changed Kenya’s political landscape because smaller parties were swallowed up by the big coalitions. Many who tried to secure nominations from the Jubilee Party and National Super Alliance failed. They were therefore left no option but to stand as independent candidates if they wanted to keep alive their dreams of running for office.

But the election results have shown that the independent movement failed to get off the ground. By and large Kenyans favoured candidates from one of the big two coalitions. Only two counties – Isiolo and Laikipia – went against this trend, electing independent candidates as their next governors.

More women elected: In terms of gender representation, there’s a lot to be encouraged by, not least the fact that the first women governors were elected. The council of governors had previously been a male preserve. The number of women in elected seats also rose from 16 in 2013 to 22 in this election.

Leaders who work: The election results also showed the reduction in appetite for leaders who don’t deliver. This was clear from the number of incumbents who were unsuccessful in their bids to return to their posts.

In the end, election days come and go. The next phase is all that matters now. The intense electoral competition and the choices people made show that there is enough room for all Kenyans to participate – whether they belong to a big party or not – and to do so in a meaningful way.

 

Faith Kiboro, PhD Candidate in Political Economy, SMC University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Economy

  1. Opinions and Analysis

Calender

« August 2017 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31