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Huawei Ban | Will the US ever do business with China’s Huawei again?

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Huawei’s 90-day reprieve expires today

China’s Huawei was banned from doing business with the US earlier this year as the firm was swept into a trade war between the US and China, which has seen punitive tariffs slapped on billions of dollars worth of two-way trade.

The company was blacklisted by the US because of mistrusts that it provides a backdoor for Chinese intelligence services, although this is something Huawei denies. The decision limited Huawei’s access to important components and to the Android operating system as well as Google applications.

On Friday, citing two sources, Reuters reported that the U.S. Commerce Department was set to issue another 90-day grace period to Huawei Technologies Co Ltd that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers.

The “temporary general license” will renew a reprieve set to expire today. This agreement will reportedly let Huawei both maintain current telecom networks and supply software updates for phones. Simply meaning that your P30 Pro should still be up to date months after the ban took effect, or even stay current throughout 2019.

Thereafter, earlier on Sunday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said the Commerce Department would extend the Huawei licensing process for three months as a gesture of “good faith” amid broader trade negotiations with China. 

“We’re giving a break to our own companies for three months,” Kudlow told NBC’s Meet the Press program. 

Although on Sunday evening, the US president said:

“Huawei is a company we may not do business with at all.”

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“At this moment it looks much more like we’re not going to do business,” Trump told reporters on Sunday as he boarded Air Force One in New Jersey.

“I don’t want to do business at all because it is a national security threat and I really believe that the media has covered it a little bit differently than that,” he said.

Even as his administration weighs whether to extend a grace period for the company, he added that there were small parts of Huawei’s business that could be exempted from a broader ban, but would be “very complicated”.

By saying he does “not want to do business at all” with the Chinese telecoms company, Donald Trump has cast doubt on any reprieve for US companies selling to Huawei.

Putting into consideration that Trump did not say whether his administration would extend the “temporary general license” as he spoke on Sunday.  This appears to contradict the commerce department official over whether the trade extension will be granted.

Huawei previously got a 90-day reprieve last May which expires this August 19; today. This allows Huawei to continue operations and work with other US companies until the reprieve ends. After that,  US companies who still want to work Huawei would have to process a permit to do so.

However, an extension of the reprieve on Huawei would be a victory for the business community, which has pushed hard for more flexibility with regards to the Chinese company. This reprieve could make or break Huawei’s grip on the US market.


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vivo Unveils Third Generation of The APEX Concept Smartphone

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vivo has unveiled the third generation of its APEX concept smartphone – APEX 2020. The device builds on the success of its previous generations to feature more cutting-edge technologies, while also showcasing vivo’s continuing pursuit of head-turning aesthetics.

APEX 2020 comes  120° FullView Edgeless Display that removes side edges and bezels from the front view. With the In-Display Camera and vivo Wireless Super FlashCharge 60W. APEX 2020 has a Super Unibody Design with no openings. 

This feature showcases Vivo’s latest achievements and future plans to offer extraordinary visual effects and enhanced future photography. And also displaying a major breakthrough in visual effects. 

 “APEX is never a mere ‘concept’ or a glimpse of ‘imagination’. It’s a creation that goes beyond any previous experience brought by mobile technology. Through APEX 2020, we are proud to see vivo’s vision come to life as a technology company. We continue to push the boundaries of mobile technology and explore what lies beyond the ordinary. The APX 2020 showcases our ambition to achieve our aspirations step-by-step. vivo will continue to put APEX’s innovative technologies into practice. The technology will give a chance to more consumers to be empowered.” said Harry Hong, General Manager of Product, vivo Kenya. 

The APEX 2020 carries on vivo’s pursuit of a truly FullView Display and Super Unibody design. A 6.45-inch curved display that bends up to 120° on both sides. This helps remove side edges and bezels from the front view and results in an ultra bezel-less display.

Physical buttons are replaced with a virtual pressure-sensing button for aesthetic and practical considerations. APEX 2020 is another perfect fusion of visual effect, natural touch and human-device interaction. 

vivo APEX 2020 specifications

The In-Display Camera of APEX 2020 unleashes the new possibility of a non-mechanical front camera. The “invisible” front camera presents a Super Unibody design with no openings and expands the internal space. 

Through innovation in screen pixel layout and circuit design, APEX 2020 has successfully increased the light transmittance of the screen right above the front camera to 6 times of the other part of the screen, and effectively reduces optical interference, diffraction and stray flashes. 

 The 16MP front camera features a 4-in-1 super-pixel photosensitive chip, realizing the innovation of capturing clear images with the In-Display Camera.

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. APEX 2020 comes with Continuous Optical Zoom, becoming the world’s first smartphone equipped with high-magnification continuous zoom. It can achieve continuous optical zoom under high magnifications between 5x-7.5x. It can as well produce images in high resolution and quality rather than filling focal lengths through digital magnification.

Users are able to preserve the clarity of all moments by effectively enhancing every detail.

It comes with a “4-group lens combination. Two fixed lenses and two movable lenses, which achieves high-magnification continuous zoom and real-time focus at one time. It supports a 6.2 mm periscope structure which makes it possible for the professional-grade lens to be incorporated into the APEX’s ultra-thin body.

To further enhance the image quality, vivo has incorporated a leading multi-frame algorithm so that scenery from afar can also be easily captured.

The gimbal-like structure into APEX 2020’s main camera. It achieves optical stabilization in the front-back and left-right inclined directions with enhanced performance. Its stabilization angle is 200% extended.

This feature greatly reduces the blurring caused by a shaky hand. Users can also enjoy videography with smoothness. It as well supports stable handheld shooting effectively extend the exposure time so that APEX 2020 also has a stronger capacity for night photography

The APEX 2020 features the revolutionary vivo Wireless Super FlashCharge 60W, which recharges a handset with a 2000mAh battery in only 20 minutes, offering a faster charging experience than conventional wired flash charging.

Other than that, APEX 2020 is also equipped with 3rd Generation Screen SoundCasting Technology, Instant Photobomb Removal and Voice Tracking Auto-Focus. Bringing an all-round user experience.  

 


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WhereIsMyTransport raises $7.5m from Google & Toyota for expansion

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WhereIsMyTransport, a UK and South African-based mass public transport and data analytics firm has raised $7.5m to extend its global reach, scale its data-collection practice, and develop new technology to translate complex data into useful information for commuters in low- and middle-income cities.

WhereIsMyTransport’s Series A round was led by Liil Ventures, with participation from returning investors Global Innovation Fund and Goodwell Investments, plus new strategic investment from Google, Nedbank, Liil Ventures, and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC).

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to invest in WhereIsMyTransport’s Series A funding,” says Mr. Masato Yamanami, Automotive Division’s CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation. “Our division’s global network, that covers 146 countries, is primarily focused on new emerging countries where people rely on informal public transport. Through strategic collaboration with WhereIsMyTransport, we will establish better and more efficient mobility services that help to resolve social challenges and contribute to the overall economic development of nations, primarily emerging nations.”

Founded in 2015, the startup has more than 750,000 km of routes in 39 cities, collecting more mobility data in emerging markets than any other organisation. The company’s integrated mobility hub translates formal and informal public transport data into information for citizens, governments, and third parties. 

The platform is mapping the emerging world’s public transport networks, to become the de facto source of information for governments and service providers to improve transport services for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. 

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The startup first began its work in Africa, before expanding into India, Southeast Asia, and Latin America in 2018 to address mobility, a fundamental driver of social, political, and economic growth.

The absence of information about these services makes them unreliable and unpredictable. WhereIsMyTransport is on a mission to change that, using data and technology to develop solutions to this problem so that everyone in these markets has the basic freedom of movement they need to be able to improve their circumstances.

Janade Du Plessis, Head of Alternative Investments and Venture Capital at Nedbank added: “Nedbank CIB is at the forefront of investing in disruptive technologies that are able to make a meaningful difference to people’s lives – including smart city initiatives that leverages Nedbank’s strategy of financing our infrastructure, transport and logistics clients. Our investment will support the company’s expansion into key African regions, and we will use our network and our influence on the continent to unlock new corporate partnerships.“ 


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Microsoft for Start-ups initiative to empower 14 Kenyan social enterprises

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Microsoft, through its Microsoft for Start-ups initiative, today announced the launch of its Global Social Entrepreneurship programme at a plenary session of the Sankalp Africa Summit 2020. 

Microsoft’s Global Social Entrepreneurship programme has benefits aimed at elevating start-ups addressing an important social and environmental challenge through their products, services or operations. As a platform for innovation, entrepreneurship and impact investing, the Sankalp Forum was the ideal place for Microsoft, a strategic partner of the forum, to make this important announcement. 

“Solving global social and environmental challenges requires synergy of the right technology, partners, conducive environment and technology. When start-ups work together with investors, enterprises, governments, non-profits and communities, we are able to unlock new potentials,” said Microsoft4Afrika Director Amrote Abdella at the launch of the programme. 

This global initiative is designed to help social enterprise start-ups build and scale their companies to do good globally. Microsoft believes in providing the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact. Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance. 

Microsoft is deeply inspired by the commitment of these social entrepreneurs, who are focusing their passion for positive change on improving human health and the environment, advancing social and economic equity, and much more.

Social impact startups from around the world are welcome to apply. The criteria to qualify for the programme includes a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI. Qualified startups will be eligible for grants in the areas of sustainability, accessibility, skills and employability. 

A dedicated programme manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship start-ups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organisations and nongovernmental organisations that are potential customers. Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability will also be eligible for grants. Furthermore, the social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success. 

The programme is available in 140 countries and will actively seek to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. 

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Microsoft has been intentional in its development of partnerships in the agri-tech space that have a shared theme of building locally relevant technology solutions that support social good. Through the 4Afrika initiative, Microsoft has collaborated with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) to co-create technology solutions in Africa. The partnership explores the uses of big data and AI in enabling data-driven, precision farming that increases farm productivity and profitability, and supports AGRA’s digital transformation as it works to improve food security for 30 million farming households across 11 countries by 2021. 

The partnership is demonstrative of Microsoft’s ongoing investment in agri-tech across the continent, and stands alongside investments such as Microsoft4Afrika’s support of the World Bank’s 1 Million Farmers Platform.

As part of the partnership, 4Afrika is supporting 14 Kenyan social entrepreneurs selected to join the platform, who are developing technology solutions that promote access to financial services and markets for farmers. Microsoft has also partnered and supported other social entrepreneurs in agri-tech like Twiga Foods, a mobile-based business-to-business food supply platform that links smallholder farmers in rural Kenya to informal retail vendors in cities, and SunCulture, which has a solar-based system that offers farmers personalised recommendations and solutions through their mobile phones. 

Shujaaz Inc is one of the most innovative socially-oriented communications research and media production companies on the African continent. The company is turning Kenyan youth into field researchers, tapping into unique social trend data. Their youth platform leverages their 3,000+ youth network, empowering them to run research on their behalf. The support from Microsoft4Afrika has enabled Shujaaz to do this on a large scale, providing a quick and easy tool that facilitates easy data collection from across Kenya. 

“Social entrepreneurship has to be the future for a sustainable world: it’s only when we align the interests of business and society that we can all thrive and grow. With the launch of the Global Social Entrepreneurship programme it’s wonderful to see Microsoft once again showing leadership and demonstrating the values we believe in. Shujaaz Inc is proud to be working with Microsoft to build a better future for young people in Africa,” says Rob Burnet, CEO of Shujaaz Inc.

Upepo Technology is a Kenyan technology firm that develops IoT (Internet of Things) solutions for the country’s water sector. The company partners with utilities to deploy smart water metering devices that provide real-time monitoring of water infrastructure, moving towards a more holistic view of water consumption in Kenya, with the ultimate goal of providing access to water for people across the country. 

Upepo’s solution secured the company a Microsoft AI for Earth grant in April 2019, which provides access to cloud and AI tools, as well as opportunities for education and training on AI and investments in innovative, scalable solutions.


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