Week 09: VAT expands to cover additional electronic services, 2.1 Billion Rand fund announced for South African startups, TapOff app aiming to make saving water fun

After a week of celebrations welcoming new president Cyril Ramaphosa South Africans have been disheartened by a report released this week by PwC that lists our instances of economic crime as the highest in the world. The report titled the Global Economic Crime Survey explains that 77% of South African business reported themselves as victims of some sort of economic crime. The dubious award for second place is awarded to our neighbouring African country Kenya where 75% of local companies had reported experiencing economic crimes of some sort. Asset misappropriation topped the list affecting 49% of the South African respondents. This represents a black-eye for team South Africa who are desperately trying to convince the world of our investor-friendly environment.


VAT now also levied on electronic services: The outgoing South African Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, before vacating his office this week, announced that aside from an increase in VAT (from 14 to 15 percent), that the scope of the goods and services will be expanded to include a range of additional electronic services. VAT will now also be levied against suppliers of electronic services such as antivirus software, online training platforms, online advertisers and online-based consultations services. Mybroadband.co.za, IOL.co.za. Htxt.co.za

Media Measure startup to receive funding from E2 investment firm: South African startup Media Measure that its provides customers with media compliance and marketing insights has partnered with the investment firm E2. The aim of the partnership is to create a social impact among local entrepreneurs who have been through the Fellowship program run by the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. Smesouthafrica.co.za, IOL.co.za

2.1 Billion Rand startup fund announced: A fund aiming to assist small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME’s) was unveiled last week by ex-South African Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba. The fund totalling 2,1 Billion Rand will be managed by the Department of Small Business Development together with the Department of Science and Technology. The fund was not the only pro-business measures covered in the 2018 budget speech. Also announced was a directive given to all government departments to ensure that supplier invoices are paid within 30 days or they would risk incurring additional charges. VentureBurn.com, MG.co.zaFIN24.com

TapOff Gamification App aimed at making saving water, fun: Cape Town residents who receive a City of Cape Town (CoCT) water bill will now be able to calculate their per person water usage using the exciting new app, TapOff. The results can then be posted to a suburb leader board to make the experience of saving water, fun. The work on the app started in early 2017 and took most of the year to complete. It was first shared over social media in late January 2018. SiliconCape.com, MemeBurn.com, TapOff.co.za

  • Cape Innovation Technology Initiative -free women’s tech and digital skills training initiative applications close March 16. SiliconCape.com, Citi-WomenInBusiness.co.za
  • Stats from Analytics business ROI Africa paint a positive week on Social Media across South Africa. Memeburn.com
  • A roundup of the startup-related events happening around South Africa for the week ahead. Ventureburn.com
  • Vodacom and then MTN share first and second place for the best LTE coverage in SA. Mybroadband.co.za
  • Wealth Migrate, a South African property platform that incorporates blockchain technology. Siliconcape.com
  • Seamless University presents on how to run a successful online startup on March 5,6. Siliconcape.com



Healthcare saving app revolutionaries lives in Kenya: Four in 10 people in Kenya cannot afford hospital treatment, leaving mothers often having to choose between food and healthcare. M-Tiba, is an app revolutionising the lives of vulnerable people in Kenya by helping them plan for unexpected medical costs. Paying for treatment is a problem for many Kenyans, who either have to pay in cash or have money taken from them – often by husbands who spend it on alcohol. Mothers and elderly people are signing up to a mobile health wallet service called M-Tiba, which allows them to save money for medical care. independent.co.uk

Mobile apps to help manage cash better In Kenya: Given today’s technology, the choices are aplenty, however, Money has sampled a number of software which can help keep you focused on your spending. Apart from the mobile phone money transfer services provided by telecommunications companies, Kenyan mobile application development space is awash with many other innovations: This list is by no means exhaustive as the silicon valley of Africa always has something new to offer, but for the purposes of this article the platforms include:

M-Changa, a mobile phone application designed to tap into Kenya’s harambee spirit, is  an SMS-based app that allows users to create a network of fundraisers, donate money to causes and keep the user updated on how the collection goes.

The NSE app, available on phones running on android software, provides real time data on counters listed at the NSE. Like the Bloomberg app, it also allows for personalisation once users sign up for it via the web. Key company announcements will also be send directly to your app once you sign up.

Safari com’s Mshari lock saving account, a savings account that allows customers to save for a defined purpose and for a specified amount of time. The funds saved on the M-Shwari lock –Savings are kept in the account until the maturity date; this maturity date is determined by the customer upon opening the account and ranges between one and six months. The M-Shwari lock Savings Account is ideal for customers looking for higher interest rates and those wishing to keep money away safely for one to six months

  • Kenya’s Communications Authority gazettes new framework for quality of service: techweez.com
  • Google now accepting M-pesa payments: techzim.co.zw
  • Technological advances have complicated Kenya’s war on terrorism: the-star.co.ke


EU Commission considers bitcoin regulation: The European Commission has hosted a roundtable titled “Cryptocurrencies – Opportunities and Risks,” covering the influence of crypto on financial markets and problems arising with Initial Coin Offerings. The EU has warned that it will regulate cryptocurrencies if the risks exposed by the meteoric rise of bitcoin and its ilk are not addressed. Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU’s financial chief, said that since Europe has such a small share of crypto trading, which he referred to as a global phenomenon, the next step was a discussion of the same topics at the G20 level, echoing the opinions of French and European Central Bank’s officials. G20 finance ministers and central bankers meet in Buenos Aires in March, with cryptocurrencies set to be on the agenda.
theguardian.com, cointelegraph.com

30 languages and more: Google Assistant to be expanded: Google Assistant, the search giant’s answer to Alexa that lives on Android smartphones, tablets, and Google Home speakers, will expand to more languages over the course of the year, to cover 95 percent of all eligible Android smartphones. It will also soon become multilingual – meaning users who speak more than one language will be able to talk to Assistant in all the languages they speak. The feature will be available first in English, German and French, but support for more languages is planned. While Google Assistant is currently available in eight languages, the company is planning on expanding that number significantly in 2018. By the end of the year, Google plans on making Assistant available in over 30 languages, which will encompass 95 percent of Android phones worldwide that can use Assistant.
engadget.com, techcrunch.com

„Malicious AI Report“: Researchers warn of Artificial Intelligence: A group of 26 leading AI researchers met in Oxford last February to discuss how superhuman artificial intelligence may be deployed for malicious ends in the future. The result of this two-day conference was a sweeping 100-page report that delves into the risks posed by AI in the wrong hands, and strategies for mitigating these risks. One of the four high-level recommendations made by the working group was that researchers and engineers in artificial intelligence should take the dual-use nature of their work seriously, allowing misuse-related considerations to influence research priorities and norms, and proactively reaching out to relevant actors when harmful applications are foreseeable.

    • CIMON: Smart assistance in space businessinsider.com
    • Smart City: How Siemens and Mercedes plan to solve Phuket’s traffic problem nytimes.com
    • Cryptocurrency: Ethereum founder warns that cryptocurrencies are volatile fortune.com