OPINION
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OPINION

Safety of cyclists in jeopardy in SA

South African cycling heavyweights have come out in force against the state of cycling safety in South Africa. Cyclists across the spectrum are increasingly under attack from road users and criminals. From the well-publicised recent muggings and bike-jackings caught on a GoPro camera in the Cape, to the much-maligned 1.5m cyclist leeway battle with vehicles on SA’s infamous roads, something needs to be done.

According to Arrive Alive, the death list reads: Pedestrians, Passengers, Drivers, and Cyclists – in that order. Although cycling fatalities statistics lag by a long way, in a country with a shocking road safety record, the reference point is a dubious one.

Furthermore, according to the South African Insurance Crime Bureau, crime syndicates are targeting cyclists that operate with surprising sophistication. Stolen or hijacked bicycles are dismantled, packed into 44 gallon drums, and moved across the border into neighbouring countries.

Tracker's Ride Free team spoke to cyclists from around the country to get a sense of how this community feels about the situation and the results were not surprising.

SA cycling legend and leading supplier to the industry, Chris Willemse, points out that, as the economic situation in SA worsens, crime increases and criminals see cyclists as ‘soft targets’. “It’s almost impossible for a cyclist to defend himself against a criminal or a group of them,” he says.

As Morne Myburgh, an amateur enthusiast from Gauteng puts it, “We are simply not safe anymore.”

Stephen Saunders, an ex-pro road cyclist and experienced mountain biker with a couple of Cape Epic’s under his belt, echoes the sentiment, calling road cyclists “sitting ducks”. “I try to never ride the same route twice,” he says. Surely, when cyclists have to start thinking like military personnel, there is something very wrong?

One solution is to create safe cycling spaces, an area with kilometres of natural terrain, a choice of trails and which has 24-hour security with medics on standby. While this is difficult to set up for the road user, off-road environments can be earmarked and converted into safe zones. Two Gauteng parks, the Modderfontein and Avianto Ride Free Bike Parks, currently operate in this way and are completely safe and accessible for all levels of cycling enthusiasts.

The company behind the safe cycling parks is Tracker. Chief Marketing Officer, Bronwynn Tippett, explains that the company is committed to enabling driving and cycling freedom. “The very essence of cycling is to embrace freedom of movement, but when movement is limited because it’s unsafe, that right soon erodes. Whether it’s cyclists or drivers, Tracker firmly believes in those freedoms and is committed to initiatives which embody those values.”

Willemse backs the call for the creation of safe cycling zones and Tracker’s role in the process. “A bike park allows cyclists to actually be safe rather than to just feel safe. That’s an important distinction as perceptions are not necessarily reality. I know of riders who thought they were safe on the road only to return one day without their mobile phone and bruised-up after being mugged on their bike.”

In a society that is as passionate about the outdoors as South Africans are, initiatives that protect our right to freedom of movement are critical. Similarly, nobody should be deprived of the right to cycle due to rampant crime or security concerns. Young cyclists need to be able to learn about the sport in a safe environment – and what better environment than a secure bike park with various levels of trails, bike safety clinics and even a bike wash facility?

“We view safe cycling zones, through the creation of world-class, safe and fun Ride Free bike parks as a sustainable solution to the challenges all cyclists face on SA’s roads,” says Tippett. “As Tracker mobilises to expand these facilities across the country we hope, too, that we can bring back the freedom to ride in safety.”

 

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OPINION

Choosing the right Microsoft Office product to suit your needs

Microsoft Office is the most widely used productivity software packages in the world, and is available in several different versions for different users. For consumers, however, these different suites can cause confusion. Do you need Home and Student, Home and Business or the Professional edition? Or would Office 365 suit your needs better?

Not having a clear understanding of the differences between these suites and what each of them offers can lead to an incorrect purchase. This creates unnecessary frustration and expense, as users may need to purchase additional products to get the solution they need. Choosing the correct Microsoft Office solution will ensure you get the appropriate solution for your needs, with the best combination of value for money and functionality.



How many users and devices do you need a solution for?


This is the first question users should answer before purchasing an Office software package, as the various solutions cater to different numbers of users and devices. Office Home and Student and Professional editions are single device licenses, meaning that each package can only be installed on a single computer. For multiple devices, one license will have to be purchased for each device. Office Home and Business edition offers a license for one user for one device. Office 365 Personal offers a single user license that is valid for two devices - one PC or Mac and one tablet, including iPad. For a single user with more than one device, this is the most cost effective solution. Office 365 Home is a household license valid for five PC or Mac devices as well as up to five tablets, while Office 365 University is aimed at students, valid for two devices, be it a combination of either PCs, Macs or tablets.



What applications do you need?


The different versions of Microsoft Office also come with different combinations of applications. Office Home and Student includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, but does not include Outlook. Users who require Outlook in addition to the core Microsoft applications will need to purchase Office Home and Business. Office Professional includes all of these applications as well as Publisher, which can be used to design and create newsletters and brochures, and Access, allowing users to create desktop databases. The different packages of Office 365 include all of the applications of Office Professional, with the exception of Publisher and Access, which are not available when Office 365 is installed on Apple devices. Personal and Home versions are aimed at home users, while University is only available for students.



What operating system am I running?


Microsoft Office Home and Student, Home and Business and Professional editions are only compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you are running a Mac device, you will need to purchase Office for Mac, which is available in Home and Student and Home and Business editions. Alternatively, Mac users can make use of Office 365 Home, which is compatible with up to five devices on both Windows and Mac Operating Systems (OS) plus up to five tablets, including iPad.



To sum it up


Microsoft Office Home and Student is best suited for users who want the basic Office suite on a single PC for the family. Home and Business is best suited for users who want the basic Office suite, plus Outlook. These products are also available in Office for Mac versions for Apple users. Microsoft Office Professional is for those who need the basic Office suite, Outlook, Access and Publisher giving the ability to create marketing material on a single PC.



Microsoft Office 365 for consumers is available as follows: Personal, Home and University. Office 365 Personal is available for a single user on one PC or Mac as well as one tablet. Office 365 Home is best for families that want all Office functionality on up to five PCs or Mac and five tablets, plus easy access on smartphones. Both are available with a one-year license, either as a single payment or a monthly fee. Office 365 University is best for students who want Office on up to two devices – PCs, Macs or tablets. It is available as a four-year subscription at a special discounted rate, either up front or per month. All of the consumer versions of Office 365 now also include 60 Skype world minutes per month, which enable users to call landlines in 48 countries. All Office 365 solutions also offer 1 Terabyte (TB) of OneDrive cloud storage, which can be accessed on all connected devices as well as Android smartphones and iPhones, so important documents and applications are not lost even if the physical device is damaged, lost or stolen.



Understanding your needs, and the features available on each version of Microsoft Office can help to alleviate the confusion around purchasing this vital software tool. By answering these three questions and matching your needs to the Office product best suited to your situation will ensure that users get exactly what they need without frustration or added expense.

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OPINION

Capitalising on Africa's strengths

As the African sun is on the rise, so too must it rise above historical obstacles and capitalise on Africa’s strengths.

It is time for Africa to appropriate the promise that has eluded it for generations – the exploitation of its natural resources (fertile land and abundant natural resources) for the benefit of its people. With 60% of the world’s arable land, Africa is destined to feed the world, writes Matsi Modise.

As the African Sun is on the rise, so too must it rise above historical obstacles and capitalise on Africa’s strengths. It is time for Africa to appropriate the promise that has eluded it for generations – the exploitation of its natural resources (fertile land and abundant natural resources) for the benefit of its people. With 60% of the world’s arable land, Africa is destined to feed the world!

A 19th century spiritual philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said “to understand is to transform what is”. To exploit our continent’s potential fully and understand its challenges is an imperative prerequisite to its transformation for the benefit of our people. Africans remain hungry both literally and figuratively because Africa is still hounded by food security challenges. Africans are also hungry for success, opportunities and empowerment.

No longer are Africans happy to be stigmatised as the ‘dark continent’ characterised by squalor, dysfunction, corrupt leadership and unemployment. South Africa has a static unemployment rate of 25.6 %, woefully above the continental average of 6%.

As an underdeveloped continent, with approximately one billion people, Africa presents immense opportunities. Our capital flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of the Western economy. A total of 52% of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, originated from Africa.

Africans need to see Africa as a potential and viable market and need to start creating generations of African multi-national corporations. Africa needs to feed its own people, as plentiful natural resources exist in this place we call home. To achieve this will not be an easy undertaking, but will certainly take a cohesive continental effort and a rigorous culture of entrepreneurship to exist.

Entrepreneurs shape the future, they produce solutions and they are constantly challenging the status quo. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers who pursue opportunities that others may fail to recognise.

Entrepreneurs create something out of nothing and they will be the continent’s required ‘game changers’. They will transform this continent into one that beneficiates its resources – human and natural. They will create new markets, new value and unlock new wealth.

The new and the old generation of African leaders must acknowledge the significant impact that entrepreneurs have on the continent’s development. They must not deprive them of a decent education system. The fundamentals of business, investments, corporate governance and business ethics are principal learnings that future captains of industry and business owners need to be familiar with.

African leaders cannot ignore the fact that they must harness a knowledge and technology–based continental economy. As six of the ten fastest growing economies exist in Sub-Saharan Africa and also as Africa has the youngest population in the world, more resources should be invested in youth enterprise development initiatives that will create a continental culture of job creators.

What Haile Salassie, Ethiopian emperor, said 50 years ago, at the founding Conference of the Organisation of African Unity, remains to this day, a defining statement in terms of what Africa must do to realise her full potential. This includes the achievement of her unity, the defence of her independence, the implementation of an independent development programme and constructing a policy in favour of the emancipation of the ordinary African people from poverty and underdevelopment.

The rise of the Pan-African entrepreneur will facilitate Africa’s rising. If we do not develop our own continent, who then shall do it for us? We need to unite as a continent, work as one force and speak with one voice.

Matsi Modise, national executive director, South African Black Entrepreneurship Forum

 

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OPINION

Skills development enhanced by new technologies

New technologies based on cloud computing and mobility are making skills development a richer and more engaging experience for both employees and employers.

Skills development is enhanced by the use of multiple devices while allowing employers real-time integrated views of their talent and skills development across their employee life cycle. This leads to more effective development of talent and higher levels of employee engagement.

Cloud computing is enabling skills development to become more creative by providing multiple new delivery channels. Employees can now develop their skills 24/7 worldwide through eLearning solutions and use real-time or archived webinars by experts.

The cloud also allows employees to do learning through any type of devise from smart phones to tablets and PCs. Training sessions can now link remote employees into group discussions and learning interventions. It also creates the opportunity for all size businesses to utilize external sources such as international universities and content experts. For employers, a key benefit is the instant feedback on the effectiveness of learning interventions to assist with continuous improvement of learning solutions and employee development.

Cloud based training management solutions provide online training schedules and budget allocations down to employee level with the ability of the employee to access pre-approved training sources 24/7 worldwide. Development interventions are now planned and management more effectively.

The cloud is enriching development by allowing employees to use a bigger variety of learning options linked to their approved budgets. With the data in one place, the business intelligence of skills development provides employers with a view on the Return-on-Investment (ROI) on development spent and assist in quick reallocation of resources to maximise learning opportunities.

Businesses can also use cloud solutions to improve the quality of skills development, by sourcing information from employee career plans and performance reviews.

With career, skills development and performance management solutions available 24/7 via the cloud, employees can manage their career plans more frequently and ensure their learning is aligned to their current and future job requirements. Cloud is also enabling performance management to become a more frequent discussion between the employee and employer as access and updates can happen in real-time during the discussions. More frequent performance reviews assist employees to align their delivery to key business objectives.

Cloud and mobility allows employees to take charge of their own skills development without the limitations of localised technologies or inability to give feedback to management on their progress due to time scarcities.

Skills plans are becoming alive, with frequent updates and adjustments. New technologies based on cloud and mobility are opening up opportunities for more effective learning and management of skills development. The best news however is the affordability of the new technologies that allows small and large businesses to use funds on development rather than enabling technologies.





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