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Phanes Group Opens African Solar Power Incubator

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Phanes Group, an integrated end-to-end solar provider headquartered, has launched its first Solar Incubator program, aimed at identifying PV projects of potential in sub-Saharan Africa by providing access to funding, and commercial and technical knowledge.

The initiative, ‘The PV Solar Incubator, Your Project, Our Expertise, For a Sustainable Future,’ will be held in partnership with Hogan Lovells, Proparco, responsAbility, RINA Consulting and Solarplaza, and invites PV developers to submit proposals for projects that are based in sub-Saharan Africa, and have a clear CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) component.

Candidates are asked to submit their proposals by October 1, 2017, via Phanes Group’s website. Shortlistees will be invited to pitch their projects to an expert panel comprised of the incubator’s partner organizations at Solarplaza’s “Unlocking Solar Capital Africa” conference in Côte d’Ivoire, October 25 – 26, where the industry’s biggest players will hold extensive discussions about solutions for Africa’s solar energy funding gap.

It comes as part of Phanes Group’s core strategy to collaborate with Africa-focused counterparties, such as local project owners, governments, and developers on projects that seek to create a sustainable future for urban and rural communities across the sub-Saharan region.

“Clean energy has the potential to transform sub-Saharan Africa for years to come, but successfully implemented PV solar projects require a diverse mix of expertise and knowledge to bring them to financial close,” said Martin Haupts, CEO, Phanes Group.

“We believe the Phanes Group Solar Incubator -in collaboration with our partners- will leverage untapped local PV potential, and create more opportunities for local projects. Combined with our strengths in developing bankable solutions for clean, affordable energy and efforts in CSR, the incubator initiative can help to address local needs that haven’t yet been met.”

Christopher Cross of law firm Hogan Lovells, who will be part of the evaluation panel at the event, said “We are both honoured and excited to be invited to take part in an on-the-ground initiative such as this. The Solar Incubator seeks to foster both local innovation and investment to bring potential opportunities to fruition for the social and economic benefit of the region and its people.”

There are currently more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa living without electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), which works to ensure global access to reliable, affordable and clean energy.

This initiative aims to support developers not just in the funding phase, but throughout the project development and delivery phases, to ensure important, CSR-focused projects are brought to financial close. Phanes Group, along with its partners, will provide PV developers with access to a reliable partner that will support them in reaching bankability. Through an initial incubator phase, extensive mentorship, and access to the right network, this year’s candidates will have an opportunity to roll-out a sustainable energy solution in their community, as well as develop a lasting relationship with an end-to-end, integrated solar expert.

Joseph Nganga, Executive Director, responsAbility Renewable Energy Holding, another participating partner, said, “We aim to finance ideas with growth potential and strong entrepreneurial spirit, that successfully serve broad segments of the population. This is why we are excited to be collaborating with Phanes Group on this incubator, and looking forward to our continued partnership with the solar sector in sub-Saharan Africa going forward.”

After the winning project(s) have been announced at the “Unlocking Solar Capital Africa” event, the developers will be invited to join Phanes Group for an intensive 4-day workshop at its headquarters in Dubai, UAE. This will help lay the foundations for delivering a bankable and sustainable project.

“RINA Consulting is keen to assist Phanes Group in this ingenious initiative to unlock solar potential on the continent. We look forward to helping projects find their way to implementation in this challenging but exciting market” said Lee Smith, Project Manager for Africa, RINA Consulting.

“As dreamers of a future where everybody can have access to electricity for a fair price, initiatives focused on long-term success like the Phanes Group’s Solar Incubator are always dear to our hearts,” said Edwin Koot, Solarplaza. “Renewable energy infrastructure projects result in myriad benefits. We wish participants the best in bringing forth this ripple effect to their communities, and look forward to meeting them at the “Unlocking Solar Capital Africa” conference this October,” Edwin Koot added.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Bharti Family Pledges 10% of Wealth To Philanthropy

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By peter oluka

The Bharti Family, which has built one of India’s leading business enterprises, today pledged a part of their personal wealth for philanthropic purposes.

The Family has decided to pledge 10% of their wealth, including 3% of their stake in group flagship Bharti Airtel, towards supporting the activities of Bharti Foundation, the Group’s philanthropic arm, one of the few professionally managed philanthropic bodies in India.

With this commitment, the Bharti Family envisions to significantly step up the scope and reach of Bharti Foundation’s activities, and further enable the Foundation to develop and execute innovative development models to support the aspirations of India’s underprivileged including students of Satya Bharti Schools.

Set up in the year 2000, Bharti Foundation has grown in scale and stature, and evolved well beyond customary cheque book philanthropy to design and implement innovative development models, particularly in the area of education.

Led by a full time CEO and COO, the Foundation’s team of over 200 highly motivated professionals and approx. 8000 teachers work across multiple programs in the areas of education of approx. 240,000 underprivileged children in rural India.

Bharti Foundation has also supported the creation of Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology & Management at IIT Delhi, Bharti Centre for Communication at IIT Mumbai and Bharti Institute of Public Policy at ISB Mohali.

The Foundation has also instituted a number of scholarship programs, the prominent being scholarship for Indian students studying at the University of Cambridge, UK.

Bharti Foundation is a leading contributor to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan that is addressing the sanitation needs of poor households in the country.

The Foundation has built approx. 18,000 toilets in Punjab’s Ludhiana making it an Open Defecation Free (ODF) district benefitting approx. 90,000 people.  Bharti Foundation has now undertaken another similar initiative to make Amritsar District in Punjab ODF with a target to build 50,000 toilets in collaboration with the Punjab Government.

With this, Bharti will become the first corporate to facilitate ODF status for two districts in the country.

Announcing the commitment, Sunil Bharti Mittal, Founder and Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Chairman, Bharti Foundation, said, “Today is a major milestone in the journey of the Bharti Family. Being first generation entrepreneurs, we feel absolutely privileged that this nation gave us the opportunity to imagine and build world-class businesses. Bharti’s DNA has always been about creating a deep positive impact on society through our businesses, and we are proud to have contributed to the India growth story.”

“Firm believers in Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of Trusteeship, we have always reckoned that ownership of business is a social responsibility, and wealth creation cannot be an end in itself. Even when we were small in size and relatively modest with our business goals, we always aspired to be part of the wider nation building process.”

“We feel grateful every day for our good fortune and feel the instinctive and overwhelming urge to give back to the society and create opportunities for others. Bharti Foundation has done some exceptional work for uplifting the underprivileged and it stands out as a shining example of how professionally managed development arms of businesses can build innovative and sustainable models that make real and measurable difference on ground. We hope in the years and decades to come, Bharti Foundation will be able to unlock its full potential as a change agent and enable millions of fellow Indians fulfill their dreams.”

Today, Bharti Foundation also announced its plans to set up Satya Bharti University for Science and Technology to complement its existing programs in the area of education. The University will have a strong focus on future technologies like AI, Robotics, AR/VR, IoT, in addition to offering degrees in Electrical & Electronics Engineering and Management. It will be a non-profit centre of excellence and will offer free education to a large number of deserving youth from economically weaker sections.  It will also promote and fund advanced research with global linkages. It intends to add leading global industry partners, i.e. Facebook, Google, Apple, Microsoft and SoftBank among others.

Making the announcement, Rakesh Bharti Mittal, Vice-Chairman, Bharti Enterprises and Co-Chairman, Bharti Foundation said, “Having built a successful model for primary and senior schooling under Satya Bharti Schools, Bharti Family plans to build Satya Bharti University – a world-class institution, to support the higher education aspirations of India’s youth. Our aspiration is to develop it into a centre of excellence not just in India but globally.”

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Uber Breaches: Sophos Advices Organisations To Be More Security Conscious

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By peter oluka

Following reports of massive data breaches suffered, but covered by Uber in 2016, Sophos has advised corporation to be more security conscious.

A report by Bloomberg indicates the data of 57,000,000 drivers and customers was stolen, after which Uber not only kept the breach secret from the victims, but also paid the hackers $100,000 to “delete the data [and] keep quiet”.

Apparently, Uber’s security chief, Joe Sullivan, lured to Uber from Facebook in 2015, has been sacked in the fallout, according report.

Bloomberg quotes Uber as follows:

Compromised data from the October 2016 attack included names, email addresses and phone numbers of 50 million Uber riders around the world… The personal information of about 7 million drivers was accessed as well, including some 600,000 US driver’s license numbers. No Social Security numbers, credit card information, trip location details or other data were taken.

Going by a report by Nakedsecurity, It seems that Uber’s programmers uploaded security credentials to a GitHub repository – GitHub is a place where you are supposed to store source code, not the keys to the castle! – where the hackers stumbled across them.

From there, the crooks were able to get into Uber servers hosted on Amazon, and from there to access the personal information involved in the breach.

If this sounds terribly familiar, Uber suffered a breach with a similar cause just over three years ago, an intrusion that was discovered in May 2014 but not disclosed until February 2015.

Reliable details of what data was stolen this time round are not yet available.

As mentioned above, driving licence details were acquired by the hackers, meaning that Uber certainly ought to have declared the breach promptly, because sensitive data was involved.

Uber’s claim that customer details such as credit card data and social security numbers were not involved in the heist is a slight silver lining, but how many customers are willing to believe Uber at this point is anybody’s guess.

What to do?

There’s so much still untold in this story that the only sensible recommendation we can make to Uber customers is: “Keep your eyes open for what comes out next.”

If you’re a programmer, repeat these words to anyone who will listen: “GitHub is for code, not for security keys!”

As our friend and colleague Chester Wisniwewski bluntly put it: Uber’s breach demonstrates once again how developers need to take security seriously and never embed or deploy access tokens and keys in source code repositories. I would say it feels like I have watched this movie before, but usually organisations aren’t caught while actively involved in a cover-up as well. Putting the drama aside and the potential impacts from the upcoming GDPR enforcement in Europe, this is just another careless development team with shared credentials and poor security practices. Sadly, this is common more often than not in “agile” development environments, especially in high-growth technology startups.

Commenting on the report, Sophos Principal Research Scientist Chester Wisniewski, believes,

“Uber’s breach demonstrates once again how developers need to take security seriously and never embed or deploy access tokens and keys in source code repositories. I would say it feels like I have watched this movie before, but usually organizations aren’t caught while actively involved in a cover-up. Putting the drama aside and the potential impacts from the upcoming GDPR enforcement, this is just another development team with poor security practices that has shared credentials. Sadly, this is common more often than not in agile development environments.”

From his perspective, Sophos Cyber Security Advisor, James Lyne says: “Uber isn’t the only and won’t be the last company to hide a data breach or cyberattack. Not notifying consumers puts them at greater risk of being victimized with fraud. It’s for precisely this reason that many countries are driving to regulations with mandatory breach disclosure.”

For Uber customers and drivers, Sophos advises that they monitor their credit scores and keep their eyes peeled for additional information on what was stolen.

 

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Apple Begin Sale of MekaMons Built by Adekunle, Nigerian Engineer

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Silas Adekunle with his 4-legged MekaMon robot

Apple stores in the US and UK have begun the sale of MekaMons, a gaming robot built by Silas Adekunle, a Nigerian-Briton.

 

Adekunle, an engineer, graduated with first class honours from the University of the West of England in Bristol, with a bachelor of science in robotics technology.

 

He was born in Nigeria but moved to the UK when he was 11 years old.

 

His company, Reach Robotics, an augmented reality gaming company which creates robots for both fun and STEM education, struck the deal with Apple recently.

 

MekaMons has been on sale since November 16 for $299.95.

 

The four-legged robots can be controlled via an iPhone and other smartphone using a companion app for augmented reality gameplay.

 

“We’ve created an entirely new video gaming platform,” Adekunle said in a statement by Black Enterprise.

 

The 4-legged MekaMon robot

 

“MekaMon straddles both the real and virtual worlds while taking the gaming experience beyond a player’s screen and turning their sitting room into a limitless robotic battle zone.

 

“MekaMon represents a quantum leap forward in the leveraging of augmented reality. Players can whip out their iPhone to battle their multi-functional, connected battlebots in the physical and virtual worlds at the same time.

 

“When I was a student at UWE Bristol I spent some time going into schools to help inspire young people and it struck me that there was a huge untapped market for a consumer robot with a difference.

 

“We used to go in and explain simple robotics to try to inspire the young roboticists and engineers of the future and this experience set me off thinking about designing gaming robots.

 

“This is an exciting time for our company as now after years of development work we are finally able to bring Mekamon to customers across the UK and US and with plans to go global.

 

“UWE Bristol has given us an amazing start and we are so grateful for their support.”

 

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