Local producers of solar-powered school bags featured on CNN

A Rustenburg-based company that converts upcycled plastic bags into solar panel school bags that charge while children walk to school and act as a light source to enable them to to study at night has been featured on international news organisation CNN’s ‘African Start-Up’ programme. Rethaka cofounders Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane, who won third place in the 2013 South African Breweries Foundation Social Innovation Awards, receiving $30 000 to kick-start their business earlier this year, outlined that the repurposed school bag had been designed to meet dual education and energy-related needs.
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Scientists map genetic diversity of sub-Saharan Africa

Scientists have made the most comprehensive map yet of African genetic variation and say it should help them learn more about the role genes play in diseases such as malaria, haemorrhagic fever and hypertension in populations there. Publishing the findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday, Deepti Gurdasani of Britain’s Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, said that despite Africa being the world’s most genetically diverse region, relatively little is known about potential genetic risks for disease among its populations.
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New airliner landing approach technique to save SAA fuel and time

South African Airways (SAA) announced on Friday that it was implementing an innovative technique to ensure more efficient and more rapid landings at airports. The technique, designated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as the Required Navigational Performance-Authorisation Required (RNP-AR), is operational at Cape Town International Airport.

An appropriately equipped aircraft, with flight crew trained in the technique, can make more direct and curving automatic approaches to (and also departures from) airports with air traffic controllers who have also been trained to use it. Previously, instrument approaches to airports required the aircraft to make dog-leg approaches with straight flight segments between the turns.

Thus, RNP-AR reduces the time taken by an airliner to land and cuts the distance flown in the vicinity of the airport. This, in turn, reduces fuel expenditure and engine emissions. “Research conducted by French company Airbus ProSky showed potential savings of over 690 t of fuel and a reduction of some 230 hours of flight time per year, based on an average saving of 100 kg of fuel per approach and a reduction of two minutes flying time for each approach,” reported SAA Senior First Officer (and project manager) Andrew Smit.
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Germany to invest in SA’s MeerKAT radio telescope

Germany’s Max-Planck-Society (MPG) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPlfR) are investing €11-million (about R150-million) into South Africa’s MeerKAT radio telescope array programme. The money will be used to design, build and install S-band radio wave receivers on MeerKAT’s dishes. (The S-band covers radio frequencies between 2 GHz and 4 GHz.)

The MeerKAT, when finished, will be composed of 64 dishes, each with an effective diameter of 13.5 m. Each dish will be fitted with a carousel able to accommodate multiple receivers. Each dish will now be fitted with three receivers – two South African, the other German, and each dish will have room for more, in the future.

The German receivers will be mainly used to study pulsars. These are rapidly spinning neutron stars which emit incredibly regular radio pulses. They can thus be used as very accurate clocks to test extreme physics. The South African receivers will operate in the L-band (1 GHz to 2 Ghz) and in the ULF-band (ultra low frequency: 0.01 Hz to 3 Hz).
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Logic alone does not lead to innovation

Logic alone does not confer a competitive advantage and companies must increase collaboration to capture latent potential innovations that will improve the business, says entrepreneurial and innovation consultant Frans Johansson. Expertise is not a sufficient differentiator in the rapidly and continuously changing business landscape because logical, incremental innovations will not be able to respond to or capitalise on fast-moving trends. Innovative ideas are not recognised as logical prior to their acceptance and only appear obvious afterwards.
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