Gauteng Business News

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MOBILE: Gauteng Provincial Government Encourages Mobile Technology


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mLab Southern Africa (SA), a new regional lab for mobile technology entrepreneurs, application developers and innovators, was officially launched today at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria.

The Gauteng provincial government is one of four consortium organisations hosting mLab SA. The company will belocated at The Innovation Hub, which is a fully accredited Science and Technology Park.

The Innovation Hub is a subsidiary of Blue IQ Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd, an agency of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development.

Blue IQ CEO Amanda Nair said that the objectives of mLab SA were in line with Blue IQ's mandate to create an enabling environment in Gauteng for sustainable jobs and growth. "mLab SA is a mobile applications laboratory, an innovative way to foster enterprise creation, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where entrepreneurs and programmers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to finance," she said.

According to The Innovation Hub CEO McLean Sibanda, The Innovation Hub was a natural selection for the location of the mLab SA. "The Innovation Hub is a science park with a strong focus on innovation and is home to the Maxum Business Incubator, which can offer support services to mLab incubatees. It is also located in close proximity to the Meraka Institute, a consortium member of mLab SA and which has a strong focus on mobile development and research. It is also close to the Department of Science and Technology and government departments in Tshwane," he says.

In South Africa, mobile penetration is around100% and 39% of urban South Africans are now browsing the internet on their phones. Mobile phones touch almost every aspect of peoples' lives,and the potential for improving areas such as healthcare and education hasalready been successfully demonstrated.

But while there exists an enormous mobile opportunity in the region, there are still challenges to creating a sustainable business or organisation in mobile."Competition is stiff; the mobile landscape is highly uneven across different technologies, user groups and countries; and mobile developers are scarce and expensive. Added to that, a startup business or organisation is very vulnerable. It needs business, technical and financial support, and can benefit greatly from acceleration and incubation," says mLab SA CEO Ben Zaaiman.

mLab SA has plans to include mobile government in its work.

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