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SpaceX Rocket Lands on Floating Drone Ship

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Elon Musk

It was a scene straight from a science fiction movie. A white, pencil-shaped rocket angling down through a hazy-blue sky, then gracefully touching down, amid billowing smoke. All on an automated drone-ship in choppy Atlantic seas. In that moment, Elon Musk reached a new milestone in his bid to dominate commercial space and, one day, send humans to Mars.

What a week for Musk. Days after the triumphant unveiling of Tesla’s latest electric car, SpaceX won over the Internet as countless thousands tuned in to watch the Falcon 9 rocket launch and, roughly eight minutes later, its spectacular first-ever landing at sea. At the company’s mission control center in Hawthorne, California, a throng of employees exploded in cheers. President Barack Obama and Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the Moon nearly half-a-century ago, were among the first to send shout-outs from around the world.

With his characteristic bravado, Musk soon chimed in: “Tickets to orbital hotels, the moon and Mars will be a lot less than people think,” he wrote on Twitter.

 If that sounds over the top, few could deny the symbolic importance of the moment that heralded a new era of affordable, reusable rockets even as it brought back the enthusiasm and drama of the Moon shots and early space shuttle days from a generation ago.

Brash Upstart

“This is the dramatic visual of the new space age,” said Marco Caceres, senior analyst at consultant Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. “NASA has been trying to recreate the excitement of the Apollo era. Elon Musk just did it.”

Long considered a brash upstart nipping at the heels of staid aerospace giants, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is coming of age 14 years after it was founded by Musk with the lofty– and many have said unrealistic– goal of revolutionizing spacecraft and colonizing Mars. Trips to the Red Planet aside, SpaceX is now within striking distance of becoming dominant in the payload business. It’s planning to fly 18 missions this year, triple the number in 2015.

That’s a highly ambitious goal in an industry known for delays and mishaps. And Friday’s launch– a supply run to the International Space Station — was only the third so far this year. Yet if SpaceX hits its target, it will fling more rockets into space than any of its competitors from the U.S., France, Russia and China and achieve a launch cadence not seen since the end of the Cold War.

Drone Landing

The rocket booster that landed on the drone ship Friday will be brought to port and tested on land; if everything checks out, it could fly again as early as June. By the second half of this year, Musk expects SpaceX to launch–and recover–rockets every two to three weeks.

“We’ll be successful, ironically, when it becomes boring,” said Musk at a news conference with NASA Friday. “When it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, another landing, OK, no news there.”’

That will be a bad day for competitors like Europe’s Arianespace, which flies the Ariane 5, and United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. They are scrambling to match SpaceX’s lower costs and fast-paced Silicon Valley vibe. Reusable rockets, once scoffed at by the established players as a pipe-dream, are now on the top of everyone’s agenda.

Launch Costs

The cost of a Falcon 9 launch is $61.2 million, according to the company’s website. Established launch companies won’t be able to match SpaceX’s launch costs for years. The price tag for launching a ULA Atlas V rocket, which is not reusable, was $184 million two years ago. ULA has succeeded in getting that price down so far by a third, but it won’t fall below $100 million until 2019 at the earliest.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which ended its 30-year space shuttle program in 2011, now partners with private industry to fly both cargo and crew. SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, loaded with 7,000 pounds of cargo, supplies and an inflatable extension module, reached the space station orbiting over Algeria on Sunday morning, New York time. Dragon is scheduled to return to Earth and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean May 11.

Government agencies like NASA are just one of three markets for launch providers like SpaceX. Satellite companies depend on rockets to get their communications equipment into orbit. And the $70 billion national defense market, which includes highly sensitive missions for the military, is another. SpaceX has bid on a contract to launch GPS satellites for the U.S. Air Force.

Tight Loop

SpaceX also has an advantage by playing outside the old aerospace procurement system which relies on multiple contractors and subcontractors. Legacy aerospace companies have long supply chains with embedded testing, documentation and procurement procedures that inflate costs. SpaceX builds not only the Falcon 9 rocket but the rocket’s Merlin engines in-house. The tight loop between design, manufacturing, and prototype testing is a Silicon Valley approach, said consulting firm Alix Partners in a recent report.

“The fact that SpaceX makes its engines itself is a really big deal,” said David Wireman, an aerospace analyst with Alix Partners. “The engines are a big chunk of the cost of any rocket. SpaceX has broken the supply chain.”

At industry conferences largely populated by middle-aged men in gray suits, you can spot the SpaceX employees, in part, by the logos on their jackets and by their youthful look. SpaceX has roughly 5,000 employees; their average engineer is 32.

SES of Luxembourg first flew with SpaceX in 2013 and has contracted for another four launches through 2017. Like other satellite customers, SES was drawn to SpaceX’s vision, lower cost and fast-paced culture.

“The fundamental difference that SpaceX has is that they are on a mission, and the mission is to go to Mars,” said Martin Halliwell, SES’s chief technical officer, in an interview. “That is absolutely unique within the industry. It’s a true passion felt by Elon and every single person in the company.”

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Telecoms ‘Will be The Fastest Growing African Business Sector’

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The telecoms sector will be the fastest-growing industry in Africa over the next five years as internet connectivity improves, new research with business leaders for blockchain-based mobile network operator World Mobile shows.

When asked to pick the three sectors that they believe will see the strongest growth over the next five years, three out of four (75%) senior executives selected telecoms in the study.

It was comfortably ahead of the healthcare sector which emerged as the second choice selected by 61% of survey respondents as one of three industries that will see the strongest growth ahead of tourism at 44%

Senior executives at companies with combined annual revenues of more than $6.75 billion based in Tanzania, Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa were interviewed for the study.

Improvement in internet connectivity was identified as central to growth in the economy and across all sectors. Around two-thirds (66%) say it is important while 20% believe it is very important. The table below shows which sectors senior business executives believe will be the fastest-growing over the next five years.

SECTOR HOW MANY EXECUTIVES BELIEVE IT WILL BE ONE OF THE TOP THREE FASTEST GROWING SECTORS IN AFRICA OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
Telecoms 75%
Healthcare 61%
Tourism 44%
Financial services 36%
Retail 36%
Manufacturing 22%
Education 22%

World Mobile is helping to revolutionise internet connectivity in sub-Saharan Africa and is already working with the government in Zanzibar where it is launching a unique hybrid mobile network delivering connectivity supported by low altitude platform balloons.

Its blockchain-based network vastly reduces capital expenditure and cuts costs compared to traditional telecom operators. World Mobile is in discussions to expand in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as other territories underserviced by traditional mobile operators.

Micky Watkins, CEO of World Mobile said: “The expansion of telecoms across the African continent is central to driving economic growth and senior business executives clearly agree as they rank it well ahead of other major sectors of the economy.”

“To a great extent, growth in telecoms spurs growth in other sectors as societies become more digital and technology focused and that applies very much to financial services, healthcare, retail and education.”

“Not all parts of Africa however have strong internet connectivity and we want to help by providing a service which is affordable and reliable and look forward to working with governments across the continent.”

World Mobile’s balloons will be the first to officially launch in Africa for commercial use, offering a more cost-effective way to provide digital connection to people and is the first step in its mission to help bring nearly four billion people online before 2030 in line with the UN and World Bank’s SDGs.

The World Mobile approach is more sustainable, in environmental, social and governance terms. Environmental impacts are mitigated using solar-powered nodes, second-life batteries, and energy-efficient technology. World Mobile creates a positive societal impact through the application of its circular economy model – a “sharing economy” where locals share in the ownership and rewards of the network.

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Financial Inclusion: ZirooPay Targets Deeper Mobile POS Penetration in Nigeria

Nigeria’s retail Point-of-Sale solution provider, ZirooPay has embarked on an aggressive drive to deepen the penetration of its unique mobile POS assets.

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Omoniyi Olawale

In a bid to boost market share while driving financial inclusion by penetrating the underbanked market through its proprietary mobile POS technology, Nigeria’s retail Point-of-Sale solution provider, ZirooPay has embarked on an aggressive drive to deepen the penetration of its unique mobile POS assets.

Over the next months, ZirooPay hopes to grow its network of mobile POS around Nigeria by adding no fewer than 20,000 mobile POS, on the heels of a successful funding round, which has positioned it to tap into the growing opportunities in Africa’s retail sector.

Recall that ZirooPay is reputed for a patent of a unique and efficient mobile POS technology that enables small businesses to process card payments in real-time, even when there is no internet/data connection, strategically positioning it to drive financial inclusion in a country that has achieved only 63 per cent financial inclusion and 33.6 per cent of broadband penetration.

ZirooPay’s payments solution is fast, simple and reliable, delivering a 95 per cent transaction success rate for POS transactions compared to the industry’s average of 25 – 50 per cent.  The solution leverages its unique and patented internet-free technology, to enable SMEs (across the retail, agency banking, hospitality and services sectors) to process in-person payments, track their sales, and manage their businesses from their mobile devices.

Beyond payments, ZirooPay also provides merchants with automated sales history, sales analytics, and inventory tracking to help them monitor and manage their businesses more efficiently. ZirooPay’s superior transaction success rate and the integrated nature of its service stand it out from the competition.

The payment provider, which started operations in Nigeria in 2019, has organically grown to 15,000 merchants processing over $500m in 10m transactions and looks to replicate this success across Africa.

Speaking recently, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO of ZirooPay, Omoniyi Olawale said this is part of several initiatives aimed at empowering more SMEs to take effective control of their businesses, adding that the firm is committed to deepening access to ZirooPay’s invaluable payment services for all sizes of retail business both in rural and urban centres in Africa.

He explained that innovative payment solutions such as ZirooPay will remain an imperative as wholesale and retail sectors continue to dominate Africa’s contribution to its GDP, even as population growth and rapid urbanisation continue to drive consumption across the continent.

He said, “ZirooPay has set out to build an operating system for retail in Africa by providing solutions that not only drive financial inclusion but also support the payment infrastructure needed for retail to thrive on the continent. Lack of reliable payment technology for the continent remains one of the major challenges that has hindered trade tremendously and ZirooPay Mobile POS solution will address this challenge.”

According to Omoniyi, while it is still early days for payments in Africa, ZirooPay understands the peculiarities of the continent’s infrastructure challenges and would continue to advance similar innovative solutions that will address the payment challenge on the continent on a sustainable basis.

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Nigeria Approves Microsoft Agreement, Others to Accelerate 5G Deployment

In a move to accelerate the deployment of 5G services, the Federal Government has approved Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and clearing up of the C-band spectrum.

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In a move to accelerate the deployment of 5G services, the Federal Government has approved Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and clearing up of the C-band spectrum.

The approval was after Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy presented three memos to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on June 29, 2022.

Femi Adeluyi, the Technical Assistant (Research and Development) to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, disclosed in a statement issued after the approval.

The Government-wide Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products will help reduce the cost of information technology projects, while the C-band migration is expected to aid the deployment of the 5G network.

Explaining the benefits of the agreements, Adeluyi said “The Agreement will give the government access to discounted prices and other cost benefits, as well as reduce project duplication across Federal Public Institutions (FPIs).

“It will also guarantee proper technical support for Microsoft products and services, thereby ensuring protection against cybersecurity threats, which will guarantee availability and reliability of government IT services.

“The Enterprise Licensing Agreement will provide a projected savings of a minimum of 35% of Governments current investment in Microsoft Products and Services.

“This will not only substantially reduce the cost of license procurement for FPIs, it will reduce and simplify licensing complexity, facilitate accounting and cash flow predictability and monitor utilisation and impact of Government investment.”

The statement added that the Federal Executive Council has directed all Federal Public Institutions to start taking advantage of the agreement by using Microsoft licenses and services.

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