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2020 Tech predictions

2020 Tech predictions

By Aaron Harris

CTO at Sage.

A big year for Robotic Process Automation

This year is going to be a momentous year for Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This is the process of automating mundane tasks such as taking data from one file and entering it into a business application like CRM. It’s about computerising repetitive tasks that are an inefficient use of people’s time.

RPA is not a physical robot. It’s an approach to working across multiple software applications and entering, maintaining, migrating, integrating, mining and testing data on spreadsheets. It’s the equivalent to an employee who never sleeps, eats or makes mistakes on tasks that need repeating over and over again.

At the moment, only big enterprises are employing RPA at scale. In 2020, we’ll start to see this trickle down to small and medium-sized businesses. RPA software revenue grew 63.1% in 2018 to US$846 million and will grow further to US$1.3 billion in 2019. That makes it the fastest-growing segment in the global enterprise software market, according to Gartner.

RPA provides improved accuracy for automated and repetitive tasks. Two-thirds of financial processes are now automated, in one shape or form. The remaining third is taken up by ad hoc or ‘human’ requests for information. The next step of RPA is to automate those processes too.

At some point in the future – maybe not next year, but further down the line – more forward-looking companies will begin to share their financial results in real-time – unlocking potential to providing instant access to a business’s financial health. This is zero-forecasting, which several larger enterprises have indicated is their stated ambition in terms of financial transparency. As an industry, we’re not quite there yet, but RPA is one of the several trends driving us towards a more automated future. The other key factors are AI and digital transformation, which are helping professionals to re-engineer processes to take advantage of digital capabilities – easing the administrative and reporting burden.

Blockchain to rise again?

The blockchain is unquestionably an ingenious invention, but has gone through what Gartner calls in their hypercycles as the trough of disillusionment. It promised much but has delivered very little to date. Ever since it emerged as the ‘next big thing’, there have been very few meaningful applications for blockchain in the real world.

So, what’s holding blockchain back from mainstream adoption? There are a few elements here, but broadly speaking it comes down to cost, scalability and trust.

With industry leaders, such as Amazon or Microsoft committing to building services around blockchain, we will begin to see accelerated adoption as they tackle the issues that have previously stopped it making its way into the mainstream – with real-world solutions coming into play from 2020.

A virtual currency bonanza

Facebook’s new virtual currency, Libra, has the potential to change the future of payments. It is setting out to solve a real-world problem and it could be huge. In the past, virtual currencies have only been useful as a store of currency. Libra, on the other hand, is the first electronic currency that has the potential as a means of exchange.

Facebook’s strength is its vast user base. It now has a network of 2 billion people, a third of the world’s population.

If, for example, a migrant worker wanted to send money back to their homeland, they would face a 6% to 20% mark-up on currency exchange and wire transfer. It’s also risky and slow. If a family were to use Facebook, they could convert their local currency to Libra and use Facebook Messenger to send the money to their family. It’s quick, easy and pretty secure.

It also goes a long way to solving the problem of money laundering. In the present, largely paper-based system of financial transactions, there can be little or no trace of where money is coming from or going to. The United Nations recently estimated that the criminal proceeds laundered annually amount to between 2 and 5 % of global GDP, or US$1.6 to $4 trillion a year.

A digital currency, on the other hand, produces an immutable record of every transaction made, of where it came from and where it is going. It is like a cryptographically protected distributed ledger for currencies and makes it much harder to launder money.

There are a number of regulatory and legislative issues to overcome. This is a disruptive technology solution that questions the very notion of a centralised monetary system. The G7 nations have even formed a taskforce to look at the issue of cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on Libra.

But as long as it can prove its real value, I can see at least one of the recently launched virtual currencies really taking off in 2020.

About The Author

Guest Contributor

A Guest Contributor is any of a number of experts who contribute articles and columns under their own respective names. They are regarded as authorities in their disciplines, and their work is usually published with limited editing only. They may also contribute to other publications. - Ed.

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.