African Tech Villain of the Year

Rising cyber-crime and the increasing number of credit card fraud cases make the technology industry appealing for undesirables, but government and companies also have the ability to let the electorate or their customers down. HumanIPO reporters pick out their top baddies.

Paul Adepoju: Although he is not a computer programmer or ICT expert, my African tech villain of the year is the president of the Confederation for African Football (CAF), Issa Hayatou. In his hands rested the opportunity for Africa to be the first continent to debut goal line technology. But he failed to go the extra mile to ensure Africa got the recognition.

Robin Okuthe: Former MTN public access department boss Patrick Ssentongo reportedly manipulated the mobile money system, swindling billions from the company. An internal audit carried out in early 2012 showed another USh20 billion (US$7.5 million) was stolen during Ssentogo’s reign. The case, which was then MTN’s top secret, was inwardly registered under General Enquiry File (GEF) number 1990/11 of Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters at Kampala. Detectives said Ssentongo manoeuvered the system, taking home at least USh36 million (approx US$13,500) on a daily basis.

Brandon Gregory: Rubben Mohlaloga was appointed at the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) by the Communications Minister. A Democratic Alliance councillor called for the reversal of Mohlaloga’s appointment at ICASA due to charges of defrauding the Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa out of R6 million (US$690,000). Mohlaloga was arrested in October this year and was released on bail.

Vincent Matinde: Bob Collymore of Safaricom. Under the leadership of Collymore, Safaricom has rebelled against price reductions on calls, fought against the lowering of MTR and also scrapped the unlimited data bundle offer. Recently they also scrapped the daily unlimited SMS.

Gabriella Mulligan:
At the end of October the South African government revealed failures of epic proportions regarding the stimulation of the country’s ICT sector. Of a targeted seven percent annual increase in broadband penetration, the government at mid-year had achieved zero increase; while of a promised 17,322 tech jobs to be created, only 150 had materialised.

Richard Cutcher: Dina Pule could be mistaken for being on a one woman mission to destroy any chance South Africa has of hitting the internationally agreed 2015 digital migration target. In a potentially disastrous move, Pule handed over complete control of the essential set-top boxes to state owned Sentech, only to be embarrassingly rebuked in court.

Nanine Steenkamp: Emmanuel Ifedi and Peter Okechkwu have stolen US$13,978 by hacking the emails of the Ghana peacekeeping force. They were arrested by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Ghana Police at the United Bank of Africa (UBA) in Accra, where they were attempting the cash-in of their bounty.

Tom Jackson: My choice for top tech baddie is not an African one, but should American Cody Wilson’s desire to to develop prototypes for the first ever 3D-printable gun be successful, then obtaining access to firearms may become easier than ever, something that an occasionally war-torn continent hardly needs.

Kamau Mbote: Not quite African, but Apple’s blunders on its Apple maps product tops the list even in Africa. The maps from perhaps the richest company globally confuses Greenland for the Indian Ocean, the Indian Ocean for the Arctic Ocean, the middle of Africa for the North Pacific, and the southern ocean for the North Atlantic. It is so embarrassing the Chief Executive asked users to switch to their competitors’ products and disregard Apple Maps.

Elly Okutoyi: The Late Meles Zenawi, former Ethiopian Prime Minister. During his leadership, Zenawi has long been accused of censoring ordinary citizens’ access to the Internet, blocking news websites and jamming Ethiopian Satellite Television. In his 20-year leadership, Zenawi will forever be remembered for a ruthless crackdown on social networks and online media organizations as well as the jailing of people who used such media to oppose his rule, leaving Ethiopia with only 17 million mobile phone subscribers from an 82 million population.

Tefo Mohapi: Kenya’s Finance Minister Njeru Githae for introducing taxes on mobile money transactions.

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