Archives For South Africa

End the curfew now!

Randolf —  December 28, 2021

I launched this #NoCurfewOnNewYearsEve petition on change.org yesterday which has gone viral since and gotten over the 1000 signature mark a few hours ago.

Update December 30th: The curfew is gone! Government just lifted the curfew with immediate effect! BEERHOUSE will host the biggest NYE party in Cape Town with all of Long Street being closed for cars!

The combination of an impactful petition and diverse voices from various spheres of society made this campaign effective. Many church-goers and the DA opposition joined the #NoCurfewOnNewYearsEve war cry and gave their own story and angle to ours. Today, Thursday at 2 pm I received the first messages from a trusted friend in Johannesburg, that we might get a surprise present and by 8 pm it was confirmed after a special Cabinet meeting and made global headlines later that night…

Original posting: To end the 11pm – 4 am curfew and allow businesses (like my own BEERHOUSE) and tourism to succeed again, I launched this petition as part of the #NoCurfewOnNewYearsEve campaign and ask everyone to sign and share it too!

The following were the most prominent media appearances that followed in the next 48 hours:

I got several reasons why I have not been back to South Africa since leaving for a quick ‘winter break’ and escaped lockdown in South Africa in June 2020:
a) my public awareness campaign against the Cape Town racketeers resulted in death threats and phone surveillance against me and murder of the investigating officer Charl Kinnear.
b) I decided not to return to a society that locks up their citizens in their own homes due with a curfew that lasts from midnight to 4 am every day. I’ve enjoyed the privilege of traveling wherever lockdowns are not currently happening and had an exciting journey traveling America for 5+ months in a pink limo and explore new opportunities abroad, best followed on my @YellowRandolf Instagram.

Randolf promoting #NoCurfewOnNewYearsEve on eNCA

Dear Mr. President,

South Africans deserve to be free to celebrate NYE 2021 with their friends and families instead of having to be locked into their homes for 1/6th of every day, from midnight – 4 am!

#No Curfew On New Years Eve

For the last 21 months, we’ve been living with a curfew that has not shown to have any effect on the transmission of the Covid-19 virus that is not known to keep working hours.

Instead, it has introduced an element against our very democracy that infringes on our basic rights enshrined in the constitution. It goes against the very ethos of what the majority of South Africans fought for over the decades.

We have gone through the 4th, Omicron wave, with remarkably low hospital admission-numbers and there is therefore no justification for limiting these rights. 

Ironically South Africa has seen enormous economic devastation from Covid-induced lockdowns and seen blows to our reputation from intense travel bans and international isolation due to two variants discovered by our scientists. We decided to follow an agenda prescribed by the West which had not accounted for the dynamics particular to our country and continent in general.

We should be sending a message to the world that South Africa is very much open for business and visitors. We need at this stage not just a passive signal, but an active one. Ending the curfew is the message we so desperately need and NYE is the perfect time to do so.

The curfew is impossible to justify in terms of the science of preventing the spread of the Virus. It is useful in terms of messaging a public in the urgent need to change behavior. We argue that the utility of this has passed. It is time to bring our citizenry back to normality, that is the new message required.

The curfew is beginning to have the taste of a police state at this point. It is only serving to keep the law abiding at home. It may have some benefits in terms of crime reduction and trauma reduction, but these benefits stand against basic freedom, our constitution, and are impossible to justify in a free society. 

Celebrating New Years Eve 2021 under curfew rule would invite unequal use of power by the police. The pictures of random arrests as regular citizens celebrate outside their homes, should ring all your alarm bells and would send the opposite message our tourism industry now needs.

We urge you Mr President to do the right thing, the brave thing and lift the curfew now and help rescue our economy and bring back civil liberties in 2022!

About us: this petition was initiated by BEERHOUSE founder Randolf Jorberg and the Hospitality Leadership group, a nationwide interest group for the hospitality industry.

Randolf Jorberg, Beerhouse, Cape Town 
Ebrahim Asmal, SIX Melville, Johannesburg
David Donde, Truth Coffee Roasting, Cape Town

Dear Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA),

As much as I was¬†happy¬†seeing my Beerhouse win your Top100 Rosetta Award of¬†Service Excellence¬†in 2016 and I appreciated your telephone call¬†today, that we will be¬†listed as one of 100 SA’s Award Winning Restaurants 2017¬†in your ‘reputable guidebook’, we need to talk about something:

RASA SMS restaurant association of south africa

I do not appreciate receiving this image via text/MMS message earlier today¬†and I wonder, if I’m alone or if¬†there¬†are other restauranteurs, who received something similar? I do not ever book any¬†print advertising and know, that no one in my company does.¬†Imagine, if¬†I had just forwarded this order confirmation to our finance department for payment and this payment reminder was sent to dozen or maybe even hundreds of restauranteurs, that you got in your database?

“Thank you for your A5 booking in SA’s Award Winning Restaurants 2017 the book is in print payment needs to please be made by Friday R3500 inc Vat to FNB FOURWAYS 251655 RMS ACC NO xxx many thanks Wendy & Aysha”

After I posted this message on my Facebook and tagged the RASA and their frontwomen in it,¬†it didn’t take her¬†5 minutes to call me and threaten with legal consequences, if I didn’t immediately delete the picture. What followed was a conversation with RASA’s¬†legal counsel who could also only threaten to sue for damages due to reputational damages.¬†This surprises me, as I’m only showing the communication you are sending out and explain the context. It seems, that I hit a nerve somewhere?

So my question stands: did anyone else receive similar order confirmations with demand for payment from RASA / Restaurant Association of South Africa without placing an order? Feel free to comment below or send me a confidential message

Update: The space is now available again after Baked Bistro closed after the owners meltdown!

Long Street Popup SpaceThis unique store is ca. 100 sqm plus a small courtyard, is available immediately under very flexible terms and including a fully approved liquor license for on consumption!

The price? It depends… You can either rent it under market related terms or partner with me and get support from an industry leading team. As founder of the Beerhouse and¬†Long Street Association I got a real interest to draw new and old crowds back to Long Street and do our part. The ideal partner would build¬†an exciting destination business¬†around craft spirits and mixed drinks, that complements the leading craft beer variety, that we serve at Beerhouse upstairs. Hipster credentials not required.

Please send a brief (2-3 pages) business overview, ideally with plans, financial and personal background, pictures or mood boards, intended timeline and preference on the rental/partner question to randolf@beerhouse.co.za.Long Street Popup Space

See this 360¬į photo for a good impression¬†– it’s shot standing in the existing divider wall, which can easily be removed.

Picture from the back of the store

Ground plan:Plan of Popup Shop / Bar at 219 Long Street

Renewable Solar PowerI do 100% believe in the energy supply of our future being all renewable and would have started a business in the (renewable) energy sector long ago, If I wasn’t totally committed to drive the #BeerRevolution forward. This “Energy is the new internet”¬†article on Techcrunch is a great wake-up call to entrepreneurs showing some of the massive opportunities ahead. If you don’t prepare for a¬†future with decentralized, renewable energy powering homes, businesses and self driving autonomous electric vehicles, you are¬†definitely not prepared for¬†the future ahead!¬†There are as many nay-sayers, fossil-heads and nuclear believers today, as there were print-media lobbyists and brick and mortar believers 20 years ago and look at the ashes of their remains today. If you don’t believe the skeptics, but put your full force behind the energy revolution taking place right now and execute well, you can start building a future world leader in that exciting new sector from your garage starting today.

I don’t blog often, so what gets me to put this opinion piece up, that got nothing to do with beer? Every here and then I happen to discuss this topic with friends and acquaintances and people are usually just surprised about my passion for renewables as I am surprised to see how few people are aware of this massive opportunity ahead of us. Being born and raised German¬†I always assumed solar must be much bigger elsewhere until I left Germany for sunnier destinations and¬†realized, that my home country¬†was¬†by far the biggest solar market worldwide!

Since 2001 I’m invested in some wind and solar projects through the¬†GLS bank (a visionary german cooperative¬†bank focused on sustainability and ethics, led by my uncle Thomas Jorberg, who already drove around in electric vehicles 20 years ago), but I never managed to start a business of my own in the category.

In 2012 a friend acquired online rights to the incredible 2010¬†‘The 4th revolution – EnergyAutonomy” movie, that featured Elon Musk, Hermann Scheer, Muhammad Yunus, and gives a convincing vision of a full switch to a renewable future for the whole world.¬†We started conceptualizing the worldwide free online launch in the style of a grassroots campaign based on the mechanisms successfully demonstrated by the Kony 2012 campaign a few months prior to that. But my focus changed, no international approach was chosen and the ‘free’ donation based release¬†never got traction, even though 90% of the video material was ready for international viewers, using a new speaker. Despite repeatedly attending the Clean Power Africa show at the African Utility Week,¬†my¬†focus changed onto my Beerhouse venture, where electricity only¬†plays a role to serve the beer chilled down to¬†the perfect drinking temperature. While living in Germany with the deregulated electricity market¬†I always¬†switched to¬†an¬†all-renewable-supplier like¬†EWS-Sch√∂nau,¬†but customers in monopolized markets like South Africa need need to build their own supply. I hope to¬†soon use the solar crowdfunding platform The Sun Exchange, whose pitch¬†won best of show award¬†at¬†Finance Indaba 2016, just before I spoke about equity crowdfunding¬†to fund the solar installations¬†that I¬†hope to soon build on top of¬†the roofs of my three current Beerhouse outlets and serve more solar cooled beers,¬†as we open more branches around the country…

And how fitting is this song from the soundtrack? ‘Have you ever?‘ by Bukahara Trio!¬†Lyrics below the video.

Have you ever heard about the book I read,
the book about a man who was thinking ahead.
Have you ever heard about the movie I saw,
a movie ’bout the people who open the door.
A movie ’bout the people who open the door.
Have you ever heard about the guy who came,
to tell me about the man who tried to change the game.
Have you ever heard about the girl I knew,
when there she said to me this man could be you.
When there she said to me this man could be you.
She said:
You’re not the only one who feels this way.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Oh she said:
You’re not the only one try to live this way behind.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Have you ever thought about the life you live,
a life in which you have so much to give.
Have you ever thought about the way you exist,
the way that only told you how to resist.
A way that only told you how to resist.
Oh she said:
You’re not the only one who feels this way.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Oh she said:
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Bridge
Have you ever thought about the people,
who say that there is only one right way.
Have you ever thought about how it would be,
if we were the majority.
If we were the majority.
Oh she said:
You’re not the only one who feels this way.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Yeah down… oh she said:
You’re not the only one who tried to live this way behind.
Yeah. ‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Oh she said:
You’re not the only one who feels this way.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
And she said:
You’re not the only one who tried to live this way behind. Yeah.
‘Cause there are so many people like you.
Yeah she said:
There are so many people like you.
Yeah… oh she said:
There are so many people like you.
Oh she said:
There are so many people like you

Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 KenyaMore than 1500 entrepreneurs and policy makers from all(!) over the world flocked to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya, from July 24th-26th. Due to my affiliation with the Ampion Venture Bus, I was privileged to be invited to represent Beerhouse and Springlab at this mega-event, hosted and (except flights) fully paid for by the US Government and sponsors.

The event was attended by US President Barack Obama, and several other well known figures and celebrities, amongst them Akon, Shark Tank judges, Miss Americas, etc. But first and foremost it was entrepreneurs from all stages of growth, self-made billionaires meeting rural farmers from Africa. Without knowing stats, I’d guess, that half of the audience was US American and Kenyan, while the rest of us were coming from all corners of the world, no continent left uncovered.

If you were now expecting a huge celebrity spotting event, you did not attend the right place. With the exception of Obama himself (who was obviously talking point #1 and closely guarded during his half day stay on the UN compound) they attended their panels and mingled with the crowds afterwards, but the strength of the event was the fact, that entrepreneurs from all possible backgrounds got together and spoke one universal language of creating progress, learnings, challenges, growth and opportunities together.

So I fit in really well with my Afrogerman background and could relate well – though I accidentally managed to stand out and got taught a lesson in personal branding:

Randolf at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2015 in Kenya

My tailormade yellow suite¬†that I purchased as a 200 US$ joke on my Thailand-India-Kenya trip earlier in 2015¬†turned me into something of a talking point, making me explain the yellow colour, that’s representing the¬†Beerhouse¬†brand colour. I really don‚Äôt ever wear a suit¬†and¬†my decision to take it to #GES2015 was based on the formality of the event and that my second and only other suit is not home in South Africa, but stored in my german apartment, in case of family funerals I might have to attend.

On day #1 I was dressed in jeans and repeatedly mistaken for my doppelg√§nger – the ‚ÄėWhite African‚Äô Eric Hersman, who spoke on a morning panel.
On day #2 I was absolutely overwhelmed by the number of people approaching me and asking about the reason for wearing the full suit, leading into many interesting conversations and spontaneous photo shoots.
On day #3 this continued, but I was now also approached by people, who heard the story of a yellow german / south african / beer merchant / incubator / hospitality operator from others and approached me offering valuable introductions to beer or hospitality people or even an interest to license the concept.

This made I met another doppelg√§nger in red (who even got his shoes right!) and my tweeted picture of the United Colours of #GES2015Kenya went viral… Continue Reading…

TL;DR I recently became the advisor and Angel Investor for the Startup-Incubator Springlab. Springlabs launch announcement was already covered by Ventureburn and you can find a copy of our official press release below. Springlab is currently looking for investors (tickets starting at 100k) and motivated employees with a desire to experience all that Africa has to offer.

 

Springlab S√ľdafrika Inkubator

The background:

South Africa has been my central residence for the last 7 years. Although the majority of my income during the first few years came from the developed market (Gulli-Exit & 3Gstore-sale with German speaking focus, and some English speaking online projects with US focus) I was active in the South African market from the start:

The acquisition of weather.co.za  in August 2007, a few months after my initial stay in South Africa, followed by the development of a substantial Domain-portfolio and a share in CapeTownMagazine.com  late in 2008 were my biggest investments and gave me a lot of insight into the Online Industry.

The arrival of Rocket Internet at the end of 2010 significantly aided the development of the online market and indirectly aided me as well: In my English blog I forecast the aquisition of Rocket’s entry into the market (that was only officially announced a few weeks later). This scoop provided me with many new acquaintances and an insight into the exciting and dynamically growing South African Internet scene, thanks to Rockets ventures like Zando and 5Rooms. ¬†My good knowledge of Western Start-Up culture allowed me to recognize real opportunities for development and also just skeptical enough to avoid getting caught up in a hype.

Of course the possibility to create my own start-up was always in the back of my mind. Yelp for Africa, wine E-Commerce, Couponing f√ľr Africa ‚Äď since 2010 I have considered these with different teams but could never find the passion, market or team of people that I needed to really devote myself to it.

The ideal position for someone with my portfolio would likely be as an advisor. Those that know me and the severity of my PowerPoint allergy and general ‚Äėemployability‚Äô can understand why this was not a viable career choice for me. I am passionate about¬†Beerhouse , keeping guests happy and working out global development strategies on a Friday night (often completely sober!) fills me with excitement and satisfaction. ¬†The creation of internet based B2C Brands and Online Marketing Strategies on the other hand, does not awaken the same passion and enthusiasm in me.

In this whole time I have only met one team that has entered into the market with the realistic self-evaluation necessary to build a sustainable and successful business. Springlab is not just waiting for the luck of the e-Commerce lottery (and endless VC Rounds) to succeed, but instead actively concentrates on business models that can be successfully executed in a relatively transparent time frame and easily adapted to the local Market.  Between Eugen from Germany and his South African partner Sheraan, the combination of hunger and international experience is perfectly balanced. I can only say one thing about this team: I look forward to future work, new discoveries and mutual success РProst!

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact Person: Eugen Petersen (Co-Founder)
Company Name: Springlab
Voice Phone Number: +27 21 448 0496
FAX Number: +27 86 660 5131

Email Address: press@springlab.co

Website URL: www.springlab.co

Springlab (www.springlab.co), a new technology incubator based in Cape Town is setting out to foster entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The founders of Springlab are Eugen Petersen (co-founder of Zando, Africa’s largest online fashion store) and Sheraan Amod (co-founder of Personera, a US-based venture capital backed firm), who bring diverse local and international startup experience to the company. Strategic advisor Randolf Jorberg (founder of Gulli.com, one of Europe’s largest online tech communities) is renowned as one of Germany’s top online marketers and brand builders.

‚ÄúEntrepreneurship has been the engine for growth in the United States. Now Africa is on the rise and technology entrepreneurship should be at the forefront of it‚ÄĚ says Eugen Petersen. ‚ÄúWe are deploying the internationally successful incubator model to reduce startup risk and to spur this growth.”

The company settled into a converted warehouse in Observatory, Cape Town several months ago and has just opened a sales office in Rivonia, Johannesburg. To date, Springlab has been backed by private angel investors, and is now open for direct equity or convertible loan investments into the incubator and portfolio companies.

Springlab is geared towards lean, data driven startups that are scalable, and will avoid capital-intensive business models such as e-commerce. It also acts as joint venture partner for international technology companies looking to enter the African market.

‚ÄúSpringlab founds its own companies and is not an external investor or temporary accelerator‚ÄĚ says Sheraan Amod. ‚ÄúWe take on fewer projects, but stay hands on while the venture grows up. We‚Äôre a committed partner.‚ÄĚ

The typical investment per venture for Springlab will be between R200,000 and R2-million including the use of the incubators core resources and services. Springlab often covers the full spread of a technology venture’s needs: strategy, product development, online marketing, sales, administration and later stage fundraising. Currently, Springlab is hiring across all areas.

The first venture of Springlab is RecoMed (www.recomed.com) Рa site to find the best doctors nearby and book appointments with them. The service already features 4000 doctors and is free for patients. RecoMed was silently launched last December and already attracts 14,000 visits a month, is generating appointments for doctors on a daily basis and has a growing revenue base.

Springlab’s (www.springlab.co) doors are officially open. Prospective investors, founders, co-workers, interns and anyone else looking to crack an invite to their next dinner roundtable is encouraged to email them at join@springlab.co. 

###

Beerhouse LogoWhat takes a well established Online Marketer to become a restaurateur? The truth is, that while I am still involved in quite some online activities, my¬†Beerhouse is here to stay and about to branch to¬†Joburg¬†and beyond…¬†I am very happy with our baby, that opened 8 months ago on August 2nd 2013¬†and – because that’s often a topic of my conversation – would like to share, how the idea of Beerhouse started during a trip to Germany:

brad-anonymized-beerhouse-historyOther than Babies, the Beerhouse concept took a solid 16 months from conception to birth. It was exactly two years ago on April 2nd, 2012, that I was sitting with my (then pregnant) girlfriend in a beer bar in Heidelberg, discussing the various available Beers and their stories and wondering why no similar place exists in Cape Town. Quick market research through text messages and Facebook followed and I realized, that there might indeed be a gap in the South African market.

Thanks to the pregnancy, we went back to the hotel quite early that evening and I reserved the most obvious domain name beerbar.co.za redirected it to a new Facebook page, invited my Capetonian friends and posted some beer related content, before going to bed.

I couldn’t be bothered to work on the Beerbar idea when we returned from our Eurotrip, as pregnancy and Jane and my work on the OMClub party took up all my time, but I did notice the friends congratulating me on the¬†new bar business.

varnia-randolf-eliza-festival-of-beer

Beerhouse Team at the CT Festival of Beer 2012: Not in the picture: Jane

Just a few days after the birth of my¬†daughter it happened: A family member¬†told¬†me, that some of his rugby mates asked him, ‘whether he heard about these mavericks, that were planning to open a beer bar with more than 40 different beers’. Beer blogger Joakim had written about us, although we had no location, no experience in the hospitality industry – we did nothing, but promise beer variety and I realized it wasn’t only friends & family, that liked my¬†idea.¬†We had planted an idea into peoples mind and they actually really wanted a beerbar with 40+ different beers!¬†We finally started to seriously turn a drunk crackpot idea into a business.

restaurant-to-letEven without any experience in the industry, it is obvious, that a successful bar business starts with a good location and Long Street is where it’s at. After looking at smaller available vacancies, we finally called the ‘Restaurant space to let’ number, that we walked past so many times and found a fascinating venue we knew would work.

Few days after signing the contract for 223 Long Street we still had no real plan how to open a bar, but were ready to spread the word. We printed blue Beerbar T-Shirts and visited the Cape Town Festival of Beer, where we met all the brewers, that are now our best partners for the first time and we also found our vision: give our guests at the Beerhouse a 365 day a year beer festival experience and be the tasting room for the South African craft beer industry.

beerhouse-coming-soonWith the new name finalised we decided to not wait for a logo and the Artads artists painted the name, two beer mugs and the opening soon message on the building, that would stay visible way past the April due date we originally anticipated. We invited all our new beer loving friends to the Beerhouse fundraising & christening party¬†and were able to collect more than R5000 in donations.¬†With all this exciting momentum, we launched into 2013, knowing that our tiny team, wouldn’t be able to do it all themselves and would need to grow. Once again¬†fortune was in our favour and Murray joined us after just returning to Cape Town from a career and his own restaurant in London

finding-murrayand the rest is history… ūüėČ

Written for the Beerhouse-blog

Argus 2014 Fundraiser My successful 2011 NYC Marathon fundraiser made it clear: My business partners & friends like to see me sweat!

This article in german? Please go to my german blog!

Since then I also explored the beauty of the Cape Peninsula coastal bike routes and found out about the 109 km¬†Cape Argus Cycle Tour – the largest individually timed cycling event in the world! As some of you may know, the Argus will be held on the 9th of March 2014 and I have decided to participate in aid of an organization called Mamelani¬†Projects.¬†I¬†challenge you to get me onto the bike –¬†Please donate your last penny or cent and remember that at the spectacular low exchange rate of R15 for a Euro and R11 for a US$ your donation looks impressive on the overview but harmless on your bank account. I linked all donors below¬†and thank you all for supporting this cause! My legendary network¬†reached the original R5000 goal in less than an hour and¬†donated a total of R37725 (ca. 3500 US$ / 2500‚ā¨!) in donations¬†and helped South African disadvantaged youths!

Randolf Jorberg Cape Argus certificateI also managed to keep to my promise and I finished the 109 km Cape Argus in 05:05:58 hours –¬†missing the 5 hour mark, and with quite some way for me to improve in the next few years, but some great impressions along the incredible route

Some background on the organization you’ll support: Mamelani runs a programme that consists of supporting young people in successfully transitioning out of state care at 18 years of age. Care leavers are said to be one of the most vulnerable groups in society, and without adequate support, after years of care and development, many face poor outcomes in adult life. Mamelani has developed an approach to working with young people, a process to support them in preparing for and facing life beyond care. The programme runs over 3 years, providing support prior to the transition, as well as continued support after leaving. Below is a message from Nkululeko, a 19 year old from Gugulethu, about how Mamelani has assisted him.

“I really didn’t think about having to leave Homestead one day. I didn’t take it seriously until I realised that I had to leave. I realised that I needed help! I didn’t know where I was going to go and what I was going to do. Mamelani helped me. You see these guys at Mamelani are like brothers to me and I get to talk about things that one would expect from a family. Mamelani gives people hope and that is so important because people lose hope when they are not supported. It gives guys leaving the children’s home an opportunity of making something different of our lives and not have excuses.

R4500 (that’s only ‚ā¨300!) allows one young person to complete a paid internship, providing them with the opportunity to gain access to the world of work, technical experience and money management skills. Together the Mamelani Movers Argus team would like to secure enough funds to allow 5 youth to be a part of this process. So come on and back me on my adventure. Together we can make a difference! If you wish to donate then please click on this link and follow the simple instructions. http://www.backabuddy.co.za/champion/project/randolfs-mamelani-movers-argus-challenge

Argus Fundraiser 2014

Please donate to my Argus 2014 fundraiser!

 

Not too many know, that I’ve been involved with ICANN’s process of setting up new TLDs since 2009. With 24 days left to register and no initiative in sight to establish a .CAPETOWN for them I sent out this letter to the city and the press and hope to see a .CAPETOWN Top Level Domain come true in 2013, so the city can establish itself at the forefront of digital. This opinion of mine was printed in the Cape Times yesterday, but as it hasn’t yet been published online, I’m publishing it here.

Please comment, forward, tweet & Facebook this posting, if you support the establishment of this new TLD!

In the future, city governments, businesses and organizations will use web addresses that end with intuitive, localized domain suffixes like .joburg, .lagos and .denver rather than .za, .ng or .com. But for the moment, this opportunity can only be realized by a handful of the most innovative and forward-looking metros, such as .berlin, .london, .nyc, .tokyo and ‚Äď if our leaders have the vision to join this exclusive club ‚Äď .capetown.

 

For a limited time, until mid-April 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) ‚Äď which manages the registration of top-level domains (TLDs) ‚Äď is accepting applications for new TLDs. Once the deadline has passed, it is not expected to open up the process again for many years.

 

I believe that the City of Cape Town should take this opportunity to spearhead the application for the .capetown domain. A successful bid will lead to significant branding, community-building and economic opportunities for the city, its businesses and its residents.

 

As a branding device, the early adoption of the .capetown domain would signal our claim to being a world class city. It would also say that we’re a cutting-edge creative hub of digital innovation and a uniquely worthwhile destination. These qualities would help the city compete for travelers, conferences, foreign direct investment and international knowledge workers. It would also add to the city’s growing brand profile, revealing that we are aware of our own value and are keen to enhance it.

 

The world is starting to wake up to the Cape Town brand as more films are shot here, more tourists visit and as we host more international events. Initiatives like the Silicon Cape, the World Design Capital and the Cape Biotech Initiative are all enhancing the city’s brand as well.

 

Unfortunately, everything online about the city falls under the .za domain, a suffix that has none of the branding benefits that .capetown does.

 

The main reason is because it is not intuitive. The .za suffix for ‚ÄúSouth Africa‚ÄĚ does not make immediate sense for the online community. (The .sa domain belongs to Saudi Arabia, so we got stuck with .za, from the German ‚ÄúZuid Afrika‚ÄĚ.)

 

Second, the .za referent is too broad for activities, organizations or businesses that are based solely in the Mother City. These should enjoy a city TLD, matching their actual unique location, such as waterfront.capetown or myciti.capetown. The City, by applying for and adopting this virtual platform, would then be able to incentivize the local use of the .capetown brand in all digital communications.

 

As a community-building device, the .capetown domain would also allow people to proudly declare their membership in the metro. Businesses and organizations would gladly do so of their own volition, but the City could also democratize this possibility by offering every resident a free .capetown email account. Consider the impact: hundreds of thousands of emails each day would assert residents’ claims to the City. That would be a powerful statement of community.

 

Moreover, the .capetown domain promises greater commercial opportunities for local businesses and clients. Many companies already use the word ‚Äúcapetown‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúcpt‚ÄĚ in their website URL, usually followed by .za. But the .capetown domain would render the overly-broad .za redundant.

 

Think about it: city TLDs make sense because cities provide the natural limits for most people’s everyday movements. It is in cities that people form communities, send their children to school, go to work and hang out with friends. It is also the natural unit for various work sectors, including the creative industries such as film production, graphic design and biomedical R&D. The .capetown domain makes better sense for most businesses as they operate from highly particular locales.

 

At some point in the future, when ICANN opens the application process again, other South African cities should seek their own domains, such as .joburg and .durban. But right now, the application process requires not only the support of each city’s governing authority and business community, but significant technical, administrative and financial capacity. ICANN’s requirements are formidable, guaranteeing that only the most far-sighted and administratively capable cities obtain them.

 

At this stage, due to the City’s energetic leadership and financial stability, Cape Town would likely be the only South African city that would be able to lodge a successful application.

 

Thus I urge Patricia de Lille and her team at the City of Cape Town to take advantage of this unique opportunity and apply for the .capetown domain. We would all benefit together from her decision to solidify Cape Town’s place in the digital age. With this act, she would confirm our status as the Gateway to Africa and promote our aspiration to be part of a globally connected citizenry.

Disclaimer: I write this as the owner of weather.co.za¬†– a privately held weather forecasting site that has definite plans to extend it’s offerings to launch and produce it’s own weather forecasts and warning data very soon. The weather bill can and will be used by the South African Weather Service (SAWS) and it’s heavily connected private sister-company Weather Intelligence Systems ¬†(Pty) Ltd.¬†to fight off private competition as my site could become.

Less than a week before the final hearings, the proposed SA weather service amendment bill, 2011 does finally make some headlines and gets attention by the DA MP Gareth Morgan, FW De Clerk Foundation and many other affected parties.

“Only the Weather Service may issue severe weather-related warnings over South Africa in order to ensure that there is a single authoritative voice in this regard.”¬†

is what the South African Weather Service Act already says since 2001. As if this questionable decision, that lacks any legally binding definition of a ‘severe weather-related warning’ isn’t enough the new amendment is now supposed to add the following section 30A that reads:

(1) No person may
(a) issue a severe weather or air pollution-related warning without the necessary written permission from the Weather Service;
(b) supply false or misleading information about the Weather Service;
(c) unlawfully, intentionally or negligently commit any act or omission which detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect the Weather Service.

(2) A person who contravenes any provisions of subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and is liable, in the case of a first conviction, to a fine not exceeding five million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, and in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten million rand or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or in both instances to both such fine and such imprisonment, respectively.

As the SA weather service amendment bill is so outrageous and wrong, I just sent the following letter to the parliament, just in time for the public hearing, that I will attend January 17 and 18:

I heavily object to the new weather service amendment bill and ask parliament to review essential clauses to understand what this bill does to any legitimate competitor to South African Weather Service (SAWS) or their licensing customers:

  • South African might become the first country in the world where there is a state guaranteed monopoly for weather services. In my humble opinion does South Africa not need less, but more competition to guarantee a better forecasting quality, than we currently get.
  • The SAWS must by law adhere to The World Meteorological Organization Resolution 40 that urges Members to: “Strengthen their commitment to the free and unrestricted exchange of meteorological and related data and products” and specially states in Annex 3The purpose of these guidelines is to further improve the relationship between NMSs and the commercial sector. The development of the exchange of meteorological and related information depends greatly upon sound, fair, transparent, and stable relations between these two sectors.“. This bill clearly does NOT help fair relations between SAWS and private competition!
  • The bill does not define “Severe weather warning”. SAWS can use to scare clients by way of fine if they use any other forecast service other than SAWS and thereby creating a monopoly. Also, what would be considered “false” information? There is no 100% accurate weather forecast.
  • SAWS already¬†acts and markets¬†themselves¬†as “The ONLY accurate source of SA weather” and take a very similar stance when negotiating with third parties over licensing terms. Their self-conception is NOT matched by their accuracy and I hope to bring some fresh competitive comparison with me to the parliamentary hearing next week.
  • The insertion of Clause 28A is also of great concern. The minister can change the act without going through parliment. Really not fair since this can change legislation even further to keep competitors out.

The offenses clause and clause 28A in the Bill needs to be removed and I ask parliament to rethink the current policy on “one¬†single authoritative voice”¬†in regards to severe weather warnings.

kind regards,
Randolf Jorberg
owner of weather.co.za