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Africa Industrial Internet Programme: Young Africans benefit from General Electric $500,000 Scholarship

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Africa Industrial Internet Progragramme (AIIP) Class of 2019 Graduation (Source: GE)

GE will give 10 full scholarships for the current cohort

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, February 7, 2020- General Electric (NYSE: GE) and the Africa Leadership University (ALU) have announced the kick-off of the 3rd cohort of the Africa Industrial Internet Programme (AIIP)  which is aimed at equipping young Africans with skills that will enable them to take part in the fourth industrial revolution.

The 2020 cohort has enrolled 35 students from 8 countries across Africa, drawn from Oil & gas, transportation, power, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, telecoms and aviation industries. Over the last two years, the rigorous training programme has graduated 64 students, of which 50 were fully sponsored by GE from a scholarship fund totalling US Dollars 500,000.

GE will give 10 full scholarships for the current cohort.

Launched in 2018, the programme has empowered participants with essential skills for building applications for the Industrial Internet, which enables machine-to-machine communication that results in systems that can collect, analyze, and deliver data in real-time. These features provide significant benefits such as predicting when a device will require maintenance, enhancing logistics management, enhancing quality and optimizing safety.

The training takes place at a time when spending on the Internet of Things is predicted to reach a trillion US dollars by 202 [1], with the total number of connected devices being projected to rise to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years.

Commenting on the Programme,  Farid Fezoua, President & CEO for GE Africa said, “As a digital industrial company, it’s exciting  to see how over the last two years the AIIP has developed an ecosystem of digital engineers that utilise data science as an enabler for their work across industries,  developing solutions for the most pressing challenges. Our partnership with ALU for the AIIP is a testament of our commitment to develop the next generation of leaders that will drive solutions made in Africa for Africa in this transformative digital age.”

Also Read: How Tech Is Enhancing Recruitment: An Interview With Sandy Simagwali, Co-Founder Of Graft Africa

The AIIP is designed using a project-based approach where participants get to apply their learning in real world contexts. The Programme includes regular assessments in each module culminating with a final project where participants are tasked with applying their learning to solve an existing problem either in their business or in a partner organization’s business operations. This is achieved through modules in machine learning and big data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Cloud-based Application Development. A unique aspect of the Programme is a deliberate focus on creating links to industry for participants by inviting industry experts to intensives to share case studies, projects of interest, trends and opportunities, through industry field visits and mentorship opportunities with data science professionals.

“African Leadership Group is thrilled to be partnering with GE to build a new generation of digital leaders for Africa” said Fred Swaniker, Founder of African Leadership Group, which includes African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, and ALX. “We share GE’s passion for data, and what it can bring to the African continent and the world. The Programme enables mid-career engineers to build new skills in data analytics, data science, data engineering and data visualization. By leveraging the power of data, today’s engineers can significantly improve the performance of high-tech industrial machinery and processes, thereby increasing the bottom line for companies. The Africa Industrial Internet Programme is creating globally competitive, digital engineers right here in Africa, and we can’t wait to see their full impact on the continent”.

In 2019 five female candidates from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria received the Jay Ireland Africa Rising Scholarship for women in tech in honor of GE Africa’s former CEO, Jay Ireland.

Speaking about her experience with the programme, Funmi Somoye a 2019 cohort graduate from Nigeria said, “More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing. I can’t wait to change the world!

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Blockchain breakthroughs in Africa signal enterprise adoption readiness

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Technological breakthroughs such as blockchains and distributed ledger technologies are digital infrastructures that enable innovation. Businesses across the globe are already benefiting from blockchain-based technologies which are predicted to create over $3 trillion in business value by 2030 according to Gartner. Despite the huge potential, CIOs overestimate the capabilities and short-term benefits of blockchain technology to help them meet business objectives which creates unrealistic expectations when it comes to assessing offerings from blockchain platform vendors and service providers.

Companies such as IBM were early adopters of blockchain. “We have used it now to solve issues with the management of our supplier ecosystem and, most recently, we are working to use the technology to improve the way in which we onboard and manage the suppliers we work with (known as the Trust Your Supplier),” said Anthony Butler, IBM’s leader and CTO for blockchain services in Africa and Middle East.

Aligning blockchain projects to fit the overall business strategy of an organisation is key for companies looking to pursue blockchain-based implementations. “We are led by the market and we will build whatever capabilities we need in order to address market demand.  We see a lot of companies now wanting to implement blockchain networks at scale so helping them with this, as well as the associated business challenges, is a core part of our strategy. “We are seeing customers who look to us, the general contractor, for convening blockchain networks across different countries, industries, and technologies,” said Butler.

There are also increasing opportunities to create even more value by applying AI and IoT to blockchain networks. This is also an area of focus for companies like IBM. For example, integrating sensors with a blockchain network to gather real time and immutable data on the temperature and conditions under which a product has been transported through a cold chain; or using AI to make predictions based on the data that is sourced via the blockchain network. “There are many emerging cases now and our research organisation is focused on what comes next so we are looking at the implication of quantum or how technologies such as crypto-anchors can be used to further strengthen supply chains with blockchain for example,” Butler explained.

The role of Cloud in implementations of blockchain solutions for African enterprises

African based companies are making blockchain technological implementations. “We completed the Cranberry Cognitive Operational Management Engine which provides the most relevant real-time business service and operational data to the relevant individuals and business units across all service levels of client organisations through interactive dashboards,” said Stin Mulunda, CIO at Cranberry AB. The company has delivered a future-proof business management system which will run optimally 24/7 by leveraging all aspects and elements of data and the environment to ensure an accurate understanding of current realities and how to enhance the future. “We are now able to provide businesses with:

  • A single version of the truth through the implementation of smart contracts and the Business Node Consensus Ledger (BNCL);
  • Real-time and predictive SLA compliance with bottleneck and business node identification;
  • Customer, human resource, provider and operational trend analysis.

The scalability and reduction of total cost of ownership as energy consumption, system upgrades, hardware and software updates as well as infrastructure expert remuneration costs are axed from business expenses upon migration to cloud. The other benefit associated with cloud-based infrastructure is the myriad of software solutions which are compatible with an environment with the option to deploy remotely.

“Agility and service optimisation have become an essential trait for survival for businesses in every sphere of the economy, this has led to the mass adoption of enabling technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and IoT which are all fundamentally cloud-based (distributed infrastructure),” said Mulunda. Cloud platforms such Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and AWS offer businesses the ability to leverage world-class infrastructure, artificial intelligence capabilities as well as blockchain and IoT solutions.

Also Read: Women In Big Data South Africa set to exhibit at AI Expo Africa 2020, amplify women in AI, Data Science

Cloud, automation, AI, machine learning, blockchain and advanced analytics are just some of the innovations being speedily implemented worldwide to combat business disruption. “The Cranberry Operational Engines’s machine learning and natural language processing algorithms provide organisational correlative analytics on all events, transactions and interactions across all business units and their underlying internal and external resources,” said Mulunda. “The business interaction module harnesses node data to calculate the business proficiency of all business units, individual human resources, and client interactions to provide business leaders a full view of the organization’s performance against set objectives, SLAs and targets at any given time.

This brings the unprecedented possibility to observe and predict current and future organisational efficiency, achievements, profitability, client sentiment, and customer experience by creating a seamless flow of information across internal and external business environments as is the case with a client such as Afrocentric, thereby future-proofing of every aspect of an organisation’s operations.”

“We’re currently in the final phase of the development of our neural analytic dashboards which will harness the Engine’s machine learning capabilities to provide executives with accurate real-time organizational correlative analytics,” Mulunda explained. These dashboards are programmed to analyse the most important/relevant metrics and KPIs to provide summarized intelligence on all events (i.e new customer vs returning customers, human resource punctuality vs revenue vs expenditure per province, store type, etc).

Written by: Heath Muchena, founder of Proudly Associated. Heath works with international companies looking to launch products and services in African markets. He is also the brains behind Block Patrol – a technology adoption and business development startup that pushes the value of advanced tech upstream. He is also the author of 15 books ranging from tech, political economy, business and finance.

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Women In Big Data South Africa set to exhibit at AI Expo Africa 2020, amplify women in AI, Data Science

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The Women in Big Data South Africa chapter, a forum which seeks to strengthen diversity in analytics and big data, is set to exhibit at AI Expo Africa 2020 Online with chairperson and strategic sourcing and research specialist Naomi Molefe also giving a talk on talent sourcing in artificial intelligence (AI) and Data Science at the show.

The expo which will this year be held as an online event on 3 and 4 September, is the continent’s largest trade-focused AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Data Science business conference. 

Nick Bradshaw, co-founder of AI Media Group organisers of AI Expo Africa, stated “We’ve invited Women in Big Data South Africa to exhibit at this year’s show as part of our drive to make the AI and Data Science community more inclusive and diverse. AI will have direct social, economic and political impacts on our societies as we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as such it is imperative that women be included in this field to avoid gender bias and to come to come up with technologies that progress digital equality”.

Also Read: Lindelwe Lesley Ndlovu, African Risk Capacity (ARC) CEO Shares Goals, Disaster Risk Solutions, COVID-19 and Future

“As we celebrate women’s month in South Africa this August, we should have more conversations, not only now — but all year round — on how to attract, encourage and support more women in AI and machine learning research, as well as in the big data and analytics field,” added Bradshaw.

The Women in Big Data Forum’s mission is to inspire and attract more female talent to big data roles and to help them connect, engage and grow. The organisation does this through networking events, professional development and by sharing industry related content with members.

Delegates to AI Expo Africa 2020 ONLINE who are passionate about the meaningful inclusion of women in AI should also visit Fliptin’s virtual booth at the show. The Johannesburg-based venture builder runs the AI in Africa social impact initiative — in partnership with the Kgalema Motlanthe Foundation — which through a series of bootcamps exposes 15-18 year old female learners to AI concepts and ethics, as well as the design thinking process, pitching techniques and building chambers and image classifiers.AI Expo Africa 2020 ONLINE will also feature talks by prominent women working in the field. These include:

  • Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and ML, World Economic Forum
  • Renee Cummings, Criminologist and AI Ethicist, Columbia University
  • Alison B Lowndes, AI Devrel EMEA, NVIDIA
  • Ati Ngubevana, Group Executive HOD: Digital Process Engineering, Vodacom
  • Kathryn Malherbe, CEO and founder, MedSol AI Solutions
  • Kimara Naicker, PhD Researcher, UKZN Quantum Research Group
  • Lebogang Martins, Senior Project Manager, IoT.nxt
  • Lenore Kerrigan, Country Director SA, UiPath
  • Nella Oluoch, CEO and founder, Keypetbooks
  • Phumza Dyani, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, Broadband Infraco; Chief Innovation Officer, Pan African Chamber of Commerce
  • Celina Lee, CEO, Zindi
  • Nazareen Ebrahim, AI Researcher, Socially Acceptable
  • Minda Marshall, Director, LectorSA
  • Vicki – 100% synthetic AI-powered host

Roy Bannister, Director Show Production at AI Expo Africa, stated “Not only do we have a superb line-up of regional and global female thought leaders, we uniquely also have a brand new addition to the show – Vicki.

Vicki is the first 100% synthetic AI-powered host of AI Expo Africa 2020. She is working at the show to introduce the main keynote speaker during the opening sessions of Day 1 and Day 2 of the show.

This technology has come a long way and will be showcased at the event. It’s becoming harder to tell the difference between real humans and synthetic actor, which is both an amazing innovation but also provokes interesting reactions, especially in the era of fake news and deep fakes. She is a testimony to how far this technology has come and we can assure our audience everything she says is true!”

Issued by AI EXPO AFRICA

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Intel ‘Youth In AI ePavilion’ to promote inclusion of youth-focused initiatives at AI Expo Africa 2020

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Intel is set to promote inclusion of African youth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the ‘Intel Youth in AI ePavilion’ at AI Expo Africa 2020, this after the industry-leading tech firm signed up to sponsor nine youth-focused companies and organisations to exhibit at this year’s expo.

Now in its third year, AI Expo Africa 2020 is the continent’s largest trade-focused AI, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), 4IR and Data Science business conference. This year’s show will be held online on 3 and 4 September. 

The AI Expo Africa 2020 speaker line-up features keynotes by Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning at the World Economic Forum; Neil Sahota, IBM Master Inventor, UN AI expert and lecturer at University of California, and Fred Werner, Head of Strategic Engagement at the International Telecommunication Union, and Bayo Adekanmbi, CTO MTN Nigeria and founder of Data Science Nigeria, as well as Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and Deputy Head of the 4IR Commission of South Africa.

The Intel ‘Youth in AI ePavilion’ will promote and showcase youth-focused AI companies and organisations, as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives.

Also Read: Interview with Monica Sekhmet Grant, President of Young Boss Media Inc.

Roy Bannister, co-founder of AI Media Group and director of AI Expo Africa show production stated: “We’re delighted to welcome Intel back as a sponsor this year, especially given their focus on skills development and great support in the past, where Intel assisted us in providing free AI Workshops to a large number of data science students, young engineers and entrepreneurs.”

Nick Bradshaw, co-founder of AI Media Group – curators of AI Expo Africa stated, “With the impact of COVID, we have taken the entire community online this year. It means we can reach more countries and include more people. Uniquely this platform not only allows us to run our two-day business event, but it also serves as a 30-day learning platform after the main event ends. All the talks, vendor booths, posters and content are available for young people, students, entrepreneurs and learners from across South Africa and wider Africa to join us and learn about the latest technology driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa”. 

“We thank Intel for supporting this aspect of our show as this is a great opportunity for young people to learn about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and even find a job. The reach of this online eConference and Youth AI component will be bigger than our previous two shows – we can’t wait to welcome everyone on the 3rd of September,” concluded Bradshaw.

Issued by AI Expo Africa

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