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Banks across Africa Turn to IBM Hybrid Cloud and AI Solutions to Accelerate Digital Innovation

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IBM Hybrid Cloud General Manager, Alan Peacock and IBM General Manager for IBM North, East and West AfricaAngela Kyerematen-Jimoh (Image: Supplied)

IBM (NYSE: IBMtoday announced that major financial institutions across Africa have selected hybrid cloud and AI capabilities from IBM to unlock digital innovation and continue their work to develop digital-first solutions, ultimately broadening access to financial services on the continent.

COVID-19 continues to accelerate the already rapid changes that were happening across the financial services sector in Africa, fast-tracking the adoption of digital technologies to boost financial inclusion. With over 475 million Africans expected to be mobile internet users by 2025 GSMA –The mobile economy sub-Saharan Africa 2020, digital and mobile play a critical role in facilitating the delivery of digital financial services to consumers who transact on their mobile phones. As banks focus their efforts on open innovation, security and high-value services, hybrid cloud solutions have become increasingly important to deliver seamless and secure digital banking experiences.

“Enterprises, especially those in highly regulated industries like financial services, face unique challenges when it comes to balancing innovation and regulatory compliance,” says Alan Peacock, General Manager, IBM Cloud. “For decades, IBM has been fueling the transformation of the financial services industry, bringing IBM’s trusted industry experience and leadership in security and data privacy to help banks modernize, transform operations and drive innovation.”

According to IBM’s COVID-19 future of business study, more than 59% of the organisations that participated said that the pandemic accelerated digital transformation, and more than 75% of responding executives indicated they expect changed customer behaviour to continue after COVID-19. As companies in the financial services sector are speeding up transformation, IBM hybrid cloud and AI solutions are supporting their drive to accelerate digitalisation in different parts of the continent.

“In the past year we have seen banks navigate changes brought on by a growing preference for digital and mobile solutions, increasing smartphone penetration and the demand for convenience, innovation, and simplicity from today’s modern consumer, says Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh, Regional, General Manager for IBM North, East and West Africa. “As banks across the continent take advantage of the opportunity to provide digital financial services which boost financial inclusion, IBM is working with Africa’s leading financial groups to deliver intelligent, cloud-based, digital-first innovation through IBM’s hybrid cloud and AI capabilities.”

Ecobank, the pan-African banking conglomerate, with banking operations in 33 African countries, has adopted a hybrid cloud approach to extend its reach to millions across Africa.  Using IBM Cloud, Ecobank migrated their flagship mobile banking application to leverage the on-demand capacity of resources that can support sudden spikes in traffic on its mobile banking services. Ecobank also has access to other IBM cloud services that can be used to develop more innovative, digital-first solutions to enhance their own client experience.

With over 12 million customers on its flagship mobile application, Ecobank is on an accelerated digital banking transformation journey and is set out to expand its digital offerings and grow the 30 million digital transactions it already processes on its platforms. As part of this journey, the Pan-African banking conglomerate has built scalable business solutions which allow for ease of integration with third-party providers using their open digital banking platform for a growing customer base.

Pan-African bank, Nedbank has set out to deliver superior digital experiences to customers. To achieve this, the bank is modernising its core banking applications with a hybrid cloud strategy and has partnered with IBM to help bring digital products and services to life.

To take advantage of the flexibility and agility offered by modern cloud technologies on this digitalisation journey, Nedbank explored a hybrid multi cloud approach, adopted the IBM Garage methodology to implement IBM Cloud Pak for Integration. Through IBM Garage, the bank was able to deep dive and explore fresh solutions and in a week achieved what would have taken them months. Faced with the need to integrate complex legacy systems, Nedbank turned to IBM Cloud Pak for Integration to help build a simplified and standardised integration approach to their cloud strategy. This enables Nedbank to shift their legacy applications into the cloud and integrate with other cloud-based applications they are consuming as they modernise and position for future innovation.

Attijariwafa Bank, the Pan African Banking and Financial Group, has adopted IBM hybrid cloud solutions software to advance the digitisation of its banking operations, and quickly bring new digital services to its customers, all in a secure and flexible environment. Using IBM Cloud Paks that are built on Red Hat OpenShift, the leading bank will streamline and better integrate front-and back-office processes and to modernise business and IT operations.

By deploying IBM Cloud Paks, Attijariwafa bank will modernise and manage its core banking applications like its corporate banking application, on a secure, integrated and easily scalable environment. This will allow a rich and simple customer interaction while decreasing the time to bring new offerings to market. It will also enable the banks’ employees to focus their effort and time on serving their customers better.

This collaboration with IBM supports the digital transformation strategy of the bank and facilitates a full modernisation of the bank’s operations in an open, hybrid cloud environment.

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), Africa’s global bank operating in 23 countries globally and with headquarters in Nigeria, has set a goal to grow its transaction volume significantly over the next few years and to deepen retail market penetration. To achieve this, they would be required to attract the unbanked, acquire new customers through digital banking and retain existing customers by adopting a “No Transaction Must Fail (NTMF)” initiative.

Using IBM POWER9-based servers, Flash system storage and IBM PowerVC (Power system virtualization & cloud management), UBA set up a scalable, private cloud environment that is cost-effective taking the first step towards embracing a hybrid cloud model.

Customers’ needs are evolving as they seek banking services across channels and expect personalization. Co-operative Bank of Kenya turned to IBM to modernize their core banking platform and reach their customers on different channels including mobile and online while offering customized services driven by insights. For this, they required a technology that would also empower their employees who work across teams to simplify processes, optimize customer data, while also achieving goals like reducing infrastructure and maintenance costs. With IBM Power and FlashStorage solutions, they now derive improved insights on customer data, faster query resolutions, quicker time-to-market on new services across channels – all backed by high available, scalable, cloud-and AI-ready technology.

Banco Mais, a leading bank in Mozambique, turned to IBM to help streamline its business processes and reduce turnaround times for customer-facing services. In the face of a growing competitive market locally, Banco Mais needed to develop financial service products faster to retain and gain market share.

Banco Mais implemented IBM Business Process Manager on Cloud service and was able to start projects quickly and deploy process application solutions without the need to build the IT infrastructure. By turning to this IBM Cloud solution, they could develop, test, run and monitor their business processes at a fraction of the time it would otherwise have taken. As a result, Banco Mais reduced turnaround time for loans by 60% and decreased the time it took to implement services that took 3 to 4 months by 85% to improve customer experiences.

Earlier this year, IBM announced the general availability of the industry’s first financial services-ready cloud platform, IBM Cloud for Financial Services, as well IBM Cloud Satellite. First revealed in 2019, the IBM Cloud for Financial Services is designed to help reduce risk for financial institutions, their partners and FinTechs, and innovate quickly with built-in controls that are adhered to by the entire ecosystem. IBM Cloud Satellite brings a secured, unifying layer of cloud services for clients across environments, regardless of where their data resides, delivering security, data privacy, interoperability and open standards found in hybrid cloud environments.

 

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LG Electronics showcases trendsetting Home Appliance products in the MEA region

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LG Electronics MEA Team (Image: Supplied). 

Global consumer electronics pioneer LG Electronics, recently hosted its LG Showcase MEA 2024 in the Conrad Hotel in Abu Dhabi, under the brand’s theme of Reinventing Together. The event, which focused not only on showcasing the latest innovations, but also on building relationships with its stakeholders, had a confirmed attendance of over 500 guests each who were provided with the chance for a hands-on experience with each product.

During the course of the showcase event, LG Electronics exhibited their latest products and innovations in home appliances that not only enhance daily life, but also provide functionality, unique upgradability and personalization. The focus area included a line-up of home appliance products, which includes refrigerators, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, air conditioning solutions and more.

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Commenting on the event, Mr. Il Hwan Lee, Chief Executive Officer, LG MEA Region, said “The LG Showcase MEA 2024 is the home ground where our latest innovations are displayed. We keep our customers in mind during every step of development, and the products we have on display here are a testament to that promise. Not only do we tackle the needs of the consumer, but we also provide the added benefits of unique experience, elegant styling and revolutionary features that can enhance their home.”

During the event, LG Electronics also showcased its popular refrigerator with the MoodUP™ feature. This feature, known for its exciting and unique color options, adds a unique personality to any home kitchen. Through the LG ThinQ™ app, users can choose from 22 colors for the upper door panel and 19 colors for the lower panel. In addition to its visual aesthetic, the new LG MoodUPTM Refrigerator comes with three LED panel doors and a transparent fourth door. The panel doors can have their colors customized through the LG ThinQ app, while the transparent door features LG’s famous InstaView capability that shows the interior of the fridge with two simple knocks. It also features built-in Bluetooth speakers, perfect for playing music during cooking.

LG Electronics’ solutions to upscale your kitchen doesn’t end there, with the brand’s built-in kitchen package that was on display. Keeping in mind energy efficiency, user-friendly features and elegant designs, this unique lineup comprises an InstaView™ oven, QuadWash™ dishwasher, bottom-freezer refrigerator and microwave oven. While each of these products are premium on their own and can individually elevate the kitchen, it is this premium portfolio of products that can really step up your kitchen game.

LG Electronics also showcased its Residential Air Conditioning units, such as the ARTCOOL lineup which features the LG DUAL Inverter Compressor™, a critical element that brings powerful cooling without affecting efficiency. The DUAL Inverter maximizes cooling performance for promising faster cooling while also saving energy with optimized compressor operation. Residents can get stronger cooling, as this Dual Inverter Compressor runs faster than conventional non-inverter compressor. It also ensures precise cooling, by maintaining the setting temperature even while running at minimal level.

LG Electronics also takes an interesting spin on washing and drying, showcased with the LG WashTower™ Compact laundry solution. Keeping in mind space-efficiency, this home appliance combines both a washer and dryer with an all-in-one control panel and advanced AI in a single, space-efficient unit. The washer offers a generous 13-kilogram capacity and its dryer, a 10-kilogram capacity, and requires less installation space than the average stackable or side-by-side washer and dryer pair of the same laundry capacity.

It also comes with a flat, unibody design that provides an optimal laundry experience and brings a subtle and minimalist aesthetic. The WashTower™ also uses advanced laundry technologies such as Artificial Intelligence Direct Drive™ (AI DD™) to identify the most suitable washing pattern (drum motions, water temperature and wash cycle time) for each load, reducing fabric damage to help clothing last longer. The Smart Pairing™ feature saves users time and hassle by syncing the dryer with the washer; automatically selecting the best drying cycle based on washer load settings, making it an excellent all-around performer.

Alongside the washing and drying solutions, LG Electronics also showcased the LG Styler, a premium steam cleaning solution that can refresh garments in minutes. Built with a simple plug and play method, this solution aims to be a way of smarter styling, complete with a stylish look of its own.

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LG Electronics MEA leads with innovation in new Home Entertainment Line-up

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LG Electronics, a global leader in consumer electronics, recently hosted its LG Showcase MEA 2024 at the Conrad Hotel in Abu Dhabi. With the overarching theme “Reinventing Together,” the event focused on showcasing the latest innovations and extending relationships with its stakeholders. Hosting over 500 esteemed guests, the event offered hands-on experience with its latest products.

A key focus area during the exhibition was LG’s line-up of home entertainment products, which ranges from its televisions, audio and gaming products.

Commenting on the event, Mr. Il Hwan Lee, Chief Executive Officer, LG MEA Region said “We design each product with the goal of enhancing the daily lives of our customers. This LG Showcase MEA 2024 event is a testament to this commitment, and we are proud to exhibit our flagship products today. Each of these home entertainment products are designed with practical innovations while keeping customer use-case requirements at heart, which aligns with our goal of creating a better life by elevating everyone’s entertainment experience and the interior of their homes.”

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During the event, LG brought to the region its latest innovations in OLED technology; including its flagship 97-inch LG SIGNATURE OLED M, the world’s-first consumer TV with Zero Connect technology which enables the transfer of 4K video and audio, wirelessly at 120Hz. This iconic feature resolves all cable management nightmares and allows for an uncluttered space by having all devices connected to the Zero Connect Box and positioned away from the TV.

Also featured during the event is LG’s innovative StanbyME Go, the 27-inch FHD smart screen that boasts a unique carry bag design, that allows users to easily use them on-the-go. It keeps mobility in mind with its unique design and a built-in battery that lasts up to three hours of screen time. It comes with various connectivity options such as wireless mirroring and NFC, which can be activated with a simple tap.

The screen itself also rotates, giving users the option of a vertical or horizontal orientation. In addition to the streaming options, the screen is also ideal for listening to music with its turntable skin or for playing chess with the pre-installed Chess game. Customers can also control the unit through voice control, even from a distance. The unique design of the StanByME Go promises enhanced durability, keeping the screen safe from bumps, temperature fluctuations, low pressure, dust, salt fog and vibrations.

During the course of the event, LG also showcased its latest LG webOS which brings to the table a completely revamped home screen with wider title cards and smoother tiles for categories such as Game, Music and Home Office. The smart operating system, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, expanded into 300 TV brands and 3,500 content partners, including local partners and has an active user growth increase in the MEA region by 20 times.

LG also showcased its new α (Alpha )11 processor that will be used in its flagship TVs, one that will deliver powerful AI capabilities and enhance the overall viewing experience. This new processor is four times more powerful than its predecessor and will refine clarity, color and sharpness, as well as providing a 70 percent improvement in graphics performance and a 30 percent faster processing speed.

LG displayed its range of XBOOM speakers which deliver bold and loud sounds with strong bass and massive sound. For instance, the LG XBOOM XL9T, the most powerful-in-class party speaker, produces an immense sound of 1000W with booming bass and high notes. Additionally, the pixel art and multi color ring lights further step up the party. Its smaller variant, the LG XBOOM XL5S with a 200W output for powerful party music, complete with the series’ iconic party lighting.

Amongst these audio products, LG presented their portable speakers, such as the XBOOM Go XG8T, a 120W speaker with 15 hours of battery life. This on-the-go speaker not only packs a powerful punch in audio but can also boost sound further and turns up the party with its studio light feature. Also on display were the LG XBOOM Go XG7Q and the compact XG5S with a 30W output and 20W output respectively, which comes in a unique design with ambient lighting, perfect to set the mood. It is also IP67 rated, making it the perfect musical companion for the outdoors.

Additionally, LG showcased the LG TONE Fit TF7, which focuses primarily on comfort, convenience and immersive sound. The LG TONE Fit TF7 offers a superior fit for fitness enthusiasts, ensuring customers can focus solely on their workout without any distractions. Featuring a patent-pending skirt shape hook, these earbuds offer optimized fit and usability for various outdoor activities. Apart from its superior sound quality, these earbuds are also focused on health, with the UVnano technology integrated into the earbuds’ cradle actively sanitizes the ear gel surfaces, creating a more sanitary listening experience.

LG Electronics also showcased the LG CineBeam Q, the much awaited, stylish and smallest 4K portable projector from LG. This mighty 4K laser projector not only delivers stunning picture quality, but also a range of streaming features, while its minimalist design fits into any home design ethos.

This was all topped off with LG’s innovations in monitors, with the new LG UltraGear™ OLED gaming monitor and LG MyView Smart Monitor.

The latest lineup of LG UltraGear OLED gaming monitors is a true testament to LG’s commitment to the gaming industry. Available in sizes of 32-inch (model 32GS95UE), 34-inch (model 34GS95QE) and 45-inch (model 45GS95QE), these OLED gaming monitors are the pinnacle of gaming displays, bringing in a true immersive experience. The new 32GS95UE, the world’s first VESA certified Dual Mode gaming monitor, enables it to switch between 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 240Hz and Full-HD (1920 x 1080) up to 480Hz with one simple click. It also comes with a range of other features such as the LG’s Pixel Sound technology, which projects sound directly from the display using vibrating film components built into the monitor itself.

Meanwhile, the LG MyView Smart Monitor, a must-have for productivity and entertainment even without having to connect to a PC, was showcased alongside. Available in sizes of 27-inches with FHD and 32-inches with 4K resolution, these smart monitors pack in LG’s webOS software along with support for AirPlay 2, ScreenShare and Bluetooth. Designed for multi-tasking, this monitor will allow you to do your daily work, control home gadgets and even stream your favorite content, all from one display. Also, the 27SR50F is available in four color options (beige, pink, green) to cater to various tastes and seamlessly blend into any interior design.1

What’s more, LG unveiled the LG MAGNIT (model LSAL006), a stunning 118-inch, 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution Micro LED display. Delivering unparalleled picture quality through the brilliance of Micro LED technology, the LG MAGNIT allows customers to enjoy complete viewing immersion in the comfort of their own spaces, be it personal or professional.

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Huawei Kenya Advocates for Inclusive Connectivity

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Huawei Sub-Sahara Africa Vice President, Mr. Wan Wei at Connected Africa Summit 2024.

Huawei Kenya is advocating for inclusive connectivity to accelerate national digital transformation. Speaking at the Connected Africa Summit 2024 held in Nairobi last week, Vice President of Huawei Sub-Sahara Africa Mr. Wan Wei highlighted the importance of building network & cloud infrastructure to drive economic growth, social progress, and sustainable development across the continent.

He also presented a proposal for ubiquitous intelligent connectivity networks combined with cloud-based data driven innovation to enable inclusive intelligent service.

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“Beyond mere connectivity, such infrastructure holds the key to enhancing social welfare, fostering innovation, promoting economic competitiveness, facilitating regional integration, and ultimately advancing the sustainable development agenda in Africa. It is not just a means to an end, but an end in itself, capable of enriching the lives and well-being of all people,” Mr. Wei said.

Mr. Wei provided insights on policy and technical measures to build low-cost rural mobile networks and speed up fibre-optic networks to ensure high-speed broadband for all people, all homes, all businesses, and all institutions. He highlighted the regulatory interventions that can help, such as lower cost way leaves, tax incentives for investment, infrastructure sharing between power and telecoms infrastructure and lower taxes for affordable devices.

“Through our collective actions and shared commitment, we aim to lay a solid foundation for Africa’s digital future, positioning our continent at the forefront of the global digital revolution. Let us work together diligently and purposefully to build a digital ecosystem that not only empowers our economies but also uplifts our societies and enhances the quality of life for all citizens across Africa. Through the strategic development of Network and Cloud infrastructure, we pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous digital future for our continent,” he said.

Huawei’s exhibition at the Summit included sharing insights on how to speed up the roll-out of fibre-optic networks and lower the build-out costs though technology innovations such as Quick-ODN as well as regulatory interventions, such as the new Building Code that is being reformed to “ensure all new buildings are fibre-optic-ready” as His Excellency President Ruto highlighted in his opening remarks at the Summit. This includes common ducting outside and inside buildings that telecoms companies can use to quickly and easily run their cables into, manholes and easy-access points for engineers to use to connect fibre and run it into properties as well as maintain it, and the provision of equipment rooms or spaces in buildings.

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