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Dr. Omolaraeni Olaosebikan on the use Of AI In Risk Communication

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Dr. Omolaraeni Olaosebikan, the CEO of McEnies Global Communications has identified Artificial Intelligence’s (AI) predictive capabilities to be invaluable for risk communication, adding that it has the potential to put forward flawless strategies that can aid disaster prevention and management.

According to this integrated marketing expert, machine learning algorithms now have the foolproof ability to predict potential risks based on historical data and past occurrences. She maintained that this feat allows organizations to proactively address risks before they escalate and communicate with relevant stakeholders in a more informed manner and in the nick of time.

Dr. Omolaraeni dropped these hints during an interactive session with brand and tech reporters on Thursday, February 1, 2024, at her Lagos Office in Magodo GRA off CMD Road.

Recall that Omolaraeni last year won a contract with The Meteorological Office UK (Met Office) to develop improved communications practices on flood crisis information and work out meaningful risk communication strategies to mitigate perennial flooding in Nigeria.

The project is being sponsored by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and it is expected to bring together several relevant government agencies, like NIMET, NASRDA, NIHSA, NEMA, etc while also engaging in some desk-based research and consultations.

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She said: “Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized risk communication by enabling organizations to analyze data, predict risks, and communicate with stakeholders more effectively with precision to solutions.

“In recent times, I have been involved in flood management, and natural disaster studies with the MET Office and FCDO which you are aware of and I desire I go steps further to be more involved in ways to help the vulnerable people amongst us. Those who day-to-day live in abject poverty and deprivation because of what natural disasters, pandemics, and other related crises have done to them and the government possibly not even looking to help their needs and preferences.”

The very engaging session took a better part of the female CEO’s time on Thursday even as she professionally responded to how to mitigate social vulnerability through AI-assisted risk communication strategies.

Her words, “Risk communication essentially relies heavily on data analysis to identify potential threats, trends, and patterns. As I’ve said previously, AI-powered tools can process vast amounts of structured and unstructured data from various sources, including social media, news articles, and reports, to uncover valuable insights. By analyzing this data, organizations can gain a better understanding of emerging risks and tailor their communication strategies accordingly.

“AI’s predictive capabilities are invaluable for risk communication. Machine learning algorithms can predict potential risks based on historical data and past occurrences. This foresight allows organizations to proactively address risks before they escalate and communicate with stakeholders in a more informed manner.”

Fielding questions on empowering vulnerable communities with risk communication and AI technology strategies for resilience and safety, the McEnies Global Communications CEO reacted and said:

“AI can seamlessly help to mitigate the risks identified by providing recommendations, actions, and solutions. It can equally use data-driven awareness to suggest the best ways to reduce or eliminate the risk and create safety nets for the target or vulnerable segments of society. The aggregates of insights drawn from this can ultimately help to either enforce policies through government agencies or legislation from the Parliament, or run advocacy programmes to deepen the right message and techniques for the target groups and relevant stakeholders especially during, before, or after emergency situations.”

While stressing on risk communication and AI technology strategies and dose for saving social vulnerability, Omolaraeni gave this submission to the media:

 “I’m not here to stir any scare, but the reality is that the fourth industrial revolution is in full swing, bringing with it a wave of technological advancements that have the potential to reshape every aspect of human life across the globe. Artificial Intelligence is at the forefront of this revolution, promising to transform various sectors and drive inclusive growth. In Africa, could the adoption of AI and related technologies accelerate the continent’s development and help to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? The answer is Yes!”

“Natural disasters are inherently unpredictable, but their consequences can be mitigated through early intervention and effective preparedness. These events can have devastating economic, social, and environmental impacts. Preventing natural disasters or minimizing their damage is a global imperative. AI, with its ability to process vast amounts of data, analyze patterns, and make real-time predictions, will definitely revolutionize our approach to disaster prevention.

“Before delving into the ways AI can assist in disaster prevention, it’s crucial to understand the nature of these events. Natural disasters are broadly categorized into geological, meteorological, hydrological, and climatological phenomena. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis fall under geological disasters, while meteorological disasters include hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards. Hydrological disasters involve floods and landslides, and climatological disasters encompass droughts, heatwaves, and wildfires.

“One of the most crucial aspects of disaster prevention is providing early warnings to vulnerable populations. AI-powered systems can process data from various sources, including weather sensors, satellites, and social media, to detect early signs of impending disasters. For example, in the case of hurricanes, AI algorithms can analyze atmospheric data to predict their path and intensity accurately. These predictions enable authorities to issue timely warnings and evacuate individuals at risk-prone areas and saving countless lives”

In the aspect of enhancing social vulnerability with AI Technology and risk communication, she noted; “Data-driven artificial intelligence technologies are progressively transforming the humanitarian field, the use of digital technologies in humanitarian action again should not be seen as a new phenomenon. Yet, contemporary advances in computational power, coupled with the availability of vast amounts of data, have allowed for more widespread use of digital technologies in the humanitarian context.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the trend of using digital technologies to help maintain humanitarian operations. AI is broadly understood as a collection of technologies that combine data, algorithms, and computing power. These technologies based on my understanding consist of software and possibly also hardware systems designed by humans that, given a complex goal, act in the physical or digital dimension by perceiving their environment through data acquisition, interpreting the collected structured or unstructured data, reasoning on the knowledge, or processing the information, derived from this data and deciding the best action to take to achieve the given goal and mitigate against disaster.”

On the need to bridge the gap and explore the intersection of AI technology and risk communication, she said;

“Globally, modern workplaces are undergoing a profound digital transformation, and of course here in Nigeria, we shouldn’t be caught napping. In line with this global shift. We must start to recognize and utilize the unparalleled value of AI’s capabilities. These capabilities bring enhanced operational procedures, heightened productivity upscale success stories, and a growing range of innovative service offerings. As AI systems become increasingly integrated, we must learn to follow the trend, reshaping the foundation of communication in risk and disaster management, know how to predict right, and cater to diverse needs and preferences. This transformation weakens the traditional ties within incumbent financial institutions and paves the way for entirely new operational models.

“AI is reshaping the landscape of risk communication, empowering organizations to analyze data, engage with stakeholders, and respond to crises more effectively. By harnessing the potential of AI and upholding ethical standards, organizations can enhance their risk communication strategies and build stronger relationships with stakeholders in today’s rapidly changing world. As technology continues to evolve, AI’s role in risk communication will only become more significant, making it an indispensable tool for modern risk managers and communication professionals. And for us at McEnies Global Communications we’re moving at the speed of light to meet up with contemporary standards in tandem with global best practices.” She stated.

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Accelerating Growth in an Inclusive Rwandan and Pan-African Digital Economy

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By Dr. Diane Karusisi, CEO, Bank of Kigali and Dr. Reda Helal, Group Managing Director – Processing, Africa and Co-Head Group Processing, Network International (Image: Supplied). 

One of the visible signs of a growing digital economy is its flourishing initiatives for financial inclusion and financial literacy. Rwanda recognizes financial inclusion as a crucial component for realizing its development and economic prosperity and is a remarkable example of a country that is introducing such programs to aid in setting up a vast digital economy, which are increasingly gaining international recognition. The country has set an ambitious target to achieve 90% formal financial inclusion by 2024.

Building inclusivity by involving microfinance institutions, savings and credit cooperatives, and mobile network operators, as well as enabling interoperability in digital payments, play a critical role in ensuring accessibility for populations that have historically been unbanked and rely on cash-based transactions.

Digital transformation

Traditionally, Banks and FIs feel enormous pressure to grow their digital payments penetration in a landscape that is radically different from even five years ago. This pressure is accentuated when Fintechs and wallet operators are added to the mix. Everything from regulatory requirements, a competitive landscape and consumer expectations to product innovations has upended the “business as usual” outlook for digital payment providers. The industry is fraught with challenges that payments leaders must carefully navigate.

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Financial institutions are increasingly recognizing the importance of digital transformation and access to data. A legislation on the protection of personal data and privacy that was passed in October 2021 serves as a foundation for enabling trusted and secure domestic and international data flows and maximising the economic and social benefits of data-driven technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), for businesses and individuals in Rwanda.

The Bank of Kigali is an interesting example of a financial institution that has transitioned from traditional banking processes and payments to a structured digital platform. Embarking on a digital journey four years ago, the bank introduced several measures including internet banking and a mobile app, ISO standardization, and cyber resilient systems tuned to ensure the safety of customers’ data while enabling digital transactions through mobile phones.

Internet penetration in Rwanda stood at 30.5 percent of the total population in January 2023, with 4.25 million internet users. Incidentally, the ownership of smartphones in Rwanda stands at 26.7 per cent among men and 21 per cent in women respectively, according to the 2022 Rwanda Population and Housing Census, with the number of mobile phone users standing at 11.7 million in June 2023. Mobile phone penetration of 87 percent has consecutively increased the interest in digital payment solutions.

With the surge in mobile usage and e-commerce within the country, it is natural for banks to respond to the momentum and strengthen their digital economy payment services. The Bank of Kigali, for example, sought the advisory services of Network International (Network) to understand how to enhance and structure their product offering to cater to evolving customer behavior.

Network has been at the helm of accelerating digital transformation and has extensive experience in revolutionizing digital finance in the region with a deep understanding of digital payment offerings and technology usage. Network, using generational artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, as well as market knowledge and data utilization, helps the Bank generate informed business decisions to refine their services proposition in accordance with consumer spending trends.

Threat landscape

In a rapidly evolving digital payments landscape, the threat of fraud looms large. According to TransUnion Africa, digital transactions in financial services surged by 12.2 per cent during the first half of 2023, and the alleged rate of suspected digital fraud attempts for transactions from Rwanda in financial services increased 252 per cent year-over-year (YoY) – the highest rise among industries analyzed. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau reported 254 cases of cybercrime involving up to RWF 416 million in 2021. While fintechs and other new stakeholders in the environment pave the way to superior banking services, they also ensure to bolster their systems with strategic analysis and secure data management systems to counter sophisticated fraudulent activity.

In this regard, Network supported Bank of Kigali with an authorization strategy with detailed analysis focusing on authorization diagnostic, data and fraudulent transactions. Based on the findings of this analysis, Network provided recommendations to aid the Bank in improving operational efficiency, reducing risks, and accelerating growth.

Advanced tools and technology leave no room for error or vulnerabilities, in an environment that is seeing a growing dependence on mobile wallets, digital-only banking platforms, and contactless payments, which fosters adoption of digital payment solutions between merchants and consumers. This security allows for convenient access to digital payment services which include remittances, timely purchases, e-commerce and small businesses promotions, insurance payouts and more.

By enabling innovation and operational efficiency for financial institutions, Network International contributes to government-led financial inclusion initiatives and supports the sustainability of commerce among the masses.

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Lisk and CV Labs Africa Unveil VC Curated Blockchain Incubation Hub

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Lisk Chief Project Officer, Dominic Schwenter (Image: Supplied).

With nearly a million developers, a flourishing cross-industry entrepreneurial mindset, and a remarkable surge in blockchain adoption, Africa’s ability to lead blockchain technology impact is undeniable. Yet, technology entrepreneurs face barriers like limited access to finance and expert mentorship. Lisk’s Blockchain Incubation Hub intends to solve that issue.

Lisk is a fast and scalable Layer 2 (L2) network secured by Ethereum. As a member of the Optimism Superchain, Lisk provides builders and users some of the cheapest fees possible in the Ethereum ecosystem (currently sub 1 cent) and is actively contributing to the larger Superchain mission of onboarding the next 1 billion people to Web3. Lisk’s strategic decision to focus on emerging markets stands as a testament to its commitment to innovation and inclusivity. By prioritizing these regions, the team acknowledges the transformative potential they hold for the global community. 

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Dominic Schwenter, Chief Project Officer at Lisk, speaking of the incubation program, said “As an established infrastructure project, that has long focused on making Web3 technologies more accessible to builders and users around the world, we fully understand the tremendous opportunity the African continent represents for the future of the blockchain industry. By working with established partners such as CV Labs and its VC pillar, CV VC, we intend to bring our mutual excellence to support African pioneers who harness ingenuity to empower their communities. Blockchain is the engine for propelling local economies across the continent and we are well aware of the great quality of the developer community in Africa. There’s no one better to solve challenges than local developers, founders, and entrepreneurs“.

CV Labs is a renowned blockchain accelerator and ecosystem builder within the Web3 space. CV Labs is a business pillar of CV VC, the Swiss headquartered blockchain venture capitalist. Lisk and CV Labs both originate from the world’s most mature blockchain hub – Crypto Valley. Each has local and active teams on the ground in Africa, committed to harnessing Africa’s ability to drive the future of the web – one that enables data transparency, new economies, and, most of all, a better way of interacting and transacting for Africans.

Gideon Greaves, MD of CV VC Africa, said “Our experience in creating interconnectedness among our African and global portfolio companies is a bedrock for their growth. As Africans ourselves, we are very excited to empower the Lisk Blockchain Incubation Hub with our ecosystem pillar CV Labs, leveraging local insights and global understanding for maximum impact. Importantly, CV VC’s investor-focused curation will support the appropriation of grant funds to ensure projects with impact and utility succeed”.

African nations are among the strongest adopters of cryptocurrencies, utilizing them both as a store of value, payment, and exchange purposes. Concurrently, the technology behind crypto, blockchain itself, is increasingly important in other ways for Africa due to its immutability which can address longstanding issues such as corruption, lack of transparency, and inefficiencies in sectors like finance, supply chain, and governance.

Builders on blockchain technology can enhance trust, promote financial inclusion, enable secure transactions, and streamline processes, particularly in regions with unreliable infrastructure and weak institutions. Additionally, blockchain can support individuals by enabling access to financial services and property rights, fostering their socioeconomic growth, and unlocking new opportunities.

Despite restricted global funding, technology ecosystems in Africa are emerging, and 15 African countries feature in the Top 100 Global Ecosystems. As Africa accounts for nearly 20% of the global population and a median age of 18.8 years, the continent’s youthful demographic presents a potent force for innovation. While 77% of VC funding in Africa comes from outside the continent, The Lisk Blockchain Incubation Hub is committed to enabling African entrepreneurs to achieve self-fulfilling revenues and new funding sources by becoming market-ready with viable products that meet African needs.

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EMURGO Africa Unveils EMURGO Labs

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EMURGO Africa, the investment and commercial arm of Cardano in Africa, today announced the launch of EMURGO Labs, a dedicated development entity for emerging Web3 technologies. The Labs is designed to support the growth of established and nascent Web2 and Web3 organizations. EMURGO Labs is set to spearhead the digital transformation across borders, leveraging the transformative power of the Cardano blockchain.

This will will serve as the central hub for fostering the growth of both established and burgeoning Web2 and Web3 organizations throughout the region. By leveraging the unparalleled power and potential of the Cardano blockchain, EMURGO Labs aims to empower innovation, facilitate cross-border expansion, and contribute to the overall expansion of the global blockchain ecosystem.

“The launch of EMURGO Labs marks a significant step forward in our mission to unlock the transformative potential of blockchain technology in Africa, Middle East and GCC,” said Ahmed M. Amer, CEO of EMURGO Labs. “Through comprehensive support services, strategic partnerships, and industry-leading expertise, I am confident that EMURGO Labs will become the premier destination for Web3 ventures seeking to thrive in this dynamic region” added Amer.

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EMURGO Labs is dedicated to delivering a broad spectrum of services, meticulously designed to meet the evolving needs of the digital era, enabling organizations to seamlessly migrate from Web2 to Web3 while also enhancing and expanding the capabilities of already established Web3 entities.

  • Blockchain Solutions Development: Partnering with global enterprises, startups, and accelerators, EMURGO Labs is at the forefront of investing in and developing groundbreaking blockchain solutions with real world use cases
  • Custom Software Development: Tailored software solutions are crafted to drive digital transformation, propelling enterprises into the future.
  • UI/UX Design: With a focus on user-centric design, The Labs ensures intuitive user experiences and sleek interfaces for Cardano blockchain applications, setting a new standard in usability and aesthetics.

Aiming to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from Web2 and Web3 startups, banks, and large corporations to governments and the wider business community, The Labs is strategically positioned. By appealing to investors, blockchain enthusiasts, media, and policymakers, it is poised to become a pivotal player in the global blockchain ecosystem.

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