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Microsoft opens first datacentres in Africa with general availability of Microsoft Azure

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The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa —  Microsoft announced the opening of its first datacentres in Africa, with the general availability of Azure from the new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. This makes Microsoft the first global provider to deliver cloud services from datacentres on the continent, which will help companies securely and reliably move their businesses to the cloud while meeting compliance needs.

“Microsoft Azure is now available from our new cloud regions in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will create greater economic opportunity for organisations in Africa, accelerate new global investment, and improve access to cloud and internet services,” says Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president, Azure Networking, Microsoft.

Ibrahim Youssry, general manager, North, West, East, Central Africa, Levant & Pakistan, Microsoft said, “Today is a milestone moment in bringing the global cloud closer to home for African citizens and businesses. Enterprises across Africa can now take full advantage of the many benefits of Microsoft Azure, using cloud services to maintain security and meet compliance standards.”

According to the Cloud Africa 2018 report https://bit.ly/2XCnpe5, cloud use among medium to large organisations in Africa has more than doubled between 2013 and 2018. Due to the benefits of cloud in offering efficiency and scalability, more than 90 percent of surveyed companies in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have plans to increase their spending on cloud computing in the next year.

However, a secure offering remains important in maintaining this momentum, with many African CEOs concerned about cyber threats.

“Microsoft has deep expertise in protecting data and empowering customers around the globe to meet extensive security and privacy requirements, including offering the broadest set of compliance certifications https://bit.ly/2XHlvsG and attestations in the industry,” adds Khalidi. “We look forward to supporting more African enterprises in their cloud journeys and offering a trusted path to digital transformation.”

An investment in Africa

With a network of over 10,000 local partners – and a nearly 30-year history of operating on the continent – the new datacentres form part of Microsoft’s ongoing investment to enable digital transformation across Africa.

In 2013, Microsoft launched its 4Afrika Initiative https://bit.ly/1MvSWDJ, working with governments, partners, start-ups and youth to develop more affordable access to the internet, 21st century skills, and locally relevant technology. Recently, this included a partnership with FirstBank Nigeria to expand cloud services and digital educational platforms to SME customers.

In Kenya, Microsoft is expanding FarmBeats https://bit.ly/2ay54sG, an end-to-end approach to help farmers benefit from technology. FarmBeats strives to enable data-driven farming, bringing together traditional knowledge, intuition and data to help increase farm productivity and yields.

On the skills development front, Microsoft has established a network of over 800 Microsoft Imagine Academies, offering students of various age groups direct training in the technology field. Together with the African Development Bank, Microsoft is also rolling out `Coding for Employment` to create 25 million jobs and reach 50 million youth and women across Africa.

“We’re working with partners to accelerate cloud readiness and adoption in Africa, ensuring enterprises can deliver services to market faster, businesses can make more data-driven decisions, and governments can better connect with citizens,” adds Youssry. “As we connect more businesses to Azure, we’re seeing heightened innovation in the cloud and start-ups expanding their services to new markets. The combination of Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure with the new regions in Africa will now connect businesses with even more opportunity and customers across the globe.”

Azure is the first of Microsoft’s intelligent cloud services to be delivered from the new datacentres in South Africa. Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity solution, is anticipated to be available by the third quarter of calendar year 2019, while Dynamics 365, the next generation of intelligent business applications, is anticipated in the fourth quarter.

-Microsoft

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GSMA Report Reveals The Gender Gap In Mobile Internet Use Is Shrinking, Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

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GSMA Report: An estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet last year across low- and middle-income countries, despite the onset of COVID-19, according to the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report published today.

Nevertheless, 234 million fewer women than men access mobile internet. Moreover, the underlying gender gap in mobile ownership persists and is proving difficult to close.

Affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills, and lower awareness of mobile internet are critical and common barriers for women. Structural inequalities in society and discriminative social norms also remain a challenge. Even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy, and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet.

The report further revealed that a record number of women in South Asia now use mobile internet services, helping shrink the gender gap to 15% from 19% last year in low- and middle-income countries.

The gains in South Asia, which had the most significant gender gap in 2019 with women 50% less likely than men to use mobile internet, masked the stagnation in other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Women in both regions now face a similar gender gap in mobile internet use – 37% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 36% in South Asia.

Women were more likely than men to access the internet exclusively via mobile in almost all markets surveyed. In Kenya, for example, 63% of male internet users said they only used the internet via a mobile device compared to 79% of females. This reliance by women on mobile demonstrates the disproportionate benefit of increasing their access.

“If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, of the GSMA. “I urge policymakers, the private sector and the international community to take note of the important findings laid out in the Mobile Gender Gap Report because only concerted action and collaboration will enable women and their families to reap the full benefits of connectivity.”

The GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyse action to close the mobile gender gap. Mobile operators continued to make commitments during 2020, with 40 mobile operators across Africa, Asia and Latin America making formal commitments to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women since 2016. These operators have already reached more than 40 million additional women with mobile internet or mobile money services.

The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021 is available at: https://www.gsma.com/r/gender-gap/ 

Further information on the Connected Women Commitment Initiative can be found at: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/connected-women/the-commitment/

 

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OWS Capital Launches Glassie In The Middle East Region

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Glassie Co-founder Neels Visser (Press Release and Images: Adlink PR)

Glassie, LA-based start-up unveiled its personalized mobile screen protectors earlier this year and instantly caught the attention of celebrities such Adriana Lima, Delilah Belle Hamlin, Presley Gerber, Winnie Harlow, and Dubai favorite Fai Khadra amongst many more.

What’s made the Glassie brand popular so quickly is its dual functionality. The protective mobile screen covers feature tempered glass screen protectors as well as a personalized message that disappears once your phone screen lights up.

OWS Capital choose Glassie as its first tech collab due to its innovative appeal. Glassie co-founder, model-turned-entrepreneur, Neels Visser’s simplistic, essential yet funky product has immediately become a must-have accessory.

“As I came up with the concept for Glassie, I wanted to find a way to introduce something new and exciting to the consumer electronics industry that has not been done before. Understanding that mobile phones are the most valuable real estate…I wanted to find a way to innovate a user’s connection and experience with their phone,” explains Visser.

Middle Eastern consumers will soon be able to get their own personalized premium glass protector screen covers for US$39.99. Michael Cardone, Director of OWS Capital said: “Personalization is the direction that most brands are going for now. This ability to create a sense of togetherness is what we at OWS Capital love most about it, as it taps into our brand mission of creating a sense of synergy between Middle Eastern and Western cultures, using unique business ventures.”

‘Your phone is your world. Your wallet will thank you’ – that’s the simple yet trendy solution Glassie is offering all its customers.

(L-R) Delilah Belle Hamlin, Elisha Herbert and Meredith Mickelson with their personalized Glassie screen protectors. (Press Release and Images: Adlink PR)

Watch this space for more cool concepts being introduced in the Middle East by OWS Capital.

 

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AI for Good Global Summit founder Stephen Ibaraki confirmed as AI Expo Africa 2021 keynote speaker

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AI for Good Global Summit founder, Stephen Ibaraki (Source: AI Expo Africa)

AI for Good Global Summit founder, Chairman of the AI for Good Outreach Committee, industry analyst, venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Stephen Ibaraki has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE which takes place 7th to 9th September.

Ibaraki is the first VIP keynote speaker to be confirmed for AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE. In his keynote address, entitled, “5th Machine Age Driving Digital Reshaping” he intends to explore the “Society 5.0” and “Smart Humanity”.

Ibaraki who is a 16 time recipient of the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award, most recently in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) category, is also the chairman and managing general partner of REDDS Capital. In addition to more than 300 awards and recognitions as well as over 300 global engagements impacting over $100-trillion in sustainable investments, Ibaraki is also a contributor for IT World Canada and Forbes on issues around AI.

Ibaraki’s keynote abstract states, “In popular stories about Chaos Theory, the wing beats of a butterfly in Geneva, are connected to the violent storms in your hometown in Africa. Global ecosystems, all interconnected thus force multiplied and amplified, are at an historical inflection point. These are founded on technology acceleration, with more disruption in 5 years, than the last 10,000 years. This Digital Reshaping will forever change governments, industry, academia, education, investments, startups, media, society, culture, our lives and our children’s future. What will the world look like, advanced by Smart Humanity, Society 5.0, 5th Machine Age, AI and innovation trends addressing global challenges and opportunities? What are the exponential change making innovations you must track, implement, and resources you must use to ensure success and not failure during these chaotic next five years?

Now entering it’s fourth successful year, AI Expo Africa is Africa’s largest B2B / B2G AI, RPA and 4IR smart tech trade event and conference, with the 2021 edition building to be the biggest yet with over 5000 delegates registering interest and expected to join the three-day online event.

Dr Nick Bradshaw, founder of AI Expo Africa and CEO of AI Media Group commented, “It’s a real honour to welcome Stephen as one of our VIP keynote speakers.  We have been working with the ITU, Geneva since 2019 around partnering with the global AI4Good movement and the Africa region and this is another great commitment towards growing collaborations around AI4Good in our region. This announcement follows the recent conclusion of the first African focused ITU AI4Good Innovation Factory Challenge that received 44 applications from 12 African countries & 5 finalists using AI-powered innovation for diverse sectors in Africa covering Fintech, Agritech, Cleantech, and Insurtech.”

Over 30 organisations have so far signed up to exhibit at the expo. These include headline event partner Intel, Darktrace, Future Tech, Automation Anywhere partner 1ai, The Embassy of Switzerland in South Africa, InstaDeep, Aizatron, IBA Group, Zindi, Versus, Comparisure, Robotiq AI Africa, ecosystem Ai, Cognizance, Inspired Testing, Atura, Amathuba AI, COGO People Analytics, Elzware, WizzPass, Fliptin, Kosa AI, Learning Machines, Social Lab, Ashanti AI, and Curacel.  In all about 80 speakers will make up the speaker list at AI Expo Africa 2021 ONLINE, with more keynotes set to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

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