Microsoft Airband Initiative GM, Vickie Robinson (Article: Microsoft)
Microsoft is announcing new and expanded Airband partnerships set to provide high-speed internet access to nearly 40 million people across Latin America and Africa. These partnerships in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala and Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda mark significant progress in our commitment to extend high-speed internet access to 250 million people living in unserved and underserved areas around the world, including 100 million in Africa.
Across both Latin America and Africa, limited access to broadband can mean that people have fewer opportunities to develop the digital fluency and skills needed to participate in the digital economy.
At Microsoft, we believe that internet access and meaningful connectivity is a fundamental right. The Microsoft Airband initiative was launched to bring transformative connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Through the Airband initiative and its partners, Microsoft is serving as a catalyst to enable affordable access to connectivity, specifically focusing on regions with lower digital connectivity rates.
Connecting communities across Latin America
In recent years, about 37 percent of Latin Americans in rural areas have connectivity options, compared with 71% of the urban population. Airband together with Wayfree in Guatemala, Fundacion Pais Digital in Chile, Brisanet in Brazil, and Anditel in Colombia will deliver 18 million people with access to high-speed internet.
Latin America combines thriving urban cities and rural areas with vast cultural heritage sites, however, like most places, there are unique challenges in advancing connectivity in certain regions. With greater access to the internet, Airband through its partners, hope to address societal issues, such as employment and education that can be strengthened through greater connectivity.
- Brazil: Airband is expanding our footprint to Brazil, the largest market in Latin America, as part of our new partnership with Brisanet. Working with Microsoft and NGOs like Amigos do Bem and Mais Unidos, Brisanet will extend high-speed internet access to more than 11 million people and support social and economic development in low-income regions of the country.
- Chile: Fundación País Digital is a nonprofit organization working to develop Chile’s digital economy, expand connectivity, and improve digital literacy throughout the country. Through their newest initiative, Programa Conectando Territorios, Fundación País Digital will expand connectivity to rural and underserved areas in two regions: the Biobío Region in central Chile, which has been significantly impacted by earthquakes; and the Antofagasta Region, known for its mining industry. With Airband support, in addition to connectivity, the program will target economic opportunities through training and employing local community members to maintain the new networks and will bring internet access to an additional one million people by the end of 2025.
- Colombia: Our commitment with longtime partner Anditel to provide coverage for more than 600,000 people in five years has gone well ahead of plan. To date we have nearly doubled that target and are now expanding our partnership to cover an additional three million people by the end of 2025. Partnering with the Colombian government on ICT 360, the national connectivity program, Anditel aims to cover 85% of Colombians by 2026.
- Guatemala: Wayfree is the leading provider of Internet connectivity in Guatemala. They are deploying wireless access zones in towns and villages, already covering over 40 percent of the 340 Guatemalan municipalities with the goal of making universal wireless internet access a reality. Airband’s support will catalyze deployments in the remaining municipalities in Guatemala and ultimately provide three million people with access to high-speed internet coverage by the end of 2025.
Crossing the continent of Africa
Our efforts on the African continent are some of our most longstanding and farthest reaching. Today many African nations are rising economic powers, but on a continent with so many vast rural areas, delivering connectivity can be a challenge. On average Africa has a 40 percent internet usage rate. Partnerships are key to the success of the Airband model, and we are building upon our existing partnerships in Africa, including with Mawingu and Tizeti.
- Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda: Microsoft Airband’s relationship with Kenyan service provider Mawingu began in 2014 with a pilot in Nanyuki and has since expanded to deliver high-speed internet access to four million Kenyans living in rural areas. Mawingu was Airband’s first partner, and thanks to the public-partnership model, today the company is Kenya’s leading internet service provider dedicated to rural and peri-urban markets. This latest expansion of our partnership with Mawingu will bring coverage to an incremental 16 million people across Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda by the end of 2025, ultimately covering a total of 20 million people.
Mawingu provides meaningful internet access to locations throughout Kenya, such as hotspots, vocational schools and businesses. Just one example of Airband’s partnership has resulted in the deployment of more than 700 hotspots and connectivity for more than 100 primary schools, enabling community members to access digital skills training and essential education materials. The company has also partnered with Unilever and Microsoft Philanthropies to provide access and skills to female entrepreneurs.
- Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire: Airband partner Tizeti has brought coverage to more than 900,000 people in Nigeria, expanding from Lagos to focus on underserved states across the country. Microsoft and Tizeti are expanding this partnership to Cote d’Ivoire, a cultural crossroads of West Africa, to bring internet access to almost 5 million people. Given that electricity is frequently unavailable, insufficient or unreliable in many parts of Africa, this expansion of our partnership includes infrastructure support and deployment of eight solar powered towers to help provide connectivity to households, small businesses and hotspots. This access will empower greater access to education, healthcare, and employment.
Bringing more digital opportunities to more people
Through partnering with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, organizations have additional support to create the infrastructure needed to provide connectivity support in many different ecosystems that ultimately drives self-empowerment and sustainable development and growth. These partnerships are essential in providing local expertise and experience to help achieve a greater goal tied to what can be harnessed with the support of connectivity.
As technology, like AI, advances, being connected provides a path forward to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.
Electric Vehicles and the Future of Service Stations
Electric cars have been gaining popularity in recent years as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. As more and more people make the switch to electric cars, it raises the question of what the future holds for gas stations. In this blog post, we will explore the potential impact of electric cars on gas stations and how they might evolve to meet the changing needs of consumers.
Electric cars have come a long way since their inception, with advancements in technology and infrastructure making them more accessible and practical for everyday use. With zero tailpipe emissions and lower operating costs, electric cars offer a greener and more economical transportation solution. As a result, the demand for electric vehicles has been steadily increasing, leading to a surge in sales and production.
Challenges for Gas Stations
As the number of electric cars on the road continues to grow, gas stations may face some significant challenges. With fewer customers needing traditional fuel, gas stations may experience a decline in revenue. Additionally, the need for charging infrastructure will become more prevalent, requiring gas stations to adapt and invest in electric vehicle charging stations.
To stay relevant in the era of electric cars, gas stations will need to undergo a transformation. They can consider incorporating electric vehicle charging stations alongside traditional fuel pumps. This diversification will allow gas stations to cater to both electric and gasoline-powered vehicles, ensuring they remain a convenient stop for all types of motorists.
One of the key factors in the success of electric cars is the availability of charging infrastructure. Gas stations can play a crucial role in this by installing fast-charging stations that can replenish an electric car’s battery in a matter of minutes. This will encourage more people to adopt electric cars, knowing that they can easily find a charging station on their journeys.
Gas stations can also explore partnerships with automakers to provide exclusive charging services for their electric vehicle customers. By teaming up with manufacturers, gas stations can offer branded charging stations and loyalty programs, creating a unique selling point that sets them apart from competitors.
As the demand for traditional fuel decreases, gas stations can consider diversifying their offerings by providing additional services. This could include amenities such as electric vehicle maintenance, battery swapping, or even hosting electric car events. By embracing the electric vehicle market, gas stations can adapt and thrive in the changing automotive landscape.
The rise of electric cars presents both challenges and opportunities for gas stations. While the need for traditional fuel may decline, the demand for charging infrastructure is on the rise. By adapting their business models, investing in charging infrastructure, and exploring partnerships with automakers, gas stations can play a vital role in supporting the transition to electric vehicles. The future of gas stations may look different, but with innovation and forward-thinking, they can remain an essential part of our transportation infrastructure.
PHD Media Unveils Ocular, Research Tool for Real-Time Data Analysis
PHD Media, one of the world’s fastest growing media and communication agency networks, and part of the Omnicom Media Group has launched an innovative proprietary cloud-based media data tool, Ocular, that answers age-long questions that clients have asked around the recency of the data used in the industry.
Ocular, the result of two years of continuous research aimed at closing some of the gaps that exists within the current industry tool, with unparalleled features that surpass what already exists within the sector, was launched at a well-attended stakeholder’s event at the Lagos Marriott Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, 7 November 2023.
The Managing Director of PHD Media, Mr. Dozie Okafor, said with Ocular, powered by 2,800 active respondents surveyed daily, businesses can glean insights into consumer habits and lots more to help make better decisions for their marketing activities. He said Ocular is designed to be a seamless tool such that it is accessible on devices and smartphones, with the ability to collect responses from respondents using Short Message Service (SMS), Mobile web and APP.
Okafor stated that surveys currently cover seven key markets with an ongoing commitment to quickly scale this up to include more markets over the coming months as subscriptions increase.
On the unique features, the PHD Media honcho explained that a client can deploy custom surveys relating to its business anytime on the platform, and can analyse not just the product/services, but can leverage the deep insights on the platform to also look into consumer habits.
“Parameters like social media and internet, video-on-demand, and any new trend can be added to it. There are also bespoke capabilities to enable clients to conduct focus groups, dipstick research, as well as other services relating to their businesses, and quickly,” he explained.
Features available in the cutting-edge solution which are currently in others include audience demographics, audience profiling, psychographic analysis, product usage and consumption analysis, and media consumption habit analysis.The different features are real-time data, bespoke surveys, qualitative audience surveys, brand health checks, ad (asset) testing, and Client access to a real-time dashboard.
On her part, the Research Lead at PHD Media, Mrs. Cornelia Babatunde, pointed out that clients can conduct pre-campaign, during-campaign, and post-campaign surveys with Ocular, likewise dive deeper into an understanding of consumer behaviour using the Market Research Online Community (MROC) feature.
Also, at the launch were panel discussions involving the Digital and Media Manager West Africa, Pernod Ricard, Ojie Arthur Ehianeta; Marketing Lead Nigeria, Lipton Tea and Infusions, Motunrayo Babalola; Head of Marketing, Kingmakers, Oludare Kafar; Media Manager, West Africa, Unilever Nigeria, Oge Maduagwu; and Head of Marketing, HPZ – Haier Thermocool, James Odejimi; who stated that the introduction of Ocular was timely, as it encompasses the data required by companies to improve their business advantageously.
According to Motunrayo Babalola, data helps in understanding, planning, and evaluating issues relating to the implementation of set objectives. Ojie Arthur Ehianeta said PHD is in the right direction with Ocular and that if the data is gotten right, Ocular should be extended to the rest of the industry and not just be a PHD tool; while Oludare Kafar stated that data helps in making informed decisions and enables the benefits of investments. James Odejimi averred “Data gives us insights into what we do.” Others affirmed that real-time data is crucial for the growth of any sector, and they all applauded PHD Media for the novel innovation embedded in Ocular.
PHD is known globally as an innovator in communications planning and buying across broadcast, print, digital, mobile, social, and emerging media. PHD’s performance at the 2023 Pitcher Awards is evidence of the agency’s outstanding commitment for strategic planning and innovation, having secured an impressive tally of ten awards.
The Gig Economy Today: Leveraging Blockchain and AI
The gig economy, characterised by short-term contracts and freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs, has seen explosive growth facilitated by technological advances. In particular, two technological juggernauts – blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are reshaping how gig work functions, promising a more efficient, secure, and equitable marketplace. This fusion could not only redefine how we work but also lay new groundwork for the future digital economy.
The Gig Economy Today: A Landscape Ripe for Revolution
Traditionally, the gig economy has hinged on platforms like Uber, Airbnb, and Fiverr, which connect freelancers with opportunities. Despite their popularity, these platforms often face criticism over high fees, payment security, and opaque dispute resolution processes. This is where AI and blockchain step in as game-changers.
Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, offers decentralised and secure ledger systems. For the gig economy, this means several transformative changes:
- Direct, Secure Payments: By using cryptocurrencies for transactions, payments can be processed without the need for traditional banking, reducing fees and increasing security. Smart contracts – self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code – ensure automatic and conditional payments, dependent on the fulfilment of agreed-upon work, reducing the scope of disputes and delays.
- Transparent Work Histories: Blockchain can provide a transparent, unchangeable record of a freelancer’s work history and reviews. Unlike current platforms where profiles can be manipulated, blockchain’s immutable records ensure reliability and authenticity, helping employers to hire with confidence.
- Decentralization and Ownership: By decentralizing the marketplace, blockchain takes power away from centralized platforms, reducing unfair censorship or control. It also hands back ownership of personal data to the individuals, aligning with growing demands for data privacy and control.
AI’s role in revolutionizing the gig economy is no less impactful, particularly in personalized job matching and enhancing work efficiency:
- Personalized Job Matching: AI algorithms can analyze a freelancer’s skills, work history, and preferences to match them with the best-suited gigs. Unlike traditional methods, this reduces the time spent searching for and applying to irrelevant jobs, increasing efficiency and job satisfaction.
- Enhanced Productivity Tools: AI-powered tools help freelancers manage tasks, track time, and optimize their workflow, effectively increasing their productivity. Predictive analytics can help in forecasting workload and income, aiding better financial and time management.
- Dynamic Pricing Models: AI can analyze market rates, skill demand, and job complexity to suggest dynamic pricing, helping freelancers in setting competitive yet fair rates for their services.
The integration of blockchain and AI in the gig economy isn’t just a futuristic concept; it’s already underway. Companies like Upwork and Freelancer.com are exploring blockchain for secure transactions and reputation management, while AI continues to refine the art of job matching on these platforms.
However, challenges remain, including the digital divide, the need for robust AI ethics, and the energy consumption concerns associated with blockchain technologies. Tackling these will require concerted efforts from tech developers, policy makers, and the freelance community itself.
As we step into this new era of gig work, blockchain and AI stand as pillars that promise to build a more transparent, fair, and efficient marketplace. Their convergence could well redefine not just how we work or get paid, but also how trust and reputation are built in the digital freelance economy. The future of work in the gig economy, powered by these technologies, looks not only promising but also excitingly inclusive, bringing us closer to a world where work is more about talent and merit, less about control and intermediaries.