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South Korea ready to partner with Africa on technology

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“A win-win proposition” – Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

SEOUL, Republic of Korea, February 7, 2019/ — In partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB.org), Korea is ready to step up technology transfers to Africa, officials said in Seoul today.

Speaking at a meeting on potential technology partnerships between Korea and Africa, representatives of Busan Metropolitan City, Busan Techno Park, and Korea’s Green Technology Center said there was huge potential for cooperation and immense opportunities for job-creating bankable projects.

The range of business options include agriculture, green growth, smart urban transportation management, and numerous business opportunities.

President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina says, “the Future is going to be an exponentially different future,” and that the Bank intends to “explore the creation of a strategic partnership with Korea that could lead to the creation of a Korea-Africa research and training Drone Center, that could help pave the way for Africa’s 4th Industrial Revolution.”

According to Hyung-Ju Kim, Director, Global Strategy Division, Green Technology Center, “Korean expertise can provide a practical and pragmatic solution to a wide range of Africa’s most pressing technology needs: The African Development Bank could play a major role here: if we bring technology to the table, the Bank can identify and facilitate bankable projects that can boost technology cooperation between Africa and Korea.”

With funding from the Korea-Africa Cooperation (KOAFEC) fund, the African Development Bank, in cooperation with Busan Metropolitan City, and the Busan Techno Park, has launched, a pilot project in Tunisia using drone technology to develop agriculture, including data collection and analysis, monitoring irrigated perimeters, aquifers, the effects of climate change, land degradation, biodiversity, filling and siltation of dams, and overall agricultural production.

Korea and the African Development Bank intend to extend the program to other countries and regions in Tunisia and Africa, and explore the massive market potential of industrial zones in other sectors.

Adesina says, “We are determined to expand the use of drones in agriculture in Africa. What we do in Africa today, will determine global food security tomorrow.”

For the President of the African Development Bank, it is important that the technological partnership with Korea translates into capacity building on the ground, through training, so that Africa can industrialize, build or assemble drones.

Busan City’s dominance as a Smart City on the cutting of artificial intelligence is thanks in part to political vision, one of the largest research and development expenditures in the world, and a team of 12,000 researchers and scientists.

Speaking afterwards to the African diplomatic corps in Seoul, Adesina identified three main obstacles to private sector development —access to finance, energy and stability. The Bank has invested $1 billion in AfreximBank, including $ 650 million in trade finance lines of credit and $ 350 million in trade insurance. The Bank has also invested $ 630 million in First Rand Bank and AbSA in South Africa to support expanded access to trade finance for 20 countries.

This financing effort includes small and medium-sized enterprises, which represent more than 80% of businesses in Africa. In this respect, he cited the Asian example, where large companies relied on value chains dominated by SMEs including suppliers and subcontractors. The Bank’s strategy is to develop large companies while connecting them to SMEs for increased value creation.

“Without electricity it is impossible to industrialize Africa,” Adesina said. The Bank has made access to electricity a top priority. Its ‘Desert to Power’ initiative will develop an estimated 10,000 MW in the Sahel region, making it the largest solar project in the world.

Adesina, the head of Africa’s leading development finance institution, says, the Bank’s 2018 Africa Investment Forum in South Africa, “secured investment commitments worth $ 38.7 billion in less than 72 hours, which provides a strong indication of global interest in Africa’s emerging markets.”

Experts say in order for the African Development Bank to continue supporting the continent’s development, a general capital increase is necessary. According to Adesina, an $11 billion increase in paid-in capital for example would significantly change the lives of millions of people, including 105 million who would have access to electricity; 137 million who would benefit from access to improved agricultural technologies; 22 million who would benefit from investments in private sector projects; 151 million with access to improved transportation services; and 110 million who would be provided with access to improved water and sanitation services.

The dean of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank, Abdelmajid Mellouki, estimates that a general capital increase would enable the Bank to provide African countries with funding at significantly lower costs.

Adesina is on a three-day visit to Korea which includes several official visits, and to receive the SunHaK Peace Prize awards for which he and co-laureate, Waris Dirie a well-known activist against female genital mutilation, are the 2019 nominees. This is the first time the SunHak Peace Prize has been awarded to the African continent.

Adesina is expected to deliver a keynote address at the World Peace Summit of Global Leaders on February 9.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

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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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STEMbees: Aburi Girls Senior High School To Represent Ghana at Global Robotics Competition

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STEMbees -Twelve students from the Aburi Girls’ Senior High School in the Eastern region are representing Ghana this year in the 2021 FIRST Global Challenge – the fifth iteration of the global Olympics-style robotics event. This year’s theme, “Discover & Recover,” focuses on overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic by discovering opportunities for innovative recovery and will have participants represented from over 160 countries participating. From social projects to miniature satellites to robot design, teenagers from around the world are required to develop solutions to problems the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.

The all-girls Team Ghana is being mentored by the STEMbees Organisation and will be a part of this virtual season which began on 27 June 2021 and will end on 28 September 2021. There are three main components which are a Solutions challenge, a CubeSat challenge and a Robotics challenge.

In the Solutions Challenge, teams are to innovate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) solutions to local problems resulting from the pandemic in the areas of education, environment, health and economy. Team Ghana’s solution is focused on making biodegradable nose masks from plantain fibres that are more comfortable and do not require strings to wear.

“At STEMbees we encourage young women to become problem solvers using technology. The problem this team identified is that a large number of Ghanaians do not properly dispose of the single-use nose masks. These disposable nose masks are made of polypropylene, which takes a long time to decompose and can carry a wide range of viruses including the coronavirus into water bodies, soil and ultimately to animals and back to us humans if not properly disposed of. Also, many people complain that the masks are uncomfortable to wear, causing them to wear them wrongly or not at all,” shares Angela Koranteng, a co-founder of STEMbees.

It has been discovered that plantain trees are readily available across the country. Often their stems are left to rot after the fruits are harvested. However, these pseudo-stems of plantain trees can be recycled into fiber, reducing wastage, and providing an affordable alternative to cotton to help produce more eco-friendly nose masks.

Aburi Girls SHS Students (Image: Supplied)

“An exciting part about this year’s FIRST Global Challenge is the prototyping of a CubeSat. The girls are designing and building a CubeSat miniature satellite prototype and will launch it into the lower layers of Earth’s atmosphere on 25th September 2021 at their school,” adds Koranteng.

Climate change has made our weather unpredictable with rapidly changing seasons and Team Ghana’s mission for the satellite prototype is weather monitoring (measuring temperature and aerial photos of clouds) as well as assessing air-quality within the Aburi area. Their CubeSat prototype will include a mini-camera, a digital temperature sensor and a laser particle sensor in a 3d printed cube box.

 

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Twitter introduces new feature to automatically block abusive behavior

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Authored by Amer Owaida, Security Writer at ESET (Image: Supplied)

Dubbed Safety Mode, the feature will temporarily block authors of offensive tweets from being able to contact or follow users.

Twitter has unveiled a new feature called Safety Mode, aimed at curbing abusive behavior by autoblocking any unwanted tweets and other forms of online harassment. Currently the feature is available to a handful of users.

“Unwelcome Tweets and noise can get in the way of conversations on Twitter, so we’re introducing Safety Mode, a new feature that aims to reduce disruptive interactions. Starting today, we’re rolling out this safety feature to a small feedback group on iOS, Android, and Twitter.com, beginning with accounts that have English-language settings enabled,” said Twitter in a blog post introducing the new feature.

When the Safety Mode feature is enabled it will briefly block accounts for a period of seven days for using abusive language such as insults or loathsome comments, as well as for sending out repetitive or unsolicited mentions.

Once the feature is turned on, Twitter’s systems will analyze the tweet’s content, the relationship between the tweet’s author and replier, and whether there is a probability of negative engagement. The technology also looks at the relationships; if the user regularly interacts with those accounts or follows them, then it won’t autoblock them.

However, if Twitter’s technology evaluates that the tweets do contain any offensive material, their authors will be autoblocked in short order. This means, temporarily, they won’t be able to follow you, see your tweets, or even contact you using direct messages.

Users will have the option to review the details of flagged tweets and autoblocked accounts from the Safety Mode menu at any time. Additionally, they’ll also receive a notification summarizing this information before each Safety Mode period ends.

That being said, the social media platform concedes that the system isn’t perfect. “We won’t always get this right and may make mistakes, so Safety Mode autoblocks can be seen and undone at any time in your Settings. We’ll also regularly monitor the accuracy of our Safety Mode systems to make improvements to our detection capabilities,” said Twitter.

The social media giant has worked with various partners from its Trust and Safety Council during the development of the new feature. Its main aim is to better protect users by reducing the frequency of hateful comments. In the meantime, it will keep on observing how the new feature operates and will add improvements along the way before it rolls Safety Mode out to all of its users.

Harassment and other forms of abusive behavior on social media have become a perennial problem, and social media platforms have been working hard to stomp it out for some time now. Earlier this year Instagram also rolled out its own set of features aimed at helping prevent cyberbullying.

 

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