This year the Tech in Ghana event has moved its London-based event to coincide with London Tech Week, allowing the 55,000 attendees to get a taste of the Ghanaian tech ecosystem first hand. Those new to Ghana may not appreciate the speed of change in the country nor the degree to which tech-focused services are fuelling growth. There’s significant room for expansion in the economy – a young population that ‘skipped’ a tech generation straight to smartphones. The use of mobile money and e-commerce is normal for these consumers and not a ‘thing for tomorrow’. Below GSMA Intelligence lead Kenechi Okeleke talks about some of the reasons why Ghana is on the cusp of a step change in tech:
Below sources: GSMA / HOOTSUITE
With the Ghanaian economy posting some of the fastest growth in the world over the last 2 years, the government are keen to attract and diversify inward investment into the economy.
“We’re looking to make Ghana the best place to do business – technology is critical to our economy and we need to focus on it even more going forwards.”
Three Reasons Why Ghana
1. Ghana is seeing its ‘weaknesses’ as a tech opportunity.
It may look small on the map but try getting across the country and you’ll see that for many rural inhabitants, accessing services is no easy matter. This geographical isolation leads to poverty and low growth. Agriculture employs over 40% of the population, but represents only 18% of GDP in 2017 (down 14% points since 2009). Farming is riven by low productivity, and high costs of non-farming related expenditure. Weather patterns, yield optimisation and market prices are all ‘luxury’ items beyond the reach of many. Most of these smallholder farmers live and work in remote rural communities that have poor internet connectivity, poor road networks and low levels of education.
Step forward Farmerline which combines digital technology with 200+ field agents who deliver information and resources to smallholder farmers. They aim to help farmers increase productivity and yield, generate more profit and build sustainable businesses. They do this by offering inputs such as location-specific weather forecasts, market prices and good agricultural practices suited for the specific crops they grow; all made available through mobile voice messages in the farmer’s preferred local language. All this information is managed and shared from their bespoke Mergdata platform. The platform creates digital profiles for farmers which allows them to receive value-added services such as receiving inputs and advice on credit. This gives farmers immediate access to farming inputs which they can pay for at a later date.
Mergdata offers decentralized traceability, certification audit, farm mapping, farmer education, and analytics solutions to help organisations that work with farmers achieve their sustainability and food security goals efficiently. We’ve collected insights from 200,000+ farmers in 13 countries, and mapped over 1m acres of farmland. Over the next three years, Farmerline plans to leverage technology to connect over 126,000 farmers in Ghana to extension services. We also have an ambitious goal of reaching and transforming the lives and work of 1.3 million farmers directly and through partnerships by 2023.
Amos Olerty Wussah, Senior Consultant at Farmerline
By increasing farmers’ access to resources and increasing other players’ access to farmers, Farmerline aims to increase the quantity and quality of the global food supply.
2. Ghana is a leading tech nation not just a developing one.
Those that have not been to Ghana might not realise how easy it is to get by without touching physical cash – mobile money can suffice in everything from taxi’s to school fees. Beyond the mass consumer tech jump is also a movement to modernise how SME’s operate. Once such example is Jetstream, a cloud-based web platform which consolidates international freight shipments and cross-border shipping.
African SME’s pay the highest rates globally to import and export cargo in shipping containers. Often, they have no visibility into basic things like transit times, landed costs, and the physical whereabouts of their shipments. What they cannot see, they cannot control. When it comes to the unglamorous work of moving physical goods from A to B across borders, there is a fundamental lack of coordination between the thousands of customs agents, shipping lines, freight forwarders, and truckers who comprise cross-border supply chains in Africa.
Jetstream’s tech platform, combined with real-world coordination with third-party logistics providers in Africa (customs agents, shipping lines etc.) is designed to solve the SME’s entire logistics problem; being only point of contact that they need when they trade across borders.
With Jetstream, B2B cross-border trade from Africa is converging with eCommerce logistics.
Say you’re a farmer or factory owner in Africa. You shouldn’t have to become an expert in tariff rates and sailing schedules in order to move 5 tonnes of dried cassava from Ghana to Malaysia, or to buy fertilizer from India, for example, and know the full cost beforehand.
We create that level of convenience and transparency by putting the fragmented pieces of the supply chain together. You book a shipment on our online platform the same way you would book an airline ticket. You give us details about where your cargo is going, where it is from, and the info we need to clear it through customs. Jetstream then takes that online information and dispatches orders to our network of third party logistics providers — from customs agents to shipping lines — who physically execute the shipment.
Miishe Addy Co-founder, CEO at Jetstream Africa
Based in Accra, Jetstream claim to have 2 million kilograms of cargo in their pipeline from their HQ in Ghana; with a view to expanding their physical footprint to Lagos and other African port cities by 2020.
3. Digitising trade means more than offering aid.
Some were taken aback in 2017 when newly elected President Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo declared Ghana as ‘moving beyond aid’, but this mindset has placed Ghana on the side of reform and a growing belief in economic self-determination.
The African continent when you look at its resources, should be giving monies to other places…We need to have a mindset that says we can do it…and once we have that mindset we’ll see there’s a liberating factor for ourselves.
President Nana Akufo-Addo
This sentiment is shared by many of the countries entrepreneurs, such as Founder and CEO Samuel Tettey Amanor who runs BlueSPACE Africa Technologies in Accra. Thanks to the recently signed AfCFTA trade treaty, the company will create a linkage with Banks/Insurance/and Trade partners to spur growth on the continent; increasing cross-border payments & FX businesses for companies in Ghana and across Africa.
How can it be that intra-African trade is only 12%, when intra-EU trade is at 68% for example? Those walls and restrictions are coming down and technology is driving that based on the landmark political decision to work together across the continent. With our BlueSPACE (BlueTRADE Platform), we’re fully supporting the aim of increasing intra-African trade by as much as $35 billion per year by 2022 as stated in the last meeting BlueSPACE represented with IMF officials.
Samuel Tettey Amanor Founder & CEO BlueSPACE Africa Technologies
52 of 55 nations across Africa have now signed the treaty and this is allowing entrepreneurs to see their own region in a new light. At a company level, it addresses the challenge of a business operator exporting goods to an African counterpart with an average rate of protection of around 12.4% compared to 8.4% when exporting overseas.
Ghana still has a long walk ahead. Countries such as Malaysia and South Korea have all found the ‘middle income trap’ a challenge to navigate with mixed success. For it to thrive in the coming years, it will need sustained reforms, forward thinking institutions and a corruption free platform for inward investment. With a bullish young and educated population, a proven democracy and an ever-more-influential diaspora the ingredients are there for greater diversification of the economy.
Founder of Tech in Ghana, Akosua Annobil is keen to widen the interest in Ghana from the diaspora to the mainstream Tech scene – and London Tech Wekk offers that visibility.
What might surprise many observers is how international the Tech in Ghana event is. By holding this year’s event within London Tech Week, we’ve seized the opportunity to further internationalise and widen participation. Whether you’re an American based Venture Capitalist or a European tech start up looking to expand, our event is a window to an economy that is booming, and sincerely pushing the tech agenda in both the public and private sectors. Ghana is a entry point to a continent that offers stability among a whole region of growth. It’s tech-based businesses that offer many of the solutions to unlocking those opportunities in the coming years, which is why this event is so important.
CRITAC: A Must Know Scientific Research Center In Africa Founded By This Young African Ghanaian Scientist, Dr. Kester Quist Aphetsi
The Center for Research, Information, Technology and Advanced Computing founded by the Young African Ghanaian Scientist, Dr. Kester Quist Aphetsi. RANK 1ston Clarivate Analytics in Ghana for its good scientific research.
Over the years,CRITAC has been providing webinars, workshops, seminars and tech-news. They feature distinguished speakers from professional bodies, academia and industry on their programs.
Their research laboratories are led by top research scientists, industrial experts and research studentswith research laboratories in different domains necessary for the execution of the projects they undertake.
Reports and works from CRITACare published withreputable publishers such as ACM, IEEE, Springer, Elsevier, Taylors and Francis, Emerald etc with indexing at Thompson Reuters and Scopus. One can accesstheir current research works and reports with the above-mentioned publishers.
Engaging CRITAC means engaging some of the best minds with the expertise of providing timely solutions to problems leveraging on innovation and ingenuity in delivering results.
Their Research and Development programs are revolutionary breakthroughs in areas such as cyber security, big data, artificial intelligence, embedded systems, networked systems and software, and the application of such technologies to diverse fields in business, science, engineering, education, government etc.
Amongst the countless Scientific Research Conference organised by CRITAC is the recent ended 2019 ICSIoT Conference at the Ghana Technology University that gathers students, professionals, Researchers, Scientists, Security Organisations, Military Personnel’s, Police and the likes.
Credit: Abigail Oppong
Egypt hosts ‘Seamless North Africa 2019’ to discuss latest trends in Financial Technology
CAIRO – June 2019: For the second consecutive year, Central Bank of Egypt will host on the 17th and 18th June 2019, the FinTech Conference “Seamless North Africa 2019”, under the auspices of H.E the Prime Minister, Dr. Mostafa Madbouly, and with the participation of the most renowned international and local experts in the field of financial technology, e-payments and e-commerce.
The conference is held in collaboration with the Council of Arab Economic Unity and the League of Arab States, and is co-organized by the Egyptian Banking Institute (EBI).
Partakers will represent influencing and well recognized entities, institutions, banks and international companies, that cover multiple sectors of banking, finance and e-commerce, aiming to discuss and evaluate the role played by new technologies and strategies to cater for improved services to citizens and consumers across the Arab world.
Ms. Lobna Helal, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, affirmed that “hosting the conference for the second year in a row reflects the tremendous success achieved by SEAMLESS 2018 in its first edition, emphasizing that “The Central Bank of Egypt’s hosting of the Conference stems from the premise of its pioneering role to communicate with society and address the challenges facing the expansion of innovative financial products and services. The role played by the Central Bank is no longer limited to the regulatory and organizational aspects, but has extended to support and incentivize the society to be less cash dependent and to sustain the transition towards financial inclusion, Under the umbrella of the National Payments Council, which is privileged with the chairmanship of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. ”
Eng. Ayman Hussein, Sub-Governor of the Central Bank for the Payment Systems and Information Technology Sector, has stated that “The conference has attained escalating importance derived from the leading role played by FinTech in providing, efficient, effective and affordable financial and banking services to meet the diverse timely and logistical needs of customers, thus creating an enabling environment and improving accessibility to the general public, appointing financial technology as a key pillar of financial inclusion and a fundamental supporter of economic growth, accordingly, achieving benefits on the individual and state levels”.
The conference will discuss the challenges that face Egypt’s emerging FinTech eco-system, in the areas of microfinance, microcredit, cross-border payments, remittances, data analysis, artificial intelligence for retail banking, cybersecurity and the SME credit score.
He also mentioned that the conference supports innovation in FinTech, whereas it will feature a pitch off competition for Fintech startups, whereas candidates will compete for a grant of USD 50,000 in cash awarded by an international sponsoring company. Competitors will present their new business model or innovative Fintech solution in front of a panel, composed of leading Egyptian and international experts.
Dr. Rasha Negm, General manager Fintech & innovation has added that “The conference will incorporate several panel discussions, interviews, presentations and workshops revolving around the latest trends and innovations in financial technology. An exhibition of more than 50 leading technology and innovative solution providers will be held on the sidelines of the conference, which avails an opportunity to learn about the latest innovations in the Fintech field”.
– EGYPT TODAY
IBM expands its Quantum Computing Program to Africa with Wits University
DURBAN – IBM has launched the expansion of its quantum computing efforts to Africa in a new collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits University) in South Africa.
Wits University is the first African partner on the IBM Q Network and will be the gateway for academics across South Africa and to the 15 universities who are part of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA).
“This is the latest outcome of the joint partnership between IBM Research and Wits, which started in 2016 when IBM opened its second lab in Africa in Wits University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Johannesburg. To expand the IBM Q Network to include Wits will drive innovation in frontier-technologies and benefit African-based researchers, academics and students who now have access to decades of quantum computing capabilities at the click of a button,” said Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Wits Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs.
Quantum computing promises to be able to solve certain problems – such as chemical simulations and types of optimization – that will forever be beyond the practical reach of classical machines. IBM first made quantum computers available to the public in May 2016 through its IBM Q Experience quantum cloud service and has doubled the power of its quantum computers annually since 2017.
IBM established the IBM Q Network™, a community of Fortune 500 companies, startups, academic institutions and research labs working with IBM to advance quantum computing and explore practical applications for business and science.
Researchers at Wits will investigate the use of quantum computing and machine learning in the fields of cosmology and molecular biology with a specific focus on HIV drug discovery. The teams will also jointly study quantum teleportation, a field pioneered by IBM Fellow Charles Bennett.
“For Africa to remain competitive for the coming decades we must get the next generation of students quantum ready,” said Dr. Solomon Assefa, Vice President, Emerging Market Solutions and Director, IBM Research – Africa.
As part of the partnership between IBM and Wits, scholars from sixteen ARUA universities will have the opportunity to apply for access to IBM Q’s most-advanced quantum computing systems and software for teaching quantum information science and exploring early applications.
To gain access to the IBM Q quantum cloud service, ARUA scholars will be required to submit quality research proposals to a scientific committee of Wits and IBM experts for approval.
“Having access to IBM Q is pivotal for Wits University’s cross-disciplinary research program and allows our researchers in quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and in the broad natural sciences, including in laser technology, quantum optics and molecular design, to leverage the next level of discovery research. It’s envisioned that the first results from this collaboration will be forthcoming in the next two years,” said Vilakazi.
IBM’s recently unveiled IBM Q System One, is the world’s first integrated universal approximate quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use.
IBM’s most advanced universal quantum computing systems available through the IBM Q Experience platform. More than 10 million experiments have run on the IBM Q Experience and users have published over 160 third-party research papers. Also, developers can work with Qiskit, a full-stack, open-source quantum software development kit, to create and run quantum computing programs.
To further increase skills development, IBM Q is hosting an invite-only Qiskit Camp in South Africa this December for 200 quantum researchers and computer scientists where they will learn in an immersive environment and receive hands-on training.
The agreement with Wits was signed in April 2019.
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