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UNDP appoints African tech experts to steer its vision of leveraging 4IR technologies

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UNDP – The United Nations Development Programme announced a Technical Advisory Group comprised of prominent technology experts to steer its “Africa Leading the 4th Industrial Revolution (AL4IR)” initiative. The initiative aims to drive the responsible adoption and use of emerging technologies for Africa’s transformation and growth.

The team of experts, drawn from leading global technology firms such as Google and Uber to inventors, lawyers, activists and social influencers, bring to the initiative a wealth of insights, ideas and expertise in technology-enhanced transformation across several key sectors, including healthcare, governance, education, food systems, elections, access to the internet, mobility and open data for sustainable development.

Through UNDP, the Technical Advisory Group will help steer a vision of strengthening an African-led 4th industrial revolution with a solid and resilient foundation anchored on five key pillars: data, technology infrastructure, skilling revolution, agile governance and sustainable energy. The experts will collectively enhance Africa’s role and leadership within the realm of the 4th industrial revolution through the co-creation of ideas and solutions with institutions and countries within the region.

“UNDP is betting on Africans to take the lead in the 4th industrial revolution. By harnessing and advancing technologies that can steer the continent towards achieving its development goals faster, better and through a greener approach, Africa’s role and leadership in this industrial revolution will not only transform lives and institutions but will also ensure that no one is left behind,” said Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Regional Director for Africa.

Africa’s development is increasingly intertwined with new technologies that fuse the digital, biological, and physical worlds. The COVID-19 crisis presents opportunities for accelerated adoption of technologies – transforming ways of life, communication, governance, learning and work – ushering in a new era of social, economic and governance disruptions.

UNDP views technology not only as a tool but rather as an artefact for sustainable development and an accelerator of resilience.

“If we want to leverage technology for sustainable development and resilience, we must ensure that the foundations for the 4th industrial revolution are firm,” explained Alessandra Casazza, Manager of the UNDP Resilience Hub in Nairobi.

While technology is a driver of socio-economic prosperity, previous industrial revolutions significantly increased inequalities with disproportionate benefits and opportunities for early adopters and damage to our natural world. Therefore, data, energy, internet, skills and agile governance, are anchored on the premise that the 4th industrial revolution must gainfully and meaningfully benefit the African continent. The AL4IR initiative aspires to influence the development and use of technology based on a sound, inclusive and resilient foundation. As the youngest continent globally, Africa’s youth are drivers and creators of innovations and, as a result, are poised to benefit most from new jobs and opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them.

Ensuring that rapid and exponential changes do not exacerbate disparities and knowledge or information gaps (especially between governments and the private sector) could advance progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

UNDP commits to convene, connect and catalyze collaborative actions with partners towards accelerated uptake and responsible use of the 4th industrial revolution technologies for better development decision-making and action.

The 10-member Technical Advisory Group comprises of:

  1. Chrystal Rugege, Managing Director, Center for the 4th Industrial Revolution, Rwanda
  2. Titi Akinsami, Lead, Policy and Government Relations Lead for West and Francophone Africa at Google
  3. Ory Okolloh Mwangi, lawyer, investor and policy advisor
  4. Rapelang Rabana, Rekindled Learning, 4RSA
  5. Davis Adieno, Program Director, Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data (GPSDD)
  6. Eniola Mafe, Lead, 2030Vision, World Economic Forum (WEF)
  7. Babusi Nyoni, designer and inventor
  8. Cezanne Maherali, Head of Policy, Middle East and Africa, UBER
  9. Nnenna Nwakanma, Chief Web Advocate, World Wide Web Foundation
  10. Philip Thigo, Digital Partnerships Advisor, UNDP and Lead, Africa Leading the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Source: UNDP

 

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AVEVA to Showcase World-leading Smart City Solutions at GITEX Technology Week 2021

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AVEVA Head of MEA, Dr. Tariq Aslam (Image: Supplied)

AVEVA, a global leader in industrial software, driving digital transformation and sustainability, today announced that it is participating in GITEX Technology Week 2021 to be held from 17–21 October. Together with its strategic partner, Schneider Electric, AVEVA will demonstrate its AVEVA™ Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities, which seamlessly integrates systems, sites, people and assets for cities of the future, at the Middle East’s largest technology exhibition.

With increasing urbanization, mounting cost pressures, and demand for improved quality of life, there is now a global move towards infrastructure consolidation, upgrade, and continuous improvement of cities. AVEVA’s Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities drives streamlined operational efficiency and reduced energy costs, while promoting adherence to cybersecurity, safety, and regulatory compliance.

Our Unified Operations Center is the command-and-control solution for infrastructure and smart city operators based on an integrative ‘System of Systems’ approach. It can be used to collate information from various data sources to anticipate and resolve problems even before they are presented, coordinate various resources and processes for seamless operation, and generally make more strategic decisions. It converges OT and IT technology into a single pane-of-glass solution, where the operator can effectively monitor and control entire city operations through a ‘City in a Box’ approach as we like to call it,” says Dr Tariq Aslam, Head of MEA, AVEVA.

AVEVA’s Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities and Schneider Electric’s IoT-enabled sustainability platform – EcoStruxure Resource Advisor offer smart city operators a powerful solution. The EcoStruxure Resource Advisor is a best-in-class, AI-assisted, cloud-based solution for managing cross-enterprise energy and sustainability data, which shows how operators can track data across more than 400 categories to have near real-time access to their resource performance.

EcoStruxure is powered by Microsoft Azure enabling integration and interoperability to turn data into meaningful insights. The data is paired with Schneider’s unique approach to energy and sustainability consulting, bringing together technology and expertise, resulting in a “mind-plus-machine” approach to climate action.

“AVEVA, Schneider Electric and Microsoft are accelerating the delivery of smart city innovation across regions. Our unique combination of capabilities helps municipalities capitalize on the power of technology to become more agile, resilient, and sustainable. We plan to demonstrate smart cities in action on our Unified Operations Center with our strategic partners, Schneider Electric and Microsoft on their stands,” Dr Aslam adds.

“We will be showcasing the AVEVA Unified Operations Center for Smart Cities, to demonstrate how technologies such as AI and big data can transform how an urban environment is run to make it more efficient, greener, and better for the public and businesses,” says Ayman Ismail, Industry and Business Development VP, Schneider Electric Gulf Countries. “Digitization and digital technologies will make our cities more efficient and more sustainable, and we must prioritize technology developments as we look to create places to live that improve the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”

It is estimated that by 2030, the world will have 43 megacities, each with more than 10 million inhabitants. Converting existing infrastructure to smart infrastructure is the key to improving cities. With unified data and analytics, smart city operators are empowered with better information, which means they can make more informed decision to optimize operations for the new environment in which they are operating.

AVEVA’s vast portfolio of smart city software solutions span facilities management, utilities, transportation, and data centers. Taking an integrated approach, AVEVA’s solutions enable disparate functions to collect, analyze, and then act on unified and holistic intelligence – supported by the help of real-time data – to enable civic leaders to make better decisions and improve living standards.

Due to the scalability of the solution, Unified Operations Center is ideally suited for not just megacities but also smaller municipalities looking to take an integrated system of systems approach to monitoring and controlling their city operations. AVEVA works with megacities such as London, as well as smaller municipalities with populations of 50,000 or fewer, that are looking to leverage technology to improve sustainability and resilience.

AVEVA will be holding demos of its Unified Operations Center solution on Schneider Electric’s stand H5-B40. Senior representatives from the company will be at GITEX Technology Week 2021 to meet with customers and partners and share their global success stories with them.

 

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Klasha raises $2.4 Million to build technology for cross-border commerce in Africa

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Klasha team (Image: Klasha)

Klasha, a San Francisco based cross-border technology company, today announced that it has raised $2.4 million in seed funding to build technology infrastructure for cross-border commerce in Africa. The investment round was led by Greycroft with participation from Seedcamp, Berrywood Capital, AVG Basecamp Fund, Practical VC, Plug and Play, First Round VC, Expert Dojo, 2.12 Angels, MiLA Capital and angels, including Joe Cross, Ex-Marketing Head at Wise (formerly TransferWise), Santosh Ankola, Ex-Head of Product at TechCrunch and Michael Pennington, Co-founder of Gumtree.

With this investment, Klasha will expand its technology to help international B2B and B2C businesses such as ASOS, Zara, Amazon or Zoom to receive payments seamlessly online in African currencies from consumers across Africa. Klasha’s core technology allows African consumers to pay international online and offline retailers in African currencies while the retailers receive payouts in their dominant currencies, including USD, GBP, EUR. Klasha is currently available in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya and will invest in driving more revenue, growing its current 10,000 customer base, and expanding into new markets with three more African countries set to go live by Q4 this year.

In the past few months, Klasha has continued to power international businesses with the tools they need to grow and expand into Africa. Within five short months of launching, Klasha has already processed more than 20,000 transactions across Africa with an average 366% MoM growth rate.

Klasha has built plugin integrations for WooCommerceOpenCart and BigCommerce. Its integration library is rapidly growing to accommodate even more platforms, including Wix, Ecwid, Magneto and Commerce Cloud. And with an official partnership with BigCommerce, the Klasha Checkout will reach thousands of e-commerce stores globally, enabling them to receive payments online from Africa.

Africa presents vast opportunities for scaling quickly in commerce. There are more than 400 million internet users in Africa, and the total value of e-commerce is expected to reach $29 billion by 2022. Still, the ability to pay online with African money methods including cards, M-Pesa, bank transfer and mobile money is challenging for consumers on the ground. Klasha believes that consumers in Africa should have built technology to facilitate the same frictionless access to the goods they want regardless of their geographic location.

  1. Klasha Checkout: A technology solution that allows international merchants to collect payments from Africa in local currencies. The checkout can be integrated into any e-commerce platform, website or app. Through this checkout, customers in Africa can make payments online using their preferred African payment method (card, bank account, USSD, M-Pesa, Mobile Money) in their local African currency, and the merchant receives the equivalent in their chosen currency. Customers can also enjoy cheap and fast delivery of their goods.
  1. Klasha Payment Links: A no-code option to accept payments for B2B and B2C merchants or independent sellers that do not have an e-commerce storefront. The Klasha Payment Link provides a flexible and easy way for international businesses to collect payments from customers in Africa without needing a website, app, or any coding skills. With just a few clicks, businesses can create a simple custom checkout page directly from their KlashaDash dashboard and share it with their customers via email, WhatsApp or other social media platforms to receive payments.
  1. Klasha mobile app: A secure app that allows you to make local and international payments online in your local African currencies without any restrictions. With the Klasha mobile app, you can send and receive money from family and friends in Nigeria, Ghana or Kenya who use the app. No monthly charges. You can also create a virtual card, fund it with NGN, KES or GHC, see all your transactions, including the amount paid, merchant details, card information and much more.
  1. KlashaWire – A fast and easy way for businesses to pay their suppliers overseas in their preferred African currency, whether Naira, Cedis or other currencies. The suppliers, on the other end, receive the money in the dominant currency of their choice. With this feature, small business owners can make large payments to suppliers overseas with ease while lowering the cost of the transaction directly on the Klasha dashboard. When payments are made, the supplier generally receives it in their dominant currency in two business days.

29-year-old Jess Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha, ex-Amazon, Net-a-Porter and Shopify, said: “By 2025, half of the world’s population will live in Africa. At Klasha, we’re building the technology to facilitate frictionless cross-border payments and allow international businesses to scale seamlessly into Africa through our API. Equally, we’re giving consumers in Africa the same access to the global e-commerce economy experienced on other continents. It is imperative that African consumers are able to remain globally competitive, which includes having access to the goods they want without payment or delivery restrictions.”

Alison Lange Engel, Partner at Greycroft, said”Klasha’s technology allows for seamless cross-border transactions at a time when Africa is rapidly growing and needs both payment and logistics solutions for online commerce. We’re excited to support Klasha and their mission in simplifying borderless payments for commerce in Africa.”

Oloyede Oladimeji, CTO of Klasha, said: “We have built a secure and reliable commerce solution from scratch using modern technologies. As a business, it is important that we not only build but move fast. Every day, we are scaling our solution to solving a unique problem, connecting Africa to global merchants. Africa is a growing economy with huge potential but low card payment penetration, and we are enabling consumers in Africa to access products irrespective of their payment methods. Our multi-currency technology saves merchants the stress of dealing with all the different currencies available in Africa, allowing them to receive payouts in their dominant currency. What is amazing is not what we have built already but what we are going to build.”

Reshma Sohoni, Founding Partner at Seedcamp, said: ‘’As Africa continues to undergo digitisation, there’s an increasing opportunity for online businesses in Europe and US to garner market share quickly by accepting payments online in African currencies due to the nascent stage of commerce on the continent. Klasha is our first investment in Africa which will allow frictionless scalability for merchants into the continent through their cross-border payment technology, enabling billions of underserved consumers to access their services.’’

Klasha remains committed to simplifying cross-border payments for commerce in Africa and empowering businesses with the tools they need to grow and expand into a market full of energized consumers.

Source: Klasha

 

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Fixit45 set to redefine auto aftermarket experience across Nigeria

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Fixit45 Founder/CEO, Justus Obaoye (Image: Supplied)

Against the backdrop of rising demand for quality automotive repair & maintenance services occasioned by the increasing vehicle age and poor state of many Nigerian roads, Fixit45, a leading tech enabled automotive aftermarket platform has declared its commitment to redefining service experience and enabling value-creating interactions across stakeholders within the automotive aftermarket segment.

A cursory examination of the automotive landscape in Nigeria would reveal a broken condition – defined as a highly fragmented, mostly unregulated industry that is dominated by a lot of informal service providers who often lack the technical competence or the know-how to deliver quality service. The industry is also beset by proliferation of counterfeit spare parts with a lack of warranty on repairs. Lastly, the traditional service and maintenance industry has remained largely untouched by the digital revolution, with many individual car owners and corporate fleet owners still going the non-transparent and time-consuming route.

Fixit45 combines an online-to-offline strategy and unique approach of deploying digital technology with local expertise to deliver exceptional service across the verticals that include Auto services, auto parts sourcing, auto care, refurbishment, roadside assistance and repair financing. Backed by a well-vetted and certified network of well distributed multi-brand car service centres that specialize in vehicle diagnosis, repairs, and maintenance, business owners and individuals are better empowered with information to reduce the cost of vehicle management and maximize their lifetime value.

According to the Founder/CEO, Justus Obaoye, Fixit45’s reason for being is rooted in the fact that quality repair and maintenance services ensures a fixed level of vehicular reliability which in turn improves the chances of economic mobility and productivity.

“Traditionally, individuals and corporates own new and used vehicles that will need to be upgraded, repaired, serviced, and maintained. Following the pandemic, a trend that has now emerged has seen many preferring to repair and or upgrade their existing vehicles in order to enhance their mobility assets and trade-in value, as opposed to buying new or foreign used cars. A quality repair and maintenance regime is pivotal to optimizing performance, service life, and reliability of these vehicles.”

“At Fixit45, we are leveraging technology to address fundamental issues in the fragmented auto aftermarket space and liberate people and businesses from the clogs that have prevented them from enjoying their mobility assets. We are empowering the market with data to drive decisions, building the much-needed trust and transparency in an opaque segment and layering delightful customer experience bolstered by service excellence,” Obaoye said.

“Technology is at the heart of all that we do. The platform provides a seamless, collaborative infrastructure for these interactions to occur and be moderated for compliance and accountability. Our service centers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to assist in repairs, oil changes, tire rotations, brake replacements and much more. Whether a car needs routine maintenance or major repairs, our fixers ensure the job is performed efficiently and correctly the first time – and with genuine parts. As a data-driven tech company, we are working to create digital solutions to make the whole process not only more convenient but also completely transparent. We are taking the stress, mistrust and time wasting out of the customer journey,” said Abdulazeez Ogunjobi, Fixit45 Cofounder & CTO.

In a report by Reportlinker.com titled “Automotive Repair and Maintenance Global Market Report 2021: COVID 19 Impact and Recovery to 2030, the global automotive repair and maintenance market is expected to grow from $641. billion in 2020 to $690.7 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.%.

 

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