Tech (373)

For years now, drones have proven their worth in many fields. By providing aerial views of a given area, they give the ability to capture data that was previously inaccessible, making their use more important than ever. 

Last Friday,  the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) and the Ministry of the Environment jointly launched the use of drones to combat environmental crimes in the country.

The first drone, dubbed "Inganji I", will monitor, detect, and collect evidence that will be used to prosecute those engaged in activities that degrade the environment.

"The drones will help to respond to and control activities that damage our environment including land degradation, water pollution, and illegal logging in protected areas," said Environment Minister Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya (photo, center). According to the government official, who cited a recent report, illegal mining, community encroachment into protected areas and water pollution are the most environmentally degrading activities in the country.

The launch of this first drone is part of a long-term green growth and climate resilience strategy and an ambitious climate action plan set up a few years ago by the Rwandan government. The aim is to reduce carbon emissions by 38% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

The use of drones will thus play a crucial role in achieving these objectives. Among other things, it will help environmental inspectors carry out their tasks, collect information in prohibited areas, and provide accurate data.

Samira Njoya

Posted On lundi, 18 septembre 2023 17:40 Written by

In addition to strengthening its presence in the region, the investment will enable the Nigerian company to provide secure and transparent payment services to consumers and businesses in Kenya.

Nigerian payment solutions provider Flutterwave recently announced plans to invest $50 million in Kenya. Olugbenga Agboola (photo, center), CEO and co-founder of Flutterwave revealed this during a media interview in the country's capital, Nairobi.

According to the CEO, the investment will be deployed as soon as the company receives regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).  

"We are very optimistic about Kenya and once we get the license, our team in the country is ready to deploy the very next day. [...] We are happy we are going through the process of approval. We didn’t chicken out. We stayed the course even when everything stopped. The current administration is very supportive," he said.

Flutterwave's announcement comes a week after the company signed a partnership agreement with Indian financial institution IndusInd Bank to expand its services to India. 

As far as Kenya is concerned, Flutterwave announced last April that it would be setting up its main operating station in Nairobi, for the East African market. This investment will be used to hire staff and develop Flutterwave's infrastructure in Kenya. Olugbenga Agboola also noted that the company already has more than two dozen employees in Kenya.

Founded in 2016 by Nigerians Olugbenga Agboola and Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Flutterwave is now present in some 30 African countries. The Lagos and San Francisco-based startup is valued at around $3 billion.

Samira Njoya

Posted On vendredi, 15 septembre 2023 16:37 Written by

With an Internet penetration rate of 33.63% in 2021, Liberia is gearing up to accelerate its digital transformation. To achieve this, the country needs strong allies it can count on.

At a workshop held on Tuesday, September 12 under the theme "Building a Digital Liberia- Bridging Vision and Transformation for Unleashing Future Development," the World Bank announced that it will support Liberia's digitization efforts to drive meaningful growth and development.

The UN organization will harness the power of technology to drive innovation, improve governance, and create economic opportunities for all Liberians, says Georgia Wallen, World Bank Country Director for Liberia.

"We’ll assess Liberia’s digital transformation journey and also look ahead — what can Liberia’s digital transformation economy look like in the future? [...] So, this is not only about adopting technology that is sustainable and benefits all but rather creating an entirely digital environment that is inclusive," she added.

The country is lagging in the digital transformation process compared to other African countries. However, it intends to catch up in this sector. According to data from the International Telecommunication Union, the country's Internet penetration rate is steadily rising. From 18.9% in 2018, it reached 33.63% in 2021.

For Worlea Saywah Dunah, Liberia's Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, the workshop is in line with the government’s strategy to transform the Liberian economy and enhance social development. 

Social and economic development are the visions “ we aspired to as a nation in developing a vibrant ICT sector and this vision is captured in the President’s flagship agenda, which is called the PAPD. We are beginning to work with stakeholders in the sector and development partners to develop a 5-year national digital transformational agenda that will meet the best ICT standards through which we can achieve social and economic development as enshrined in the PAPD,” he said 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Posted On vendredi, 15 septembre 2023 16:35 Written by

Apart from science and technology, engineering is one of the most important sectors of the Nigerian economy. It is therefore important for professionals in the sector to digitize their activities to capitalize on the digital opportunities.  

The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), the umbrella organization of engineering professionals in Nigeria, inaugurated its Innovation Center in Abuja on Wednesday, September 13.

According to its executives, the new center will serve as a sanctuary for engineers and professionals to collaborate and innovate, and offer training and resources to facilitate the adoption of digital technologies by businesses and organizations.

According to Tasiu Sa'ad Gidari-Wudil, President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, the aim of the center is to empower Nigerian engineers, allowing them to deliver on what is expected from them. "The innovation hub is where Engineers will come with ideas, research and develop” those ideas before commercializing the end products to the public and stakeholders, he added.  

The 600 million naira ($780,000) center will integrate technologies, services, tools and data analysis. It will also offer smart business solutions to members, facilitating the learning curve by providing available resources, with an e-library accessible both online and on company premises.

The implementation of the center is in line with one of the administration's priorities to ensure ease of doing business and greater transparency within the profession.

Once completed, the center will also serve as a space to explore the immense potential of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. The idea is to find solutions to complex challenges, revolutionizing industries and the way we interact with the world around us.

Samira Njoya

Posted On jeudi, 14 septembre 2023 14:43 Written by

For several years now, Cassava Technologies, through its subsidiaries Liquid Intelligent and Liquid Dataport, has been stepping up investments in connectivity infrastructures in Africa. 

Earlier today, September 13, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, one of the subsidiaries of pan-African group Cassava Technologies, announced the launch of two fiber optic routes: one linking Kenya and Ethiopia, the other Zambia and Malawi. The aim is to improve broadband connectivity in these countries and stimulate technological innovation.

“All initiatives undertaken by businesses under Cassava Technologies work towards realizing our vision of a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind. The completion of these fiber links is yet another milestone achieved by Liquid, as it continues to lay the foundations of economic growth through increased access to high-speed connectivity,” says Hardy Pemhiwa, CEO of Cassava Technologies.

The about 1,000-km route linking Nairobi (Kenya) to Mega (Ethiopia) is being built in partnership with the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO) and Ethiopia Electric Power (EEP). It offers a capacity of four terabytes per second and will enable Ethiopian companies to access Kenyan data centers and the cloud. "Kenyan and Ethiopian businesses are rapidly adopting digital technologies, and this new link will enable trade and investment between these two great nations in our region," says Adil El Youssefi, CEO of Liquid Intelligent Technologies Rest of Africa.

The second route (711 kilometers long) provides a direct and reliable connection to content caches and data centers in South Africa.

Earlier this year, the pan-African company signed a partnership with Zambia to accelerate the country's digital transformation and provide reliable, and affordable connectivity to the population. Last May, it also announced the construction of roads linking Mombasa in Kenya to Muanda in the DRC, via Rwanda and Uganda.

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Posted On mercredi, 13 septembre 2023 16:25 Written by

Africa’s most valued startup (with $3 billion in estimated value) will now be able to offer major currencies like the US dollar, the Euro, and pound sterling to users in Nigeria.

On Monday, September 11, Nigerian unicorn Flutterwave announced the launch of a new solution called "Swap". Designed in partnership with Wema Bank and Kadavra BDC, and backed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Swap solution is billed as a secure and reliable digital platform that will give Nigerians immediate access to foreign currency at competitive exchange rates.

At Flutterwave, our dedication to innovation is matched only by our commitment to simplifying financial processes for endless possibilities. Swap represents a significant leap forward in how Nigerians will engage with foreign exchange,” said Olugbenga Agboola (photo, left), co-founder and CEO of the unicorn.

Indeed, Nigeria has been facing several foreign exchange problems in recent years. One of these is a $10 billion foreign exchange backlog, which the CBN aims to resolve within the next two weeks. This backlog includes dollar claims from manufacturers, importers, business and personal travel allowances, as well as medical bills incurred abroad.

According to CBN Acting Governor Folashodun Shonubi, Swap will solve two critical problems plaguing Nigeria's foreign exchange market: the lack of synergy between financial institutions and a heavy reliance on cash transactions.

In the short term, Flutterwave will introduce a convenient card-issuing system for Swap users. The company plans to distribute over 10 million of these cards to Nigerians by October, enabling them to quickly resolve issues such as Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) to facilitate their educational pursuits, commercial endeavors, and various travel requirements.

Samira Njoya

Posted On mardi, 12 septembre 2023 17:24 Written by

Greentech startups are rapidly emerging in Africa with firm conviction that new technologies will play a key role in supporting sustainable development on the continent. 

Catalyst Fund, a private equity fund investing in early-stage, climate-focused startups in Africa, has reached the first closing of its $40 million fund. Last Wednesday, the fund announced a first closing, at $8.6 million, with support from investors like FSD Africa Investments (FSDAi), the Cisco Foundation, USAID (Prosper Africa), and technology investor Andrew Bredenkamp.

The Kenya-based fund, headed by French impact investor Maelis Carraro, plans to invest in around 40 start-ups, including 20 this year.  Eligible companies will receive funding of up to $200,000 for pre-seed startups, $500,000 for seed-stage companies, and $1.5 million in Series A financing for more mature companies.

By blending equity investments with hands-on venture building, we believe we can unlock tremendous potential for innovative companies on the continent. Supporting ventures at the pre-seed stage requires more than capital. Our venture builders are the engineers, data scientists, and growth marketing experts who can supercharge founders’ journeys toward building scalable and highly impactful ventures," says Maelis Carraro.

Climate change is a global reality but Africa is the continent most vulnerable to its adverse effects despite contributing just 3% of global carbon emissions. It is therefore important to invest in startups that are active in the fight against climate change on the continent. According to a report published, in February 2023, by technology business accelerator AfricArena, such startups raised a total of $1.17 billion in 2022, of which $863 million was invested in capital.

By strategically focusing on solutions in agri-tech and fisheries management, food systems, insurtech and climate fintech, cold chain, waste management, and water management, Catalyst Fund aims to accelerate sustainable green growth. It will focus on solutions that can enable communities to better prepare for and manage shocks, adapt livelihoods to climate impacts, and build long-term resilience.

Samira Njoya

Posted On lundi, 11 septembre 2023 15:08 Written by

Nigeria aims to become one of the leaders in the African digital economy.  To achieve its goal, it is signing partnerships with countries that share the same objectives.

Nigeria's Minister of Communication, Innovation, and Digital Economy, Bosun Tijani, signed two memorandums of understanding in New Delhi, India, last Wednesday.  The first agreement, signed with the Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, aims to share the best digital solutions that would benefit citizens in both countries. 

The second partnership, signed with the Central Square Foundation team, a non-profit organization working to ensure quality school education in India, aims to develop solutions that leverage technology to facilitate education in Nigeria. 

The collaboration between our countries gives us a platform to build on the upward trajectory of digital transformation as a driver of economic growth,”  Dr. Bosun Tijani indicated in a post on X (formerly Twitter). 

The MoU were signed on the sidelines of the 18th G20 Summit, to be held from Saturday, September 9 to Sunday, September 10 in New Delhi. They come at a time when the Nigerian government is stepping up efforts to attract additional investors to the country, increase funding to support Nigerian innovators and expand resources for local entrepreneurs. With such initiatives, the government wants to create one million jobs in the digital economy and improve digital literacy among the youth.

By choosing India to support those digital projects, Nigeria is making a strategic move. Indeed, in less than 10 years, India's digital penetration rate has more than doubled. In 2015, the world's fifth-largest economy launched "Digital India", an ambitious program to transform India into "a digital society and knowledge economy."

Samira Njoya

Posted On jeudi, 07 septembre 2023 18:02 Written by

With the acceleration of digital transformation across the continent, African countries are compelled to invest in cybersecurity.  18 of the continent's 54 countries have already drawn up national cybersecurity strategies, and 22 have national computer incident response teams (CIRTs).

The lack of investment and weak regulation exposes Africa to cyberattacks, according to the report "Cybersecurity in Africa- A Call to action" published in June 2023 by consulting firm Kearney. Yet investment in the African cybersecurity market is set to rise from $2.5 billion in 2020 to $3.7 billion in 2025, representing a compound annual growth rate of 7.9%.

"Despite this investment, it’s estimated the region loses more than $3.5 billion annually due to direct cyberattacks, and billions more from missed business opportunities caused by the resulting reputational damage from the attacks,” the report says.

To show the continent’s vulnerability to cyberattacks,  Kearney tested its cyber resilience –the ability to resist, adapt, and recover from cyberattacks. That test focused on the five African best performers in the International Telecommunication Union's Global Cybersecurity Index: South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt.

“Through the five selected countries, the analysis showed that Africa’s cyber resilience is low, particularly around strategy, governance and operational entities and cross-sector cooperation,” the report states. 

While the average benchmark is 0.25% of GDP, South Africa, the African champion in cybersecurity spending, invests just 0.19% of its GDP, compared with 0.03% for the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. "If each African country spends 0.25 percent of GDP annually on cybersecurity, this would be in line with spending in mature markets. Our estimates suggest that this translates to $4.2 billion annually for the region," reads the document.

In addition to financial investment, investment in human capital is also an important component. Indeed, 84% of organizations believe that less than 50% of candidates applying for cybersecurity jobs are qualified, and more than half of companies seeking these profiles take more than 6 months to find qualified people.

Against this backdrop, in an interview with We Are Tech Africa last May, Youssef Mazouz, Secretary General of the African Cybersecurity Center, explained that there was a need to support Africa “by setting up continuous training, building skills, and opening cybersecurity research centers and universities."

Regulatory issues

African countries are yet to agree on regulations.  Although the African Union convention on cybersecurity and the protection of personal data was adopted in 2014, it is not yet effective to this day. According to Article 36, to become effective, the convention must be ratified by at least 15 of the continent's 54 countries. To date, only 14 have ratified it, the latest being Côte d’Ivoire (March 2023). However, digital transformation has been accelerating on the continent since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Cybersecurity is not a matter from which African countries can isolate themselves. The interconnectivity of systems results in the interconnectivity of the security threats to member states.[...] The absence of an implemented, unifying, regional governance framework makes it difficult to collaborate and share intelligence,” the report indicates. 

Africa will better manage cybersecurity by emulating European countries, which opted for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). That law, effective since May 2018, frames data processing equally throughout the European Union (EU).

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Posted On mercredi, 06 septembre 2023 16:44 Written by

The debate on the impact of artificial intelligence on development in Africa gathered pace late last year.  The opportunities and threats it represents are now being scrutinized by experts and organizations.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a formidable asset for international peace and security, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The UN body supports this position given the rapid pace at which conflicts are evolving, and the vast amount of data generated, which human beings are unable to process efficiently for effective decision-making processes.

The UNDP believes that "artificial intelligence can help us understand and even anticipate the onset and evolution of a crisis." But it must be combined with a human touch. Indeed, the international body is certain that Human-in-the-loop AI (HITL) –a process that combines the power of machine learning with human intelligence to solve complex problems– can improve data analysis in radically changing circumstances.

In Africa, where social networks have become privileged tools of expression, and where misinformation and hate speech are on the rise, as is communication from extremist groups, AI will help enhance watchfulness. Especially on platforms such as "Facebook and Twitter, which have been unwilling or unable to address these fundamental vulnerabilities," says the UNDP.

"These companies are often unable to consider the cross-platform impacts of their policies and user behaviors. They lack the resources (and internal incentives) to understand the impact of technology in a non-Western context and, to date, have been unwilling to share the metrics needed to properly assess the effects of their policies and interventions," laments the organization in the August 2023 issue of its "Development Futures Series".

After the start of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict on February 24, 2022, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook were actively used to report on events in real-time. They were also used as “weapons” to influence and shape opinions online.  However, they have also proved useful for studying many aspects of the conflict, such as attacks on health facilities, minefields, and the use of banned weapons systems (e.g. cluster munitions).

For the UNDP, artificial intelligence systems can be tested within the UN, in a small number of country offices, or in other field operations to meet the needs of each context. The initial objective could be to expand prevention efforts in places where tensions are rising or to identify disinformation campaigns targeting humanitarian personnel.  These tests could lead to the creation of a cutting-edge global platform for sharing artificial intelligence tools, tags, models, and algorithms.

Muriel Edjo

Posted On lundi, 04 septembre 2023 17:47 Written by
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