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Liquid Intelligent Accelerates Digital Economy in South Africa

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Liquid Intelligent Accelerates Digital Economy in South Africa, SiliconNigeria

 Liquid Intelligent Technologies (Liquid) South Africa, part of the leading pan-African technology group Liquid Intelligent Technology today, announces the successful completion of two key digital corridors – NLD5 and NLD6 connecting Durban to Cape Town via the inland route.

The completion of this fibre network will support the surging demand for high-speed internet as an increasing number of local businesses continue their digital transformation journeys. 

Increased access to high-speed fibre connectivity is critical to improving not just telecommunication services for millions of South Africans in the country. It will also bring substantial social and economic benefits to businesses and governments as the focus on the Fourth Industrial revolution increases.  This route forms part of the Southern corridor that Liquid has invested in connecting East to West Africa via a terrestrial network.

“The completion of these two digital corridors is yet another milestone achieved as part of our on-going investment into the South African economy. Liquid has been instrumental in the fruition of routes 1 through to 8, providing a digital backbone that connects metropolitan cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban to more remote areas like Nelspruit Bloemfontein, Lady Smith, Mthatha.

“This is also part of our Group’s continued focus on bringing world-class digital services like Cloud, Unified Communications,  Internet of Things (IoT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to local businesses in the public and private sectors,” said Deon Geyser, CEO Liquid Intelligent Technologies, South Africa.

Spanning over 1700 km, the near-unlimited capacity and greater redundancy offered on these digital corridors will positively impact numerous industries, especially educators and healthcare practitioners, as they increase their reach to the remotest parts of the country. Access to improved digital services will also impact the education system in the country as the government gears to empower more youth with digital skills as newer vocations develop through the 4IR. 

These routes symbolise Liquid’s high-level digital infrastructure capability and continued and unwavering commitment to steer and create sector growth opportunities aggressively whilst increasing its market share.

Liquid recently culminated its extensive business transformation from being a telecommunications and digital services provider to a full one-stop-shop technology group. This expansion is one more step that reiterates Liquid’s commitment towards improving customer service and delivery of products towards the wholesale, enterprise, and SMEs market in the country.

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Digital Economy

Driving Digital Inclusion to Promote Global Equality

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Driving Digital Inclusion to Promote Global Equality, SiliconNigeria

Covid-19 has accelerated the rate of digital technology adoption around the world, but also revealed the depth of the digital divide worldwide. For millions of people living in Africa, who do not have access to the internet or laptops and smartphones, the pandemic has resulted in greater social and economic isolation.

In 2020, 56.3% of South Africa’s 60-million population were internet users. This figure is expected to increase to 57.8% this year, up to 62.3% by 2025 [1]. Internet World Stats figures suggest that by December 2020, about 634 million people in Africa were internet users, amounting to 47.6% of the continent’s population.

Many factors play a role in entrenching the continent’s digital divide, most notably the high cost of technology and connectivity, which is exacerbated by the lack of reliable network infrastructure.

The pandemic, with its lockdowns and restrictions, has hit Africans hard, leading to job losses, food insecurity, entrenched poverty and – perhaps most worryingly – major setbacks in education delivery.

One organisation that is committed to driving digital inclusion in Africa and globally is media and telecommunications software and services provider, Amdocs. The company employs 26,000 people around the world and creates opportunities for 70,000 more through its operations and supply chain.

Its initiatives in Kenya and Mexico have assisted hundreds of thousands of people during the pandemic. Currently in the planning phase, the company is currently working on another digital inclusion project in South Africa.

Amdocs, VP: Customer Business Executive, George Fraser says the company’s overriding social impact strategy is to provide digital solutions that address world problems. “As a company that creates digital journeys for our customers, we have the skills and capabilities to pay it forward to the communities that need us the most. The past year has resulted in just about everything going remote, and our ability to accelerate digital inclusion has become our number one focus.”

One of its key projects – conducted in conjunction with Safaricom Foundation – was to provide internet access to children in Kenya. “The initiative is a perfect example of how employee engagement and social impact can meet,” explains Fraser.

“Every year, we conduct an organisational health survey, which is open to all employees. In 2020, we incentivised employees to take part by promising internet access to one child in Kenya for every survey completed. The response was astonishing. Employees received the initiative really well and there was a significant increase in the number of surveys completed last year,” notes Fraser.

Amdocs employees reported that the initiative made them feel more connected and engaged with the company and its initiatives. It made them feel proud to work for an organisation that was making a tangible impact in other peoples’ lives.

Another highly successful project was the creation of an app to connect food insecure people in Mexico to businesses with excess food. The app is currently helping more than 400,000 people access food. The project is entirely volunteer-run – in collaboration with local authorities – and is Amdocs’ most impactful initiative to date.

In addition, the company runs digital skills training aimed at specific target populations, whether it is showing the elderly how to use communication platforms to connect with their loved ones or teaching women and children basic – or more advanced digital skills – to increase their digital literacy or enhance their employability.

Amdocs is currently running an internal competition for its employees to get ideas on how to take digital inclusion forward and help solve problems the world is facing. “We are also looking for two projects in Africa to support this year – they need to be legitimate organisations, such as universities or NGOs, that can demonstrate viable solutions to social challenges. Our role will be to bring the technological expertise to the mix,” notes Fraser.

He says Amdocs’ role does not stop with its own programmes. “We also help other organisations to find ways to address social issues in their respective countries and regions, for example, we assisted an Australian company in its drive to provide free data to students.”

Digital inclusion is so high on the agenda at Amdocs that shareholders are updated on progress in this area – alongside business and financial results. “Our company’s purpose is ‘enriching lives and progressing society’. This is not just our CSR purpose. We are profoundly aware of the inequality that the digital divide creates; the massive gap between the privileged and underprivileged; and the inequality in their access to education and other services.

“That’s why we are committed to providing life-changing help to people who need it the most, for example, giving children access to the internet or device when they cannot go to school. This could mean the difference between losing a year at school, maybe even giving up, or advancing to the next year and progressing in life,” concludes Fraser.

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Digital Economy

Mastercard and Uber Boost Payment Digitization and Advances Financial Inclusion across MEA

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Mastercard and Uber Boost Payment Digitization and Advances Financial Inclusion across MEA, SiliconNigeria

Uber’s long-term partnership with Mastercard continues to grow with a new strategic initiative focusing on digital payments and advancing financial inclusions which will be facilitated by Mastercard across the Middle East and Africa (MEA).

 As a regional first, the partnership with Mastercard will enable Uber to drive digitization across their business operations, leveraging Mastercard’s single infrastructure to meet all types of payments needs across Uber Rides, Uber Eats, Uber Pass, and Uber for Business.

 It is intended that the partnership will boost cashless payments, drive digital payment acceptance, reward loyalty, while supporting Uber’s continued social impact collaboration.

The Economy 2021 report released by Mastercard notes that the economic impact of COVID-19 has introduced permanent changes in digital consumer spending habits, growth of online banking, fintech disruption and opportunities to boost financial inclusion. Through the partnership, both companies can bridge the financial inclusion gap through a broad range of efforts. 

Amnah Ajmal, Executive Vice President Market Development, Mastercard, MEA explains: “Mastercard continues to partner with digital players across the value chain to build a more connected world. Enabling secure, immediate movement of money for individuals in the gig economy workers and customers is especially vital as we support economic recovery efforts.

“ Through our growing partnership, we are enabling the company’s long-term business growth as a result of improved operational efficiencies, driving greater financial inclusion and innovation across the region, and ultimately boosting the growth of digital economy in MEA.”

Last year, Uber in South Africa launched a product called Uber Pass, which will now be available across most cities in MEA, with Mastercard becoming a key distribution partner to help drive adoption.  

Tino Waked, Regional General Manager, Middle East & Africa, says: “This is the largest partnership for us across MEA, and we are proud to be working together to bring key financial solutions to driver-partners across MEA. Driver’s well-being is a top priority and putting opportunities they want within reach is important to us.”

 This new partnership builds on existing work between the two organizations. In a joint initiative last year, Mastercard committed 120,000 free trips and meals to those supporting communities across the Middle East and Africa, which was facilitated through Uber. This strategic partnership between Mastercard and Uber spans across the region and through key partnerships, supported cities, hospitals, front line workers and marginalized communities with free rides and meals.

 While vaccines are a reality, communities are still in need of various support. Mastercard and Uber remain committed to helping people around the world navigate these challenging times and stand ready to support cities whether it be logistics or free rides. 

The work undertaken with Uber plays a key role in advancing Mastercard’s worldwide commitment to financial inclusion and the company’s pledge to bring a total of 1 billion people, 50 million micro and small businesses, and 25 million women entrepreneurs into the digital economy by 2025.

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Digital Economy

Digital Infrastructure, Literacy Key To ICT Benefits – Danbatta

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Digital Infrastructure Literacy Key To ICT Benefits - Danbatta, SiliconNigeria

Photo L-R: Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission, being presented with an appreciation award by Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, Chief Medical Director, Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Kano, during the courtesy visit.

The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, has said that robust digital infrastructure and literacy are key to reaping the transformational benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) across public and private institutions in the country.

Danbatta stated this when he received a delegation of the top management committee of the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano (AKTH), who paid him a courtesy visit at the Kano Zonal Office of the Commission at the weekend.

During the visit, the AKTH team also presented an award to the EVC “as an expression of the hospital’s appreciation for the enormous contributions of the EVC and the Commission to the development of health institutions over the years in the country.”

Speaking during the visit, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of AKTH, Prof. Abdulrahman Sheshe, who led the delegation, said, “the objective of our being here today is to appreciate your contribution in person and as EVC of NCC to the growth and development of the teaching hospital.”

According to Sheshe, through the support and donations from Kano people like the EVC and institutions like NCC, the hospital has increased its bed capacity from 250 to 700, as well as performing 57 successful transplant surgeries.

“You have also made enormous contributions in this regard and that has helped us to get new dialysis machines through your assistance and these machines are being put to use, aside from other state-of-the-art equipment already in place,” he said while appreciating the EVC.

The CMD, however, sought NCC’s support in the area of a Health Information Management System (HIMS) and digital capacity for staff.

Responding, however, Danbatta thanked the hospital management for the visit and the award, noting that the Commission supports federal institutions with necessary ICT equipment across the country and is ready to assist AKTH in this regard.

“As a Commission, we are working to bridge the infrastructure divide, which is an element of the entire digital ecosystem. We do this via a lot of ongoing regulatory initiatives. And, through our training arm, Digital Bridge Institute (DBI), we provide digital literacy to critical sectors of the economy, including the health sector, we also intervene through our Advanced Digital Appreciation Programme,” he said.

According to Danbatta, digital divide can be bridged by making computers available and ICT services accessible to people and key sectors of the economy.

“Infrastructure that can host this massive flow of information and knowledge is broadband infrastructure and this is top-most in the agenda of the Commission. Indeed, ICT is transforming every sector of the economy and the earlier we embrace the vast opportunity brought by ICT the better,” the EVC pointed out.

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