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COVID-19: African Nations Urged To Adopt Digital Solutions For Economic Recovery

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CEO of Abuja Technology Village FZ Co, Nigeria, Ms. Hauwa Yabani

African nations have been urged to adopt digital solutions towards achieving economic recovery from the impacts of the Coronavirus Disease pandemic.

At a webinar organized by Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA), International Association of Science Parks and Areas (IASP), Africa Division President and CEO of Abuja Technology Village FZ Co, Nigeria, Ms Hauwa Yabani emphasized the need for utilizing technology and innovation in the search for solutions to challenges facing the continent.

“The pandemic showed us the importance of digitally enhanced solutions in mitigating crisis as a way of living especially for a continent with a population of over 1.3 billion. Digital transformation presents an opportunity for Africa to provide value in new ways thereby leapfrogging the continent’s developing trajectories and accelerating its social and economic advancements,” said Ms Yabani.

Yabani further stated that “The pandemic has been reported to have caused failure to about 30 per cent of small businesses, thereby begging for answers to the question on how to leverage innovation to survive,” adding that it is only through innovation-led approaches that the continent will recover from the pandemic.

Technology, she pointed out, has continued to emerge and the adaption of digital solutions is more important now than ever, a development that is only important for Africa but also the rest of the world.

While reiterating the IASP Africa Division’s support towards supporting innovation, she stressed the need for utilizing rising and existing start-ups in the continent which are critical in advancing the continent’s Free Trade Agreement for the benefit of all Africans.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) created by Africa Union (AU) in 2018 formed a single continent-wide market for goods and services that aims to promote the movement of capital and natural persons in the continent.

The Forum was also attended by Africa Union’s (AU) New Partnership For Africa’s Development (NEPAD) CEO, Amb. Dr Samori Okwiya; KoTDA’s CEO, Eng. John Tanui; Botswana Innovation Hub CEO, Mr Alan Boshwaen; South Africa Innovation Hub and Adv. Pieter Holl, and the global CEO of IASP, Ms Ebba Lund.

The speakers urged countries to enhance collaborations and make use of available knowledge to advance the economies amidst the pandemic.

“There is an urgent need for the enhancement of collaboration between companies and research institutions and the support of both new and existing start-ups. We should utilize the science parks and create more favourable policies for advancing our knowledge-based economy. This is very important for both organizations and governments,” said Ms Lund.

Echoing her remarks, Amb. Dr Okwiya said that Africa Union has created a committee to deepen the continent’s education on science which remains vital in its development.

“It is important to note that the AU has enacted a people-centred long term agenda 2063 which strives to articulate Africa’s sustained growth, competitiveness and economic transformation in new technologies and all developing sectors.

To effectively execute this agenda, science, technology and innovation strategy is one of our pillars to make this happen,” he said.

He added that governments and organizations need to focus on developing the infrastructure to make innovation competitive.

“Currently, we have 409 projects ranging from ICT, roads, power, ports among others being implemented. These projects will create opportunities in innovations as well as several sectors,” he said.

On his part, Eng. Tanui cited innovation as a key enabler in driving economic development among Africa nations and urged participating members to build on innovation infrastructure while bringing together more research stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we look at the Africa Free Trade, we see the opportunity of opening up connectivity amongst us and so we need to create more interconnection so that we open our trade. This is a great opportunity for Africa and this is what we see as Konza,” said Eng. Tanui.

The forum brought together IASP leadership, global players in the technology space and key stakeholders in the Science and Technology Parks to discuss The Place of STPs in Africa’s Economic Recovery-Impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

Also in attendance were Dr Erick Mwangi, Director Research Science and Technology Ministry of Education Kenya; Dr Rethabile Melamu, General Manager, Green Economy Unit – The Innovation Hub, South Africa; and Patrick Tippoo, Executive Director of the African Vaccine Manufacturing Initiative (AVMI), South Africa.

Others are Dr James Kimotho, Head of KEMRI Innovation & Technology Transfer Division (ITTD); and Mr Ondari D. Mogeni, Associate Research Scientist, Epidemiology, Public Health, Implementation & Clinical Development Unit in International Vaccine Institute (IVI). KoTDA is a full member of IASP.

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Vehicular Traffic: FAAN Advises Passengers To Get To Airports Early

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The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) wishes to advise passengers and airport users, particularly those at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja to get to the airport early so as to complete their check-in procedures in good time and avoid the unpleasant experiences associated with missing their flights.

FAAN said Friday morning in a statement signed by Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, General Manager, Corporate Affairs that this advice has become necessary, as passengers are likely to go through a little delay at the entrance to the terminals, due to built-up vehicular traffic occasioned by an increase in passenger traffic being witnessed presently.

“The Authority will like to assure passengers and other airport users that all hands are on deck to ensure swift facilitation and reduce the congestion to the barest minimum,” Yakubu said in the statement.

 

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Africa Data Centres Confirms Building 10MW Data Centre In Lagos

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Even as South Africa is home to the largest concentration of data centres on the African continent, Nigeria has been described as a key African market, with the appeal of West Africa growing, and new developments planned for both Senegal and Nigeria.

Stephane Duproz, CEO of Africa Data Centres said of the West African region, “This region is hungry for digitisation and to pave the way for our hyperscale customers to deploy digitisation solutions to West Africa, Africa Data Centres’ construction of a 10-megawatt data centre in Lagos is well underway.”

The Lagos build marks a significant step forward in Africa Data Centres’ ambitious long-term strategy to digitise Africa.  The Nigerian data centre will form Africa Data Centres’ West African hub.

As interconnection remains a priority, the company will be adding it to its network of data centres, which at present includes Johannesburg, Nairobi, Cape Town, Harare, and Kigali.

“Our expansion into Nigeria marks one aspect of the company’s growth on the continent,” says Duproz. “In response to demand generated by hyper scalers, key cloud operators and multinational enterprises already making use of our data centres, we have purchased the Samrand facility in South Africa and our key build in Midrand is underway.

“These same clients, who have trusted us with their expansions into Kenya and other African territories, have expressed their interest in bringing digitisation at scale to West Africa. Our leadership and best practice in data centre operations have made us the obvious choice in their expansion strategies.”

The creation of a digital hub is the beginning of digital transformation capabilities for the region. Naturally, says Duproz, multinational enterprises will wish to be housed under the same roof as our hyperscaler customers due to the lower latency enjoyed.

As such, the combination of cloud providers and enterprises make these data centres marketplaces of the ecosystem – and, most importantly, he says, the base for the country’s digital and economic development.

Additionally, keeping African data on African soil is another key consideration driving the demand for local data centre facilities. “We are proud to be ensuring that African data stays in Africa,” he says.

Africa Data Centres has indicated that the Lagos build will spur the economy – creating job opportunities in various sectors.

“The stimulus effect to the economy of digitisation is well documented and Nigeria is ready for this technology boon,” says Duproz.

“Furthermore, our construction policy is to uplift the community as far as possible, employing local contractors and creating work opportunities within the communities we enter – so the job creation opportunities are realised at both grass-roots and high-tech levels.”

Having secured premium land in Lagos, Africa Data Centres has designed its latest data centre facility in line with environmental best practice, using grey, or non-potable water for cooling and utilising solar energy to offset its reliance on the grid.

“Digitising the continent at the cost of the environment is not a sacrifice Africa Data Centres is prepared to entertain. Our strategy encompasses empowering and uplifting the people, the environment and the economy,” he says.

In Senegal, the Morocco-based data centre company N+One, has said it is planning to build three data centres in the Senegalese capital Dakar.

Details of size and power density are not yet available, but it is understood that N+One has partnered with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications, along with the General Delegation for Rapid Entrepreneurship of Women and Youth (DER/FJ) and the Digital Technologies Park of Senegal (PTN), as part of the country’s Digital Senegal plan.

The Senegal Digital Technology Park in Dakar was first announced in 2015.

Part-funded by the African Development Bank, the 25-hectare site aims to promote the country as a base for international technology companies.

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Network International Names Hany Fekry Regional President, Northern & Sub-Saharan Africa

Appointment of Regional Head will help drive greater digital payments adoption across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa

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Hany Fekry, New Regional President, Northern & Sub-Saharan Africa, Network International

Network International, the leading enabler of digital commerce across the Middle East and Africa (MEA), has announced the appointment of Egyptian national Hany Fekry as Regional President – Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In his new role, Fekry will be responsible for all aspects of Network’s acquiring and issuing business in Egypt and Nigeria, and for developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to drive Network’s business growth and increase digital payments adoption in Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fekry joined Network in 2016 as Managing Director for Egypt and Deputy Managing Director for Africa, leading the company’s business development activities across the Northern and Sub-Saharan region.

Previously, he served as the Chief Commercial Officer of Emerging Markets Payments (EMP) Africa, which was acquired by Network International in 2016.

Fekry’s more than 20-year career has included developing business in markets including Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Nandan Mer, Group CEO of Network International, commented: “Building an effective payments infrastructure requires a thorough understanding of the needs of a local merchant and issuer clients to address their pain points and build locally relevant payments solutions.

“Since joining the team in 2016, Fekry’s deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges in digital payments adoption across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa has been instrumental in helping Network deliver customised and relevant solutions.

“I am confident he is the right person to strengthen our offering to clients, in addition to driving greater inclusion and building a stronger payments infrastructure in these fast-growing markets.”

Hany Fekry, Regional President – Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, added: “This is an incredibly exciting time for Network, with tremendous opportunities to accelerate the positive trends in digital payments across the region and increase financial inclusions.

“I look forward to helping build a best-in-class payment ecosystem that will support local merchants and financial institutions, and positively impact the economies across the Northern and Sub-Saharan African markets.”

 

 

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