By Modupe Gbadeyanka
As part of efforts to advance future payment solutions in Africa, a world leader in digital payments, Visa, has opened an Innovation Studio in Nairobi, Kenya.
The studio was officially opened by the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Dr Patrick Njoroge, at an event attended by leading banks, financial technology companies and innovation specialists from across Sub-Saharan Africa
It is the first in Sub-Saharan Africa and will provide Visa partners with cutting-edge capabilities to co-create future commerce solutions on the continent.
The facility joins a network of innovation centres operated by Visa since 2016, in cities including Dubai, Singapore and San Francisco. It supports Visa’s commitment to promoting innovation and creating opportunities for clients and fintech partners.
According to a statement from the firm, the studio in Nairobi was designed to replicate the success of Visa’s flagship innovation centre, One Market, in San Francisco and provide Visa’s partners with access to tools that strengthen their capabilities in developing new solutions.
“Sub-Saharan Africa is a fast-growing region with a tech-savvy population. As we continue to grow digital payments adoption in the region, our aspiration is to deepen our collaboration with clients and partners in developing solutions that are designed around the unique needs of Africa,” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Visa in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“As a brand built on technology, Visa has driven the major technological advancements that make electronic payments what they are today. We are confident that the innovation studio will continue that legacy and cement Sub-Saharan Africa’s position as a leader in creating out of the box solutions to deal with our most pressing challenges as a region,” added Diarra.
Businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa have been leading the way in introducing new methods of paying and being paid, by harnessing innovative technologies. Ideas to expand the growth of emerging payment areas such as Tap to Phone and Pay on Delivery will be explored at the Innovation Studio alongside the ongoing development of cutting-edge smarter payment solutions that leverage blockchain, the Internet of Things, Virtual Reality and biometrics.
The studio will help Visa clients and partners from across the continent extend their service offerings. Through a human-centred approach, the studio’s immersive environment will also provide clients and partners with tools to overcome some of their biggest business challenges while uncovering new commercial avenues of opportunity Visa’s Innovation Centres have been instrumental in the conceptualization and implementation of new business ideas and platforms around the globe. Several Sub-Saharan African companies have already leveraged Visa’s innovation centre capabilities, these include Paga; which collaborated with Visa to co-create a platform that offers tools to small businesses; and Safaricom on a solution to enable 24 million M-PESA users to transact at Visa merchant locations, and 150,000 M-PESA merchants to accept Visa card payments.
Meta Introduces WhatsApp Call Links to Rival Zoom, Google Meet
By Adedapo Adesanya
WhatsApp is rolling out a new feature that allows users to share a direct link to a call, just as it is planning to allow up to 32 users during a call session in a move that can see the Meta-owned platform rival other platforms.
The Call Links feature will start appearing on WhatsApp this week and can be accessed through a banner at the top of the Calls tab. WhatsApp users who want to try the Call Link feature will need the latest version of the app, which can be updated through the app store.
Mr Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, while announcing the feature on Facebook, said WhatsApp users will be able to share a link to a call with “a single tap.”
The ability to share a call link with up to 32 users was teased in April during the announcement of another upcoming feature, WhatsApp Communities.
The WhatsApp Call Links feature will support both audio and video calls. Mr Zuckerberg also confirmed that encrypted video calling is currently being tested for group calls with up to 32 people, which is notable, as WhatsApp currently caps video calls at eight users.
The expanded call capacity sets up WhatsApp as a competitor for Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. These rival offerings have a far greater caller capacity (100 for Google and Microsoft Teams and 300 for Zoom).
However, they include restrictions like call duration for free accounts and might not be the first choice for the billions of people already chatting for free on WhatsApp.
WhatsApp did not mention any restrictions on call duration, which could place it as one of the best free video calling applications for smaller teams and personal networks once the feature is widely available.
Why Digital and Tech Skills Need to be Included at all Levels of Education
Education is, without a doubt, a fundamental human right. Today, digitalisation enables us to improve education and provide equal access to all. But where do we even begin?
In a world where everything is online, and any business that isn’t online is losing money, failing to teach our children digital skills for today and tomorrow will only widen our continent’s skills gap. This is because more than half of today’s professions demand technical abilities.
So, why is it critical for the technology industry to be involved in education at all levels?
Nurture future champions of the industry
Technology literacy and digital literacy are crucial for Africa’s future. And while we are making progress with the introduction of coding in primary schools in countries like Kenya and South Africa, we still have a ways to go.
“We know that every technology business is hampered in its growth by a severe lack of talent across Africa, and it is up to us as a part of that ecosystem to help develop and nurture future champions of the industry,” says Sean Riley, CEO at Ad Dynamo by Aleph.
“Unfortunately, there is still a substantial skills gap in Africa, and to solve it, we must begin at the grassroots level. We live in an increasingly digital world, so it is only logical that we begin teaching digital skills,” adds Riley.
Provide more flexible pathways
According to a World Economic Forum report, 65% of today’s primary school children will eventually be working in job types that do not exist yet, while the International Finance Corporation (IFC) estimates that by 2030, more than 230 million jobs in Africa will require digital skills.
“It is therefore clear that emerging economies face significant upskilling challenges, which need to be addressed throughout the educational careers of young people. Businesses and educational institutions must work together to ensure that learners are equipped to handle the ever-changing nature of work.
“The business sector, in particular, should take the lead in this regard, whether through training sessions, providing more flexible skills pathways, or through the recognition of short courses, as well as online and self-learning,” says Vanashree Govender, Huawei SA spokesperson.
Technology innovation is happening so quickly that training must now be adjusted constantly, almost in real time, as new systems, applications, and devices come to market.
Conscious of the need for technology-driven upskilling, Huawei has built strong relationships with training and education institutions and established programmes such as our ICT Academies at universities and TVET colleges and our Seeds for the Future programme, which aims to develop skilled, local ICT talent.
“Education needs to be contextual. It should enable children to understand things around them and prepare them for real-world challenges. As technology has become ubiquitous, it is important to teach children how it impacts the world and helps them understand how it can be utilised to solve various problems,” says Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa – Zoho Corp.
Prepare students for an evolving workplace
Students require more than a functional knowledge of digital and technological skills to succeed in the world. By incorporating these technologies into the normal curriculum and ongoing activities, institutions ensure that their students are more equipped for the modern workplace.
MTN Nigeria Partners Ericsson for Effective 5G Services
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A deal has been reached between Ericsson and MTN Nigeria for the launching of 5G services in Lagos and a few cities in the first phase of the collaboration.
With Ericsson Radio System, MTN will provide advanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access services, unlocking a range of new opportunities in the enterprise domain.
The new 5G services can bring about unique, sustainable development initiatives for agriculture, energy, financial inclusion, and security, overcoming past institutional challenges and barriers to growth.
In the future, MTN Nigeria’s Ericsson-powered 5G network will be driven by software-defined network capabilities where a combination of currently available and well-understood AI techniques will allow a higher degree of practical autonomous operation.
AI creates opportunities for improved performance, higher efficiency, enhanced customer experience, and new business models and uses cases for 5G, IoT and enterprise.
“5G will revolutionize the way we live and communicate across industries. With the speeds 5G offers, we will be able to experience the internet with low latency, which means no lag, making our virtual interactions more real.
“At MTN, we will continue to pursue the rollout of 5G technology to revolutionize internet access across the continent,” the Chief Technical Officer at MTN Nigeria, Mr Mohammed Rufai, said.
“5G is not just about speed. 5G helps people do more with their devices, unlocking a whole new world of possibilities for society.
“5G connectivity is likely to pave the way for life-altering advancements, and we are proud to be a part of Nigeria’s 5G digital transformation that has only just begun.
“With connectivity being the backbone of digitization, we are committed to delivering the best service to our partners at MTN Nigeria to support them in this thrilling journey,” the Vice President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa, Mr Hossam Kandeel, stated.
In the deal’s first phase, Ericsson will deploy its 5G technology, which includes 5G Radio Access Network and NSA Packet Core, to accelerate the development and digitalisation of key sectors such as education, healthcare and manufacturing.
It will also empower consumers and enterprises with innovative 5G applications that will unlock the true potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), smart cities and Immersive Communication over Augmented (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) for millions of new consumers in the country.
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