Cisco unveils Webex innovations that ensure equal opportunity and voice

As the world transitions to hybrid, organizations require solutions that are flexible, supportive and inclusive. Cisco unveiled an all-new Webex Suite with innovations to serve as the foundation for inclusive hybrid work and events, delivering unmatched levels of flexibility and personalization for everyone.

With 98 percent of future meetings expected to include at least one remote participant, this mixed mode of working (blending remote and in-person interactions) is fueling long-lasting implications on work culture, event engagement and technology. This requires investing more broadly – beyond the traditional conference room – to fundamentally reimagine the new requirements of hybrid events and a hybrid workforce. The way organizations worked pre-pandemic and during the pandemic will be starkly different in this next wave of work – where good enough is simply not enough.

“Cisco’s collaboration business is incredibly essential to our customers,” said Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco. “With all the integrations the team has added – 800 new features and devices since September – we truly have the most comprehensive meetings, calling, messaging, and event management solution on the market powering the future of hybrid work.”

“To be successful in the era of hybrid work, organizations need to make sure their solutions are flexible, inclusive, supportive, secure, and easily managed on the backend by IT,” said Jeetu Patel, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Security and Collaboration. “The all-new Webex Suite ensures everyone in a hybrid workforce has equal opportunity and voice.”

Webex want to ensure their dedication to a simple, delightful user experience is clear in every interaction our customers have with us: our products that are used by millions of customers today, our website that reaches millions of readers, and the presentations we deliver to live and virtual audiences of all sizes.

They used their own products daily and rely on Webex to overcome distance gaps, time zones, and language barriers. My team of marketers spans multiple continents, languages, and time zones, but they feel like they live next door. We relentlessly focus on quality and simplicity, and we are passionate and proud of our journey and the story it continues to shape.

The Webex brand system is much more than logos or colors. It’s a reflection of our purpose. The new logo was inspired by their guiding design principle of inclusion, a core value that is at the heart of everything they do, Introducing Webex by Cisco.

The new logo – the “W” is a rotating double helix which showcases two hands coming together – the perfect metaphor for teams in flow, each member participating and contributing equally to create something wonderful.

www.webex.com

www.cisco.com

Rwanda Improves Land Management Processes with GIS Technology

Begun in 2008, Rwanda’s land registration reform has fostered incremental improvements in the Rwanda land administration processes. The first version of LAIS helped support the initial collection and management of large amounts of land administration and legal data for the development of land-use plans at the national and district levels.

In collaboration with Kadaster International, RLMUA used the Esri ArcGIS to develop and deploy LAIS version 4.0, which is improving the current process of titling and certification of land throughout the country.

The land authority is responsible for implementing the National Land Tenure Reform Program, as provided by the National Land Policy and the law governing the land in Rwanda.

Over the last two decades, Rwanda has invested considerably in land administration. Most recently, the successful deployment of LAIS version 4.0 in 2019 and the adoption of Esri’s Land Administration Modernization Program (LAMP) have provided the country with advanced GIS technology and support to meet the evolving challenge of comprehensive land governance.

Esri’s LAMP is a grant program that allows resource-constrained countries and their cadastral agencies access to the Esri enterprise platform, supporting the upgrade to LAIS version 4.0 and mapping work.

“RLMUA got multiple benefits from implementing LAMP, such as providing better and [speedier] service delivery to the population, more consistent data; eliminated errors in land titles; and [provided] a better protection of the land titles [and] web map services, among others,” said Espérance Mukamana, director general and chief registrar of land titles, RLMUA.

The new system overcame technical challenges encountered in the previous LAIS versions by combining previously separated textual and GIS components into one system and better aligning with the current IT system’s security procedures. The new system also ensures alignment with the ISO 19152:2012 Land Administration Domain Model (LADM), which supports standardization and integration of land data.

LAIS version 4.0 now provides users with web access to up-to-date spatial data through mapping services, which can be shared seamlessly. It also integrates interactive national land data visualizations that share real-time statistics on land use through charts available on a central dashboard.

Additionally, the new system is enhancing transparency and providing users with the spatial tools and data they need to perform land-use analysis for their own land and, collectively, to better plan for the sustainable development of the country.

RLMUA has gained remarkable experience and results by using GIS for land management services, according to Mukamana, who says the technology has “led to a better understanding and implementation of the land management system and helped RLMUA achieve its targets efficiently.”

LAIS version 4.0 places Rwanda among the few countries on the continent with the level of advanced geospatial technology that can operationalize land administration and use capabilities while also enabling real-time monitoring of land rights and use for potential investments in the country. The entire system has proved to be a vital tool that informs decision-makers on any changes made to land-related transactions.

“This project represents a lighthouse for Africa,” said Sohail Elabd, Esri Global Business Development general manager, Middle East and Africa region.”Many governments are looking at ways to increase revenue through registration of land. Esri technology, provisioned through the LAMP, provides a set of out-of-the-box tools to do so. We are excited to be working with RLMUA to make this happen.”

rlma.rw

5th edition of the AFD Digital Challenge is out with a focus on innovating for the climate and biodiversity

“Innovate for climate and biodiversity” is the theme at the heart of the fifth edition of the AFD Digital Challenge. To participate, African start-ups operating in these fields have until May 26th to submit their applications via the website dedicated to the challenge.

With this annual competition, the AFD Group is once again strengthening its support to African start-ups and digital stakeholders. A digital revolution, driven by a new generation of entrepreneurs who combine innovation, economic performance, and social and environmental impact, is transforming the African continent.

Promoting a sustainable economic activity

Each year, the aim of the AFD Digital Challenge is to identify these startups, promote them, and accelerate their development. The mission of this fifth edition is to highlight digital innovation projects that help protect the environment, combat global warming, and/or protect biodiversity.

The competition is aimed at start-ups, associations, and research centers on the African continent, which offer innovative solutions to reduce the carbon impact of economic activities, promote the sustainable, participatory, and civic management of natural resources, and to promote a sustainable economic activity in accordance with environmental issues.

The 10 winning projects will receive financial support, as well as support to accelerate their project and participate in the development of solutions to protect the climate and biodiversity. They will be supported by AFD through an “acceleration pack”, a technical and financial support worth €20 000.

Selection phases

  • An application review phase, validating the eligibility of applicants and pre-selecting 30 start-ups on the basis of an analysis of the projects, their innovative nature, their economic model, their impact, and the role of digital technology;
  • An in-depth analysis phase by AFD experts of the pre-selected projects;
  • A final selection by the jury composed of AFD experts.

Announcement of the results on June 30, 2021.

Timeline: Applications can be submitted from April 28 to May 26, 2021.

www.afd.fr

MTN Rwanda Launches “Level Up Your Biz” to Support Youth-led Businesses.

MTN Rwanda is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Inkomoko Entrepreneur Development to support Rwandan youth-led businesses on their entrepreneurship journey with the Level Up Your Biz programme.

This 10-month programme will offer seed capital, valuable training and mentorship opportunities to eligible young entrepreneurs.

Speaking about this initiative, MTN Rwanda’s Chief Consumer and Digital Officer, Yaw Ankoma Agyapong said, “We set up Yolo as a platform to help the youth of Rwanda unleash their potential and drive them to achieve greatness. We are keen on investing in developing youth and want to make sure they are well-equipped to sustain their businesses, in line with MTN’s drive to contribute to the growth of SMEs thus promoting Rwanda’s growth.”

MTN’s partnership with Inkomoko aims to empower and provide youth-led businesses with the right practical knowledge and skills, that will strengthen their innovative capabilities amidst an evolving digital world.

Through a competitive application process, 6 youth-led SMEs/start-ups will be selected to receive:

  • A free 5-month accelerator from Inkomoko, including training, assessment, and consulting.
  • 3 out of the 6 businesses will compete to be selected to receive monetary funding support from MTN.
  • Webinars with industry experts to help boost their businesses.
  • Communication essentials and advertising platforms from MTN

Only participants whose business plans fulfil the criteria below of viability and sustainability will be selected for the programme.

  • The applicant must be Rwandan.
  • Must be a business owner aged 18-30.
  • Must have digital presence or use e-commerce.
  • Must have annual revenue of less than Rwf 200,000,000.
  • The company must have proof of registration with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) for at least 1 year.
  • Priority will be given to youth-led businesses that are making a social/environmental impact.

Sara Leedom, Inkomoko’s Chief Operating Officer also commented on this partnership by saying, “‘Levelling up’ means taking on the next challenge. We at Inkomoko see youth entrepreneurs in Rwanda take on the challenge of being more digital, using eCommerce, and embracing innovation. Inkomoko is excited for our partnership with MTN to help young entrepreneurs embrace the challenge and grow even further. Level Up Your Biz is an opportunity for digitally connected entrepreneurs to gain more management skills from Inkomoko and digital tools from MTN.

Level Up Your Biz is in line with MTN’s digital ambition as it focuses on capacity building for businesses that use digital platforms to innovate and provide local solutions that address a market need in Rwanda.

Our mission is to lead digital for a brighter Rwanda where everyone is connected to the digital world.  By supporting these young entrepreneurs, we see ourselves as partners on their digitization journey as they realise their entrepreneurial dreams,” concluded Agyapong.


For any enquiries about the Level Up Your Biz programme, email info@inkomoko.com.

mtn.co.rw

Milken Institute and Motsepe Foundation launch $2 million AgriTech competition for African entrepreneurs

The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation have launched the Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize program, a multi-year initiative to focus global innovators and entrepreneurs on developing technological solutions that accelerate progress towards implementing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a spotlight on the African continent.

This program will include multiple technology prize competitions in the areas of agriculture, energy, education, and health.

Dr. Patrice Motsepe, Founder and Chairman, Motsepe Foundation: “Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies have the power to solve complicated socio-economic and human problems. In the hands of entrepreneurs, these technologies can turn Africa into a global economic powerhouse and transform the world. Precious and I are thrilled to partner with Mike Milken and the Milken Institute to launch this prize that encourages African and global entrepreneurs to innovate and use 4IR technologies to address some of Africa and the world’s most pressing challenges and improve the living conditions and standards of living of people globally.”

Registration is open for the first of these free-to-enter prizes. The Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech is a $2 million global competition for innovative solutions to increase economic value to farmers, from seed to sale.

Mike Milken, Chairman, Milken Institute: “My good friends Patrice and Precious Motsepe have long been valued partners of the Milken Institute, especially in addressing global health issues. The Motsepe Foundation’s leadership has been highly effective in Africa and inspiring to people around the world. I’m delighted that we will again join forces to encourage long-term technological innovation and enhance the human capital of farmers so they can play a greater role in sustaining a more-dynamic regional economy.”

Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-founder and CEO, Motsepe Foundation: “This prize competition will tap into global entrepreneurial and technological potential, including among women and the growing youth population across the African continent and worldwide. We’re confident that the competition will attract a diverse group of participants across the world who want to engage with a broad network of resources to action their innovative ideas.”

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in AgriTech was developed through rigorous and inclusive consultations with more than 50 experts from a variety of disciplines, representing academia, industry and government, to define the competition guidelines and evaluation metrics. Field testing will take place in Africa and solutions should have the potential to be applied globally.

Dr. Emily Musil Church, senior director, Milken Institute’s Center for Global Market Development: “Prize competitions encourage innovation, diversify the talent pool, and inspire new voices from budding entrepreneurs to seasoned engineers. We are pleased to introduce this approach to advancing the SDGs that will harness the power of technology to solve global challenges and create true systems of change.”

How to Enter

Teams have until December 8, 2021 to register and submit designs and business models.

An independent panel of expert judges will select up to 25 teams to each receive $10,000 to develop small-scale prototypes over the ensuing six months. In the final round, teams will demonstrate their entries in field tests which will be evaluated by their ability to:

Increase net economic value to the farmer

Increase productivity at harvest and/or decrease post-harvest loss

Reduce costs for farmers

Provide a viable and sustainable business model

Be implemented by small and medium-sized farms

Develop or integrate innovative technologies

The judges will award a $1 million Grand Prize, with additional prize money distributed among Second and Third Place winners, a prize for the most creative use of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and a People’s Choice Prize.

Registration is free, and in addition to the prize money, teams will benefit from access to networking, training, and other resources.

www.milkenmotsepeprize.org

www.milkeninstitute.org

The call for applications for the Smart Cities Innovation programme is now officially open!

The Call for Applications for the Smart Cities Innovation Programme is now officially open! If you are you a tech start-up operating in the field of Mobility, Housing or Fintech, we encourage you to apply to #SCIPAfrica accelerator and contribute to shaping the African Cities of tomorrow!​

What is the Smart Cities Innovation Programme (SCIP)?

SCIP aims at supporting 30 high-potential start-ups from Africa divided into 3 tracks: Smart Mobility, Smart Housing and Fintech for Affordability. The start-ups will benefit from individual mentoring, training as well as intensive networking and matchmaking with international business partners and investors, including Volkswagen, Siemens and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN). Start-ups will also be able to use Green City Kigali, Rwanda’s flagship smart city project, as a sandbox to test their solutions and enter the Rwandan market. To learn more about SCIP, visit www.scipafrica.com. ​

Who are we looking for?

The start-ups must have already launched their tech-enabled product or service on the African market and have customers. They should also have a high growth and job creation potential, as well as a positive social and/or environmental impact. Finally, start-ups from Rwanda and/or with female members in management are preferred at equal qualification.​

When and where does SCIP take place?

SCIP is a 6-month remote accelerator running from June to December 2021. It will culminate with demo-days organised in Kigali the last week of September. ​

How to apply?

Submit your application form on www.scipafrica.com before the end of the Open Call on May 9th. If your application is shortlisted, you will be invited to submit additional information about your start-up and participate to an interview. ​

About SCIP

The rate of urbanisation in Africa is the highest in the world. By 2030, 50% of Africans are predicted to be living in urban settings. According to the World Bank, this increasing urbanisation holds much potential for the continent, as it can result in economic growth and poverty reduction. At the same time, it holds the risk of aggravating inequality and urban poverty. Therefore, concrete action to direct Africa’s urban transformation in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals is needed. In collaboration with the Rwandan government, SCIP has been set up to support the growth of digital urban innovations in Rwanda and beyond. ​

SCIP is a joint project of the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation and the Tech-Entrepreneurship Initiative “Make IT in Africa”. Both initiatives are implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The implementation of SCIP is supported by Luvent Consulting, MEST and AfriLabs.

make- it-initiative.org

Africa is ready to fight covid-19 with seven innovative data projects

Agence Française de Développement (AFD)  “Shared Innovation” series highlights innovative programs created or developed in our partner countries to combat covid-19.

AFD, Expertise France and The GovLab have launched call for projects that will use data to combat Covid-19. The goal is to unlock the potential of under-exploited data, as part of the #Data4COVID19 challenge – with a focus on Africa. This call for innovative, data-based proposals aims to address the economic, social and health challenges caused by Covid-19 across the continent. Some 80 project proposals were submitted. Here are the seven winners.

An early warning system to identify disease outbreaks; an analysis of how the crisis has affected students; the identification of missed opportunities for testing vulnerable populations. What do they all have in common? Data.

Data is essential to better understand the different aspects of the crisis and the pandemic. Data can be used to implement policies designed to help communities across the African continent.

And yet, there is too much data that, despite being open and available, lies unused in digital archives. In order to exploit this data to benefit communities, AFD, Expertise France and The GovLab launched the #Data4COVID19 challenge, with a focus on Africa.

More than 80 project proposals were received and reviewed, with the help of a panel of independent data science experts. Project winners obtain funding (the total budget for the seven projects is €567,000), and will gain access to an online platform through which they can interact directly with data science experts to discuss their work, find solutions collectively to the challenges faced, and share results.

This platform will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and help increase the impact and widen the influence of each project. Here’s a glimpse at the seven winning projects. 

1. Improving Testing among vulnerable populations

Research Institute for Development

Mali

In Mali, Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations is generally inadequate due to structural and socio-behavioral barriers. The purpose of this project is to quantify the missed opportunities for Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations (particularly people living with HIV). The aim is to demonstrate that Covid-19 testing for these groups could be improved with appropriate use of the human and institutional resources available.

  • In short: a project to quantify missed opportunities for Covid-19 testing among vulnerable populations (particularly people living with HIV).

2. Assessing and minimizing the negative effects of the pandemic on students 

Alioune Diop University of Bambey

Senegal

To combat the pandemic, the Senegalese government imposed protective measures in the higher education sector that are likely to have a negative impact on the quality of education provided. To what extent have higher education students been affected by these measures? Could this have an effect on their academic and professional performance? Can a student’s environment have an impact on their results? This project aims to answer all these questions, with a view to finding appropriate solutions to limit the negative effects of health measures on students’ quality of education.

  • In short: a project to assess how higher education students have been impacted by the crisis and to develop appropriate solutions.

3. Understanding determinants of behavior towards health measures

Nigeria Center for Disease and Control

Nigeria

Nigeria was hit hard by a second wave of Covid-19, partly because people were less willing to adhere to government guidelines. In the first instance, the researchers aim to identify the social, economic and political factors that shape Nigerians’ individual perceptions and beliefs with regard to Covid-19. They will then examine how these perceptions and beliefs affect people’s behavior towards health measures.

  • In short: a project aiming to understand the political, economic and social factors that shape Nigerians’ individual perceptions and beliefs with regard to Covid-19, and how this affects their behavior.


4. Developing an African Covid-19 vulnerability index

Code for Africa

Nigeria and Senegal

The spread of Covid-19 and its new variants is worsening on the African continent due in part to the many health challenges that existed prior to the pandemic. This project aims to help policymakers to analyze the impact of these preexisting challenges more effectively, by providing them with up-to-date data and digital tools so that they can better plan their Covid-19 response. An African Covid-19 vulnerability index will be developed in coordination with Africa CDC.

  • In short: a project to develop an African Covid-19 Vulnerability Index, in coordination with Africa CDC, for use by policymakers to inform their decision-making processes with more accurate and up-to-date data.

5. Identifying the role of people’s perceptions in developing effective prevention programs

The Population Council 

Kenya

Why are Covid-19 infection rates increasing in Africa? And in Kenya specifically? Do people’s perceptions of their vulnerabilities play a role? How does this affect their compliance with preventive behaviors amid the threat of Covid-19? The researchers aim to develop a better understanding of the causes of the virus’s spread by studying the nature of these perceptions among the social groups identified. The information collected will be used to develop targeted prevention, communication and information programs in key countries to control not only the current pandemic, but also any future outbreaks.

  • In short: a project to assess how perceptions of vulnerability to Covid-19 affect compliance with preventive behaviors, among the population subgroups identified.

6. Developing an early warning system to identify disease outbreaks

National Institute of Public Hygiene 

Côte d’Ivoire

There are many people who, despite being infected with Covid-19, do not have recourse to health care services, making it difficult to detect many cases. This project aims to improve existing epidemic surveillance mechanisms, particularly among population groups with little or no access to health care services. The goal is to develop an early warning system to identify outbreaks and monitor the spread of diseases.

  • In short: a project to improve existing epidemic surveillance mechanisms through the development of an early warning system, with a particular focus on population groups with little or no access to health care services.

7. Using social networks to better understand citizens and promote compliance with prevention measures

Data Science Institute: Institut National Polytechnique Felix Houphouët-Boigny 

Côte d’Ivoire

There are many obstacles to implementing suitable health care measures in response to the pandemic, such as difficulties determining the right measures to adopt and assessing their impact, as well as the public’s mistrust in governments. By using anonymized data from social networks, this project intends to gain a better understanding of people’s expectations and concerns regarding health measures. This research aims to help the authorities regain public trust and implement a more effective policy response. 

  • In short: a project to use anonymized data from social networks for a better understanding of people’s expectations and concerns regarding government measures in response to Covid-19 (curfews, lockdowns, etc.), in order to restore public trust in the authorities.

www.afd.fr

Learning from the Startup Nation “Israel”

With the title that went “Can innovation really help our cities?” the #kLabTalks event that was held recently, unfolded mentioning the role innovation plays into the development of smart cities, as the talk went on however other critical aspects that goes with smart cities were touched on; citing mainly the involvement of data and information which leads finally to CyberSecurity issues. Having one of the great minds you would ever meet explaining his point of view on the matter; Rafi Rich and being hosted by a tech startup community we ended up talking more and wider than you would expect, we will not touch on every point mentioned during the #kLabTalks which by the way you can watch later on Youtube, but 4 points made it clear on the mindset startups should have:

1. Don’t be afraid to fail: Asked if the success of startups in Israel has any relationship with the fact that most of Israelis at least 80% have to server at least 3 years in the army, you would expect that the response would be kind of; discipline or perseverance but none of this is the case; instead the art of learning from the mistakes and room for improvement was key. Elaborating on this, he gave an example of how if a soldier crashes a Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 (aircraft) that costs around $100 M, the person would return, get together with others, explain what happened to others, learn from the mistakes, learn how it should be avoided in the future and finally move on, not the other way of imprisonment and severe sanction of having burnt $100 M in minutes. This gives the clear and net picture of why people are not afraid of trying in the startup nation.

2. Don’t do it the “Yekke” way:
 Mentioning this, Rafi highlighted how as the German saying goes “The devils are in the details” should not be the way of a startup, he then elaborated on the “German way” how you would first sit, list everything in detail, plan on how everything will go, how much you will need for every aspect alongside the process and so on… However only big companies like CISCO or IBM have the resources, time and people to do that, startups don’t have that and therefore should improvise and start working on whichever product they have and if they fail, they should learn from point 1, and the cycle goes on and on.

3. Should start small but can be scaled: 
When big companies like Microsoft or Oracle are developing solutions, they target the global market which is a challenge because there is no way the whole world would have one same problem to be addressed by that same solution, which is why most of the solutions are tried to fit a specific problem and at the end fails because it wasn’t solely developed for that particular problem, hence solutions should be developed for specific problems and this is even clearer when you take the example of Online payment versus Mpesa.

4. You should live the problem you are trying to solve: 
Starting stating that a startup should never be a one person team, the main point isn’t however the technology that will be needed in the development of the solution rather the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve. He stressed out that if the not the people who are living the problem the ones trying to solve that, any one else should take the time to live that problem, as the famous quote from Albert Einstein goes “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

Please join us on Social media for more detailed and deep discussions, and hope this was a good read that will influence the way you will do things in future.

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