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Africa’s Digital Economy poised to explode as regional integration opens new markets

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With Africa’s digital economy taking off exponentially, the continent must ready itself to maximize the potential dividends of the Continental Free Trade Area agreement, panel members told a packed auditorium in Kigali at the opening of Transform Africa Summit 2019 on Tuesday.

Key to this effort will be connectivity, data and digitization and innovation among others, conference attendees heard.

“Africa can achieve a digital single market…It is a journey and we need to break it up into doable bits, “African Development Bank Vice-president, Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization Pierre Guislain, said, adding that the European Union had demonstrated that it could be achieved.

Other members of the panel Lacina Kone, Director General / CEO of Smart Africa, the conference organizers, Fatoumata Ba, CEO Janngo, Nic Rudnick, CEO Liquid Telecom Group and Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum, shared similar sentiments.

This year’s summit which is themed Boosting Africa’s Digital Economy, aims to showcase success stories in the African digital economy and promote homegrown businesses, innovations, solutions and partnerships.

In a special intervention from the audience, World Bank Digital Director Dr. Boutheina Guermazi said:

“ICT and digital literacy is not a luxury. It is an integral part of how we view development,” adding that the foundations of the digital economy – connectivity, data and voice, would depend on a fully integrated digital infrastructure.

With the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, the possibility of new markets offer tantalizing new avenues for tech start-ups and e-businesses and a combined GDP of over $600 billion.

The internet has opened doors to access information and technology, a key component of accelerating the pace of the digital economy and connecting markets. Interconnection and interoperability create bigger markets which in turn attract investors.

The mobile phone industry is an example of the dynamism of the sector in Africa. Mobile phone subscriptions have grown in Africa from 87 million in 2005 to 760 million in 2017, growing 20% per annum. This is the fastest growing market in the world as well as the one with the most potential. Mobile network coverage ranges from 10 to 99% in Africa– an average of 70%.

Africa’s pioneering efforts in the FInTech space are illustrated by the fact that around half the world’s mobile money providers operate in sub-Saharan Africa, where as many as 80% of adults have a mobile phone. By 2020, the value of Africa’s mobile money industry is projected to top $14bn.

Single window schemes and One Stop Border Posts will accelerate intra-African trade, Guislain said, but openness and competition need to be promoted and defended. Indeed, some vested interests may fear this openness and do whatever they can to keep it from happening. We need to measure the speed of movement along Africa’s major trade corridors and ensure any remaining bottleneck gets removed, he added.

Africa also needs more private sector African champions – companies that have done well nationally and are ready to expand regionally and beyond.

“Business needs to be more of a driver. Domestic African private sector needs to go outside its borders to develop value chains…Africa has shown it can deliver,” Guislain said.

The 2019 Summit aims to provide practical ways to advance the commitments of African governments and partners to transform Africa into a fully digitized economy where technology is harnessed to fully reap the benefits of Pan-African integration efforts.

The Summit was formally opened by Rwandan Prime minister Dr. Ngirente Edouard, who talked about Rwanda’sambitious plan to prioritize digital literacy for all youth by 2024. “We expect to achieve at least 60% by 2024,” he said.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina will attend the official opening of the summit on Wednesday by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

An estimated 4,000 visitors from over 90 countries are expected for the three-day meeting which has become the continent’s premier digital technology summit. The next two days will see the launch of a Smart Africa Digital Economy Mapping Report, and a Smart Africa Women’s summit as well as several interactive plenaries.

SOURCE African Development Bank (AfDB)

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Digital Securities Maven Thomas Carter Enlists Former Nike Brand Director, Jerome Conlon, to Bring Cryptocurrency to the Masses

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Holders of bank stocks should avert their eyes. Having regained 2/3 of its value prior to last year’s sell-off, Bitcoin has risen nearly 200% so far this year. Many pundits and commentators are predicting another bull-run for Bitcoin before the end of the year. One such pioneer and FinTech veteran is Thomas Carter, founder of DealBox, a platform that empowers issuers and investors to take advantage of the current digital transformation of capital markets being driven by the emergence of STOs or Security Token Offerings.

The crafting of the narrative and strategy around this ambitious consumer education campaign — dubbed, “Make crypto easy” — will be led by branding guru Jerome Conlon.

Institutional investment is picking up; just about every Fortune 100 company is dipping in; Facebook just released Libra (for better or for worse); Blockstack launched the first SEC-qualified token offering in history. Bloomberg has finally admitted Bitcoin is a thing and President Trump is tweeting about it.

Those are just the highlights.

Even naysayers, at this point, can’t deny that cryptocurrency, Bitcoin and blockchain technology aren’t fading away. In fact, the often-cited tipping point of mass adoption seems to be fast approaching.

In his recently published book, “Life After Google,” economist and writer George Gilder, famous for predicting many of today’s technological advances back in the 80s, postulates that blockchain technology will have a bigger impact than all of the previous technological innovations combined.

Thomas Carter on the current situation:

“With blockchain tech and cryptocurrency, we aren’t dealing with a typical market adoption learning curve. Bitcoin was born of iconoclastic ideals and philosophy. If you were a technologist and you resonated with the philosophy behind Bitcoin, then you would figure out how to use it. In other words, user-friendliness wasn’t ever a consideration until now and that was mostly on purpose.”

Conlon has this to say about the project:

“This is the greatest business story never told. We need to tell it. People need to understand the massive change that blockchain is bringing to the world.”

The campaign will offer newbies to cryptocurrency solutions in four key areas:

1. Identity

2. Usability

3. Payments

4. Education

Details on the solutions being offered, and the vision for each, will be revealed in forthcoming information releases over the coming weeks.

To learn more about the Make Crypto Easy campaign, please visit http://www.makecryptoeasy.io.

 

SOURCE DealBox

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Ideanomics Unveils Plans For Fintech Village And Innovation Hub

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Ideanomics Inc. (Nasdaq: IDEX), a global technology company based in New York City, NY, took the wraps off its plans to transform the former UConn West Hartford campus into its global headquarters for technology and innovation.

“Nearly one year ago, I expressed our hope to call West Hartford our home,” said Ideanomics Chair, Dr. Bruno Wu, at a news conference held at the neighboring University of Saint Joseph. “Today, I am pleased to be able to share with you the reality beyond the vision”.

“Starting today, we take our largest step from blueprint to reality. Here in Connecticut, the front yard of the insurance and financial centers that call Connecticut and the Northeast their home,” Dr. Wu said.

“Fintech Village will be a unique and special project, the likes of which Connecticut has not seen. I thank former Governor Malloy for his support and Governor Lamont for being such a great partner and helping to make this day happen.”

“We have spent the past 10 months with our partners to design a specialized workplace that will stimulate both innovation and collaboration, and be an open campus with features and benefits that West Hartford residents spoke of in their town-wide Community Visioning Process last year,” said Alf Poor, Ideanomics CEO and President of Fintech Village.

Fintech Village will be a walkable campus accessible to the community and designed to fit organically into the natural beauty and scale of the campus’ 58-acre landscape, with:

  • Public plazas, open green spaces and recreational features
  • Boardwalks and trails through the restored natural habitat
  • Environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings
  • Traffic-calming measures on Trout Brook Drive
  • Small shops and places to eat
  • Enhanced parking for the Little League and Miracle League sports fields
  • A community center and an art gallery.

Neighborhood and community outreach begins

Poor stated that Ideanomics had begun its activities to engage, inform and solicit input from its West Hartfordneighbors and key community organizations.

“We wanted those living closest to campus to be among the first to hear about our plans through our neighborhood outreach program, which will soon spread to the West Hartford community as a whole,” Poor said, adding that the company will post and refresh information online at www.fintechvillage.us.

He said the company would also use, mail, social media, and traditional media outlets to provide updates on the project and inform residents throughout the public permitting process and project construction. Company representatives went door-to-door in a 500-foot zone around the campus, and will soon place information and descriptive imagery at the West Hartford Town Hall. It has offered to do the same at the Noah Webster Library and the Bishops Corner Branch Library.

Next steps: Environmental cleanup and local zoning and permitting process to begin

Poor said that Ideanomics was preparing to begin the environmental cleanup on site and the local zoning and permitting process with the town of West Hartford.

  • Ideanomics has commenced the cleanup of the asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were identified on site prior to its sale by UConn. The presence of these materials is relatively common for the type and age of the buildings currently on campus, and a licensed environmental contractor will contain, remove and safely dispose of all contamination.
  • Ideanomics has filed asbestos abatement notifications with the Connecticut Department of Health. The company’s contractor has begun preparing for the asbestos abatement, which is scheduled to begin this week, and will last for approximately 3 months.
  • The company is waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve its proposed plan to remove and dispose of the PCB-contaminated soils. This will hopefully come within the late summer/early fall.

Ideanomics is also poised to begin the zoning and permitting process with the town of West Hartford.

“We will work collaboratively with town planning officials to prepare site plans and permit applications for their review. The process to secure the approvals for Fintech Village will be public, thorough and deliberative—and the town will set the manner and timeline of that process,” Poor said.

The next step will be to seek local zoning approval to create a “Technology Village District” zone—updating the town’s current “Business Office Laboratory” zone.

After the zoning rules are updated, Ideanomics will then submit all the required permit applications necessary to develop and operate the campus, following all the public procedures established by the town of West Hartford.

“This innovation hub will be a center of excellence and collaboration for cutting-edge solutions with applications in artificial intelligence, robotics, clean tech, med tech, accounting, insurance, financial services, transportation and more,” said Dr. Wu.

“We believe it will be a positive cultural, ecological and community asset to our neighbors in West Hartford, and I am so proud to share these plans today.”

 

SOURCE Ideanomics

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Chinese Government Leads the World in Blockchain Standardized Certification

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For years, governments around the world have been floundering with the challenge of how to respond to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The Chinese Government has not been immune to the controversy taking a publicly conservative stance towards many aspects of the cryptocurrency world. However, a lesser known fact is that the Chinese Government has been regarding blockchain technology and its potential with a positive view. Starting 2017, China Electronics Technology Standardization Institute (CESI) – a government authorized institution founded in 1973, has been conducting Standard Blockchain System Function Test in order to pressure test and certify the top blockchain projects operating in China. Since inception, the organization has certified only 30 projects globally, including Lenovo, Alipay, and most recently, aelf.

The underlying thought behind this organization lies in the belief in the technology. Despite the appearance shared internationally because of its conservative stance on crypto currency, China in fact understands the benefits and application potential of the technology. At the launching ceremony and the first academic seminar of the Digital Finance Open Research Program held on July 8, 2019Xin Wang, director of People’s Bank of China Research Bureau and head of the Monetary and Financial Bureau, remarked on the potential of blockchain based financial solutions.

“We need to strengthen the construction of digital financial solutions (based on blockchain). There are various technical shortcomings involving the current financial infrastructure in areas of privacy protection and the system security against malicious attacks.”

The creation of the Standard Blockchain System Function Test shows that China is on the forefront when compared with governments around the world, in regards to regulatory and development solutions. While many governments are struggling to regulate blockchain projects, China has taken a decisive stance and developed extensive guidelines and tests to validate the previously uncharted technology. The certification provides a standard that can be used by the general public and other enterprises to judge the foundation of the projects that otherwise would be difficult without the knowledge and manpower to independently conduct the validation.

Currently there is no obligation for any project to apply for certification, but those that do apply undergo rigorous testing and scrutiny to verify the quality of all aspects of the technology. Upon having an application approved, the project will then receive a visit from specialized government agents who complete a comprehensive process consisting of over 40 pages of tests and analysis. The test is so complex and difficult that a pass constitutes of a score above 60%. From application to certification, the process takes almost 4 months. Out of an unverified number of applicants, only 30 projects have received certification over the course of the past 2 years.

Aelf is the latest to receive certification and is the first international blockchain focused company to receive the globally recognized status with a score of over 90%. They have now joined the ranks with Lenovo and Alipay. Aelf’s CEO and Founder, Ma Haobo stated, “This certification shows the quality and core ability of not only our developers, but our blockchain platform. It is designed to meet the strict quality large enterprises are given to expect, and indeed require, to ensure they can function at the performance their clients expect.” He went on to explain that this certification is something other governments should take notice of and employ to aid in their ever-evolving regulatory solutions.

 

SOURCE aelf

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