Emerging threats • Jan 2021
In 2021, business will face a globally fragmented recovery from COVID-19; now is the time embrace risk and focus on the rebound • The COVID-19 pandemic, emerging digital threats, climate change and the US China relationship are among the Top 5 Risks for business in 2021, published by Control Risks, the specialist global risk consultancy
Underpinning these risks, the danger of missing the rebound in a year of multi-speed recovery is a top risk for business in the coming year.
"There's no doubt that businesses will continue to face considerable disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, but we believe that the opportunities are real and exciting for many companies in 2021," comments Control Risks CEO, Nick Allan.
All top 5 global risks are present in Africa but play out in unique ways. In some areas the continent presents a positive break from the more negative global trends, such as in the regional cooperation shown by the continent in its response COVID-19 and the planned launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
Overall, however, 2021 will be a tough year for a continent that will struggle to recover from COVID-19 as fast as much of the rest of the world. Despite many significant opportunities for investors, the markets they are investing in will be ones characterised by significant operational and political uncertainty.
The investors that will achieve success in 2021 are those that understand that Africa's post-pandemic landscape will be tangibly changed from what came before, presenting different challenges and new opportunities.
The global Top 5 Risks for Business in 2021
2021 will be a year of uneven recovery as vaccine rollouts create a world of haves and have-nots, with pockets of forever COVID at the bottom of the pecking order. Much of Africa, unfortunately, will be in the have-not category and companies will face prolonged operational uncertainty as localised restrictions are sporadically imposed in response to virus spikes. Africa's economic recovery will also be more gradual, as governments with limited fiscal headroom cannot engage in sustained stimulus spending and must instead rely on under-developed private sectors to drive their recoveries.
While 2021 should see superficial stabilisation in the US-China relationship, the straining of the international rules-based system seen over the past few years will not go into full reverse. Competition rather than cooperation will remain the norm in international relations. In this regard at least Africa represents a welcome break from global trends, as 1 January will see the launch of ACFTA, and although full implementation of a continental free trade area will be slow the fact that Africa is moving in that direction when much of the world is not should be attractive to potential investors.
An inflection point is coming for the relationship between businesses and climate change in 2021. No organisation can now afford not to take a stance. The environment is a critical aspect in a broader area of the ESG agenda. Although no African country bar South Africa has made a net zero pledge to date – without special funding, governments do not view it as a priority – the continent nonetheless has huge renewable energy potential. Renewable energy projects connected to microgrids make sense in a continent of small population centres spread over huge areas, and the recent liberalisation of energy markets in many countries has opened up multiple opportunities for private-sector investors. Without government backing, however, investor may ignore these opportunities for the subsidies and support on offer elsewhere.
The remarkable increase in connectivity across Africa – in mobile phone penetration, internet penetration, social media use and data traffic flows – has opened up a vast array of new opportunities. This is evidenced by the rapid growth in the African tech sector over the past few years. But this connectivity also brings risks. Cyber crime has boomed across Africa, from simple scams to sophisticated attacks on critical infrastructure. Criminal and state actors have also engaged in influence operations, spreading misinformation and inflammatory content that poses reputational risks to companies as well as political players. Companies in Africa, just like the rest of the world, will have to balance the drive for technological innovation with security, integrity and resilience challenges.
The coming year will see strong GDP growth in multiple markets, the roll-out of vaccines and a world hungry to start living again. While progress will be faltering, an uplift is coming - do not miss the rebound. If 2020 was about survival for many companies, 2021 is the time to focus on opportunity. Under the duress of COVID-19 many companies have flexed, not broken. Through innovation, rapid technology adoption and streamlining, they have emerged stronger, while weaker competitors have fallen. Those companies that turn the efficiency gains of 2020 into productivity gains, continue to accurately assess trends and show flexibility in adapting their operations will benefit from the coming surge in demand.
"Governance, policy consistency and rule of law are critical for investors in Africa and deep-rooted challenges remain across the continent in this realm, however we do see positive change across the region. Recovery will be an opportunity for governments to address structural constraints and promote new approaches & technologies - the region remains front and centre for many of our clients. For Control Risks, Africa sits at the heart of our past, present, and future - we continue to invest and see growth across the region" explains Tom Griffin, Partner - Africa and Middle East, Control Risks. • 1/21
AI • 5G • Banking • Oct 2020
The Coronavirus has accelerated the need for mobile and self-service banking, with traditional branches seeing a fall in customer traffic, meaning their customer acquisition has also significantly declined
Though it may be tempting to conclude that this will lead to bank branches becoming obsolete, that is not the case. Instead, the development of new technologies - such as artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G - will empower bank outlets by allowing them to become intelligent, being assigned new functions and different objectives.
Despite the rapid development of mobile services, branches remain integral in high-value fields, from opening accounts to wealth management and private banking. In these scenarios, customers typically prefer face-to-face communication. Furthermore, branches remain particularly important for brand promotion, as well as delivering an optimal service experience.
Next generation smart bank branches will involve multiple intelligent, self-service, and remote video devices to provide promotion and training services — improving the customer experience, while reducing labor costs for banks. They will also be lightweight; with the limited physical space they take up being used effectively.
A final, but important, key feature of smart branches will be mobility. 5G wireless connections will be used to provide stable and massive data services, achieving widespread banking services coverage.
Most bank branches in China have been intelligently reconstructed, with service personnel able to identify and categorise customers, so more are now directed to smart equipment to handle services, meaning fewer are led to the counter.
Meanwhile, service personnel are available to offer guidance to customers at any time they need. As well as shortening customer waiting times, online e-bank services also deliver a brand-new experience.
Huawei believes that the application of new technologies such as AI, 5G and cloud can enrich a bank's existing network design, provide a full-journey network experience for customers, and optimise network management modes.
When a customer walks into an intelligent bank branch, service personnel are able to immediately identify the individual customer using a smart device, as an interactive large screen displays the financial products that the customer has browsed on their app. For offline financial management assessment or account checking services, an immersive experience can be offered through augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) glasses.
Customers don't need to go to a specific branch to handle complex business services; service personnel can contact experts at headquarters, who are ready to answer customer questions in real-time. Elsewhere, the temperature, humidity, and even the lighting of the building can be automatically adjusted in accordance with crowd density and weather conditions.
When customers go to other cities and visit bank branches, their data will be synchronised nationwide. Different branches can continuously optimise the customer route design based on historical service analysis, delivering unique services to each customer.
Huawei uses AI, big data and cloud platforms to build a unified online and offline precision marketing platform. With full-stack AI capabilities, it can provide intelligent customer services online and cooperate with partners to provide AI robots that guide customers in branches, greatly improving the customer experience. And while intelligent cameras accurately identify VIP bank customers on arrival, big data analytics of the precision marketing platform hosted on HUAWEI CLOUD implements personalised service recommendations and precision marketing.
In addition, Huawei's television product, Huawei Vision, is used to implement precision marketing and ad pushes, efficiently identifying customer requirements. In terms of service handling at branches, AI automatic identification technologies such as Optical Character Recognition speed up service handling and build a comprehensive smart marketing scenario.
In a smart branch of a Chinese multi-national bank in Beijing, Huawei's Atlas AI small cells provide functions such as VIP customer identification and movement track analysis, boosting the marketing capability of the branch.
With the development of smart branches and the application of multimedia devices, mobile devices, and high definition video, high bandwidth capacity becomes essential. Huawei uses 5G technology to provide large-bandwidth network coverage and uses SD-WAN intelligent traffic steering technology to enable intelligent selection of private lines, ensuring maximal bandwidth for the key services of bank branches.
Compared with traditional Wi-Fi networks, a Wi-Fi 6 network developed based on Huawei's 5G technology significantly improves network bandwidth, coverage and stability — meeting the wireless requirements of multimedia devices such as tablets as well as HD videos.
Huawei's 5G and SD-WAN products have been successfully applied to the construction of 5G intelligent network points of one of the world's three largest lenders, providing customers with a vastly improved network experience.
Compared with traditional branches, there is a huge amount of both data and IT devices in a smart branch, putting immense pressure on IT operations and management. Huawei's FusionCube solution integrates a branch's IT devices - such as servers, storage devices, and switches - providing functions such as plug-and-play, remote attendance, and edge-cloud synergy, meeting integrated IT device management requirements.
Meanwhile, the Intelligent Operation Center platform, jointly developed by Huawei and its partners, implements unified management of operations for all branch devices at the bank's headquarters. The Internet of Things (IoT) asset management system that is deployed, provides full lifecycle management, from asset distribution and monitoring, to asset stocktaking and recycling.
Huawei is working with a multi-national Chinese bank in Hong Kong test its IoT asset management system, with the intention of helping the bank build smart branches.
Security protection is critical, so smart security protection is indispensable for branch construction. With advanced AI chips and open camera operating systems, Huawei provides a full series of video cloud analysis platforms, to implement surveillance functions such as abnormal behaviour analysis, mask identification and detection of loitering, trailing, theft, accidents and fires.
Huawei's solutions also offer internal control detection, such as heat maps inside a branch, monitoring when employees leave the building, and attendance and access control.
To gain a solid foothold in the market, amid intense competition, commercial banks must seize the moment and tackle branch challenges head-on.
In the future, competition among commercial banks will no longer be limited to business forms, customer groups and products. Instead, it will focus on higher-level fields such as FinTech, 5G, AI, data management and account security.
With increasingly homogeneous competition, traditional banks must apply technologies such as AI and 5G to overcome technical obstacles. Only through radical 'smartification' of financial services, can banks continue to grow and embrace the future.
Huawei has long been committed to working with partners to build more user-friendly and automated branches for banks, providing high-tech experiences for customers. Branches no longer merely provide traditional financial services. New application scenarios and devices - from AR shopping, simulated car finance, and intelligent customer service robots, to remote interactive entertainment, space capsule-style mobile financial services and coffee banks - are emerging.
Huawei's AI + 5G + cloud platform will provide strong technical support to make highly automated and intelligent bank branches a reality. • 10/20
Service • Africa • Ago 2020
Vertiv Announces New Suite of Edge Infrastructure Products and Further Develops Award-Winning Partner Programme in Europe, Middle East and Africa • One year after the successful launch of its partner programme, Vertiv adds new benefits for channel resellers and revamps product offerings
Vertiv has announced key additions to its award-winning Vertiv™ Partner Programme (VPP) along with an enhanced suite of edge-ready products including rack power distribution units (rPDU), uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), rack cooling systems, dedicated software and services for partners and customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Download.
Following the successful launch of the VPP last year, Vertiv has seen a tenfold increase in its channel partner base across EMEA and is continuing to add benefits for new and existing partners. The brand-new partner relationship management (PRM) system and the enhanced partner portal will enable Vertiv partners to take immediate advantage of tailored trainings to match partner requirements; new sales and marketing tools; online trainings and certification; and product selectors and configurators. The new suite of tools has been designed to help partners develop key skills and knowledge and achieve greater differentiation and profitability along with increased business opportunities.
Loot.co.za said: “Our Vertiv partnership has always been smooth and easy. Vertiv are one of our key partners in providing critical power systems to our South African customers; they are constantly improving and innovating, this goes hand in hand with Loot’s goals to always put our customer’s needs first.”
The new suite of products further enhance Vertiv’s comprehensive portfolio of IT technologies and services, tying these into a complete and flexible single-source rack-based solution including:
The new Vertiv™ VRC IT Rack Cooling unit with a self-contained and a split version and Vertiv™ Liebert® CRV Row Cooling unit , designed specifically for critical equipment in small server rooms, network closets and edge computing sites. The systems uniquely deploy load-matching, variable-capacity compressors and fans, making these one of the industry’s highest capacity, most efficient cooling units for IT cabinets. The Vertiv VRC is complemented by a complete service package including installation, start-up response time and preventive maintenance.
Vertiv™ Geist™ Rack rPDU series with a new 2-in-1 combination outlet for flexible plug connectivity and easy cable management. The Geist™ UPDU is the latest addition to the Geist rPDU family, which features an innovative universal input socket that allows various configurations for customers with multiple deployments across the world. The Geist™ rPDU can access all the devices in the rack to remotely monitor and control these via one single point, monitoring that can be upgraded as technology advances and business needs evolve. The Geist UPDU models enable enhanced performance and management of dynamic IT spaces, while simplifying the buying process and accelerating rapid deployments worldwide. Moreover, the Vertiv Geist rPDU series benefits from the Vertiv™ Distribution Assurance (https://bit.ly/30FRf3q) service package.
High-efficiency single-phase UPS solutions, such as the Vertiv™ Liebert® GXT RT+ and the innovative Vertiv™ EDGE line-interactive UPS , which is anticipated to be available on the EMEA channel market by the end of August. In addition, Vertiv’s Lifecycle Power Assurance Services delivers convenient and cost-effective support for power delivery to small IT sites. As edge deployments continue to grow in usage and importance for businesses, Vertiv’s five-year protection plan safeguards small IT sites, providing real-time visibility into critical systems resulting in the early detection of any anomalies.
With an anticipated launch in October, the Vertiv™ Avocent® ACS 8000 advanced console server has cellular capabilities, enabling seamless, integrated remote management of Vertiv and third-party equipment, for more efficient and secure network operations even for remote sites or whenever no wired internet is available. Last year Vertiv was ranked by IHS Markit the No. 1 supplier of remote IT management solutions worldwide, a market worth $720m which is continuing to grow strongly together with edge computing and remote IT services.
All of these offerings enable EMEA resellers to earn more points through the Vertiv™ Incentive Programme (VIP), which allows partners to quickly monetise rewards. From July 2020, an enhanced programme known as VIP+ will bring even more benefits to resellers through the silver, gold and platinum level of membership, including lower entry barriers, additional incentives upon registering and higher returns on certain packages. The additions to the scheme will enable even more partners to take advantage of the programme while developing key skills and knowledge at their own pace.
Murtaza Loka, Finance and Purchasing Head at BurhanTec, said: “Working in partnership with Vertiv was already a no brainer due to their world class market position and global end to end product set. This has been enhanced significantly by the Vertiv Partner Program with a range of benefits which has allowed us to take even greater advantage of what Vertiv can offer”. • 8/20
Subscription sports platform • Dec 2020
LaLiga signs Mondia group as strategic technology and commercial partner for Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific • First roll-out agreement with Orange group will see the exclusive LaLiga Xtra subscription-based platform introduced across the region in the coming months
LaLiga has signed mobile technology company Mondia group as its technology and commercial partner for the creation of LaLiga Xtra, its first ever subscription-based mobile platform, to offer exclusive content and experiences to sports fans.
Through an agreement with Orange group, the platform will be made available in the coming months to the operator's millions of customers in its Middle East and Africa regions. This is the initial roll-out of the platform and Mondia will continue to distribute the offering through other partnerships across the globe.
Users of LaLiga Xtra will be able to choose daily, weekly or monthly subscription packages and will find a multi-language platform rich in exclusive content and experiences for football fans. It includes video, images, articles, and infographics as well as upcoming fixtures and in-depth player and club info.
In addition, users can play games such as quizzes, a prediction challenge and LaLiga's fantasy football game, with the option to compete against other users. Exclusive interactive experiences will also be on offer to LaLiga Xtra subscribers, including the chance to take part in a live chat with a LaLiga Ambassador.
There are 70 countries lined up to host this platform with availability for each country to be announced over the coming weeks and months. The platform will be available on desktop, mobile and tablet devices and will be hosted within the Orange ecosystem.
Speaking about this launch, Óscar Mayo, LaLiga's Head of Business, Marketing and International Development, said: "This is an exciting venture between two organisations with an extensive global reach and the desire to build communities of football fans through engaging content and new experiences. We want to entertain fans all week long, not only during the 90 minutes of a match, and we are convinced that LaLiga Xtra will achieve this. Our goal has always been to get closer to fans across the Middle East and Africa to show everything that Spanish football has to offer. We're excited to continue building these connections by working with Mondia and Orange group."
Mondia has reached 1.4 billion global users and counting, having worked with brands such as Disney, Nintendo, Sony, Universal and various telecommunications companies. In this case, Mondia will organise integrations between LaLiga and Orange and will develop, manage and maintain the platform. Mondia's digital payment entity, Mondia Pay, as the official digital payment partner, will direct payments through direct carrier billing and other cashless payment options.
"Our partnership with LaLiga is an endorsement of our expertise in creating digital experiences for all. Our ability to create an end-to-end solution including digital payments, is the real value Mondia brings together with our experience in operating in many markets across the globe", said Paolo Rizzardini, Chief Commercial Officer at the Mondia group. "LaLiga is a premium content partner with a commitment to delivering exceptional experiences to their audiences, and we are thrilled to help make the initiative a reality", he added.
Leaning on its two decades of experience, Mondia is adapting marketing strategies and promotions based on each market to tap into local nuances and cultures. The Orange group will also assist in this sense by contributing to campaigns, both online and offline.
While this new platform will initially be enjoyed by Orange group customers, there are plans to expand to more telecommunications companies around the world in the future. In addition, LaLiga and Mondia will study the data to refine the platform and to provide a continually improving user experience over time. • 12/2
Service • Security • Sep 2020
Parents have always managed to set geographical boundaries – where their children could go and where they could not – back in time. Nowadays there is another opportunity to monitor the child's whereabouts – to track the location of them using special software. Yet, according to Kaspersky's special survey for parents, not many parents in Nigeria realise this
According to the "Responsible Digital Parenting" survey*, 79% of Nigerian parents do not track the location of their child. The reasons for this vary: 54% have never thought of tracking the location, while 28% do not know how to do it. There is an option to have the software, which lets parents locate their children on a map and set a safe area for them to stay in, installed on their children's devices. However, 38% of parents in Nigeria claim they do not have it installed on any of their devices.
"Modern times offer a wide range of tools which can help in preventing accidents in real or digital life. It is crucial to know how to use them, what their benefits are, and, actually, use them. Tracking your child's location can definitely save you a lot of trouble – its advantages lie also in the fact that it allows to control not only digital, but also real life of the child," commented Andrey Sidenko, Head of Child Safety at Kaspersky Network.
To secure and protect your child both in digital and in real life, Kaspersky strongly recommends following this advice:
* The "Responsible Digital Parenting" survey was implemented in conjunction with Toluna research agency in the end of 2019 – beginning of 2020. 5000 respondents from META region and Baltic states participated in the survey.
Africa • Connectivity • Ago 2020
In line with its focus on accelerating access to affordable broadband connectivity in Africa's underserved populations, and more recently, due to the increased customer demand for connectivity solutions, Tizet, West Africa's pioneer solar-based internet service provider today announced the successful upgrade of its core network infrastructure capacity to 100Gbps.
This upgrade will provide additional capacity to support Tizeti's services as well as future upgrades. It also ensures that its customers continue to enjoy high-quality and reliable internet services which meet the demand for the exponential increase in unlimited internet data consumption due to the surge in the numbers of customers working from home.
The project involved upgrading Tizeti's existing Gigabit fiber connection of its Lagos Points of Presence (POPs) to 10Gbps and relocating from its owned & operated data center to a world-class Tier III data center. With this increased fiber capacity, Tizeti is poised to continue to offer its affordable and unlimited wi-fi internet service to its customers, while expanding its service offering to include enterprise and business customers.
Announcing the upgrade, Tizeti's Chief Executive Officer, Kendall Ananyi, said that the upgrade will increase the reliability of its services by providing multiple routes for network transit to the internet. Ananyi confirmed the 100Gbps upgrade meets wider connectivity requirements, such as low latency as a result of hosting its 4G LTE core servers within its network in Nigeria. This guarantees faster, more reliable connectivity, as well as reduced operational costs.
"Our consistent investment in our core infrastructure shows our dedication to meeting the global challenges of increased data use driven by teleworking, distance learning, remote gaming, video chat, and streaming. We are committed to ensuring that our customers remain ahead of the digital transformation curve with the most resilient internet service. We are committed to reducing the cost of data and accelerating internet connectivity across the continent while maintaining our competitive edge with quality unlimited internet service" Ananyi said.
In his comments, Tizeti's Chief Operations Officer, Ifeanyi Okonkwo, said, "Tizeti has consistently delivered on its mission to provide unlimited internet to our customers and this upgrade will allow our customers enjoy better browsing experience during this time of increased data consumption. We are proud to announce that our customers can do more on our network, from streaming their favorite movies and series to working and staying connected from home".
Tizeti enables millions of Africans to access the internet through its solar-powered towers in Nigeria and provides residences and businesses with unlimited high-speed broadband internet; covering Lagos, Ogun, and Rivers state. Dubbed the "Comcast for Africa", Tizeti has installed over 25,000 public Wifi hotspots within Nigeria with 1,500,000 users and partnered with Facebook to offer Express Wi-Fi, rolling out thousands of new internet hotspots across Nigeria's capital. The company has since expanded its services to Ghana with new consumer-facing brand GhanaWifi.com and its Voice service WifiCall.ng is available for download on Google Playstore and Apple Store. The company also recently launched its 4G services in selected Nigerian cities. • 8/20