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Artificial Intelligence research hub arrives Africa; Ghana is first home

Google is getting ready to launch a new artificial intelligence research centre in Africa, the company has announced. The lab will be located in Accra, Ghana, and will launch “later this year”, according to a post on the company’s blog

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Google is getting ready to launch a new artificial intelligence research centre in Africa, the company has announced. The lab will be located in Accra, Ghana, and will launch “later this year”, according to a post on the company’s blog.

In announcing the new research centre, the company explained, “AI has great potential to positively impact the world, and more so if the world is well represented in the development of new AI technologies.”

The company also noted the growing activity around machine learning on the continent through events like Data Science Africa 2017 in Tanzania and 2017 Deep Learning Indaba in South Africa, and highlighted its support of more than 60 tech startups through its Launchpad Accelerator Africa program.

The new AI R&D lab could play an important role in Google’s overall business as the company continues to intensify its focus on artificial intelligence technology, which it has looked to as a key market differentiator for its recent hardware devices.

The announcement also reflects a broader enthusiasm about AI technology, with other major firms like Qualcomm and Samsung also having recently announced new AI research centres around the world.

Google’s Accra AI Center will be headed by research scientist Moustapha Cisse, and the company is currently recruiting more talent ahead of the center’s opening.

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MTN launches 5G network in Zambia

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Pan-African mobile operator, MTN, has officially launched its 5G network in Zambia, after beginning a test run in January, making the country the third in Africa after previous launches South Africa in June 2020 and in Nigeria in September 2022.

The 5G services which will run commercially in six Zambian cities, according to MTN Group’s President and CEO, Ralph Mupita, will help transform businesses and livelihoods in the southern African nation.

“5G can transform business and livelihoods beyond simple connectivity, with the potential to unlock many new use cases. In Zambia, we see great opportunities across many sectors, and in the mining industry in particular,” Mupita said at the launch on Friday.

MTN Zambia CEO, Bart Hofker, said the 5G services had been activated to cover about 65% of the population in the cities of Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola, and parts of Chingola, Solwezi and Kalumbila, which translates into about 15% of the overall population of the country.

“We plan to reach 100% 5G coverage in Lusaka, Kitwe and Ndola by the middle of 2023, while gradually expanding the 5G network to other locations,” Hofker said.

MTN’s 5G is a fifth-generation mobile network technology which offers faster speeds, lower latency, better security and stability and the ability to handle high-volume connections and mobile data. It can connect virtually everything, including machines, vehicles and robots,” he added.

The launching of the network in Lusaka, the country’s capital, was witnessed by Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, along with top government ministers and representatives of the telecoms regulator and the Central Bank governor

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Nigerian fintech startup, Pivo, secures $2m seed funding to expand offerings

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Nigerian fintech startup, Pivo, has successfully secured a $2 million seed funding to expand its existing offerings for its customers as well as build new ones to improve transaction management and payment reconciliation for supply chains.

The company started in 2021 by Ijeoma Akwiwu and Nkiru Amadi-Emina is targeted at businesses that deal with import, export, manufacture, distribution and retail of FMCG, logistics and haulage, and clearing and forwarding.

Pivo which began with three main products, Pivo Capital, Pivo Finance, and Pivo Plus, offers access to insurance, corporate compliance and tax regulation support.

The company, in a statement on Friday by Amadi-Emina, said the $2 million seed funding round which comes from Precursor Ventures, Vested World, Y Combinator, FoundersX and Mercy Corp Ventures, will be used to upgrade existing products and build new ones as the company plans to establish its presence outside Nigerian to East Africa, and grow its team.

“After our pre-seed raise of US$550,000 early in Q1 of this year, we launched a new product, Pivo Business, with features that supply chain SMEs can use to achieve better cash flow,” Amadi-Emina said.

“The transaction volume of Pivo Business accounts grew by over 400 per cent between April and September. With this funding, we intend to build on existing products and develop solutions for supply chain anchors,” she added.

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