@iLabAfrica Research and Innovation Centre was this year crowned leading department in research and reporting.
The Centre which spearheads Research and Innovation in Information Communication Technology for the development (ICT4D) of ecosystems towards the attainment of the United Nations sustainable Development goals (SDGs) and Kenya’s Vision 2030, was awarded the Strathmore University Research and Innovation award 2019 for demonstrating significant commitment to timeliness and quality in its reporting obligations on research activities for the year 2018 and 2019.
@iLabAfrica Centre focuses on 4 main areas.
- ICT research and Innovation
- Entrepreneurship and Incubation
- ICT Outsourcing
- ICT Policy and Research
The Centre is involved in interdisciplinary research, student engagement and collaboration with government, industry and funding agencies.
@iLabAfrica is made up of the following research units
- eHealth Unit
- Cybersecurity Unit
- Digital Learning Unit
- Data Science Unit
- Internet of Things (IoT) Unit
- Outsourcing and Consulting Unit
For more information about @iLabAfrica Click Here
Weather affects everything. It is both an essential resource and a significant risk factor for life on Earth. What’s more, weather is one of the most unpredictable aspects of human existence, yet we have no choice but to try our hand at predicting it. After all, our very lives depend on our having ample supplies of foodstuffs that are themselves dependent on adequate precipitation, growing seasons and so forth. Weather is no small matter. Many businesses are directly or indirectly linked with weather conditions. For instance, agriculture relies on perfect weather forecasting for when to plant, irrigate and harvest.
Farmers are highly vulnerable to weather shocks, particularly in Africa, where there is a high reliance on rain-fed agriculture. It is therefore unsurprising that much attention has been paid to developing climate risk management tools for farmers to mitigate and transfer the risk of weather shocks such as drought and flood. Small farms are vulnerable to climate risk, but most smallholder farmers around the world don’t have access to insurance and other financial tools to manage fluctuations in climate.
Insurance is one way to increase resiliency to climate shocks, but not only in the way you might think. There’s a subtler benefit to agriculture insurance, and one that is essential for adapting our food systems to a changing climate: when farmers feel financially secure, they’re more likely to take productive risks. In the decades to come, we can expect increasingly difficult growing seasons for farmers, and so taking advantage of good years will become more and more important – for both our food supply and farmers’ livelihoods. In recent years, agricultural insurance has become part research Actuarial Science program, particularly weather index-based insurance (WII). The interesting aspect has been that, rather than compensating observed damage, compensation in WII is determined on the basis of an independent index (such as the cumulative precipitation falling in a certain window of time or the average yield over a district).
The agriculture insurance, called weather index insurance, will provide a way to fill the insurance gap by basing payouts on weather and satellite data instead of expensive site visits from claims adjusters. This will be an addition to already developed Livestock indexed based insurance by ILRI researchers. The indexed based crop insurance will protect farmers against financial risks posed by extreme weather events, and has been widely advocated as a tool to help farmer households to escape poverty traps and invest in climate-smart high-productivity agriculture. Over the past decade there has been great deal of effort placed into index insurance–that may have the potential to reach these farmers. Unlike more traditional forms of insurance, which require individual verification of losses, index insurance works by providing payouts when a measurable index flags a major problem that the farmers face, such as a widespread drought or flood. In theory, this should allow insurance coverage to reach many more farmers
Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA?
Transforming Weather Information Growth In Africa – TWIGA is a 4-year project (2018 – 2021) under EU Horizon2020 aimed to transform weather water data into value-added information services.
Satellite data provide by TWIGA will give index insurance the scaling power needed to reach all the small scale farmers across Africa.
A Kenyan Insurance sector stakeholders workshop will be held this first quarter of 2019 to address the challenges available in implementing weather indexed based insurance. The theme of the workshop will be: Index insurance is innovative, but can it reach a critical mass using Satelitte data provided by TWIGA? This could be the start of touching the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers across the African continent that are under threat from extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods with risks projected to increase significantly in future years due to climate change.
Developers require the ability to easily combine weather functionality, including forecast and observational data, with numerous data and application services to build advanced web and mobile applications that leverage cognitive capabilities, analytics, mobile and IoT services without wasting cycles installing or managing software and deploying hardware.
In conclusion, remotely sensed data can be used to extend weather index insurance to millions of farmers in Africa and beyond—potentially mitigating their exposure to climate-related risk. On the other hand, inappropriate use of these data could cause great harm. This workshop enabled key players in the weather index insurance industry to engage directly with data providers and scientists. As a result, data providers now have a clearer idea of the ways in which their products are being used. The insurance industry, moreover, has a better understanding of both the opportunities and pitfalls of using remotely sensed data. Following the success of this workshop, the participants agreed that deeper engagement between data providers, scientists, and the weather index insurance industry would be of benefit to all parties. Further workshops, projects, and collaborations are planned to focus on the intelligence and Analytics platform is powered by AI techniques that leverage real-time weather feeds and historical data. This will consider GIS analytics where the following will be the main focus: Live weather feeds from different locations (Latitude/Longitude); Temperature, water level, wind and other sensors continuously transmitting data; Historical weather data publicly available; Weather maps (precipitations, clouds, pressure, temperature, wind, weather stations).
The project aims to achieve the following benefits to the Kenya and Africa as a whole ;
- Farmers get warned earlier of what the weather will be like for that particular month.
- Help farmers to take appropriate precautions to stay safe in case of unwanted occurrences.
- With forecasting methods, farmers can get better outcomes with the help of accurate predictions. Hence farmers will be able to plan the planting as per water supplies.
Strathmore University, through its ICT and Innovation Centre, @iLabAfrica, has partnered with the Communications Authority of Kenya (The Authority) to carry out research in spectrum innovation through Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) techniques and Cybersecurity. The MoU signed between the two institutions is meant to achieve a number of objectives which include the following:
- To research and develop policies on the evolving innovation on the spectrum.
- To research and formulate the implementation model for the use of TV White Spaces which is one of the most promising spectrum concepts to achieve last mile connectivity.
- To research on the implementation and adoption of 5G and the accompanying technical and regulatory frameworks.
- To jointly develop capacity on spectrum management skills
- To research and build capacity in the domain of Cybersecurity through collaborative technical development, information sharing and technical assistance.
This partnership comes at a time when Strathmore University has already joined a set of three other African Universities’ which include Copperbelt University of Zambia, University of Malawi (Malawi) and the University of Ghana in a collaboratively funded project by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) of the United Kingdom with the project being spearhead by the University of Strathclyde, located in Glasgow, Scotland. The project’s main aim is to investigate how the use of dynamic spectrum access techniques and geo-location database technology combined with software defined radio (SDR) implementations can be used to enable effective and efficient wireless networks built at scale in developing countries in order to support affordable Internet using the shared spectrum resource.
The official launch of the work plan between the Communications Authority of Kenya and Strathmore University took place on the 3rd of January 2019 at the Communications Authority offices drawing an open roadmap of collaboration among local researchers working on the spectrum innovation techniques to join in on the work led by Strathmore University in achievement of the last mile connectivity through Dynamic Spectrum Access which is meant to clearly elucidate informative results on the regulatory framework, technical implementations and business models that can be adopted in the implementations of TV White Spaces and 5G. The Authority set out a strategic agenda to: develop professional partnerships with research institutions, build adequate capacity on Radio Frequency (RF) spectrum technology and policy research, issue trial authorisations for scientific research, conduct actual measurements and perform analysis, participate in regional and international RF spectrum research meetings, review national spectrum policy to address emerging radio technologies and develop guidelines and regulations to allow policy formulation. The current ongoing workplan is the initial desktop survey of regulatory status of TV White Spaces regionally and internationally as other plans are put in place for the three-year partnership.
A delegation of Ricoh Company Limited executives, including CEO Yoshinori Yamashita, met with @iLabAfrica department heads and director Joseph Sevilla on Wednesday 15th September to discuss partnership between Ricoh and @iLabAfrica.
Ricoh a Japanese imaging and electronics company with a worldwide influence on technology and industry visited @iLabAfrica to understand opportunities available in Kenya and Africa with the hopes of establishing a foundation for sustainable growth on the continent. The multinational has a worldwide workforce of approximately 97,000 employees and a turnover of over 2 billion Yen.
Part of Ricoh’s Sustainable Development Goals strategy is its policy of leveraging the strengths of manufacturing technology to make breakthroughs in technology and industry. A primary actuator of this endeavour is the company’s strong commitment to leading research and development across multiple markets around the world. Ricoh has technology and customer research groups in roughly 200 countries across the world and sees investment in Kenya as a gateway to connecting East, Central and South Africa to its expansive network.
Ricoh already has presence in the East African market through its ubiquitous imaging and printing devices, and through its partnership with The Copycat Limited—Ricoh’s authorised service provider in the region. The Copycat Limited is also a partner of @iLabAfrica and this connection made the meeting between Ricoh Co. Ltd and @iLabAfrica possible.
David Mills, CEO of Ricoh’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, expressed the company’s desire to digitise workspaces in Africa through partners such as The Copycat Limited. @iLabAfrica Director Joseph Sevilla pointed to the challenge-based learning programme that @iBizAfrica has recently launched. These programme is developed to have small teams of tech-centric entrepreneurs working on specific organisation challenges using the resources, networks and mentors that are available in the @iBizAfrica learning space.
A partnership between Ricoh and @iLabAfrica could assist entrepreneurs and developers, introduce novel solutions for the East African, Japanese, and global markets. Ricoh’s expertise in printing and imaging technology could be a springboard for innovations in 3D and textile printing such as the ongoing Fundamentals of IoT and 3D Printing Course run by @iBizAfrica in partnership with Kuunda 3D.
From 17th to 28th September 2018, @iLabAfrica and Kuunda 3D will hold a two-week certificate course on the fundamentals of the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D Printing. The course will cover practical skills in both technologies and how their convergence can be harnessed for the development of creative and marketable solutions. It is aimed at training students and interested industry professionals and offers participants the opportunity to network with IoT and 3D printing enthusiasts and experts.
3D printing is one of the latest trends in design technology and it is poised to revolutionise how we create useful objects—such as electronic devices. Traditional manufacturing of electrical devices entails designing industrial machinery and setting up dedicated assembly lines within manufacturing plants to produce and assemble specific products. Building new manufacturing plants or redesigning old ones for new products is time-consuming, expensive and requires considerable expertise. This impedes flexibility in industry and bars creative individuals from developing their own electronic devices. In new and rapidly developing markets—such as those created by the growing popularity of the IoT—the ability to quickly design, produce and introduce new electronic devices to market is invaluable.
With 3D printing, parts for electronic devices can be created from scratch using digital designs. Combined with the increasing availability and decreasing prices of electronic components, 3D printing holds the potential to revolutionise the manufacture of electronic devices. Electronic devices are, after all, reducible to electronic components integrated and housed in specifically designed casings. This empowering combination of readily available electronic components and 3D printing is an opportunity waiting to be realised as the emerging IoT market is ripe for innovative electronic devices custom-built to provide creative solutions to every-day problems. It is equally valuable to general manufacturing, emergent fields such as drone technology and automated prosthetics, and the development of automated stations.
The IoT and 3D Printing course by @iLab and Kuunda 3D is tailored to equip participants with skills and hands-on experience in the use of both technologies. The lessons include:
- The parts of a 3D printer and how they work using Ultimaker and MakerBot 3D printers;
- 3D modelling and design with Tinker CAD and 123D design software;
- The slicing process by which 3D designs are converted into 3D-printable formats;
- An overview of IoT including machine-to-machine technology, the market value of IoT, IoT Architecture, and the place of IoT in big data and monetization;
- An introduction to micro-controllers and programming using C/C++, integrated development environment (IDE) applications, and electronic prototyping on the Arduino platform;
- Communication technologies, protocols and utilising Cloud Platform in IoT; and
- A hands-on guide to developing a complete Internet of Things solution.
The interdisciplinary course places focus on the nexus between the two technologies and how they can be combined to convert an idea into a working model and then into a viable business case providing customised solutions. Participants will learn how to create their own 3D models and apply foundational IoT skills to creative problem-solving and rapid prototyping. Successful completion earns each participant a certificate.
The two-week course will be held in @iLabAfrica in Strathmore University from Monday the 17th to Friday the 28th of September, 2018. Sessions will run in the evening from 5.30 pm to 8.30 pm. The programme cost is KES 35,000 per participant, which covers the training, laboratory and certificate fees.
Applications are currently open and can be made online at https://bit.ly/3Dcourseilab.