cybersecurity

Big Data Analytics Project to transform Agricultural Insurance in Africa using Climate Data

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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.

Communications Authority of Kenya partners with @iLabAfrica

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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:

  1. To research and develop policies on the evolving innovation on the spectrum.
  2. 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.
  3. To research on the implementation and adoption of 5G and the accompanying technical and regulatory frameworks.
  4. To jointly develop capacity on spectrum management skills
  5. 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.

RICOH Company executives visit @iLabAfrica

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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.

 

Tackling Cybercrime; An ISACA Kenya And iLAB Collaboration

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iLAB Africa, through Strathmore University, and ISACA Kenya have recently partnered up to bring information and resources in areas of cybersecurity, ICT implementation, IT risk and IT audit. These areas are contemporary discussion points in IT and imperative for the management and protection of data within corporations especially in today’s technological climate.

In 2017, Kenya lost 21 billion shillings through cyber security crime, making it one of the biggest losses in Africa, second only to Nigeria. This loss was largely attributed to cybercrimes committed in financial institutions through online fraud, social engineering, ransomware, banking malware and ATM-skimming. The magnitude of this loss and others spurred the enactment of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act, signed into law in May 2018, which seeks to provide stiffer punishments to cyber criminals. The Act, however, faces the challenge of implementation of anti-cybercrime strategies which require knowledge and experience in cybercrime and IT risk management in order to protect information and hold individuals accountable for violating the established laws. It is this information gap which the collaboration intends to fill through conducting evening and breakfast talks, trainings and assistance with research on the aforementioned areas. In addition, the collaboration seeks to improve and initiate the formulation of ICT strategies, policies and their transformation and adoption of best practices in ICT implementation and cyber security, areas which are the purview and expertise of ISACA Kenya.

Founded in 2000, ISACA Kenya is the Kenyan chapter of the larger international Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). A key hallmark of ISACA is the development of the Business Model for Information security which takes a business approach to managing information security as well as the internationally recognized COBIT, Val IT and Risk IT frameworks that help IT professionals and leaders fulfil their governance responsibilities while delivering value to their business. iLAB Africa is a  centre of ICT innovation and development based at Strathmore University and is involved in interdisciplinary research, students’ engagement, collaboration with government, industry and other funding agencies. It is this specific skill set that forms the basis of the collaboration between ISACA Kenya and iLAB Africa and its focus on Cybercrime, IT risk and IT Audit.