innovation

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.
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Equity Bank and @iLabAfrica to train data scientists.

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Equity Bank has partnered with Strathmore University, @iLabAfrica Centre to train data scientists for the financial sector.

Data Science is helping in great ways for banks and financial institutions , including economic advisories to identify patterns in markets and predictions. Getting best use of data for their benefits . Banks have realized that big data technologies can help them focus their resources efficiently, make smarter decisions, and improve performance.

Banks and other finance companies has a lot of data. Data is not only the new oil, but it is the crude oil and Analytics is the refinery. The use of Data Science in banking is more than a trend. It has become a necessity to keep up with customer demands. They know customers, their details, purchase powers, purchase patterns and much more that is provided by the Big Data implosion. The Banks need skilled team that can handle not only Descriptive analytics, but also Diagnostic analytics, Predictive analytics and Prescriptive analytics.

There is great a need of Data scientist in Kenya’s financial sector. This is the reason Equity is leading the way in developing future data scientists. There will be 30 graduating students selected from Bachelor of Business Science – Actuarial Science, Financial Engineering and Financial Economics degrees in addition to IT students from Bachelor of Informatics and Computer Science. This was arrived since Data Scientist is someone with three key knowledge areas – Computing, Statistics and Business Domain

The students are currently attending introductory classes in Data science that has been going on for the last 18 months. The students will review statistics, logistic regression, Generalized models, cover specialized topics in data preparation, data visualization and introduction to Machine learning. At the end of the training, successful candidate will join Equity bank’s data science team.

This partnership is one among many that Stathmore University is working with various companies to fill the skill gap in Data Science. The University is also looking at launching a Masters in Data Science to give a chance to Kenyans to acquire data science skills.

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.

 

WOMEN IN TECHNOLOGY- GET FUNDING FOR YOUR BUSINESS

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WIT-EDM V2 ImageStandard Chartered in partnership with @iLabAfrica has launched a search for the second cohort of women-led technology startups which will see five entrepreneurs win Sh1 million each.

The partnership seeks more diversity in technology and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.

The program combines world class startup support with local and international experience to provide Africa’s most competitive and attractive startup incubation program focusing on immersive learning, mentorship, building and growing Africa’s next iconic startups taking on the continent’s most relevant challenges and opportunities.

Who are we looking for?
We are seeking to recruit the best entrepreneurial minds, women-lead startup teams leveraging on technology as a key driver of innovation in business. The applicant must:
  1. be a woman
  2. be the CEO with equal or majority ownership in the company
  3. 18 and above
  4. of Kenyan nationality
What are the the program thematic areas?
Applicants may submit applications across but not limited to the following thematic areas:
  1. Agribusiness
  2. Education
  3. ICT
  4. E-Commerce
  5. E-Health
  6. Fintech
What do Participants Get?
  1. Three months incubation at Strathmore University’s leading businss and innovation incubator
  2. Mentorship from world class mentors
  3. Coaching by top business, technology and legal professionals
  4. Immersive, world-class entrepreneurship curriculum
  5. Networking and exposure to expand your business networks
What do Winners Get?
  1. USD 10,000 or KES 1,000,000 equity-free grant seed funding for the top 5 winners
  2. 9 months ongoing support from Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica to assist with go-to market and scale.
Terms and Conditions
  1. Participants must be physically available to attend the program over the three months incubation
  2. Participant accommodation costs are not catered for
Application deadline October 31

For more information Click here

To Apply click here

Women in Tech 2nd Cohort Launched

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Standard Chartered in partnership with @iLabAfrica this week launched the start off a search for a second cohort of women-led technology startups which will see five entrepreneurs win Sh1 million each.

The Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator Kenya is Africa’s leading women in tech incubator, aligning with calls for more diversity in technology and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.

Through the Women in Tech Incubator, 10 businesses will benefit from mentorship and seed funding.

The program combines world class startup support with local and international experience to provide Africa’s most competitive and attractive startup incubation program focusing on immersive learning, mentorship, building and growing Africa’s next iconic startups taking on the continent’s most relevant challenges and opportunities.

Shortlisted start-ups will be selected to go through a 12-week incubation period after which five will win Sh1 million.

“The Women In Tech Incubator programme will help identify, grow and bring to the market unique business ideas and change the fortunes of women entrepreneurs and business owners in Kenya,” said Public Services, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia while speaking during the launch on Monday.

Last year, the five businesses which received seed funding were solar cooler company Maziwa Plus, e-commerce platform Heri Online, insurance information app Bismart, career solutions hub Zydii and Africa Solutions.

Some of the winners have gone on to attract funding from local and international investors to scale up their businesses.

How to APPLY

Who are we looking for?
We are seeking to recruit the best entrepreneurial minds, women-lead startup teams leveraging on technology as a key driver of innovation in business. The applicant must:
  1. be a woman
  2. be the CEO with equal or majority ownership in the company
  3. 18 and above
  4. of Kenyan nationality
What are the the program thematic areas?
Applicants may submit applications across but not limited to the following thematic areas:
  1. Agribusiness
  2. Education
  3. ICT
  4. E-Commerce
  5. E-Health
  6. Fintech
What do Participants Get?
  1. Three months incubation at Strathmore University’s leading businss and innovation incubator
  2. Mentorship from world class mentors
  3. Coaching by top business, technology and legal professionals
  4. Immersive, world-class entrepreneurship curriculum
  5. Networking and exposure to expand your business networks
What do Winners Get?
  1. USD 10,000 or KES 1,000,000 equity-free grant seed funding for the top 5 winners
  2. 9 months ongoing support from Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica to assist with go-to market and scale.
Terms and Conditions
  1. Participants must be physically available to attend the program over the three months incubation
  2. Participant accommodation costs are not catered for

For more information Click here

To Apply click here

@iLabAfrica Hosts the MIT Open Mic Africa Summit

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Hosted by Strathmore University, @ilabAfrica this year hosted the MIT Open Mic Africa Summit, is an annual summit that celebrates the goals championed by the Legatum center in MIT alongside the Mastercard Foundation.

The peak of the summit is the award of the Zambezi prize, an annual prize for two hundred thousand dollars in in cash prizes and a chance to attend an entrepreneurial boot camp hosted in MIT. The prize is awarded to an entrepreneurial venture that incorporates financial inclusion through both financial technology but also creates social change. Megan Mitchell, who appeared on behalf of the Legatum center emphasised that the end product of the venture had to be impactful on the society. Over 500 applications were received for the Zambezi prize and in narrowing down the applicants, certain criteria, as explained by Ashley Onyango, the program manager for the Mastercard Foundation had to be met. This included the combination of problem solving with economic growth in Africa, providing accessible, affordable financial inclusion to the unemployed and underemployed, and assisting in lifting people out of poverty. The boot camp, a part of the prize, is instrumental in shaping the leadership and entrepreneurial skills of the prize winner as well as enable them to create a network to better scale their venture.

This year’s event was marked with vison talks, short pitches and of course, the promotion of the ten finalists in the running for the Zambezi prize and its award, at the conclusion of the event.

The vision talks focused on entrepreneurs that discussed not only their successes, but also their losses and the lessons that stemmed from them. Rachel Balshan, the Deputy CEO of MFS Africa, detailed her experience in building the company and learning how to make decisions that better shaped the future of MFS Africa and led them more clearly to their goals.

In addition, up and coming entrepreneurs were given a chance to pitch their ideas for ninety seconds, enabling them to get a platform and potential connections to drive their entrepreneurial ventures.

The finalists of the prize included agricultural ventures that targeted smallholders and enabled them to access services such as investment capital, access to small loans and micro finance, real time agricultural education, access to household goods for women and the opportunity to infuse waste collection with a redeemable point system.

The winner of the prize was WALA, a venture set up to bring digital banking to underbanked consumers in Africa using a combination of cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence.

In all, the summit exemplified the overarching goals of the prize and spurred discussion about how to create innovative, financially inclusive technology that will spur the growth of smallholders in Africa.