Research

@iLabAfrica partners with VMware International Ltd to Enhance Digital Skills in Africa

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Today at the Innovating Education In Africa Expo 2019, held in Botswana VMware international Ltd announced the expansion of the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme.

As part of its expansion, VMware announced a Memorandum of Understanding between VMware International Ltd and Strathmore University – @iLabAfrica Centre, Kenya.

The overarching goal is to empower the fast-growing, young African population to enter the digital workforce with confidence and expertise, helping to address the skills gap and
supporting innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.
Through the VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa programme, we are collaborating with key stakeholders across academia, government and industry to equip African students with the technical skills and certifications required to succeed in the digital economy.
Strathmore University in Kenya has built an international reputation for its world-class
academic teaching, professional training, and research in technology. Working with VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa, the University has already begun integrating a range of VMware developed courses into its curricula that cover topics such as virtualisation, cloud computing, AI and IoT. This is facilitated through subsidised software licenses and certification vouchers from VMware.
@iLabAfrica, a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation in Information
Communication Technology at the University, is spearheading the rollout with 20 trainers and over 100 students at the University participating. The students will benefit from access to high-quality learning online resources, hands-on lab experiences to develop technical skills, and the opportunity to achieve industry-recognised VMware certification to complement their chosen fields of study.

“We are delighted to be part of VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa. It provides a wonderful opportunity for our students to gain technical skills and industry-recognised VMware certifications, helping to jumpstart their careers with the best knowledge and skills of international standards. Our shared goal with VMware is to become the VMware IT Academy regional lead for East Africa, training lecturers and students from Strathmore and other universities plus facilitating their participation in the programme. Increased access to this type of education and training for students is a critical part of Africa realising the potential of its youth and a prosperous Africa,” said Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iLabAfrica, Strathmore University.
“Skills development is recognised as a key component for economic growth and prosperity.VMware IT Academy: Virtualize Africa helps educational institutions align curricula with the skills needed for the labour market, thereby building the right talent for Africa’s jobs of today and tomorrow. . Our discussions to form a strategic collaboration with Strathmore University is a significant milestone in this program, and will bring new skills and opportunities to its students, and in the future to many more young people in East Africa,”said Thomas MacKay, Senior Director for Global Strategic Programs, VMware.

2019 Strathmore Leaders in Research and Innovation

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Award

@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.

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@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 

 

 

 

 

@iLabAfrica Participates in 1st UN-Habitat Assembly 2019

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@IlabAfrica Research and Innovation center participated in the first session of the UN-Habitat assembly held on 27th -31st May 2019 at the UN- Habitat Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The Session was officially opened by The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, welcoming international guests to Kenya, ministers and high-level Member States representatives, governors, mayors, representatives of civil society and non-governmental organizations, academics and business leaders.

Represented by Leonard Mabele, IOT Manager @iLabAfrica participated at the High Level Side Event on Accelerating Frontier Technologies for cities: Closing the infrastructure Gap.

The session was a platform to discuss key policy innovations and cross- sector collaborations around the domain of frontier technology and infrastructure, that have the potential to close infrastructure gaps by improving affordability, accessibility, efficiency, network coverage and overall improvement of operations between utilities and service providers with the goal of saving costs and increasing revenue for municipalities. Leonard Mabele was able to share his experience on the partnership projects by @iLabAfrica, Liquid Telcom Kenya and UN-Habitat on an integrated Sanitation management system that was recently implemented in Mathare slums. The system will monitor the levels of sewerage and send alerts to enable cleaning when full.

The discussions also addressed the challenges being faced and elaborated on the steps that can be taken to close any infrastructure gaps that can help accelerate the development of cities that are not only “smart” but sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

As the United Nations focal point for Sustainable Development Goal 11 and the New Urban Agenda, UN-Habitat is mandated to provide policy-level direction and local-level programming that contributes to the achievement of New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. This event examined the role of UN-Habitat in implementing this transformative vision through its new Strategic Plan 2020-2025. The Strategic Plan highlights frontier technologies and innovations as a key domain of change, towards the goal of enhanced shared prosperity in cities and regions. The theme of this year’s UN Habitat Assembly is “Innovation for Better Quality of Life in Cities and Communities” with the sub theme: “Accelerated implementation of the New Urban Agenda towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”

A total of 113 countries sent representatives to the opening of the UN-Habitat Assembly, over half of them at Minister or Deputy Minister level among the 2,250 delegates who attended

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “The UN-Habitat assembly provides a fantastic opportunity for us all to inspire each other with new ideas and examples of how we have used innovation to maximize the opportunities offered by urbanization and overcome the challenges.”

The UN-Habitat Assembly was established by the United General Assembly through a resolution endorsed on December 20, last year, to help strengthen UN-Habitat’s mandate. The Assembly will meet every four years.

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.