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Achieving Broadband Access for All in Africa Comes With a $100 Billion Price Tag

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Across Africa, where less than a third of the population has access to broadband connectivity, achieving universal, affordable, and good quality internet access by 2030 will require an investment of US $100 billion. This is according to a report launched at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group, which calls for urgent action to close the internet access gap while providing a roadmap to reach this ambitious goal.

The report from The Broadband for All Working Group  gives practical insights and suggestions of what is needed to attain this objective, including an action plan for universal broadband connectivity in Africa. To achieve universal broadband access, African countries will need to bring about 1.1 billion more people online. This will require exceptional and coordinated efforts from governments, the private sector, development partners, and civil society, the report says, but the investment is worth it.

The digital agenda is first and foremost a growth and jobs agenda,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure. “The working-age population in Africa is expected to increase by some 450 million people between 2015 and 2035. If current trends continue, less than one quarter will find stable jobs. Broadening internet access means creating millions of job opportunities.”

While the number of broadband connections in Africa crossed the 400 million mark in 2018 (nearly twenty times 2010 levels), the regional average broadband penetration —including 3G and 4G connections— is only 25% in 2018. Mobile broadband coverage in Africa is still at 70% of the population. Even in North Africa, there is ample room for growth with 4G networks covering only about 60% of the population. Additional challenges, such as the lack of access to reliable and affordable electricity, make accelerating Africa’s digital transformation journey even more difficult.

According to the report, nearly 80% of all required investments are directly related to the need to roll out and maintain broadband networks. However, connecting the unconnected is about more than just infrastructure: about 20% of required investments consists in building the user skills and local content foundations, and another 2-4% should be allocated to setting up the appropriate regulatory framework, the report notes. While the private sector has driven most successful broadband initiatives, public agencies play a crucial role by implementing effective sector regulation, addressing potential market failures, and creating the conditions for an open, competitive broadband sector. 

“In large parts of Africa, we are witnessing a lack of progress in extending access and network coverage. Affordability is also declining in many nations. Promoting greater digital inclusion is going to require more effective and innovative collaboration,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Executive Director of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “We need to leverage our strengths and expertise. Governments can help with policies enabling new technologies, new business models and investment. The right policies will, in turn, provide the private sector with the incentives to build out infrastructure and explore new technologies and applications that will drive demand.”

Connecting the 100 million people in rural and remote areas that live out of reach of traditional cellular mobile networks will require strong private sector involvement, innovative business models, and alternative technologies, such as satellite and Wi-Fi based technical solutions, the report notes.

Let us be clear: no single actor will be able to meet Africa’s 2030 target and carry the burden of a $100 billion investment funding requirement alone. All stakeholders must work together to make sure that every African has affordable and reliable access to the internet”, says Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region. This includes: the African Union and regional economic communities; African governments and respective public investment agencies; sector regulators; multilateral development banks and regional development banks; the United Nations and other development agencies; the private sector; and civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations.

* The Working Group on Broadband for All: A Digital Moonshot Infrastructure for Africa, led by the World Bank, was established in 2018 under the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the primary objective of identifying investment requirements and policy roadmaps to increase connectivity and to reach full coverage in Africa. This report draws upon the expertise of Broadband Commissioners and experts from around the world.

About the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development: ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010 with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets. Following adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the Commission was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to showcase and document the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies for sustainable development. Its members include top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development.

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Deloitte and Wichita State University Join Forces to Launch New Smart Factory

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Deloitte and Wichita State University today announced the launch of The Smart Factory @ Wichita, a groundbreaking and immersive experiential learning environment that will accelerate the future of manufacturing as innovation and new technologies continue to reshape operations and the modern enterprise.

Deloitte and Wichita State are constructing the brand-new facility on Wichita State’s Innovation Campus, which will include a full-scale production line, dedicated space for select ecosystem sponsors and experiential labs exploring smart factory capabilities. A smart factory is a highly digitized and connected production facility that uses technologies such as artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and robotics to manufacture products. Working alongside humans, smart factories can self-adapt and autonomously optimize manufacturing operations. The Smart Factory @ Wichita will make digital transformations real by demonstrating how to merge existing technologies with new innovations, sparking a dialogue about how companies can accelerate their journey towards scalable and sustainable capabilities.

“Smart factory solutions are becoming even more important as companies re-evaluate the resiliency and agility of their supply chains, which can determine an organization’s success in the marketplace and the success of entire ecosystems,” said Nishita Henry, chief innovation officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Together with Wichita State, Deloitte will create a unique experience that captures the innovation, value proposition and disruptive technological capabilities of the smart factory.”

“Wichita is a cutting-edge hub for precision manufacturing and technology. By collaborating with Deloitte, we will be able to bring together the organization’s experience with our educational, research and innovation capabilities,” said Jay Golden, president of Wichita State University. “The Smart Factory @ Wichita is the future, offering endless technological capabilities for organizations, as we believe it’s critical to provide a hands-on learning experience for our business and academic communities.”

The Smart Factory @ Wichita will be a net-zero impact smart building on a smart grid featuring 60,000 square feet of sustainable space. The end-to-end smart production line will demonstrate the art of the possible through advanced manufacturing methods and technologies and will also manufacture STEM education interactive kits that will be donated to local organizations in support of Deloitte’s advancement of STEM education initiatives.

The facility is expected to open to clients, industry partners and students next year. It is the evolution of Deloitte’s existing experience at Wichita State, which features more than 40 robots, robotic programs and cyber applications, 26 AR/VR assets and high-end data visualizations, 10 types of 3D printers, nine reverse engineering machine types, 21 professional engineering software programs and more. It offers a compelling experience in which the digital, physical, and experimental come together—for educators, collaborators, and clients—providing the opportunity to see how Industry 4.0 can make an impact and spur innovation and smart factory capabilities.

The smart factory advantage
Smart factory technologies can dramatically improve business performance. In a recent Deloitte study, 86% of manufacturers surveyed believe that the smart factory will be the main driver of manufacturing competitiveness in five years. The study also showed that early adopters of smart factory initiatives are observing double-digit improvements across labor productivity, factory capacity utilization and total production output.

A smart factory can also address sustainability. Advancing technologies can streamline operations to promote sustainable practices, ultimately reducing environmental impact.

About Wichita State University
Wichita State University serves as the Kansas urban-based research university, enrolling more than 20,000 students from every state in the U.S. and more than 100 countries. Wichita State and WSU Tech are recognized for being student centered and innovation driven.

Located in the largest city in the state with one of the highest concentrations in the United States of jobs involving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Wichita State University provides uniquely distinctive and innovative pathways of applied learning, applied research and career opportunities for all of our students.

The Innovation Campus, which is a physical extension of the Wichita State University main campus, is one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing research/innovation parks, encompassing over 120 acres and home to a number of global companies and organizations.

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Ultimate Guide To Increased Instagram Popularity In 2020

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What made you popular in 2019 might not apply in 2020. With lockdowns and quarantines due to COVID-19, people are spending more time on Instagram than ever before. Competition for those users’ attention is higher than ever and brands need to get creative with their strategies and tactics to stay relevant and popular on the platform.

So here’s the ultimate guide to increasing Instagram popularity in 2020.

Work Smarter Not Harder:

Posting At The Right Time And In The Right Way:

Studies suggest that posting once or twice per day is optimal. Further research suggests that optimal times to post are between 11am-1pm and 7-9pm. Instagram’s algorithmic timeline setting makes this not only optimal, but essential. Every business is different, however, and you can tailor your posting times according to your followers habits. You can learn about your followers most active times on the Instagram Insights feature.

Consistency Is King:

Building a strong brand that connects, creates clarity, expresses creativity and is consistent is the way to build brand awareness. The key is to engage, be consistent, know your audience and your niche. Creating a plan and brand guide could be your secret weapon in unlocking your brand’s unique and original voice.

Make A Difference With Hashtags:

Selecting the best hashtags for your Instagram posts can mean the difference between appearing as a top post or sinking to the bottom of the feed without a trace. According to Hubspot, the average post contains 10.7 hashtags.

Purchase Followers

If you really need a helping hand to get started, buying Instagram followers is a quick and easy way to do it and is way more common than you would think. Of course, it’s important to only do this with legit services like iDigic or you could end up with a bunch of bots that disappear from your follower list after a few days.

Content, Content, Content:

Inspire With Content:

Focusing on visual inspiration is key for 2020. No one wants to be preached to on Instagram, so tailor your content to tell your businesses story creatively across your captions, Stories, videos, photos and profile bio. The core message is that, rather than selling, you should be aiming to connect. Sharing user generated content (UGC) can be a great way to save time, money and connect with customers. Keep captions short, snappy and clear.

Visually Please With Aesthetics:

A visually consistent feed helps by not only making you look professional, but by helping users distinguish your posts from others immediately. Instagram began as a platform to share beautiful images and that has never changed. So, a visually striking and consistent feed can help you stand out from the competition and earn more likes and follows. WebDam reports that,  of the best performing brands on the platform, 60% maintain a consistent look and feel.

Use UGC As A Performance Enhancer:

User generated content is a marketer’s secret sauce. It earns high engagement rates and takes little to no effort to produce. Not only is it created and approved by your audience, but it helps to foster a sense of community around your brand.

Monitoring, Testing, Adapting:

What is Instagram Insights And How To Use It:

For business pages you can take advantage of the Instagram Insights tab. This can show you the performance of  content you have posted (posts, Stories, promotions etc.).  Critically, you’ll learn what worked and what flopped. What’s more you can review your reach, impressions and interactions over a given time period to bolster your analysis on what works and what doesn’t. Insights also offers key insights into audience demographics including location, age range and gender.

What To Test And How To Test It:

No plan survives first contact with the enemy and no two brands are the same. Therefore testing your tactics is the best way to understand if you are getting the most out of your Instagram presence. Examples of metrics you can test to optimize your performance include:

  • Posting Times: What times are your customers online and what location are they in? Try mixing it up with the day and time you post and let Insights tell you what works best.
  • Posting Type: Some brands find that Stories earn them higher engagement rates. Some brands find that traditional posts are more effective. You won’t know what’s best for you until you try out both.

Applying Lessons Learned From Analysis:

None of these insights mean anything unless you learn from them and incorporate them into your strategy. Make it a point to do a weekly deep dive into your Insights tab to see what’s stopping you from sitting at the cool kids table on Instagram.

By paying attention to your content, audience behaviour and Instagram Insights, you’ll quickly learn what’s increasing your popularity and what’s holding you back. What will you do to increase your Instagram popularity in 2020?

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Video game industry to rally 250 million players to protect the planet

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Some of the biggest names in mobile gaming today – with a combined active user base of 250 million players – unveiled a series of environmental activations they will be integrating into live games such as Subway Surfers, Angry Birds 2 and Golf Clash.

During the first ever Green Mobile Game Jam, which took place from March to April 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, developers and CEOs from 11 companies committed to integrate these green activations such as new modes, maps or buildings, themed events, storylines and messaging.

The UNEP-facilitated P​laying for the Planet ​​Alliance supported the Green Mobile Game Jam, whose organisers hope that the shared learning and new practice, represents a new turning point for green thinking in game design for mass audience mobile games.

“We are excited to see the gaming industry throw its weight behind global efforts to reverse the climate crisis,” said Inger Andersen Executive Director of UNEP. “The climate emergency needs all hands on deck. In reaching out to 250 million gamers, we hope to inspire audiences to take action.”

John Earner, CEO of Space Ape who helped oversee the Jam said, “I was skeptical whether we could pull it off, especially during lockdown, but it was really inspiring to see companies who are normally very competitive come together and deliver some really great work. I see a huge amount of potential here for our industry and player communities going forward.”

The results of the jam, activation designs and timelines for implementation can be seen on this Green Game Jam page with activations from:

MAG Interactive will be running awareness and tree-planting themed events in their games WordBrain and WordBrain2. 

Sybo will be launching a world tour stop in Subway Surfers which will ask their community to take action on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Space Ape will be educating and engaging players about the benefits of renewable energy through their game Transformers: Earth Wars.

WildWorks has introduced new renewable energy choices such as solar and wind power that reward players with special eco-credits and unlocks in the Animal Jam.

Playdemic will be seeking to educate and activate millions of mobile gamers in their game Golf Clash.

Fingersoft will be adding recharge stations with solar panels in Hill Climb Racing 2.

Rovio will be hosting two in-game events in Angry Birds 2 around the theme of reforestation and will share links with players where they can learn more about reforestation efforts and how they can contribute.

Pixelberry will design a new book in Choices that will see two sisters raising awareness about climate change while their family’s fishing business is affected by a major fish die-off.

Creative mobile will be restoring biodiversity through special events to fundraise for the Wolf Conservation Trust in their game Zoocraft: Animal Family.

Future Games of London are shining a light on melting polar ice with a new game update in Hungry Shark World; Arctic Extinction.

GameDuell will be providing the Belote.com players with practical information about sustainability that they can use in their daily life.

The participants of the jam were asked to address themes ranging from climate change, supporting action around reforestation and restoring nature to exploring how games can integrate education on renewable energy. Green Game Jam participants voted Playdemic as ‘Overall Winner’, MAG Interactive as ‘Most Adoptable’ for their collaboration with TreesPlease and Creative Mobile as “First to Market”. Wildworks emerged as ‘UNEP favourite.’

Some activations have already been integrated and the rest will go live by early 2021 or sooner. The Playing for the Planet Alliance is partnering with Google Play to promote eligible games, with the activations later this year. Next year, organisers hope that additional companies will sign up to participate in the jam, potentially reaching up to 1 billion gamers with the activations.

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