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Africa-Europe Alliance: EU boosts pan-African Internet connectivity with €30 million

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EU has announced additional €30 million for the project “AfricaConnect”, that will provide affordable, high-capacity Internet for research and education networks across Africa.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Affordable high-speed broadband connectivity enables African youth, students, and researchers to boost collaborative scientific research with their peers around the world to help them tackle challenges in Africa. This is an important step towards tackling the digital divide.”

Improved Internet connectivity will not only facilitate African participation in world-class research projects, but also enable education, training and research institutions to develop and use applications to improve their teaching and learning environments, such as virtual classes or massive open online courses.

This additional €30 million contribution from the EU budget will provide support to the three African Regional Research and Education Networks, which will also contribute €7.5 million:

  • UbuntuNet Alliance (Eastern and Southern Africa),
  • WACREN (Western and Central Africa) and
  • ASREN (Northern Africa and Middle East Arab countries) as well as
  • GÉANT, Europe’s leading collaboration on e-infrastructure and services for research and education and operator of the GÉANT pan-European Research and Education Network.

The new contracts signed today will support the third phase of the project. Since its launch in 2014, more than 800 higher education and research institutions have been connected, their high-speed capacity has been significantly increased, while costs have been lowered.

  • In Zambia the National Research and Education Network (ZAMREN) multiplied their Internet capacity by 60 times, while costs dropped by 94% over a 4-year period.
  • In Nigeria, the project helped students to improve campus security at the University of Lagos. By building a mock surveillance system for the detection of intruders, in the form of a moving robot, the project demonstrated a cost-effective way to deploy monitoring on Nigerian campuses. This has inspired other universities to improve campus security nationwide.
  • In Uganda, the project helped students to enhance their university services by facilitating affordable online access. Frustrated with long waiting lines and complex bureaucracy, a group of software development and data management students developed an application that optimised administrative processes and enhanced their learning experience.
  • In Egypt, AfricaConnect joined forces with the scientific community to issue early warnings about natural disasters. The impact of dust storms, which can cause injury through falling debris or trigger asthma attacks, is being mitigated through monitoring and timely alerts. Reliable Internet connectivity provided by this project has helped to access, download and transfer data from satellite sensors and meteorological stations.

Background

Home to the youngest population in the world, Africa is progressing rapidly in digital adoption. Over the past ten years, Africa has recorded the highest growth globally in Internet access, moving from 2.1% in 2005 to 24.4% in 2018. The digital economy in Africa provides not only opportunities for increased job creation and data, but also the basis for accelerating access to quality basic services, improving transparency and accountability of governments, and enhancing democracy.

Research and innovation environments can support the development of skills and improve the employability of young people. eEducation and eLearning can support the establishment of collective digital educational resources, and virtual reality can increase access to quality vocational education and training for young people in remote areas. Given their strong potential as enablers of “knowledge-based” societies, digital technologies are key to accelerating progress in the education and research sector.

AfricaConnect3 builds advanced Internet networks for research and education across the entire African continent. It involves regional networking organisations, facilitators of cross-border exchanges of data and collaboration, from three geographical areas: ASREN in North Africa; WACREN in West and Central Africa; UbuntuNet Alliance in Eastern and Southern Africa. By collaborating with the pan-European GÉANT network, it strengthens Europe’s links with the African continent and provides African research and education communities with opportunities for global collaboration.

The projects announced above are funded by the Pan-African Programme Annual Action Programme 2018.

They contribute to education, skills and digitalisation – key priorities under the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. The European Union-African Union Digital Economy Task Force, set up under the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, recommends mainstreaming digital skills and responsible online behavior and the promotion of digital skills in schools, by reviewing education curricula in accordance with the evolving needs and trends in the digital economy and society.

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Industrial innovation to accelerate transitions towards greener and digital economies

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In the context of the 8th European Conference on Corporate R&D and Innovation (CONCORDI), 2021 – Industrial innovation for competitive sustainability, held online between 22-25 November 2021, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) convened two plenary sessions to discuss the greening of the economy and digitalization as two megatrends shaping the future of industrialization. These megatrends will influence developing countries’ efforts towards the achievement of inclusive and sustainable industrial development and the global sustainability agenda. The ongoing pandemic introduces resilience as an additional driver for policy, capacity development and strengthened coordination and collaboration around industrial innovation and industrial policy issues at different levels.

By leveraging its vast field experiences, technical cooperation activities and research work, UNIDO introduced developing country and sustainability perspectives to inform policy recommendations stemming from CONCORDI 2021, while also proposing novel policy- and action-orientated research agendas.

During his remarks at the plenary session titled: “The future of industrialization in a post pandemic world: Focus on developing countries”, Hiroshi Kuniyoshi, UNIDO’s Deputy to the Director General, advocated novel approaches to industrial policies as crucial for seizing the windows of opportunities stemming from digitalization and the greening of manufacturing. The threat of growing divides, he said,  implies that industrialization requires commitment to foster industrial innovation as the basis for catching up and leapfrogging in a post-pandemic world.

Kuniyoshi suggested that successful endorsement of the fourth industrial revolution would depend on each country’s responses and readiness, including through industrial capability building, domestic market size and upgrading in global value chains. He said policymakers need to pay attention to both framework conditions and specific policies to support development of production capabilities by firms.

The plenary session titled: “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Recovery through Digital Transformation”, addressed different factors that can determine success in endorsing the twin transition towards the green and the digital economy. These include digital planning and innovation strategies, focusing on trade facilitation, investing in infrastructure and enhancing policy coherence as well as addressing issues of finance from both public and private sources.

Speakers said capacity building, particularly for women and youth, remains a fundamental challenge, including the promotion of digital and green skills, and science, technology engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Addressing cultural biases preventing gender inclusivity, and solving skills gaps between men and women, should supplement efforts to facilitate access of women to better jobs.

There was agreement that in all these processes, priority setting would help focus on fewer challenges, while partnership building between governments, private sector, research organizations and multilateral organizations will be fundamental to securing an enabling environment for developing countries to leverage on the digital and the green economy towards meeting the sustainability targets associated with the 2030 and 2050 agendas. UNIDO stands ready to broker collaboration between its Members States and development partners in ways that reduce fragmentation of development assistance, and by bringing development assistance with impact to the field level.

The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (EC-JRC) convenes the CONCORDI biannually. For this year’s edition, UNIDO, the European Association for Research and Technology Organisations (EARTO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) joined the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre  (JRC) as co-organizers.

UNIDO’s contribution to CONCORDI2021 marks a progressive strengthening of the collaboration with the JRC on science, technology and innovation (STI) matters, beyond ongoing work in context of the UN Inter-Agency Task Team on STI for the SDGs.

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193 countries adopt the first global agreement on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

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All the nations members of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted on Thursday a historical text that defines the common values and principles needed to ensure the healthy development of AI.

Artificial intelligence is present in everyday life, from booking flights and applying for loans to steering driverless cars. It is also used in specialized fields such as cancer screening or to help create inclusive environments for the disabled.

According to UNESCO, AI is also supporting the decision-making of governments and the private sector, as well as helping combat global problems such as climate change and world hunger.

However, the agency warns that the technology ‘is bringing unprecedented challenges’.

We see increased gender and ethnic bias, significant threats to privacy, dignity and agency, dangers of mass surveillance, and increased use of unreliable AI technologies in law enforcement, to name a few. Until now, there were no universal standards to provide an answer to these issues”, UNESCO explained in a statement.

Considering this, the adopted text aims to guide the construction of the necessary legal infrastructure to ensure the ethical development of this technology.

“The world needs rules for artificial intelligence to benefit humanity. The Recommendation on the ethics of AI is a major answer. It sets the first global normative framework while giving States the responsibility to apply it at their level. UNESCO will support its 193 Member States in its implementation and ask them to report regularly on their progress and practices”, said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO chief.

AI as a positive contribution to humanity

The text aims to highlight the advantages of AI, while reducing the risks it also entails. According to the agency, it provides a guide to ensure that digital transformations promote human rights and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing issues around transparency, accountability and privacy, with action-oriented policy chapters on data governance, education, culture, labour, healthcare and the economy.

One of its main calls is to protect data, going beyond what tech firms and governments are doing to guarantee individuals more protection by ensuring transparency, agency and control over their personal data. The Recommendation also explicitly bans the use of AI systems for social scoring and mass surveillance.

The text also emphasises that AI actors should favour data, energy and resource-efficient methods that will help ensure that AI becomes a more prominent tool in the fight against climate change and in tackling environmental issues.

“Decisions impacting millions of people should be fair, transparent and contestable. These new technologies must help us address the major challenges in our world today, such as increased inequalities and the environmental crisis, and not deepening them.” said Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences.

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Do you really need a Mac Data Recovery Software?

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It is a well-known fact that the volume of data generated is growing exponentially. Of course, some of this data is completely absurd, but most of the data is precious to the users generating it, and they want to keep it safe and secure. However, data loss is not an alien scenario for any user and happens more frequently than you can imagine.

Apple Inc. has ensured that, there is minimum chance of data loss on Mac, but that needs a highly alert user. Although, as we know, ‘To err is human’ and thus, we face data loss even with multiple options to secure our data on Mac.  Data recovery solutions for Mac systems are complex. Therefore, to answer the question ‘Yes, you need a Mac Data Recovery Software’.

How we lose data on Mac?

If you have lost data on your Mac system, it is no big deal. The data loss on a Mac system may occur for multiple reasons, some known and some unknown. The most common reasons for data loss on Mac are listed below:

  • Accidental deletion of data.
  • Crashing of the startup drive (Macintosh HD).
  • Crashing of the volume on the Mac drive.
  • Corruption of data.
  • Bad sectors on the HDD/SSD of Mac.
  • Virus or Malware attack.

Inbuilt Solutions to prevent data loss on Mac

It is important to understand that not each data loss scenario needs a third-party data recovery software until you are facing a situation where you have not created a backup of your data. Most of the data loss scenarios could be avoided or rectified only with preparedness. You can prevent data loss or recover lost data by taking the following actions:

Role of TRIM in Data Recovery on SSDs

Despite all the benefits, there was a challenge with the first Gen SSDs. Unlike traditional HDDs, where data can be overwritten on the existing data, SSDs need to erase the data prior to writing new data. The erasing is a slower process as compared to writing data, and thus it requires a longer time. Due to this drawback, the first-generation SSDs used to get slower with prolonged usage. Moreover, these SSDs had a communication gap with the OS.

Even if the OS deleted a file, the concerned space was identified as occupied by the SSD, thus creating a build-up of unknown and unavailable spaces. A new feature called TRIM was introduced to overcome this issue and create better communication between Mac’s SSD and macOS. This feature significantly improved the performance and usage of SSD.

Enabling TRIM on Mac reduces the possibilities of data recovery even by professional data recovery software. If the TRIM feature is enabled on your Mac, then deleting a file would result in the deletion of the index of the file, thus making it inaccessible. Most of the data recovery software are not capable of retrieving data lost on SSD, even if the TRIM feature is disabled, as the new generation Mac laptops are more secure and hard to be accessed for data recovery software.

Disable TRIM on your Mac

To disable the TRIM feature, you first need to ensure that it is actually enabled. Follow the steps below to check and disable TRIM on your Mac:

Step 1: Press Option key then click Apple Menu and select System Information.

Step 2: In the System Information window locate the SATA tab in the sidebar and click on it.

Step 3: Check the status in front of TRIM Support column.

Step 4: If the option in front of TRIM Support is Yes, then TRIM is enabled on your Mac.

Step 5: Launch Terminal on your Mac.

Step 6: Insert the command sudo trimforce disable in the Terminal and hit Return.

Now, the data recovery software will be able to identify all the data deleted from your Mac SSD.

How can a Data Recovery Software help?

Now that the TRIM has been disabled, you would like to know which data recovery software you should use to recover your deleted data securely. There are a plethora of Freeware and Freemium software claiming assured data recovery from Mac SSD, but only a handful of trusted professional software are capable of actually recover data securely and in a foolproof manner from Mac SSDs.

If you want to have hassle-free secure data recovery, you can choose Stellar Data Recovery Free Edition for Mac. This globally recognized DIY software recovers up to 1 GB of data free of cost. Other features that make it a favorite worldwide are as  under:

  1. It can recover files that have been removed by emptying the Trash.
  2. You can use it to recover data from the Mac USB drive.
  3. Lost data from formatted partition can be retrieved.
  4. You can preview the files before saving them for recovery.
  5. It recovers almost any file type and format related to Mac.
  6. You can retrieve photos, Pages, Mail Files, MS Office Docs and much more with this software.
  7. Being a DIY software you don’t need any technical expertise to recover your data.

To Conclude

With all the discussions and analysis of technical facts, we can now easily answer the question ‘Do you really need a Mac Data Recovery Software?’ and the verdict is, Yes, you do need it. Not every data loss scenario can be addressed by the inbuilt features of Mac. Some require specialized professional assistance through data recovery software. However, you need to ensure that the data recovery software you are choosing fits your specific need.

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