Information and stories about technology news.

Innovation and Technology Center 
One of the world’s least developed countries is about to get a substantial technological upgrade. Following an agreement between Niger’s Agency for Information Society (ANSI) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the development of an innovation and technology center has begun in the village of Sadore. That center will have technical educational opportunities as well as advanced technology and equipment.

The Location of the New Center

Sadore is located in the country of Niger. Niger is an African nation that is on the border of numerous other countries. It boasts a population of more than 24 million people and has a river that runs through its capital, Niamey. Niger is also among the hottest countries in the world, earning it the nickname, the “Frying Pan of the World.”

The Human Development Index (HDI) measures how developed a country is. It considers various factors such as income, life expectancy and education. According to this index, Niger ranked as the least developed country in the world. In 2019, Niger received an HDI of .394, lower than any other country.

Aside from its lack of development, Niger faces other problems as well. Niger currently has a poverty rate of 44% and malnutrition plagues much of the country. Making matters worse is the fact that the fertility rate in Niger is the highest in the world and easily surpasses its death rate. This means that the population is constantly growing, which will lead to more people living in poverty.

The Agreement Between ANSI and ICRISAT

ANSI and ICRISAT agreed upon the decision to develop the new center. ANSI primarily focuses on sustainable digital development in Niger. This spreads to various aspects of society such as education, health and agriculture. The agency also prioritizes digital technology and how the advancement of this technology can have a positive impact on the country.

While ANSI is broader in its areas of focus for development, ICRISAT has more of a focus on rural areas and agriculture. ICRISAT is a nonprofit that uses scientific research to improve the lives of people living in rural communities. It helps farmers grow various types of crops so that they can sustain themselves and their families.

A partnership between these two has the potential to be extremely beneficial for Niger. More specifically, a collaboration to further develop food production could help alleviate Niger’s malnutrition problem. Additionally, as the creation of a new innovation center proved, agricultural technology can also take a step forward and help the country along in its development.

The New Center

The creation of a new innovation and technology center comes as a part of the Niger 2.0 Smart Village Project. Niger 2.0 is a program that plans to transform Niger’s rural and lower-income areas into far more digitally advanced communities. This will improve the lives of the people living in these areas as well as create more sustainable infrastructure.

The center will undergo development in various “clusters” that focus on specific aspects of society such as health, education and agriculture. It will also provide many educational opportunities for the public to use such as a coding academy and a university for several technical careers.

Furthermore, the center will also hold a wide variety of technological resources that many of Sadore’s citizens will likely be experiencing for the first time. These include “a national data center…assembly lines…computers, tablets and solar panels.”

How This New Center Will Affect Niger

Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, director general of ANSI, has expressed his support for the development of a new innovation and technology city in Niger. He believes that it could be the key to solving many of Niger’s largest problems. He specifically spoke about how technology could help improve agriculture. For example, drones could help collect data about certain crops.

Saidou also highlighted the importance of getting Niger’s population more involved in the country’s development. Two-thirds of Niger’s population is under the age of 25; and, their participation in building a new digital infrastructure could be vital for the country’s overall development. The involvement of Niger’s abundant youth could give it the boost it needs.

The center should also improve the state of business in Niger as it will have facilities that support small enterprises and start-ups. Saidou believes that the growth of these businesses could lead to substantial progress in agricultural development that could help improve Niger’s malnutrition situation. With the implementation of the new center and an increase in technological advancements, the world could soon be looking at a brand new Niger.

– Tyshon Johnson
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Water Scarcity
Many know Egypt, which connects Northeastern Africa and the Middle East, for its rivers and pyramids. Although it is rich in culture, Egypt faces a water scarcity issue. According to an article by the African Union Development Agency, Egypt’s Vision 2030 to “increase water supply across the country has primarily focused on enhancing sustainable energy generation and management and enabling innovation and scientific research towards enhancing water supply and distribution.” Technology to address water scarcity in Egypt aims to protect the environment, increase productivity and enhance human health.

The Problem of Egypt’s Water Scarcity

Egypt is currently facing a yearly water deficit of more than 7 billion cubic meters. The problem of insufficient water is further exacerbated by population growth, especially since Egypt’s population is expanding at a pace of 1.94%, equivalent to an annual increase of around 2 million individuals. Today, 92 million people reside in Egypt, marking a 41% increase since the 1990s, and the population will likely exceed 110 million over the next three years.

Recognizing the proportional relationship between population size and freshwater scarcity, this may heavily disrupt freshwater supply within the country. In fact, the Middle East and North African region as a whole, where Egypt is located, holds less than 2% of the world’s fresh water. The Nile river, a vital source of natural and freshwater in Egypt, is increasingly becoming a source of disease, due to the amount of pollution it endures annually. According to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, 4.5 million tons of pollutants permeate the Nile each year. This includes sewage, agricultural waste and industrial waste.


Egypt has embraced some of the most cutting-edge digital and smart water technologies to address issues pertinent to water scarcity. Through water treatment and desalination, such technologies aim to protect current water sources and bodies, while also boosting water supply. Egypt has created several desalination technologies, to facilitate the transformation of seawater into potable water to enhance water supply. The process of seawater desalination involves evaporating, condensing, and then cooling via the distillation process in that respective order. Through this process, people can use the newly treated water for human consumption and agricultural purposes. Today, Egypt retains a daily freshwater capacity of 800,000 cubic meters in line with 2022 records, and the Egyptian government aspires to achieve 6.4 million cubic meters by 2050.

However, the seawater desalination method traditionally used in Egypt is expensive, as it requires a significant amount of energy. To overcome this issue, Egypt adopted membrane technology to desalinate seawater affordably and cost-effectively. Additionally, such technology can help with several other processes, including pervaporation, reverse osmosis, forward osmosis, nanofiltration and ultrafiltration.

To further enhance the output of water treatment that is possible through membrane technology, and without sacrificing the quality of water, scientists are investigating nanotechnology. Nanotechnology works to increase water permeability and remove pollutants from both wastewater and seawater, while also cost-effectively intensifying water supply output.

A Promising Future

Improving access to clean water remains a top and crucial priority to maintain human welfare in Egypt and the entire African continent. By creating effective water management systems, and boosting water supply through water treatment and desalination, Egypt can effectively address the water shortage. Such endeavors can ease the burden on Egyptians who lack access to clean water, reduce their susceptibility to diseases, and ultimately improve their quality of life.

– Frema Mensah
Photo: Flickr

Investments in India
Foreign direct investments in the only unpenetrated highly populace market have proven effective in improving the U.S. economy. With Microsoft and Google investments, India curtailed poverty and encouraged economic growth.

Microsoft and Google Investments

Since 1990, Microsoft has invested in various operations in India, including Intelligent Cloud and Artificial Intelligence to facilitate the quick delivery of digital transformation. More recent operations in 2021 entail Microsoft’s collaboration with Invest India to support the build-up of 11 technological start-ups. In 2022, Microsoft led the largest India data center region investment worth Rs 15,000 crore across a 15-year period.

Since 2004, Google has also invested in India to enhance the country’s digital economy. The tech giant’s most contemporary investment announced is a $10 billion investment in 2020, known as the “Google for India Digitization Fund” to fuel the digitization of India. In 2022, Google also publicized support to Airtel, India’s second major telecommunications operator, in a $1 billion investment, according to the Economic Times.

Impact on Reducing Poverty in India

Today, Microsoft operates in 11 different Indian cities with around 16,000 employees. The International Data Corporation estimates that Microsoft’s data center region contributed to economic gains worth $9.5 billion from 2016-2020 and unlocked 1.5 million employment opportunities, The Times of India reported.

Tech start-up companies generated around $6.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021, according to Business Today. This is indicating improved economic growth and poverty reduction, especially as start-ups represent a significant aspect of economic development.

Following Google’s $10 billion investment in 2020, the number of employees it holds doubled from early 2020 to late 2021, and over the following two years, projections show that the workforce is likely to double. This underlines Google’s impact on promoting economic growth through the reduction of unemployment on the national level, declining by 4.2% from 2020-2021.

Human Development Index (HDI) value in India rose from 0.429 in 1990 to 0.645 in 2019. GDP growth improved from 3.8% in 2000 to 8.9% in 2021 and extreme poverty declined by 12.3 percentage points between 2011-2019. This illustrated the overall impact digital technology has on encouraging equality and financial inclusion across India.


In 2019, estimates have stated that Indian trade accounted for 2.3% of total U.S. imported goods, standing at a worth of $57.7 billion. A U.S. government report confirms that service products such as telecommunication and research and development accounted for a large proportion of such imports and in 2019 it stood at $29.7 billion.

Acknowledging the role of imports in relieving U.S. households from increased good prices, this highlights how high-tech investments in India Improved the U.S. economy. As evidence of the latter, a 2021 U.S. Chamber of Commerce report has highlighted that with imports, the typical American household uplifted its purchasing power by $18,000 per year, thereby equating to greater value for money.


In 2019, exports from the U.S. to India accounted for transactions valued at $34.3 billion, corresponding to 2% of total U.S. exports in that same year, and 2020 World Bank data shows that exports contributed to 10.16% of U.S. GDP. Agricultural products captured a considerable share of exports, totaling $1.8 billion in 2019, and each $1 billion from agricultural exports in 2019 required around 7,784 full-time U.S. employees. This illustrates eminent economic activity in terms of productivity, efficiency and employment domestically.

Importance of Microsoft and Google to the US Economy

The 2021-20 fiscal year illustrated economic gains for Microsoft (India) in terms of revenue growth valued at 7%. For the 2021 financial year, it is also estimated that Google’s revenue from India improved by 38% in terms of profit.

Such financial profits equate to greater corporate security and enhanced growth prospects and considering the impact both tech giants have on the U.S. economy this illustrates an unprecedented gain for improved economic growth via repatriated profits. For instance, Microsoft paid $13 billion in tax to the U.S. economy from its overall overseas operations. Similarly, Google in a 2018 announcement publicized its $38 billion payment in tax on its foreign cash and confirmed its intentions to offer 20,000 new employment opportunities. Knowing that India accounts for a large sum of both corporations’ overseas operations, this signifies the importance of investments in India to the U.S. economy.

In an era of globalization, economic gains in one country would demonstrate financial benefits in another. Efforts such as those of Microsoft and Google show how India can build a stronger infrastructure that strengthens its position in tackling poverty, while also highlighting how high-tech investments in India improved the U.S. economy.

–  Noor Al-Zubi
Photo: Flickr

A new study from the Balkan Journal of Social Sciences suggests that software piracy can actually assist in relieving poverty. The implications of the study contribute to a broader conversation regarding barriers to access in tech-based fields. Specifically, for those who cannot afford to purchase expensive software, there are fewer opportunities to hone skills and find professional work.  On the other hand, access to software to help master coding or editing skills leads people to jobs or the ability to launch a business.

The Balkan Journal of Social Sciences Study

Co-authors, Mustafa Ünver and Jülide Yalçinkaya Koyuncu released the study, “Does Software Piracy Mitigate Poverty? “Evidence from Developing and Latin American Countries” earlier this year. The study examines Latin American and developing countries between the years 2003 and 2017. It compares rates of piracy with several poverty indicators. Additionally, Ünver and Yalçinkaya Koyuncu ultimately controlled for three possibly intervening variables. They took unemployment, health expenditure and human capital into account, and found that those variables do not affect the results of this study.

Significantly, in all their models for developing and Latin American countries, as piracy increased, poverty decreased. As Ünver and Yalçinkaya Koyuncu explain in their abstract, “usage of pirated software maintains its negative significant effect on poverty in all models for both developing and Latin America countries samples.”

Earlier Study in Africa

The Balkan Journal of Social Science’s study is not the only study to suggest this relationship. In a report published in 2012 in the SSRN Electronic Journal, Simplice Asongu finds a similar relationship in his study of African countries. Asongu’s study is the first to examine the effects of piracy on inequality in Africa. He finds that “software piracy is good for the poor as it has a positive income-redistributive effect.”

Interpretations of Findings

One explanation for these findings is that software piracy can act as a gateway to more profitable professional work. For those who cannot afford the often expensive fees to properly access much high-end software, pirated versions may provide an easy way for those in poverty to learn a new set of skills that they can then apply to the professional market.

Torrentfreak, a website dedicated to covering technological issues, suggests that there could be an alternative explanation to these findings. While Torrentfreak does recognize piracy as a career gateway as a viable theory, it also suggests that the relationship could also work in reverse. Essentially, as poverty decreases, people in the country have more access to pirated software and the technology needed to run it.

Ethical Considerations

How should ethics come into play with regard to the study findings? In reviewing the Balkan study results, Sovan Mandal points out in Good E Reader that while an increase in piracy may decrease poverty, promoting piracy, of course, may not be ethical.  or one thing, it hurts the original software providers by depriving them of legitimate earnings.  That, in turn, could lead to less innovation because developers would have less funding for research and development. Mandal postures that there will be an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of software piracy:  “…someone somewhere is downloading pirated versions of software or an e-book in an attempt to acquire the skills needed to break free from poverty. But how about those who use the same means to acquire skills meant for use in negative fields, like hacking, and such?”

Providing Access Without Using Pirated Software

A win-win scenario could be to provide greater access to software that is not pirated.  That is what a non-profit out of Atlanta, Georgia is doing.  The City of Refuge earned a $5.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide free tech training in two high-poverty Atlanta neighborhoods. City of Refuge plans to train 280 people in four years. Its training will instruct participants to work in web development and cybersecurity. The project additionally has several corporate sponsors such as Cox Enterprises, Elavon, EY and UPS.

The City of Refuge will place graduates as web designers or software engineers with a starting salary of $55,000. Alternatively, graduates can choose to take a $36,000 paid internship at one of the corporate sponsors. Further, City of Refuge promises to actively work on placement for any intern who doesn’t get a job at the end of the internship.

Using Software Piracy Studies to Eradicate Poverty

Both the study released this year and Asongu’s 2012 study conclusively underline that access to software piracy can have an inverse effect on the rate of poverty. The City of Refuge demonstrates the ways to mobilize the findings of the studies. The combination of corporate support and government funding allows training so more people can enter the workforce and leave poverty. And while the City of Refuge is in the United States, similar collaborations between governments, non-profits and tech corporations could run in low- and middle-income nations throughout the globe.

– Eleanor Corbin
Photo: Flickr

digitization-in-indiaWith the highest 10% of the population holding 57% of India’s national income as of 2021, India stands as one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. Governments and businesses remain in search of the most effective methods to lift Indians out of poverty. Recent research has explored the benefits of demonetization and digitization in India at the individual and government level.

India has come full swing in embracing the digital age, with Aadhaar – the national biometric digital identity program – covering 99.7% of the nation’s adult population as of December 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has further strengthened the drive to go online, with an increase in sellers on almost all e-commerce platforms. Digitization in India will help the nation make strides in poverty reduction.

Digitization and Improving the Economy

According to McKinsey, “60 million to 65 million

could be created through the direct impact of productivity-boosting digital applications” by 2025. Furthermore, with more than 10 million businesses brought to a common digital platform through the 2013 Goods and Services Tax Network, digitization is incentivizing businesses to go online, thus, enhancing cooperation and streamlining India’s fragmented and informal marketplace. Outside the commercial world, digitizing sectors such as agriculture, education and health care can create up to $150 billion of incremental economic value by 2025 as it can raise output and save on costs and time.

Digitization and Improving Government Services

Not only can digitization help boost the economy and provide jobs to millions but it can also improve the government services essential to the positive well-being of citizens. To improve urban service deliveries in Andhra Pradesh, the government and World Bank designed AI platforms to monitor municipal services. By using drones and Geographic Information System mapping, the World Bank updated town plans and geo-tagged citizens’ issues with “online visibility” to enhance transparency and hold municipal engineers accountable for resolving issues within a certain time period.

By linking applications for piped water supply to AI, the project also provided new water connections to more than 200,000 homes in 110 municipalities between 2015 and 2019. In this same time period, “revenue from property taxes and water charges more than doubled,” enabling the government to collect sufficient resources for civil projects.

The Downside of Digitization

Despite its promise for socio-economic transformation, digitization has a long way to go in lifting all classes of Indians out of poverty. As access to digital services is still largely reserved for the upper class, those living in poverty remain excluded from the advantages of e-commerce. Therefore, in some ways, digitization may be entrenching poverty instead of reducing it. This problem proves even more serious for Indian women, only about a third of whom have internet access and rely on education as their primary form of social security in 2022.

Hope for the Future

While many Indians are yet to experience the benefits of digitization, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Digital India program, launched in 2015, centers around the internet as a utility for all citizens. The program’s goals include “universal digital literacy” and “easy access to a Common Service Centre” for all.

With more efficient government services and more Indians gaining access to the formal marketplace, digitization in India promises a future of reduced poverty.

– Imogen Scott
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Saudi Arabia
Vision 2030 is an ambitious Saudi government project to overhaul Saudi Arabia’s economy and society by the year 2030. Launched in 2016, its reforms include ambitious goals regarding poverty eradication in Saudi Arabia. Also and importantly, it hopes to transition Saudi Arabia from an oil-dependent economy to a diversified modern one. Together, the innovations in poverty eradication in Saudi Arabia and the transition to a more diversified economy should position Saudi Arabia as an economic leader in the Middle East. In fact, Vision 2030 has gained acclaim as a model for rapid modernization and innovative poverty eradication in middle-income and developing countries.

Renewable Energy Revolution

Two hallmarks of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 are expanding job opportunities for young Saudis in non-oil sectors of the economy and reducing poverty by raising living standards. In 2016, the government announced its ambitious goal to acquire 50% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030. For this reason, it pledged a $400 billion investment to expand the renewable energy sector. In turn, this investment embraces new technologies that will expand economic opportunities for Saudi citizens in the renewable energy sector, and that leads to poverty eradication that can raise living standards in the country. The program will also reduce pollution and promote human health, important for poverty reduction. The Saudi move to renewable energy is also meant to curb Saudi carbon emissions that account for 4% of the total global output. 

Futuristic Commercial Hubs Could Make Saudi Arabia a Global Business Center

As part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia announced its intention to build Neom, a futuristic city in the northwest region of the country on the Red Sea coast. This $500 billion project positions Neom as a center for trade, investment, tourism and technology. The Neom project embodies the overarching Vision 2030 goals because renewable energy sources will power Noem entirely. Further, the project underscores the diversification policies of Vision 2030 because Noem will heavily on foreign investment to drive tourism and the use of Neom as a cargo hub.

Since the Saudi government launched Vision 2030 in 2016 foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country has skyrocketed from $5.321 billion to $17.625 billion as of Fall 2021. This increase in investment and trade is an indicator of modernization measures and accomplishments of Vision 2030.

Investments in Smart Technology to Drive Entrepreneurship

Saudi Arabia’s government pledged unprecedented levels of investment in developing the country’s technology sector. The hope is to become a knowledge-driven economy. The Saudi government pledged $6.4 billion for investments in smart technologies as part of Vision 2030 to make the country a center of the global technology industry. Part of this program has included a $1.2 billion investment in training 100,000 Saudi youths for careers in the smart technology sector. This will occur by improving digital skills including familiarity with AI, 5G and cybersecurity. For example, The Garage Start-Up District program encourages start-up companies and other entrepreneurs by providing grants, marketing and training support and full-service workspaces. By creating job opportunities for Saudis in a modern economy, these programs should reduce poverty rates for Saudis entering this emerging technology sector.

Smart Technologies to Promote Health Care Access

Just as much of Vision 2030 focuses heavily on the growth of the technology sector, the Saudi government also is using smart technology to promote quality health care access through mobile apps. One app called Sehha offers remote medical and preventative care. Launched in 2017, Sehha provided 2.1 million consultations by 2020.

Mawid, another health app, allowed 14.3 million Saudis to book 67 million medical appointments from 2018-2020. The Tabaud app was also one of the first of its kind in the world to provide its 3 million users with Bluetooth notifications of contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This enabled users to quarantine and the government to effectively contact trace to contain outbreaks. This smart technology is particularly important for rural communities living further away from hospital infrastructure. These new innovations that safeguard human health boost the goal of eradicating poverty through having a labor force healthy enough to contribute to a modernizing economy.

Vision 2030 presents innovation in poverty eradication in Saudi Arabia while also striking a balance between development and environmental concerns. All of this is also important for reducing poverty by diversifying the economy and maintaining human health. If Saudi Arabia continues its ambitious economic reforms, it can present an appealing model for other middle-income and developing countries to replicate. Finally, modernization and poverty eradication would foster a more prosperous and stable world.

– John Zak
Photo: Flickr

M-PESA App in Kenya
In 2007, Safaricom developed the M-PESA app in Kenya, Africa. The mobile money platform aims to increase financial inclusion by allowing the impoverished access to financial services without the need to visit a bank or have a bank account. The introduction of the M-PESA mobile money app has improved the economy in a nation with about 16% of the population surviving on less than $1.90 per day in 2021.

The M-PESA App

Accessibility is one of the benefits M-PESA offers. The app is accessible to both individuals and businesses and even those living in rural villages can easily access it as long as there is mobile connection coverage. Through the app, users can send and receive money, purchase airtime and pay bills, among other services. M-PESA also “facilitates the safe storage and transfer of money.”

A study conducted by an economics professor from Georgetown University and a colleague from MIT shows that 96% of the Kenyan population used the M-PESA app in Kenya in 2016. By 2021, the app had roughly 30 million users in Kenya alone. The M-PESA app expanded to six other African countries and served 50 million users across the African continent by September 2021, making it the largest fintech in Africa.

Benefits of the M-PESA App

M-PESA is able to improve a country’s financial outlook by reducing poverty. The app allows users to take control of their finances and increase consumption levels of goods and services. A research article, “The Long-Run Poverty and Gender Impacts of Mobile Money,” published in Science magazine in December 2016, indicates that over six years M-PESA “increased consumption levels,” which allowed about 186,000 Kenyan families (2% of Kenyan households) to rise out of poverty.

The researchers conducted a study from 2008 to 2014 to compare households with easy access to M-PESA agents to “those without such easy access to mobile money.” The result showed that households with easy access to M-PESA agents “fared better and received more remittances from a larger network of people.” Highlighting this, when Kenyan households endured a financial shock, “there was a 12[%] difference in per capita consumption between the two groups, with consumption rising for those households near to an M-PESA agent.”

In Kenya, about 25% of the $44 billion economy goes through M-PESA, according to a 2014 article by Mobile Transaction. Furthermore, by the end of 2013, more than 79,000 people received opportunities to work as M-PESA agents. By 2018, the World Bank noted more than 110,000 M-PESA agents in Kenya.

Mr. Mungai, who operates two M-PESA shops in Kenya, told the Mobile Transaction that the app had made his life much easier and provided him with a stable job. “M-PESA has changed my life; it helps me make savings. I don’t need to travel to and from the bank every now and then because I can now deposit and withdraw from my bank account using the M-PESA platform,” Mungai added.

Evolution of the M-PESA App

The functions of M-PESA have been evolving. In 2021, M-PESA Africa launched the M-PESA Super App, which allows users access to “services they need in a typical day including shopping, restaurants and food delivery, transport services, government services” and more, without the need to install several apps. By March 2022, more than 9 million individuals and 320,000 businesses had downloaded the M-PESA Super App.

In addition, M-PESA has grown from peer-to-peer money transfers to international payments. M-PESA has partnered with MoneyGram on International Money Transfer, allowing users in more than 90 countries to transfer money across borders. Now people are able to enjoy the services and updates of the app without a SIM card. M-PESA is also collaborating with PayPal, and soon, the mobile money app intends to expand further through partnerships with other global brands.

Looking Ahead

With the M-PESA app in Kenya, Kenyans can look to a brighter future and an improved economy through easy access to financial services and increased job opportunities. Overall, M-PESA increases financial inclusion, ensuring that the impoverished in developing countries in Africa have access to the resources and services to break the cycle of poverty. M-PESA will continue to bring innovations and enable individuals to make transactions more efficiently and securely.

– Jiaying Guo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Helps Farmers
The Awareness Company develops information technology by using satellites, sensors, trackers, fusion engines and camera traps to improve and structure businesses globally. This technology can also help farmers be successful, subsequently improving food security and reducing food shortages globally.

What is Agritech?

Agritech is the use of technology while farming, most commonly to ensure proper growth and efficient profit for the farmers involved. People mostly use the umbrella term Agritech to refer to agriculture ranging from weather forecasting, photography by satellite, irrigation and heat and light control.

What is The Awareness Company?

The Awareness Company started in 2018 with co-founders Praiaash Ramadeen, Estelle Lubbe and Shazia Vawda in Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon its start, the Awareness Company produces HYDRA Intelligent Places, Smart Mining, Agriculture and Conservation for global use. Ecological employees and businesses can use the programs about local security, safety awareness, maintenance and conservation to inform and educate community members.

The Awareness Company has four projects they are working on with the help of technology to improve agriculture globally including FarmSecurity, FarmAwareness, AgriOne and AgriInsights. The programs give real-time data management about livestock location, water and soil analysis and insights for selling products that are otherwise unavailable for farmers working without Agritech. The technology can ensure a proper harvest and indicate if plants need more attention or focus.

How Agriculture and Technology Can Reduce Global Poverty

Technology can help improve food security and help farmers protect their land, animals and communities. The assistance of satellites, drones and automatic equipment can drastically change the crop yield and sustainability of a farm. The global use of this equipment will provide more food for low-income countries whose communities would benefit from the additional food without the hassle of possible future mistakes that could lead to the destruction of a farm. Reduced prices, higher crop productivity and worker safety are all important parts of building a safe and healthy environment that ensures the growth of a country regarding its food supply for citizens.

Food security is essential for stopping global poverty. With the help of technology, agriculture receives more jobs and a boost in the economy. As a result, fewer people will starve and food shortages both locally and globally will decrease. According to the USDA, positive impacts include poverty reduction, trade and export opportunities, global security and improved citizen health and health care. The help of technology can strengthen and prevent any future disasters that may arise. By alerting the farmer with the knowledge of the new technologies and introducing the machinery/software, the farmer will be able to accomplish more knowing what was unavailable before is now available for the enrichment of their work.

The Future of Agritech with The Awareness Company

The Awareness Company won Microsoft’s AgriChallenge, where Microsoft announced and invited different technology companies to show what the companies could do in August 2020. After the investment from Microsoft in December 2021, The Awareness Company’s Co-Founder and CEO Praiaash Ramadeen said “That’s why Microsoft’s support and investment in helping us as a local, homegrown business to grow and develop solutions that focus on solving real-world problems is so meaningful… we have already done in the agricultural space to promote sustainable agriculture and food security through intelligent data.”

The Awareness Company can help farmers find reliable solutions to arising problems globally through the use of technology. With 2 to 4 million small farmers in South Africa, the use of artificial intelligence can provide a helpful boost in the daily lives of both farmers and consumers.

Kyle Swingle
Photo: Flickr

Smart Cities in Latin America
According to TWI, “a smart city uses information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of government service and citizen welfare.” The primary purpose of a smart city is to improve the lives of its citizens by using innovative technology “to optimize city functions and promote economic growth.” According to the Inter-American Development Bank, “a Smart City is one that places people at the center of development,” highlighting the value of smart cities in addressing issues that impact a city’s most marginalized population. In particular, smart cities in Latin America have the potential to lift the region out of poverty.

Addressing Poverty with Information and Communication Technology

In Latin America, smart cities are gaining more traction as nations look for innovative ways to address poverty and improve the lives of their citizens. Across the region, developing nations are embracing information and communication technology to address environmental concerns, improve energy efficiency and provide people with essential resources such as running water.

Investment in smart city infrastructure allows for the opportunity “to build more reliable power grids or expand the Internet” to stimulate economic growth in low-income communities. In addition, technological advancements in public transportation have the potential to create an equitable and accessible city, providing people on the periphery the opportunity to access urban centers unlike ever before. More than half of the world’s population live in cities with a projected increase to 66% by 2050. As rural communities continue to seek economic opportunities in the urban landscape, it is more important than ever for cities to implement the people-centered model of smart cities.

4 Smart Cities in Latin America

  1. Santiago, Chile: According to IESE Business School, the Chilean city of Santiago “is the smartest city in Latin America,” with initiatives in “mobility, environmental control and citizen safety.” To prevent water wastage, the city has developed a sensor data collecting method in which parks and other public green spaces undergo irrigation based on the amount of moisture necessary. The city has also implemented an advanced electric transit system.
  2. La Paz, Bolivia: This Bolivian city overcame its geographic challenges by creating an extensive cable car system to serve the population living in the steep Andean hills rising 500 meters above the city center. The cable car system has now become the main mode of public transportation in the city, allowing residents on the outskirts access to the main areas of commerce and employment.
  3. Guadalajara, Mexico: Guadalajara is the first Mexican city to receive designation as a smart city. Through the city’s Digital Creative City (DCC) initiative, Guadalajara is revitalizing its city center by emphasizing historical and cultural preservation while relying on technology to improve the city’s infrastructure and accommodate its population growth. The city is also relying on various technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and a smart grid, to provide its citizens with clean water, efficient transportation and affordable electricity. The city relies on a participatory model to engage residents in the city planning process.
  4. Montería, Colombia: Montería is one of the first Colombian cities to establish a sustainable infrastructure plan aimed at tackling extreme weather patterns and emissions. It intends to reduce emissions by declaring city-wide car-free days and improving public mobility. The city is also home to an innovation lab, which focuses on developing digital technologies and training individuals to work with these technologies. Montería is also tackling public health issues through its e-health initiatives and is installing solar panels in its public schools.

Rising Smart Cities in Latin America Alleviate Poverty

Cities throughout Latin America are alleviating poverty by integrating smart technology into their frameworks. Urban areas that focus on creating smart and connected systems of living offer numerous benefits for their people, including improving the quality of life and ensuring the sustainable application of resources. With an urbanization rate of 80% in 2017, Latin America stands as the world’s most urbanized region, which means there is ample opportunity for smart city implementation.

Jennifer Hendricks
Photo: Flickr

Technology in South Sudan
South Sudan is a small country in northeastern Africa that achieved independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s newest country. Following its independence, a civil war broke out between the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Since the resolution of the conflict in 2018, South Sudan has been working hard to improve technology within its information and communication systems in order to revitalize its economy, advance foreign relations and expand networks to all citizens in South Sudan.

The Need for Technology

Information and communication technology (ICT) is a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” ICT includes any mechanism which facilitates communication and the transfer of information including the internet, computers, cellular devices, radio and television. From education and health care to business, the development of ICT has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of modern society.

In South Sudan, nearly 80% of the population resides in rural areas with extremely limited access to the internet or mobile services. In 2021, only 8% of South Sudan had internet access, severely limiting the population’s access to the global market as well as valuable international and regional information.

Prior to COVID-19, South Sudan had been experiencing economic growth with a 9.5% GDP between 2019 and 2020. While much of the world transitioned to virtual methods of business and communication as the pandemic progressed, the lack of technology in South Sudan’s rural areas resulted in most of the country experiencing isolation from the world. Without sufficient ICT outside of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, rural populations lost access to even more valuable resources.

The Development of ICT in South Sudan

Despite the obstacles of the pandemic, the development of technology in South Sudan is still underway. In the past, the only way to access the internet was through very expensive satellite-based and mobile phone providers. However, the country has been working since 2018 to lower the price of communication by extending its fiber-optics infrastructure. As a land-locked nation, the quickest way for South Sudan to do that was to negotiate plans to tap into the existing fiber-optic networks of Uganda and Sudan.

Since its onset, the project has seen great success. Between 2020 and 2021, the percentage of internet users in South Sudan rose by 1.5%, and the number of people with mobile connections increased by 17%. In July 2021, President Salva Kir proudly inaugurated the first-ever South Sudanese-owned mobile telecom company, an operation that intends to expand ICT services to citizens in rural areas while simultaneously boosting the economy. 

Looking Ahead

While there is still room for progress, South Sudan continues to show resilience in the face of COVID-19. A large majority of the country still lacks access to ICT and each new broadband network connects those who experienced isolation. There is great potential for the continued development of information and communication technology in South Sudan in the future.

Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr