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Baidu Enters the Global Race for Driverless Car Domination

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Baidu

Wang Jing bought his first car, a Dodge Shadow, with $3,000 he scratched together working three part-time jobs in the U.S. as a postgraduate student in Florida. These days, the senior vice president in charge of Baidu Inc.’s autonomous driving efforts is far better paid. He’s also a man on a mission: To push China to the forefront of the coming driverless-car era.

Baidu joins a crowded field. Google Inc., which started developing autonomous cars in 2009, has tested self-driving vehicles for more than 2 million miles and is considering making its self-driving car unit a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella later this year. Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has said his customers will be able to summon an electric car to drive autonomously from Los Angeles to New York within two years. General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. are also in hot pursuit of this emerging market.

Undeterred, Wang, 51, sees a level playing field in the coming era of intelligent, autonomous cars–and one that China is capable of dominating.

“Chinese carmakers started making cars 100 years after others and a lot of the core technology aren’t in Chinese hands, such as engines” said Wang. “With electric cars, with intelligent cars, the core technology shifts from the engine and gearbox to artificial intelligence and that’s an area where China is very close to the U.S., giving China the chance to catch up and seize leadership.”

Robotic Brain

Robin Li, Baidu’s co-founder and chief executive officer, has invested heavily into a subfield of artificial intelligence known as deep learning, which aims to improve search results and computing tasks by training computers to work more like the human brain. The company hired Andrew Ng, a renowned computer scientist and expert in robotics and machine learning as Baidu’s chief scientist in May 2014.

Wang thinks the company can leverage its expertise in artificial intelligence, data mapping and Internet connectivity to excel in autonomous driving technology. Getting China into that game is a priority for Chinese President Xi Jinping, who sees digital technology as an opportunity for Chinese manufactures to become more innovative. At a global Internet forum last month, Xi made the point of visiting Baidu’s stand, where he listened to Baidu CEO Li discuss autonomous car development.

It may take time for Chinese companies to scale up in this business, according to Cao He, an analyst with Minzu Securities in Beijing. “There is a long way ahead for Baidu and other companies trying to mass produce and sell autonomous driving cars,” said Cao. “Given the wide diversity of road conditions from one place to another, it is unlikely for any company to come up with a sizable industry operation within five years.”

That said, there could be a lot of money at state. Baidu estimates that the Chinese market for car sales, buses, taxis and related transportation services is potentially worth more than $1.5 trillion a year in revenue. Getting a sliver of that could be a huge new revenue source for China’s biggest search engine company.

Bloomberg

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Financial Inclusion: ZirooPay Targets Deeper Mobile POS Penetration in Nigeria

Nigeria’s retail Point-of-Sale solution provider, ZirooPay has embarked on an aggressive drive to deepen the penetration of its unique mobile POS assets.

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Omoniyi Olawale

In a bid to boost market share while driving financial inclusion by penetrating the underbanked market through its proprietary mobile POS technology, Nigeria’s retail Point-of-Sale solution provider, ZirooPay has embarked on an aggressive drive to deepen the penetration of its unique mobile POS assets.

Over the next months, ZirooPay hopes to grow its network of mobile POS around Nigeria by adding no fewer than 20,000 mobile POS, on the heels of a successful funding round, which has positioned it to tap into the growing opportunities in Africa’s retail sector.

Recall that ZirooPay is reputed for a patent of a unique and efficient mobile POS technology that enables small businesses to process card payments in real-time, even when there is no internet/data connection, strategically positioning it to drive financial inclusion in a country that has achieved only 63 per cent financial inclusion and 33.6 per cent of broadband penetration.

ZirooPay’s payments solution is fast, simple and reliable, delivering a 95 per cent transaction success rate for POS transactions compared to the industry’s average of 25 – 50 per cent.  The solution leverages its unique and patented internet-free technology, to enable SMEs (across the retail, agency banking, hospitality and services sectors) to process in-person payments, track their sales, and manage their businesses from their mobile devices.

Beyond payments, ZirooPay also provides merchants with automated sales history, sales analytics, and inventory tracking to help them monitor and manage their businesses more efficiently. ZirooPay’s superior transaction success rate and the integrated nature of its service stand it out from the competition.

The payment provider, which started operations in Nigeria in 2019, has organically grown to 15,000 merchants processing over $500m in 10m transactions and looks to replicate this success across Africa.

Speaking recently, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO of ZirooPay, Omoniyi Olawale said this is part of several initiatives aimed at empowering more SMEs to take effective control of their businesses, adding that the firm is committed to deepening access to ZirooPay’s invaluable payment services for all sizes of retail business both in rural and urban centres in Africa.

He explained that innovative payment solutions such as ZirooPay will remain an imperative as wholesale and retail sectors continue to dominate Africa’s contribution to its GDP, even as population growth and rapid urbanisation continue to drive consumption across the continent.

He said, “ZirooPay has set out to build an operating system for retail in Africa by providing solutions that not only drive financial inclusion but also support the payment infrastructure needed for retail to thrive on the continent. Lack of reliable payment technology for the continent remains one of the major challenges that has hindered trade tremendously and ZirooPay Mobile POS solution will address this challenge.”

According to Omoniyi, while it is still early days for payments in Africa, ZirooPay understands the peculiarities of the continent’s infrastructure challenges and would continue to advance similar innovative solutions that will address the payment challenge on the continent on a sustainable basis.

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Nigeria Approves Microsoft Agreement, Others to Accelerate 5G Deployment

In a move to accelerate the deployment of 5G services, the Federal Government has approved Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and clearing up of the C-band spectrum.

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In a move to accelerate the deployment of 5G services, the Federal Government has approved Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products and clearing up of the C-band spectrum.

The approval was after Isa Pantami, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy presented three memos to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on June 29, 2022.

Femi Adeluyi, the Technical Assistant (Research and Development) to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, disclosed in a statement issued after the approval.

The Government-wide Enterprise Licensing Agreement for Microsoft products will help reduce the cost of information technology projects, while the C-band migration is expected to aid the deployment of the 5G network.

Explaining the benefits of the agreements, Adeluyi said “The Agreement will give the government access to discounted prices and other cost benefits, as well as reduce project duplication across Federal Public Institutions (FPIs).

“It will also guarantee proper technical support for Microsoft products and services, thereby ensuring protection against cybersecurity threats, which will guarantee availability and reliability of government IT services.

“The Enterprise Licensing Agreement will provide a projected savings of a minimum of 35% of Governments current investment in Microsoft Products and Services.

“This will not only substantially reduce the cost of license procurement for FPIs, it will reduce and simplify licensing complexity, facilitate accounting and cash flow predictability and monitor utilisation and impact of Government investment.”

The statement added that the Federal Executive Council has directed all Federal Public Institutions to start taking advantage of the agreement by using Microsoft licenses and services.

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Telecommunications

Nigeria’s Data Consumption Jumps 413.79%

Data consumption in Africa’s largest economy Nigeria rose by 413.79% in the last four years, according to the latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

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Broadband Penetration - Investors King

Data consumption in Africa’s largest economy Nigeria rose by 413.79% in the last four years, according to the latest data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In the last four years, Nigeria’s internet population grew by 41.38 million while Nigeria’s internet data usage increased to 350,165.39 terabytes in 2021, up from 68,154.12 terabytes in 2018.

During the period under review, broadband penetration rose to 40.88% or 38.12 million users in 2021 from 19.97% or 78.04 million users in January 2018.

NCC data showed GSM internet subscribers grew by 41.39 million from 100.23 million in 2018 to 141.62 million in 2021.

This, experts attributed to growing smartphone penetration and more access to data in Africa’s largest economy.

“Smartphone penetration was up by one percentage point to 33 per cent and our data customer base grew by 14.5 per cent, now representing 34.3 per cent of our total customer base,” Airtel stated in a report.

“Data usage per customer reached 2.6 GB per customer (from 1.8 GB per customer) led by an increase in smartphone penetration and expansion of our home broadband and enterprise customers.

“This helped us grow data revenue 31.2 per cent in constant currency. Growing penetration and usage of 3G and 4G data customers helped us grow data ARPU 8.2 per cent. Fourth Generation data usage more than doubled in the year, contributing 62.2 per cent of total data usage on the network in Q4’21.”

The telecommunication giant further added that “Our improved 4G network contributed to an increase in smartphone penetration, in data customers and in up-take of large data volumes, resulting in greater data consumption per customer.”

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