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McKinsey Expands QuantumBlack to Africa, To Accelerate Artificial Intelligence on the continent

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a transformative force for Africa with the opportunity to accelerate sustainable and inclusive growth.

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Artificial Intelligence

McKinsey & Company today announced the expansion of QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey, to its offices in Johannesburg, Casablanca, Lagos, and Cairo and to serve as hubs for its global QuantumBlack network.

While McKinsey has always served clients in Africa on data and analytics, QuantumBlack has been an accelerating force for McKinsey, blending powerful AI and technology with deep strategic thinking and domain expertise to help clients unlock substantial growth. McKinsey acquired QuantumBlack, a London-based company with roots in Formula 1 motor racing, in 2015.

“The breakneck pace at which AI is changing and evolving is challenging investors and business leaders to understand the AI ecosystem and its impact on their businesses. In addition, generative AI is giving rise to an entire ecosystem of its own,” says Alexander Sukharevsky, a senior partner and the global leader of QuantumBlack, AI by McKinsey. “Our 1,300+ strong team of practitioners, specializing in data science, data engineering, design, and industry expertise, plays an important role in helping our clients in Africa understand AI and its possibilities and implement it at scale to achieve sustainable impact.”

McKinsey research estimates that AI could contribute about $13 trillion of incremental global economic impact by 2030, with AI likely contributing about 9 percent to Africa’s GDP by 2030. If delivered, this impact would compare well with that of other general-purpose technologies throughout history.

Globally, there has been an exciting increase in investment in AI over the past four years. According to executives surveyed in McKinsey’s State of AI report, over 50 percent of organizations spent more than five percent of their budget on AI in the last year, a 12 percent increase on 2018 figures. Sixty-three percent of organizations also said they would increase investment in AI over the next three years.

“Our methodology of hybrid intelligence combines the power of data to unearth insights that work hand-in-hand with creativity, empathy, and experience,” says Umar Bagus, partner and leader of McKinsey’s Digital and Analytics practice in Africa. “Africa has not been left behind either. We have seen steady progress in AI adoption in our work with many leading African healthcare institutions, banks, insurers, retailers, mining, and chemical organizations. However, to catch up with AI high performers, more investment and faster acceleration is needed.

The survey shows that 57 percent of respondents in emerging economies, including Africa, reported adoption, up from 45 percent in 2020. The talent crunch remains one of the biggest barriers across geographies. About 60 percent of emerging market respondents highlighted that attracting tech talent such as software engineers, data scientists, and designers remains a top challenge, with about 40 percent finding it even more difficult now than three years ago. Reskilling is now also a common alternative to hiring, with more than 40 percent of emerging market responders saying they are reskilling as a way of gaining more AI talent.

“There is enough momentum for African institutions to leapfrog and transcend limitations and challenges while delivering real-world impact for Africa’s people, investors, and the environment. We are proud to be here in Africa to help accelerate the impact AI has on the continent,” says Sukharevsky.

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Fintech

Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Startups

Google Leads $250 Million Funding Round for Glance

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google is leading a $250 million funding round for Glance, a mobile content provider.

This infusion of capital aims to expand Glance’s reach and solidify its market position amidst growing competition.

Glance, a subsidiary of InMobi Group, offers a unique service that delivers news, entertainment, and other content directly to users’ mobile screens without unlocking their devices.

With a user base exceeding 300 million across India, the US, Japan, and Indonesia, the startup has gained significant traction since its inception in 2019.

The funding round, expected to close in the coming weeks, marks a continued partnership between Google and Glance.

Google initially invested in the company in 2020, and this latest round will further enhance Glance’s capabilities to innovate and reach new audiences.

This investment reflects Google’s strategic interest in India, the world’s most populous nation, where it competes with tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon.

With India’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing smartphone adoption, the market presents vast opportunities for digital expansion.

The support from Google comes on the heels of a previous $200 million investment by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, which valued Glance at over $1 billion.

The startup’s largest stakeholder, InMobi, continues to thrive as a pioneer in mobile advertising, with Glance benefiting from its expertise and resources.

As Glance prepares for this new phase of growth, it stands poised to redefine how content is consumed on mobile devices worldwide.

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Technology

Cyber Threats Surge as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Expands

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cybercrime - Investors King

As Nigeria’s digital economy flourishes, it faces escalating cyber threats, prompting the Federal Government to issue 33 cyberattack advisories in the past year.

These warnings, issued by the Nigeria Computer and Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Since July 2023, ngCERT has alerted Nigerians to new attack methods and vulnerabilities. With 22 advisories issued in 2024 alone, the surge in cyberattacks coincides with the accelerated digitization spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monthly internet usage in Nigeria soared from 125,149.86 terabytes in December 2019 to 753,388.77 terabytes in March 2024.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) notes that increased digitalization has heightened cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust protective measures.

According to Check Point Research, Nigerian businesses face approximately 2,308 attacks weekly across all sectors.

The advisories reveal various cyber threats, including ransomware and banking trojans. A recent warning highlighted Grandoreiro, a malware targeting over 1,500 banks globally, affecting 41 banking applications in Nigeria alone.

These attacks aim to steal sensitive financial data, potentially causing significant financial losses.

Nigeria’s critical infrastructure is also under threat. In August, pro-Nigerien hackers attempted to disrupt MTN Nigeria’s network, although they were unsuccessful.

During the 2023 elections, the government recorded 12.99 million cyberattacks, underscoring the scale of the threat.

Cybercrime costs Nigeria about $500 million annually. This includes data damage, stolen money, lost productivity, and post-attack disruptions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Nigeria as the 16th country worst affected by cybercrime in 2020.

Experts emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures. Adesina Sodiya, a professor of Computer Science and Information Security, warns that cyberattacks will continue to grow in sophistication.

He stresses the importance of building a cybersecurity curriculum and involving experts in creating effective strategies.

In response, NITDA plans to reduce cyberattacks by 40% by 2027. “As we digitize, we must build with security in mind,” said Kashifu Inuwa, director-general of NITDA.

The agency aims to implement comprehensive strategies to protect Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy.

As Nigeria’s digital economy expands, it must address the growing cyber threats that accompany this progress. By enhancing cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can safeguard its digital future.

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