3 JUNE, 2021

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What’s a lingering question about an aspect of tech or the stories we share that you’ve been wanting to ask? Ask us here, we’ll be happy to answer your question and possibly share with the wider TC Daily audience. There are no stupid questions!

In today’s edition:

  • AI-powered drone in Libya
  • Twitter vs Nigeria’s President
  • Funding African renewable energy startups
  • WHO changes the names of COVID-19 virus variants
  • Airtel Africa sells Tanzanian tower portfolio

AI-Powered drone in Libya

In the year 2035, technology and robots are a trusted part of everyday life. But that trust is broken when a scientist is found dead and a skeptical detective believes that a robot is responsible.

That’s the plot of the movie, I, Robot which was released in 2004.

Well 2035 is just around the corner. It might be closer than we think. A recent report by the UN revealed that an Artificial Intelligence(AI)-powered military drone was able to identify and attack human targets in Libya.

Tell me more about this

A report published in March 2021 by the United Nations (UN) Panel of Experts on Libya stated that the drone was a “lethal autonomous weapon” which had “hunted down and remotely engaged” soldiers who are believed to have been loyal to Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar.

About the drone: The drone, Kargu-2, is made by a Turkish company (STM) and fitted with a payload that explodes once it makes an impact or is in close proximity with its AI-identified target. 

Why it matters: Meanwhile military drones aren’t entirely new, the idea that the drone is solely reliant on AI without human assistance is a bit disturbing.

It revisits the conversation on the ethics of using drones in military attacks. How reliable is the AI behind the STM Kargu-2 drones? What could be the implication of a malfunction or error?

Read more: AI-powered drone kills humans in Libya without any human interference

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Twitter vs Nigeria’s president

A tweet by Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s president, that seemed to imply certain people in the country will be dealt with violently caused a stir on Tuesday evening.

Almost immediately, there were calls for Buhari’s tweet to be removed from the social media platform.

Twitter answered that call on Wednesday afternoon. The tweet was part of a thread in which Buhari expressed displeasure at “attacks on critical national infrastructure,” including on facilities belonging to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Why it matters: Twitter had never deleted tweets by the Nigerian president before. Given that Nigeria is the platform’s biggest market in Africa, it marks a new paradigm in the role it plays shaping civic spaces and citizen-government relations in Africa. 

Read more: After Buhari’s “civil war” tweet is deleted, Nigerian minister accuses Twitter of suspicious agenda

Who do African renewable energy startups turn to for funding?

Small and medium scale enterprises in Africa receive about $70bn of credit each year. But it’s not enough, the International Finance Corporation estimates that the gap exceeds $300bn.

Why this gap? Michael Famoroti, chief economist at Stears gave two reasons during a recent TechCabal Live event on financing renewable energy companies in Africa.

  • Credit providers seem to lack enough information with which to assess the risk worthiness of many borrowers.
  • Credit providers may not find enough value in the use proposed for the funds. In this case, creditors may play safe by lending to legacy industries like real estate or banking, while taking a skeptical approach to promising but new ventures. Like renewable energy for example.

So if you are setting up a renewable energy startup to provide electricity to the more than 50% of people living in SubSaharan Africa who lack access, how do you find funding? 

Read Alex’s piece which highlights some of the major points shared during a conversation that answers this question. 

PARTNER CONTENT

Future Africa has invested $3 million in 13 African startups in 2021, doubling its fund deployments for 2020. It’s invested in companies like Termii, Ongair, Lami and Stitch and is on the way to invest $10 million this year.

Read its announcement here.

WHO changes the names of COVID-19 virus variants

What do Zika virus, Ebola virus and Spanish Flu have in common? Apart from killing many people, they were diseases named after the location from which they originated. 

Zika virus was named after the Ziika Forest of Uganda, Ebola virus was named after the Ebola River. Obviously, the Spanish flu was named after Spain.

Thanks for the history lesson, what’s the news?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that in order to avoid “stigmatization and discrimination” it’ll be renaming the variants of the COVID-19 virus popularly named after Britain, South African, India and Brazil.

What are their new names?

The British variant, B.1.1.7, will be renamed Alpha, the variant B.1.351 first encountered in South Africa will be renamed Beta, while the Brazilian variant, P.1, will be renamed Gamma.

In India, the COVID-19 variant B.1.617 is split into two sub-lineages. Two sub-lineages will be renamed Delta and Kappa. 

It sure will take a while to get used to these new names.

PARTNER CONTENT

Heritage Bank Plc, Nigeria’s innovative banking service provider has launched its robust innovation sandbox to accelerate innovation and help technology entrepreneurs build faster and better products. The initiative which is coming on the back of the Bank’s first accelerator program which awarded the winner a grant of $25,000.

Interested innovators, developers, and other technology enthusiasts can learn more here.

Event

Europe’s biggest startup & tech event is back!

#VivaTech 2021 is excited to welcome for it’s 5th edition, its first top speakers, and many more to come :

– Brad Smith, President of Microsoft

– Arvind Krishna, Chairman & CEO of IBM

– Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap

– Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud

– Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market

Get your pass here

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Written by – Daniel Adeyemi

Edited by – Koromone Koroye

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Daniel Adeyemi | Author