Artificial intelligence (AI) is here to stay and Google this week announced how it’s bringing it to everyone.
If you missed Google’s annual developer conference—Google I/O—which was held on Wednesday, here are the most important things that the big tech company announced:
Bard is available to everyone: In February, Google unveiled a ChatGPT rival called Bard which does pretty much everything ChatGPT can do with a plus of being able to comment on events past 2021. Now, Google Bard is available to everyone! For free. Try it out here—we did.
AI in Search: Google is also integrating generative AI into its search results, which will allow users to see AI-generated text summaries of information from across the web, above the usual links and ads. Search will also feature actual responses from human beings so if you ask questions like “How can I express sorrow but maintain beauty”, Search will bring you responses from similar questions on Reddit, StackOverFlow, or blogs.
Two large language models: Showing off, Google announced two new large language models (LLM), the PaLM 2 and LaMBDA 2. The former is a 540-billion parameter LLM, while the latter is a 1.3 trillion parameter LLM. This means that LAMBDA 2 is about 2.4 times larger than PaLM 2. While both are still under development, PaLM 2 is said to be stronger in logic and reasoning than Open AI’s GPT models. It’s being used to power Bard and other Google AI products.
Studio Bot: Google also announced Studio Bot, an AI-powered coding bot that can help Android developers build apps by generating code. Studio Bot is still in its early stages, but Google is confident that it will only get better.
A lot more announcements were made, including new additions to the Google Pixel family, updates to Project Starline and Duet AI, and a magic eraser that lets you edit people out of photos, but what we’ve listed are the most critical ones. You can find the rest here.
P.S. Parts of this news was written by Google’s Bard. It’s our editor’s attempt to work smart and “bring on the weekend”.
MONIEPOINT RANKED 2ND FASTEST-GROWING AFRICAN COMPANY
Moniepoint is Africa’s second-fastest growing company, as shown in FTs latest report. We also processed 1 billion transactions worth $43 billion in Q1 alone. Read all about it here.
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KENYA SAYS SAMA MUST PAY CONTENT MODERATORS
Kenyan courts are not slacking on Meta and its outsourcing partner Sama.
Yesterday, Kenya’s Employment and Labour Relations Court ordered the content moderation service Sama to pay its employees.
ICYMI: Earlier this year, Meta cut ties with Sama after content moderators accused Sama of poor working conditions. Early in March, Sama then announced it would lay off over 200 content moderators as Meta moved to outsource its content moderation to an international company Majorel.
The content moderators—about 180 of them—sued both Meta and Sama, seeking compensation of up to Ksh million ($73,000) per moderator for unfair labour practices, and a further Ksh20 million ($146,000) each, for violation of their rights.
The courts then ordered Meta to continue working with Sama and its content moderators pending the hearing scheduled for May.
Sama has to pay: Now, the content moderators have revealed that Sama is refusing to pay salaries despite the March order. Yesterday, the employment court heard the case and ordered Sama to pay the content moderators their due.
Zoom out: So far, both Meta and Sama appear to be ignoring court orders with Meta reportedly going ahead to engage Majorel. The big tech company has previously argued that the Kenyan courts have no jurisdiction to convene over its affairs, a notion that the courts rejected.
SAFARICOM SECURES MOBILE MONEY LICENCE IN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia’s mobile money market is heating up as Safaricom Ethiopia secured a mobile money licence from the National Bank of Ethiopia. Safaricom looks to replicate the success it has garnered in Kenya with its M-pesa mobile money service.
The announcement followed President Ruto’s speech where he expressed confidence that Ethiopia would grant Safaricom’s mobile money licence request in a deal that was reportedly finalised by President Ruto and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia is open for business
Prior to this licensing, talks about awarding mobile money licences were slow-walked by Ethiopia’s bureaucracy which sought to protect the government–majority-owned Ethio-Telecom and its then-recently launched mobile money service, Telebirr.
Eventually, in April 2022, Ethiopia’s central bank announced a draft bill which, upon being made law, permitted foreign–owned telecom operators like Safaricom to launch mobile money services.
In December 2020, the Ethiopian government invited telecom companies to bid for two licences to compete against Ethio Telecom. Only two consortia placed bids. One from South Africa’s MTN Group, and the second from the Global Partnership for Ethiopia Consortium, led by Kenya’s Safaricom and including Vodafone, Vodacom, CDC Group. The Safaricom-led consortium won after the government rejected the MTN Group’s bid. MTN refused to participate in a second tender.
Zoom out: Until Safaricom’s entry, state-owned Ethio Telecom operated as a monopoly with 54 million subscribers in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with an estimated population of 118 million people.
EXPERIENCE VIVA TECHNOLOGY
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TC INSIGHTS: FUNDING TRACKER
This week, South African Health-Tech company Quro raised $1.3 million in an undisclosed funding round from Mineworkers Investment Company (MIC).
Here are the other deals this week:
Egypt-based fintech company Balad closed an undisclosed amount in a pre-seed funding round. The round was led by Acasia Ventures. Other investors in the round include Launch Africa, Future Africa, V&R, Magic Fund, First Circle, Sunny Side, and several family offices.
Kenyan fundraising company, Raise, secured undisclosed funding from Carta, a San Francisco-based company specialising in capitalisation table management and valuation software.
DigsConnect, a South African student housing company, received undisclosed funding from Itaba Capital.
It is important for the financial industry to effectively manage fraud. Among other things, it is critical for growth and a seamless user experience for customers.
This morning at 11 AM (WAT), we’ll hear firsthand from industry experts on the ways to build robust security measures against hacking and other security threats. We’ll also explore the importance of regular security updates for fintechs and other financial institutions.
Speaking at this event are:
Daniel Ade-Ojo – Fraud Intelligence Specialist, Moniepoint
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