May 19, 2020

Africa and Europe to connect at Africa Tech Summit London

UK
start-up
event
Fintech
Polycarp Kazaresam
3 min
Africa and Europe to connect at Africa Tech Summit London

The rapid expansion of mobile and internet penetration across Africa is providing global opportunities for tech ventures that previously did not exist. International investors will connect with industry leaders from across the continent at Africa Tech Summit London on April 20th to drive business and investment forward.

Over the next five years, 168 million new mobile subscribers will be connected across Africa, reaching 725 million by 2020 (GSMA). From artificial intelligence (AI) to hardware, transport to mobile education, tech is changing Africa rapidly. It was therefore no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg finally made a highly publicised visit to Nigeria and Kenya last year, opening global eyes to the rapidly growing tech scene.

Local and international players have been busy, long before Zuckerburg touched down in Africa. Uber is now currently available in 15 African cities across 8 countries, with Cairo being the fastest growing city in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). The scale of adoption in Africa means “Cairo could overtake London and Paris in terms of trip numbers in the next year or so” according to Uber's head of operations for EMEA, Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty. This has spurred indigenous ventures such as Safaricom, the largest telecoms operator in Kenya, to innovate and launch a competing ride-sharing service called Little Cab. Meanwhile, in South Africa, a start-up named Taxify has also launched.

The fall in commodity and oil prices has resulted in a recession in Nigeria and slowdown in South Africa. However, African countries are diversifying beyond commodities and 2016 saw increased levels of investment in the technology sector. This is a clear indication of a gear change and that serious international money is now investing in African tech. iROKOtv, the mobile entertainment group dubbed the Netflix of Africa, secured $19 million from investors including France’s Canal Plus, to produce original content and expand across the continent, bringing its total funding to about $40 million. Andela, a Nigerian company training developers, completed a $24 million Series B round led by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, joining Google Ventures. Orange made a €75 million equity investment in the Africa Internet Group (AIG). This followed hot on the heels of AXA’s €75 million investment for an 8 percent stake in AIG. On the start-up front, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) will provide up to $2 million in equity financing to Flat6Labs Cairo, which will invest in about 100 Egyptian tech start-ups over the next five years.

While the funding tide is slowly turning, there is still a distinct lack of local investment for many African tech ventures to scale and is a major hurdle faced by the ecosystem. International investment and exposure is therefore critical for ventures to scale, partner and grow. London sits at the confluence of international investment, banking, media and tech while a new wave of African focused ventures built by the diaspora call Europe home.

“Our vision for Africa Tech Summit London (ATSLDN) was simple, to bring together leading tech companies, investors, and entrepreneurs to explore key sectors, connect relevant stakeholders and drive investment and business between Africa and the rest of the world,” explains Andrew Fassnidge, Founder of Africa Tech Summit London.

“The positive response on last year’s inaugural event from leaders within the industry endorsed the need for such a platform in London. We are very excited to welcome back leading innovators, global investors, banks and mobile network operators from across Africa to connect in London for ATSLDN 2017, while also providing a platform for African ventures who want to expand globally,” he added.

The Summit is organised by Appsafrica.com and is supported by Linklaters LLP, International Finance Corporation (IFC), and VConnect. The event will feature over 30 speakers including Etisalat Nigeria, Safaricom Spark Fund, Orange, TechCrunch, IFC, RedCloud Technologies, EcoBank, VConnect, Draper Dark Flow, BitPesa, VC4Africa, Linklaters LLP, The Economist, Quartz Africa, TechCabal, Disrupt Africa, ABAN and other leading ventures will share insights on the mobile, fintech, consumer, media and investment opportunities across the continent.

To register please visit www.africatechsummit.com

 

African Business Review’s April issue is now live.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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