Solar Car

Solar Electric Vehicle Leader Lightyear Enters Agreement With Sharjah Innovation Park

Solar Car

Europe’s Ambitious Solar Electric Vehicle (SEV) Company Explores Opportunities to Become Anchor Tenant of SRTI Park   

Solar Panels

Saudi Arabia Takes Rapid Steps to Export Solar Panels Worldwide

Solar Panels

Desert Technologies’ Chief Commercial Officer Eng. Majid Refae confirmed that Saudi Arabia is offering several programs that support Saudi manufacturers and facilitate the export of solar panels to all countries of the world.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Refae revealed that the Kingdom has set its priorities for green energy generation and is driving the sector’s companies and institutions towards achieving key goals while expanding and developing their businesses in the next stage.

On exporting solar panels, Refae said it was vital as it helps in increasing and creating more job opportunities in the Kingdom and contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP.

He reminded that the export of national products is one of the most important axes of Saudi Arabia’s national transformation plan, Kingdom Vision 2030.

In coordination with the Saudi Energy Ministry, Desert Technologies has plans to provide the needs of the Kingdom’s market. This includes building solar power plants with capacities greater than 2 megawatts for citizens and major consumers inside their facilities and homes.

Any surplus would be exported to the public electricity network in 2022.

 

Exporting Solar Panels:

The Kingdom has taken great strides in exporting solar panels through several programs that support Saudi manufacturers, such as the Saudi Export-Import Bank, the Saudi Development Fund, the National Companies Leadership Program.

“We, as a specialized company, have had the privilege of cooperating with the National Companies Leadership Program and the Import-Export Bank in signing agreements to export solar panels to Europe, Africa and the US,” Refae told Asharq Al-Awsat.

 

Positive Returns:

Besides generating more job opportunities for the Kingdom’s youth, exporting solar panels also contributes to growing Saudi Arabia’s GDP by focusing on export activity, which is one of the main objectives of Kingdom Vision 2030.

Moreover, the manufacture and export of solar panels helps advance the Saudi Green Initiative which brings together environmental protection, energy transformation and sustainability programs to work towards a green future.

Desert Technologies, the first Saudi factory and company to export solar panels, has been keen on being one of the main contributors to renewable energy projects, stressed Refae.

The company has developed a production line to manufacture solar panels with an accumulated capacity. This will contribute to making Desert Technologies one of the most important national factories for solar panels in the region.

 

Energy Ministry:

“Our plan is compatible with the Energy Ministry and works to provide the Kingdom’s market needs of solar energy products,” said Refae, noting that the Saudi market is one of the largest Arab markets in need of solar products.

“The residential sector in the Kingdom constitutes more than 50% of the market size,” noted Refae, adding that the demand is increasing with the rise of new cities such as Neom.

“We are working to contribute to the realization of plans aimed at expanding the use of solar energy at the commercial and residential levels,” affirmed Refae.

 

Saudi Made:

Refae pointed out that the “Saudi Made” program is a milestone for all Saudi manufacturers, as it reflects the ability of the Saudi product to compete with high quality.

“Saudi Made” builds a cooperative society linking several companies, whereby adequate support is provided to the public and private sectors. It also contributes to making the Kingdom’s goods and services a preferred and prominent option at the local and global levels.

 

Exporting Outside the Kingdom:

On foreign projects, Refae added that Desert Technologies had expanded its participation in the framework of supporting the “Saudi Made” program and increasing the volume of Saudi non-oil exports.

Its activities reached Greece, where it is currently supplying solar panels for renewable energy projects on one of the Greek islands with a capacity of 11 megawatts.

“The company has signed a commercial agreement with a US company to export solar panels to its projects in the US,” revealed Refae.

The deal puts Desert Technologies in a leading position in the US market and enhances its position in the field of producing and exporting solar panels at the international level.

And in April, Desert Technologies signed an agreement with the Swiss/German Group meeco to export its solar panels to Germany to implement several projects in the city of Lambsheim. Reaching out to new markets that hadn’t been reached before.

Cyber security

Assessing Cybersecurity Today to Improve and Protect Tomorrow’s Manufacturing Operations

Cyber security
Organizations are now pushed to prioritize cybersecurity so that their systems remain secure, stable, and protected

Process plant automation systems are engineered over a long period to ensure repeatable, reliable, available, and safe operations. However, increased connectivity to business systems has also increased the vulnerability of control systems to cyber-attacks.

Organizations are now pushed to prioritize cybersecurity so that their systems remain secure, stable, and protected. But how and where do they even begin their cybersecurity journey?

Emerson recommends a cybersecurity risk assessment to evaluate gaps in currently implemented strategies, technologies, and policies and procedures. The output of the assessment will provide a roadmap for identifying, prioritizing, and eliminating vulnerabilities.

To begin, operations technology (OT) and information technology (IT) teams must be aware of three common missteps:

  • Assuming the team already knows and understands all the risks

Cybersecurity is not a set-and-forget solution. It is constantly evolving, and antivirus software and firewalls are no longer sufficient to secure and protect a system. A cyber risk assessment can help teams identify, document, prioritize and build a roadmap around the highest threat vulnerabilities. This roadmap provides a guide for creating solutions and the required framework to protect the plant.

  • Believing in a single solution to fix all risks and threats

Cybersecurity is not a single solution. There are no shortcuts, especially when dealing with cyber security on an industrial scale. Cybersecurity requires constant testing and evaluation of systems and solutions on their compatibility and effectiveness to a plant’s process.

  • Assigning the cybersecurity program as a low priority with limited funding

Cybersecurity should be a priority. The simplest example of inaction is assigning a small department handling IT and OT on a limited budget. It is easy for such a team to become overwhelmed because there are so many vulnerabilities to address with their limited resources and funding. Not every problem needs to be fixed at once. Organizations can start with individual solutions and build toward a comprehensive, in-depth strategy to manage budget and resource concerns. A good cybersecurity risk assessment will allow businesses to prioritize what they most need to build an effective first defense system at a reasonable cost.

Increased connectivity to business systems launches businesses forward, but it also raises the relevance of cybersecurity protection to maintain the safety and security of control systems. A cyber risk assessment is one of the most practical ways to begin approaching cybersecurity. This lays the groundwork for a sustainable and robust cybersecurity system that can help future-proof businesses.

Sustainable Disposal

Best Eco-Friendly Waste Food Disposal Solution 2021 LFC® Biodigester – Power Knot

Sustainable Disposal

Recognized as the Best Eco- Friendly Waste Food Disposal Solution, Power Knot’s LFC Biodigester is renowned for disposing of food matter waste within 24 hours. The company, alongside Power Knot Middle East, has recently collaborated with Microsoft Dubai to create the first solar-powered biodigester in the world.

Power Knot is the market leader for onsite organic waste management solutions and provides economically sound solutions solutions to commercial, industrial, and military companies implementing environmentally conscious changes within their businesses by reducing carbon footprints and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.Power Knot manufactures the internationally recognized, fully enclosed automatic waste digester called the LFC biodigester. By offering its LFC biodigester, Power Knot is introducing ways to achieve corporate sustainability goals while optimizing operations – this also saves a huge amount of money for each customer.

Manufactured in the USA, the LFC biodigester is a machine that digests food waste in an environmentally friendly way. Usually installed in a commercial kitchen, the machine reduces expenses, inconvenience, mess, and carbon footprint by disposing of waste food that would otherwise end up in landfill. Power Knot offers ten different sizes that digest from 9kg (20lb) per day to 3,000kg (6,600lb) per day of food waste. With many hundreds of installations globally, the LFC biodigester has proven to be reliable, safe, and cost-effective.

The LFC biodigester plays a significant role in the reduction of landfill waste, while also enabling companies to comply with new environmental laws, achieve corporate sustainability, reduce greenhouse gasses, and optimize operations. The food waste digester machine uses a series of processes that include microorganisms to break down food and transform it into liquid. By using the LFC biodigester, companies can save the space and energy that would normally be used to remove the unwanted food scraps from their facility, with there being no need to collect, transport, or pile it up in a landfill. For its innovation and technology, MEA Market has awarded the LFC biodigester the Best Eco-Friendly Waste Food Disposal Solution 2021 Award.

Most recently, Microsoft Dubai joins Dubai Municipality, Beeah, RAK Waste Management Authority Headquarters, DULSCO and Accor group, Hilton, Marriott, Rotana, and Mandarin Hotel Group in utilizing an LFC biodigester as their food waste solution. The Dubai office has implemented an exciting initiative: a solar-powered LFC biodigester for their restaurant. Microsoft purchased the LFC biodigester to help it achieve its goals of becoming carbon-negative, water-positive, and zero-waste by 2030. The digestate that the machine outputs is then used as a plant-organic fertilizer to create an even better working environment.

James Spearman, the UAE Sustainability lead at Microsoft commented, “By implementing the biodigester system here in our Dubai office, we’re able to process our food waste locally, directly contributing to those three goals and making our office and, ultimately, the planet, a more sustainable place to work.”

For further information about Power Knot, please visit powerknot.com

 

Skills

New Digital Skills Index from Salesforce Reveals 76% of Global Workers Say They are Unequipped for the Future of Work

Skills
  • There is a major gap emerging between everyday digital skills and those needed for work, especially among younger workers
  • Using collaboration technologies is viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers over the next five years

Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, today published its new Global Digital Skills Index, revealing a growing global digital skills crisis and an urgent need for action. The Salesforce Index is based on more than 23,000 workers in 19 countries reporting their readiness to acquire key digital skills.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents (73%) don’t feel equipped to learn the digital skills needed by businesses now and even more (76%) don’t feel equipped for the future. Despite 82% of survey respondents planning to learn new skills in the next five years, only 28% are actively involved in digital skills learning and training programs now.  

 

The global digital skills gap

This gap is a concern – but it also presents an opportunity. With companies around the world rapidly transitioning to digital-first models, the demand for employees with digital skills has soared. 

The Salesforce Index’s overall global score for digital readiness, assessed in terms of preparedness, skill level, access, and active participation in digital upskilling, is currently only 33 out of 100. The countries represented in the survey ranged from scores of 63 to 15, highlighting that while certain countries feel more digitally ready than others, there is an urgent need for global investment to close the digital skills gap and build a more inclusive workforce. 

 

Everyday digital skills don’t translate to the workplace

Everyday skills such as social media and web navigation don’t necessarily translate to the core workplace digital skills needed by business to drive recovery, resilience, and growth.

More than two thirds of all Gen Z respondents (64%) say they have advanced social media skills — supporting the stereotype of digital mastery among the younger generation — but less than a third (31%) believe they have the advanced digital workplace skills needed by businesses now. 

 

Generational skills gap

However, the Salesforce Index also reveals that younger respondents have the greatest confidence and ambition to learn new skills — over one-third of Gen Z is actively learning and training for skills needed over the next five years compared to 12% of Baby Boomers.  

 

The most important digital skills needed by businesses today

According to the Salesforce Index, skills in collaboration technology are viewed as the most important digital workplace skill for workers today and over the next five years. But despite respondents’ prowess with everyday collaboration technology like social media, only 25% rate themselves advanced in those collaboration technology skills needed specifically for the workplace. 

 

Salesforce Global Digital Skills Index: In-Depth Insights from 23,000 Workers

Learn more about the findings from the Global Digital Skills Index in our in-depth article.

 

Business has a critical role to play

Now more than ever, businesses have a responsibility to act to address the growing global skills gap. Salesforce is committed to investing in the future workforce through its diverse set of workforce development programs, including:

  • Trailblazer Community, a global network of 15 million people across the Salesforce ecosystem who help each other learn new skills and succeed with Salesforce. 
  • Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform which has helped more than 3.9 million people skill up for the future of work.
  • Pathfinder Training Program, a workforce development program that prepares individuals with the technical, business, and soft skills needed to pursue a career in the Salesforce ecosystem.
  • Salesforce Military, which offers free online training classes and certification exams at no cost for active-duty military, veterans, and military spouses. Salesforce also connects participants with potential employers.
  • Salesforce Talent Alliance, an initiative that connects Salesforce partner companies to job candidates trained on Salesforce through Trailhead and brings new talent into the fast-growing ecosystem.
  • Trailblazer Connect, which helps people connect to mentorship and career opportunities through events and online resources.
Smart Shopping

UAE Residents Prefer Automation in Their Homes & for Online Shopping

Smart Shopping

YouGov’s latest technology report reveals the industries and institutions where consumers show enthusiasm for automation as well as the areas where they oppose it.

The whitepaper titled International Technology Report 2021 explores sentiments and perceptions towards AI across 17 geographies and 19,000 consumers, and aims to help public and private sector organisations plan, while acknowledging and empathizing with human aspirations and concerns.

The data shows beliefs about the impact of automation on society skew more towards positive feelings among UAE residents. About three in ten (30%) consumers in UAE stated ‘Acceptance’ as the word to describe their feeling towards AI & automation, and almost a similar proportion chose optimism, hope and excitement (28% each). Comparatively, less than one in five respondents in the country feel skeptical (18%) towards AI or chose words like fear (18%), confusion (19%) and unnecessary (15%) to describe their feelings towards automation.  

In UAE, almost three in ten (29%) consumers feel AI will have a “more positive than negative” impact on the society. However, this number increases to 44% among those who claim to be well informed about the technology, highlighting a positive correlation between knowledge and positive perceptions about AI.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now a part of our everyday existence and has impacted many sectors of our lives. On a personal level, UAE consumers are generally comfortable with automation in most life areas except a few. They are comfortable with AI in their homes (54%), for shopping (53%), manufacturing (51%), mobility (47%) and travel (43%), but prefer humans-led approach in areas such as education, medical consultation and government policies. 

When asked about the industries that will be more profoundly impacted by AI, about two in five consumers in UAE think that the manufacturing industry (41%) will have the greatest impact followed by communications (39%), banking & financial services (38%), transport and mobility (36%) and education (32%).

Finally, when we look at the entities that people trust with the developing ethical automated solutions, we find that consumers across the globe are more likely to put their trust in big, established companies over small ones, and the private sector more than the public sphere.

Among UAE residents, even though the big technology companies (46%) are trusted the most with this responsibility, the trust in government is also high and is above the global average (33% vs 16%). 

On the other hand, trust in non-government public serving entities and foreign governments is the least in the country (18% each). Therefore, building trust and credibility will be crucial for institutions to reinforce positive consumer sentiment.

City skyline at sunset with lines connecting the buildings

Big Data, Big City Transformations: Transport and Well-Being

City skyline at sunset with lines connecting the buildings

As the world changes, so do our priorities. We are now needing to place human needs before technical needs when designing urban areas for the future. Sustainability is at the heart of these considerations as we look to include green spaces, utilise big data effectively, and introduce efficient travel. Technology is central to these ideas, particularly for the use of big data in smart cities.

In today’s society, governments and leaders are given a plethora of insights and data that improve how we live. Gathering such rich and useful information about built-up areas like cities is not only efficient and relatively quick but can work towards providing the best living conditions for residents as well as the environment and other species that inhabit it.

 

What are smart cities?

Smart cities are a relatively new concept that use technology to gather data and insights to improve services and solve problems. Cities only account for two per cent of our planet’s total surface area. However, data from the UN reports that cities will house 68 per cent of the global population by 2050. The need for cities that can safely house a high population creates challenges like mobility issues, traffic congestion, and pollution, among many more we already face in our everyday lives.

Smart cities can help solve societal challenges we are facing from an ever-increasing human population. City data provides an in-depth and accurate look into what we need without breaching earth’s ecological boundaries.

 

Successful smart cities

Amsterdam was one of the first smart cities, using data to ensure the city’s roads, housing, services, and quality of life continue to improve. The city manages all this while becoming more sustainable to avoid air pollution too.

Plus, the city is making use of a unique asset to gather data – its bridges. Amsterdam has more bridges than any other city in the world at 1,800 in total. These bridges can communicate information to other infrastructures in order to optimise travel – the MX3D bridge is equipped with sensors to visualise information about traffic on bridges, the neighbourhood, environment, and its structural integrity. Maintenance will automatically be alerted when it needs work on it. It can even communicate with traffic lights to change timing to reduce congestion when it’s busy.

 

Efficient transport

Railways have always been key spaces within cities and maintain connectivity between neighbourhoods. Trains are the optimum mode of transport in busy cities and will continue to be in the future – for example, transport in London would be near enough impossible without the intricate underground and overground train system. With a population expected to reach around 10 billion by 2050, smart rail systems will be needed more than ever to evolve with the rapidly growing urbanisation.

In today’s world, smart trains use data for passenger information systems to inform on live news, connecting information, time tables, as well as real-time data to inform engineers of predictive maintenance to keep services running smoothly and regulate trains. Machine-to-machine communication with input from the cloud enables passengers to seek the fastest route and find out which trains are the busiest, keeping footfall smooth and reducing congestion in built-up areas.

 

Dubai’s new ways of travel

Dubai’s pollution is hitting high levels, risking vulnerable groups like young children, older people, pregnant mothers, and the ill. This is contributed to by the high number of personal vehicles emitting noxious pollution as well as heavy-duty vehicles.

Last year, Dubai engineered an entirely new transport system to the city, named Sky Pods.

These will travel alongside the Dubai Metro, transporting two to five people around set routes to meet their mobility targets.

Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, the director-general and chairman of the RTA, commented: “The signing of the agreement is part of RTA’s efforts to deploy autonomous transit means in line with the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy aimed at diverting 25 per cent of total mobility journeys in Dubai to autonomous transit means by 2030.”

Similarly, the city is looking for ways to cut down rush hour for commuters. The new Virgin Hyperloop took its first travellers in November last year and can travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes, transporting 10,000 passengers each hour both ways.

 

Integrating green spaces

Recent research suggests that while we should integrate technological features into our cities, a lot of focus needs to be shifted towards environmental sustainability.

Smart cities are also being designed for public health and well-being. Satellites can identify how much greenery exists in a city and areas to improve. This can enhance air quality and support ecosystems as well as offer pedestrians places to wind down and relax in nature. Smart parks can ensure lawns and plants are watered in response to weather changes, making plant maintenance an automated process.

These considerations are becoming increasingly important. For example, in the UK, 54,000 acres of green space were turned into artificial surfaces between 2006 and 2012, which is equivalent to an area twice as large as the city of Liverpool.

 

The technology involved in smart cities can not only help transportation and efficiency but improve the quality of life and emotional well-being of those who live among it.

Xperiment Media on a film set with various actors on a soundstage with greenscreen

Best UAE Film & Video Production Company 2021

Xperiment Media on a film set with various actors on a soundstage with greenscreen

Xperiment Media is an innovation lab and boutique film agency based in Dubai, UAE. It specialises in story-driven films and commercials for brands, with a special focus on teaching creativity and human-centred innovation to individuals.

People love a good story. In fact, science tells us we love storytelling so much that when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night telling itself stories. But great stories require sophisticated storytellers Xperiment Media understands this. Founded by Addy Khan, a Hollywood-trained filmmaker with over 10 years of US and Middle East experience, their mission is the convergence of creativity, business and technology. Xperiment Media’s team of ‘artist technicians’ are available as both local crew or remote teams. This has widened their capacity to serve customers anywhere in the world. While its core customer-base is the Gulf region, Xperiment Media regularly services international brands, agencies and professionals from the US, Europe and APAC. With Dubai Expo 2020 and the participation of 192 countries, they can help create more synergies. 

 

Trust Matters 

A no-nonsense approach has won clients’ trust. Financially disciplined, Xperiment Media knows how to transform ideas into tangible results. Since its inception in 2014, the company has successfully handled big-budget film and video productions for government, businesses and agencies. Concise communication, flexibility, and reliable execution are its strongest assets. Compared to other ‘bloated’ service providers, Xperiment Media’s small footprint makes them nimble—which means more value for its clients. The lean approach is now finding resonance with a new crop of customers: SMEs and start-ups looking to tell their stories during their scale-up phase. 

 

COVID-proof 

When the world changed in March 2020, Xperiment Media was fast to adapt to the pandemic. Its “COVID-proof” production protocols meant filming continued safely in Dubai, whilst post-production became 100% remote via its globally distributed teams in California, South Asia and the UAE. State-of-the-art pipelines for VFX and CGI ensured a seamless blend of photographed reality and the virtual. There was never ever a compromise on Quality, Service and Reliability. As a result, its clients were able to communicate with their own customers, without disruption. The increased online consumption led Xperiment Media-produced films, animation and commercials to clock over 30 million+ views on YouTube and Twitter (Q2 2020 to Q2 2021 period). 

 

Commercials like ‘Movies’ 

If everything looks great in movies, why can’t commercials look like movies? Xperiment Media applies the high-end ‘Hollywood look’ to TVCs, brand films and 2D/3D animated series. Every conversation starts with director Addy Khan, who has shot over 100 films and commercials. His work has been shown at Oscar-qualified international festivals; and he has been invited for residencies by the renowned Reykjavík Film Festival and Art Dubai. Addy personally shepherds each project to the finish line. Leveraging his unique background in film, marketing and entrepreneurship; he can conduct highly effective discussions with marketing departments, agencies or entrepreneurs. Everyone is able to get on the same page—from the first phone call or Zoom meeting. This saves the client’s time, and increases efficiency. 

 

Movies for Movie Lovers 

Besides commercials, Xperiment Media also produces narrative shorts and feature films. Its next release is RETROGRADE, a mind-boggling sci-fi drama filmed in Los Angeles. Produced in partnership with Inner Circle Entertainment headed by Pat Hartonian and Edwin Karapetian, RETROGRADE is currently in consideration at several international film festivals. It will be released to the public in late 2021.

 

Unlocking Creativity & Innovation: 2021 and Beyond 

Human creativity does not improve from working harder or longer. Given the recent spike in sensory overload and deterioration of mental health, the company recently surveyed people across four continents. One unsettling pain-point from an interviewee struck a chord: “It is hard to be creative. It is harder to even get started these days.” The extended pandemic has resulted in many having lost the ability and bandwidth to pause and prioritise what’s important. It can feel impossible to put time aside to plan and be creative. 

Xperiment Media director, Addy says: “We listen to our customers. I am excited to announce that Xperiment Media has set up an Innovation Lab. We are developing practical tools that will help individuals and teams discover, track and boost their personal creativity. Another focus area is training. We want young professionals to become better filmmakers and also creative entrepreneurs. It took me years to figure out how to run a sustainable business that is also aligned with a deep purpose. This was achieved not with ‘hacks’, but systems and mental models. Now I want to help others learn these secret tricks…much faster. And without the blood, sweat or tears!” 

For business enquiries, contact Addy Khan at Xperiment Media via websites xperimentmedia.com by emailing [email protected]. Alternatively, visit addykhan.com for more information about director Addy Khan.

Data Centre

Africa Data Centres Reveals Continent’s Largest-ever Data Centre Expansion Plan

Africa’s leading carrier-neutral co-location data centre provider, Africa Data Centres, has announced plans to build large hyperscale data centres throughout Africa, including the North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

The project will involve building 10 hyperscale data centres, in 10 countries, over the next two years – at a cost of more than US$500m. It is being funded through new equity and facilities from leading development finance institutions and multilateral organisations. Africa Data Centres CEO, Mr Stephane Duproz, explains that the finance for the roll-out has been provided by equity and loans to Africa Data Centres’ parent company, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, to fully fund the expansion. 

Explaining the ambitious initiative, Duproz says, “We have already begun to acquire land in these countries and plan to roll-out very quickly to meet the needs of our existing and new customers. This is just the beginning for us.” The expansion will more than double Africa Data Centres’ already significant footprint on the continent.  

“Examining Africa’s growth trajectory has allowed us to make investment decisions on new locations and confidently commit to expanding selected existing locations, resulting in the largest investment of its kind in history,” explains Duproz.

 

Growth

“This commitment to Africa, through the continuous deployment of capital-intensive infrastructure projects, has pivotal knock-on effects for the communities and economies we serve,” says Duproz. “All our data centres are world-class – built to the same, global market-leading standard and offer a reliable, resilient, secure and interconnected base. 

This allows multinational organisations to confidently enter the market, knowing their future growth is assured and they have access to open carrier systems to the rest of the continent. Additionally, without access to always-on, high-speed data centre facilities, the private sector cannot compete globally and will see slowed growth locally; equally important is the impact IT services have on the public sector – from healthcare to transport infrastructure.” 

Africa Data Centres’ investment is a reflection of, as well as a catalyst for the continued direct foreign investment into the continent and the positive growth of local organisations.

Duproz says industries especially likely to be buoyed by Africa Data Centres’ expansion are the banking and growing fintech sectors, insurance and medical organisations, the public sector, hyperscale cloud providers and content providers. These industries, he says, are highly sensitive to data speed, security, guaranteed uptime and are exacting when it comes to reliability and trust in their providers. The SME market too, he says, has found a significant opportunity for growth by plugging into the digital ecosystems that data centres provide.

“Our experience from across the continent is that the strategic value of data centres has both immediate and long-term effects on the economy and the communities they serve. Job creation is something we are passionate about at Africa Data Centres and the equation is a simple one: digitisation boosts economies, and successful digitisation requires data centres. Data centres are digital ecosystems, acting as magnets to organisations – and as the digital ecosystem grows within the data centre, so the local economy grows in the real world. The impact of a data centre is long-lasting, with immediate job creation stemming from the physical build and enduring economic growth once operational.”

 

Sustainable, pan-African, neutral, interconnected

“We are Africa’s largest network of data centres – and we are growing perpetually. All of our facilities across the continent will remain interconnected, allowing our tenants to take advantage of our vast footprint. Furthermore, we guarantee carrier-neutrality – meaning our tenants benefit from competition, redundancy and reliability. And, perhaps most importantly, is our commitment to sustainable, clean builds. We invest heavily in innovative grey-water systems, waste disposal and renewable energy sources, ensuring our carbon footprint is drastically reduced, our reliability is uncontested and while building economies, we’re aiding the environment”, says Duproz.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Prepares to Go All-Electric

  • In 2025 Mercedes-Benz will launch three electric-only architectures.
  • Mercedes-Benz will be ready to go all electric at the end of the decade, where market conditions allow.
  • Mercedes-Benz to install battery cell capacity of more than 200 Gigawatt hours with partners, plans for eight Gigafactories.
  • New partnerships for development and production of battery cells in Europe.
  • Efficiency of electric drivetrains to be enhanced through vertical integration and the acquisition of YASA, a specialist in ultra-high performance axial flux motors.
  • Plug & Charge to introduce seamless charging without extra steps needed for authentication and payment. Mercedes me Charge to have more than 530,000 AC and DC charging points worldwide.
  • Acceleration of electrification ramp-up marks a radical shift in capital allocation.
  • Mercedes-Benz is committed to its margin targets – also in a BEV-world.


Mercedes-Benz is getting ready to go all electric by the end of the decade, where market conditions allow. Shifting from electric-first to electric-only, the world’s pre-eminent luxury car company is accelerating toward an emissions-free and software-driven future.

By 2022, Mercedes-Benz will have battery electric vehicles (BEV) in all segments the company serves. From 2025 onwards, all newly launched vehicle architectures will be electric-only and customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes. Mercedes-Benz intends to manage this accelerated transformation while sticking to its profitability targets.

 

“The EV shift is picking up speed – especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs. The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade,” said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG. “This step marks a profound reallocation of capital. By managing this faster transformation while safeguarding our profitability targets, we will ensure the enduring success of Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to our highly qualified and motivated workforce,
I am convinced that we will be successful in this exciting new era.”

To facilitate this shift, Mercedes-Benz is unveiling a comprehensive plan which includes significantly accelerating R&D. In total, investments into battery electric vehicles between 2022 and 2030 will amount to over €40 billion. Accelerating and advancing the EV portfolio plan will bring forward the tipping point for EV adoption.

 

Technology Plan

Architectures: In 2025 Mercedes-Benz will launch three electric-only architectures:

  • EA will cover all medium to large size passenger cars, establishing a scalable modular system as the electric backbone for the future EV portfolio.
  • EA will be a dedicated performance electric vehicle platform addressing technology and performance oriented Mercedes-AMG customers.
  • EA ushers in a new era for purpose made electric vans and Light Commercial Vehicles, which will contribute to emission free transportation and cities in the future.

Vertical integration: After reorganising its powertrain activities to put planning, development, purchasing and production under one roof, Mercedes-Benz will deepen the level of vertical integration in manufacturing and development, and insource electric drive technology. This step includes the acquisition of UK based electric motor company YASA. With this deal, Mercedes-Benz gains access to unique axial flux motor technology and expertise to develop next generation ultra-high performance motors. In-house electric motors, such as the eATS 2.0, are a key part of the strategy with a clear focus on efficiency and the overall cost of the entire system, including inverters and software. China, the world’s largest new energy vehicle (NEV) market, which is home to hundreds of companies and suppliers specialized in EV components and software technologies, is expected to play a key role in accelerating the Mercedes-Benz electrification strategy.

Batteries: Mercedes-Benz will need a battery capacity of more than 200 Gigawatt hours and plans to set up eight Gigafactories for producing cells, together with its partners around the world. This is in addition to the already planned network of nine plants dedicated to building battery systems. Next generation batteries will be highly standardized and suitable for use in more than 90% of all Mercedes-Benz cars and vans while being flexible enough to offer individual solutions to all customers. With regard to cell manufacturing, Mercedes-Benz intends to team up with new European partners to develop and efficiently produce future cells and modules, a step which ensures that Europe remains at the heart of the auto industry even in an electric era. Cell production will give Mercedes-Benz the opportunity to transform its established powertrain production network. By continuously integrating the most advanced battery cell technology in cars and vans, Mercedes-Benz aims to increase range during the production lifecycle of a model. With the next battery generation, Mercedes-Benz will work with partners like SilaNano to further increase energy density by using silicon-carbon composite in the anode. This will allow for unprecedented range and even shorter charging times. When it comes to solid-state technology, Mercedes-Benz is in talks with partners to develop batteries with even higher energy density and safety.

Charging: Mercedes-Benz is also working on setting new standards in charging: “Plug & Charge” will allow customers to plug-in, charge and unplug without extra steps needed for authentication and payment processing. Plug & Charge will go live with the market launch of the EQS later this year. Mercedes me Charge is already one of the world’s largest charging networks and currently comprises more than 530,000 AC and DC charging points worldwide. Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz is working with Shell on expanding the charging network. Customers will get enhanced access to Shell’s Recharge network consisting of over 30.000 charge points by 2025 in Europe, China, and North America – including over 10.000 high-power chargers globally. Mercedes-Benz is also planning to launch several premium-charging sites in Europe, which will offer a bespoke charging experience with top-notch facilities.

VISION EQXX: Mercedes-Benz is currently developing the Vision EQXX, an electric car with a real world range of more than 1,000 kilometres, targeting a single-digit figure for Kwh per 100 kilometres (over 6 miles per Kwh) at normal highway driving speeds. A multi-disciplinary team including experts from Mercedes-Benz’s F1 High Performance Powertrain division (HPP) is making rapid progress towards the project’s ambitious goals. The world premiere will be in 2022. Technological advances made with Vision EQXX will be adapted and applied for potential use in new electric architectures.

 

Production Plan

Mercedes-Benz is currently preparing its global production network for electric-only output with the pace of the ramp-up designed to follow market demand. Thanks to early investments into flexible manufacturing, and the state-of-the art MO360 production system, Mercedes-Benz can mass produce BEVs already today. As soon as next year, eight Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles will be produced at seven locations on three continents. Furthermore all passenger car and battery assembly sites run by Mercedes-Benz AG will switch to carbon neutral production by 2022. To enhance manufacturing efficiency, Mercedes-Benz is joining forces with GROB, a German global leader in highly innovative battery production and automation systems, strengthening its battery production capacity and know-how. The cooperation focuses on battery module assembly as well as pack assembly. Mercedes-Benz also plans to install a new battery recycling factory in Kuppenheim, Germany, to develop and secure recycling capacity and know-how. Start of operations will be in 2023, depending on the outcome of promising discussions with public authorities.

 

People Plan

The transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles is feasible and already underway at Mercedes-Benz. Working together with employee representatives, Mercedes-Benz will continue the transformation of its workforce, making use of extensive re-skilling schemes, early retirement as well as buyouts. TechAcademies will be offering colleagues training for future-oriented qualifications. In 2020 alone, about 20,000 employees in Germany were trained in aspects of e-mobility. To deliver on plans for developing the MB.OS operating system, 3,000 new software engineering jobs will be created worldwide. 

 

Financial Plan

Mercedes-Benz remains committed to the margin targets outlined in fall 2020. Last year’s targets were based on the assumption of selling 25% hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025. Today’s reiteration is based on an assumed xEV share of up to 50% by 2025 and a market scenario for new car sales which in essence has switched to fully electric by the end of the decade. An important lever is to increase net revenue per unit by raising the proportion of high-end electric vehicles such as Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-AMG models, while at the same time taking more direct control over pricing and sales. Rising revenue from digital services will further support results. Mercedes is also working on further reducing variable and fixed costs and cutting the capex share of investments. Common battery platforms and scalable electric architectures combined with advances in battery technology, will bring higher degrees of standardization and lower costs. The proportion of battery costs within the vehicle is expected to fall significantly. Capital allocation is moving from EV-first to EV-only. Investments into combustion engines and plug-in hybrid technologies will drop by 80% between 2019 and 2026. On this basis, Mercedes-Benz projects company margins in a BEV world which are similar to those in the ICE era.

“Our main duty in this transformation is to convince customers to make the switch with compelling products. For Mercedes-Benz, the trailblazing EQS flagship is only the beginning of this new era,” Källenius said.

Technology

UAE & Republic of Korea Enhance Strategic Cooperation in Advanced Technology Industry

His Excellency Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, met with His Excellency Sung Yun-mo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea to discuss ways of enhancing strategic cooperation between the two countries in the fields of industry and advanced technology.

The talks took place during a virtual meeting between the UAE Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of the Republic of Korea (MOTIE) that focused on strengthening the relations between the two countries, spanning more than 40 years.

His Excellency Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, Undersecretary of MoIAT, His Excellency Abdullah Saif Ali Al Nuaimi, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, His Excellency Kwon Yongwoo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the UAE, and other senior government officials attended the event. The gathering also drew the participation of C-suite executives of select public and private sector entities from the two countries. These included Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Masdar, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), Korea Gas Corporation (KOGAS), Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC), H2KOREA, GS Caltex, GS Energy, Hanwha Solutions, LOTTE Chemical, SK E&C, SK innovation, and Samsung Engineering.

The ministers stressed the joint commitment of their countries to accelerating the post-COVID-19 economic recovery and the transition to a low-carbon future. They expressed keen interest in working together to build capacities in several strategic areas, including energy, climate change, green hydrogen, Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, as well as the space, electronics, metal, pharmaceutical, and food industries.

The meeting culminated in the signing of two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between MoIAT and MOTIE.

The first agreement targets cooperation in developing the hydrogen economy. The two ministries aim to support laws, rules, regulations, and national policies governing hydrogen trade between the UAE and the Republic of Korea, and facilitate collaboration between the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance – comprising ADNOC, Mubadala, and ADQ – and H2KOREA. They also seek to collaborate in relevant international forums.

Under the terms of the MoU, MoIAT and MOTIE plan to run joint feasibility studies and pilot projects with a focus on hydrogen, carbon recycling, and related low-emission technologies, industries, and value chains.

The second agreement covers the development of industrial and technological policies. Areas of cooperation include identifying agendas and exchanging regulatory best practices in industrial development. Among the main fields of interest are medtech (telemedicine, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, and advanced drug delivery systems), space (small satellite manufacturing), agritech (smart aquaculture and smart farms), and Industry 4.0 (smart factories as well as relevant technologies and policies).

Within the framework of the second MoU, the ministers agreed to hold regular strategic meetings to discuss industrial and technological policies, and explore potential new areas for collaboration.

His Excellency Dr Al Jaber said: “The UAE leadership has always encouraged mutually beneficial international partnerships, and the Republic of Korea has been a long-standing valued partner to our country. The new MoUs support MoIAT’s mandate to develop the UAE’s industrial sector, boost its contribution to economic diversification, encourage foreign direct investment in this domain, and strengthen the country’s R&D ecosystem. The collaboration is part of the Ministry’s endeavors to build synergies with global stakeholders with the aim of exchanging and localizing knowledge in the field of advanced technology.”

Emphasizing the importance of the strategic partnership, he added: “We are open to learning from global best practices, and leverage this expertise to enhance our technology infrastructure, create an enabling environment for bright minds, improve operational efficiency, and increase the quality and competitiveness of local products. The Republic of Korea possesses a wealth of experience in the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution solutions, therefore it represents an ideal partner on our path towards a tech-powered, knowledge-based economy.”

His Excellency Dr Al Jaber noted that MoIAT coordinates joint efforts of the public and private sectors to achieve world-class national production, and works to enhance the role of academic and R&D institutions in this regard. He highlighted pharmaceuticals, F&B, and hydrogen technologies as the priority sectors.

His Excellency Sung Yun-mo said: “Despite the restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak last year, the Republic of Korea and the UAE engaged in active cooperation, including business interactions as well as pandemic control. Our two countries have enjoyed successful collaboration in the oil and gas sector, however, we are keen to expand the scope of our partnership with a focus on the development of low-carbon technologies, IT, and the zero-contact economy. Today, we are pleased to establish cooperation in fostering future industries and promising start-ups through the signing of the two new agreements.”

The UAE is the largest trade partner of the Republic of Korea in the MENA region, while Korea is one of the UAE’s most prominent trade partners in Asia. Over the years, especially in the past decade, the two countries have significantly stepped up cooperation in the fields of artificial intelligence, innovation, defense, science, culture, education, renewable and nuclear energy, and other sectors. By end-2019, the volume of bilateral non-oil trade amounted to AED18.3 billion (US$5 billion).

health and medtech

Growth in Health and Med-tech Industry Set to Accelerate as Regional Demand for Service Provision Rises

A new Covid Response Report (CRR), produced by Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with the digital health platform Altibbi, explores the rapid development and uptake of medical and health technology across four MENA markets in 2020, while considering the major part that further innovation will play in driving economic recovery in the region.

The CRR provides in-depth analysis of how Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE responded to the pandemic in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, focusing on key data and infographics relating to the technological advances in the health care system of each country against the broader socio-economic landscape.

The report tracks the investment made by all four countries in health care provision in recent years which, while varying in terms of funds allocated and inflows, bolstered their efforts to contain the virus when it arrived and care for patients.

It looks, in particular, at the broad range of tech-led medical and health services introduced by each market, which proved crucial in the pandemic by making alternative, remote solutions available and reducing the overall pressure on traditional systems.

Key examples included e-health and telemedicine options, which were key in delivering vital public health information and facilitating remote consultations, thereby helping to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Subscribers will also find coverage of the medical and health technology industry’s potential for growth in areas such as medical record digitalisation, which is expected to gain momentum in line with demand for integrated health care systems, telemedicine and automation.

The report explores Altibbi’s growth story, tracking its expansion and the steps it took to continue operating throughout the pandemic, when demand for services – both established and new – rose sharply. It also looks in detail at the firm’s collaborative projects with the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which enabled them to continue delivering their health care provision through telehealth consultations and Covid-19 information hotlines, alongside other services, in a challenging environment.

Jalil Allabadi, Founder and CEO, Altibbi, said that having enabled governments to provide essential health information and medical services remotely when Covid-19 arrived, new technologies were now expected to play an even greater role in post-pandemic health care, driven forward by changing demographics, rising levels of internet use and pressure on current systems.

“Approximately 400m people in the Arab world are still without access to essential medical services, while the proportion of the MENA population aged over 65 is rising. At the same time, an estimated 70% of doctor visits are considered to be unnecessary,” he said. “Technological tools in various forms, ranging from telemedicine to apps, will play a critical part in meeting demand for health information and medical care, at a time when governments are keeping a close eye on their budgets.”

Karine Loehman, OBG’s Managing Director for Africa, said that unlike key areas of the global economy, technology-enabled health services had performed strongly during the pandemic, with health-tech companies able to tap into the disruption to doing business.

“The outlook for the sector is bright, with industry players already focused on developing solutions that will help to fill vacuums in quality and infrastructure,” he said. “From a regional perspective, all four study countries are expected to exhibit strong GDP per capita growth going forward, pointing to promising prospects for higher purchasing power and telehealth spending.”