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Tomorrow.io, MTN Group partner for early weather warnings in Africa

6th December 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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A new collaboration is set to leverage satellite monitoring, artificial intelligence (AI), mobile connectivity and cloud computing to provide critical early warnings and weather information to at-risk populations, amounting to more than 300-million people, across Africa.

Telecommunications giant MTN Group and weather intelligence and climate adaptation leader Tomorrow.io, leveraging a Microsoft Azure technology grant from Microsoft’s AI for Good Lab, unveiled the pioneering initiative on Tuesday on the sidelines of COP28.

At the core of the initiative is the integration between Tomorrow.io’s hyperlocal bespoke weather engine, which includes satellite data, generative-AI and deep learning modelling capabilities, Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform and MTN’s mobile network services, enabling the infrastructure for seamless dissemination of localised, impact-based weather information to communities with limited accessibility.

The initiative, which will initially launch in West Africa, with plans for growth including all African countries where MTN operates, enables MTN's vast customer base to receive early warning notifications about severe weather events, generated through Tomorrow.io’s weather intelligence and Microsoft Azure, through MTN’s broad set of mobile services, facilitating timely evacuations and preparedness actions.

By establishing the service, the partnership will seek to collaborate with local meteorological departments in participating countries to enable users with access to additional critical weather information.

MTN Group’s partnership with Tomorrow.io. and Microsoft is a significant step in the realisation of the United Nation’s (UN’s) drive to ensure early warning systems for all by the end of 2027, said MTN Group chief sustainability and corporate affairs officer Nompilo Morafo.

“With human-induced climate change leading to more extreme weather conditions, the need for early warning systems is more crucial than ever. Early warning systems like this can play a meaningful role in decreasing the number of deaths and reducing the losses and damages resulting from hazardous weather, water or climate events in Africa,” she continued.

Tomorrow.io cofounder and chief strategy officer Rei Goffer said that the collaboration was a significant stride towards harnessing the power of mobile connectivity and cloud computing to help democratise access to early warning information to all at risk.

The initiative is empowering communities to make informed decisions, amid an increasingly unpredictable climate, through the provision of actionable weather intelligence.

“Data and AI have the potential to unlock life-changing weather information for people around the world and this work will help to get that information in the hands of those most impacted and allow them the opportunity to take action in advance of extreme weather events as a result of the changing climate,” added Microsoft VP and chief data scientist Juan Lavista Ferres.

“As a pan-African mobile operator, a technological solution that reduces risk and co-creates value with our partners for our customers was a deliberate decision. The dissemination of life-saving information should be a benefit of a modern connected life,” said MTN Group chief strategy and transformation officer Chika Ekeji.

“This initiative underscores MTN's commitment to leveraging technology in addressing the most pressing climate challenges facing our communities.”

Over time, the collaboration will also introduce a range of subscription-based value-added services, tailored to support crucial sectors such as agriculture, and aligning with the UN’s broader focus on leveraging technology for sustainable development.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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