More than one billion young people risk damaging their hearing through excessive use of smartphones and other audio devices, the UN warned Tuesday, proposing new safety standards for safe volume levels.
In a bid to safeguard hearing, the World Health Organization and International Telecommunications Union issued a non-binding international standard for the manufacture and use of audio devices.
Young people are particularly prone to risky listening habits.
Around half of those between the ages of 12 and 35, or 1.1 billion people, are at risk due to “prolonged and excessive exposure to loud sounds, including music they listen to through personal audio devices,” the UN health agency said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that the world already has “the technological know-how to prevent hearing loss”.
“It should not be the case that so many young people continue to damage their hearing while listening to music,” he said in the statement.
Young people, he said, “must understand that once they lose their hearing, it won’t come back.”
Currently, about five percent of the global population, or some 466 million people, including 34 million children, suffer from disabling hearing loss.
WHO said it remained unclear how many of them had damaged their hearing through dangerous use of audio devices.
It insisted though that the new standard developed with ITU would go a long way to “safeguard these young consumers as they go about doing something they enjoy.”
WHO considers a volume above 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes as unsafe.
The Safe listening devices and systems standard calls for a “sound allowance” software to be included in all audio devices, to track the volume level and duration of a user’s exposure to sound, and to evaluate the risk posed to their hearing.
This system could alert a user if they have dangerous listening habits.
WHO is also calling for parental as well as automatic volume controls on audio devices to prevent dangerous use.
While some smartphones and other audio devices already offer some of these features, the UN would like to see a uniform standard used to help protect against disabling hearing loss.
“Think of it like driving on a highway, but without a speedometer in your car or a speed limit,” Shelly Chadha of the WHO told reporters in Geneva.
“What we’ve proposed is that your smartphones come fitted with a speedometer, with a measurement system which tells you how much sound you’re getting and tells you if you are going over the limit”.
Namibia is Africa’s most prepared country on energy transition – WEF
Namibia is the best performing African country to make a successful energy transition. This is contained in the World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index 2020 released on Wednesday, May 13.
The report summarizes insights from the “Energy Transition Index” (ETI), which builds upon the previous series of “Global Energy Architecture Performance Index” by adding a forward looking element of country readiness for energy transition.
According to the Fostering Effective Energy Transition report, Nambia has an ETI score of 53,6%, system performance of 54% and transition readiness stands at 53%.
Ghana follows with 53.2% ETI, system performance of 59% and transition readiness of 47%.
The index ranks South Africa 106 out of 115 countries, improving nine places over the past 12 months. The countries are benchmarked on the performance of their energy systems and their readiness for transition to secure, sustainable, affordable and inclusive systems.
Kenya is 79th and rated 54% prepared to make the switch while Zambia and Botswana are ranked 98th and 99th respectively.
Nigeria is the least prepared African country, ranking 113th, one place above Cameroon. Nigeria, the continent’s largest economy, is 35% prepared to make the transition while Cameroon which the report ranks 114th is 42% ready.
In the report, the WEF also warned that the coronavirus pandemic risks cancelling out recent progress in transitioning to clean energy, with unprecedented falls in demand, price volatility and pressure to quickly mitigate socioeconomic costs placing the near-term trajectory of the transition in doubt.
According to the report, economic development and growth dimension of energy transition is currently being challenged by the cascading effects of Covid-19.
Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the third consecutive year, followed by Switzerland (2) and Finland (3). France (8) and United Kingdom (7) are the only G20 countries in the top 10.
Meanwhile, the trend has been moderately positive in Germany (20), Japan (22) and South Korea (48) and Russia (80).
On the other hand, scores for Canada (28), Chile (29), Lebanon (114), Malaysia (38), and Turkey (67) have declined since 2015. The United States ranks outside the top 25% for the first time, primarily due to the uncertain regulatory outlook for energy transition.
Facebook, Telecom firms to build subsea cable networks
Facebook is partnering with a consortium of African and global telecom firms to build one of the world’s largest underwater or subsea cable networks. This will boost Internet availability across three continents- Africa, Middle East and parts of Europe, The firms announced in a joint statement on Thursday.
The partners in this project are South Africa’s MTN GlobalConnect and Mauritius-based infrastructure provider WIOCC , alongside China Mobile International, French telecoms major, Orange SA, Saudi Arabia’s STC, Telecom Egypt, and Vodafone.
The project, called 2Africa, aims to build 37,000 kilometres of subsea cable infrastructure which will directly connect countries around the African coast to Europe and the Middle East, according to its website.
The network will have a design capacity of up to 150 terabytes per second (Tbps) on key parts of the system, according to the site . The 11 new cables rolled out between 2009 and 2016 in sub-Saharan Africa provided around 70 Tbps of design capacity.
Subsea infrastructure provider, Alcatel Submarine Networks will build the project, which is expected to be operational by 2023/24. The companies did not reveal how much money they are investing.
“2Africa… will interconnect Europe, the Middle East and 21 landings in 16 African countries,” according to the statement.
Subsea cables form the internet’s backbone , carrying 99% of the world’s data traffic.
However, with a population of 1.3 billion, Africa is still behind in internet connectivity, with average internet penetration at around 39% against a world average of 59%.
On completion, the subsea network looks to deliver more than the total combined capacity of all subsea cables serving Africa today.
Emerging Trends in the financial service sector
Fintech set to disrupt over $4.7 billion in global financial sector revenue.
Over the years, the financial sector has evolved and introduced what we now know as fintech – which is simply the application of digital technology to financial services and products. The evolution has been vast, ranging from mobile banking to payment processors, online investment and savings platform, loans and many more. The technologies are endless and it is believed that this is only the beginning.
According to Goldman Sachs, fintech is set to disrupt over 4.7 billion dollars in global financial sector revenue. Fintech is the change that the financial sector has been waiting for but more innovations are set to disrupt already existing companies and the only way to stand out is to keep track of the incoming trends.
We have already seen the start of this with the likes of Prospa, a startup that is changing the way businesses bank by eliminating the need to visit brick and mortar banks, providing free transaction, free delivery of ATM cards, convenient invoice management, quick balance review features, and real-time analytics, all in all, providing better customer experience virtually. Thanks to digital banks, visits to brick and mortar banks are set to drop by almost 40% in 2022.
The financial sector is poised to depend more on AI to process and handle large transactions. Take the banking industry, for example, AI is projected to reduce its operating costs by 22%, this means saving almost a trillion dollars. AI is already being used by several institutions to enhance customer service e.g Leo by UBA. Its ability to work with unstructured data will make for easy dealing of cyber crimes and financial frauds.
Digital wallets, mobile and cashless payments will drive the financial sector in terms of payments. In 2019, there were about 2.1 billion mobile wallet users. Add the use of blockchain to the mix and there is no telling how widely disrupted the sector will be. The main drivers of the disruption will be Generation X.
China takes the lead
China is an overwhelming leader in almost all fintech categories; from payment to lending to wealth management. With over 800 million internet users, 98% of whom are using mobile, it is no surprise that this is the prime area for fintech to thrive. China also has a high rate of investment than the rest of the world, this is equally an added factor. At this point, China is an exemplary leader and the best case study for how the fintech revolution is growing and evolving.
Thanks to blockchain technology, we have what is called smart contracts. Basically smart contracts are a way to digitize contracts that would normally require the services of lawyers and tedious processes. In smart contracts, parties sign a smart contact using cryptographic keys as a digital signature. Instead of paper, the contracts are encoded in computer language. Thanks to blockchain the codes cannot be tampered or altered. All devices that get the first digital copy of the contract will serve as witnesses and these devices would all see to the execution of the contract and fulfilment of all terms.