IBM launches Project Lucy

IBM began rolling out its Watson supercomputer system across Africa yesterday, saying it would help to address continental development obstacles as diverse as medical diagnoses, economic data collection and e-commerce research. The world’s biggest technology service provider said Project Lucy would take 10 years and cost $100 million (approximately R1.1 billion). The undertaking was named after the earliest known human ancestor fossil, which was found in east Africa. “I believe it will spur a whole era of innovation for entrepreneurs here,” IBM chief executive Virginia Rometty told delegates at a conference in Lagos on Wednesday. – Reuters


MoU on joint oil project signed

Uganda had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) regarding the start of oil production with UK’s Tullow Oil, Total of France and China’s Cnooc, the government said yesterday. Uganda discovered oil deposits in 2006 but a tussle with oil firms over Uganda’s plans for a refinery postponed commercial production, now expected to start in 2016 at the earliest. “The government has signed an MoU on the sustainable development of the discovered petroleum resources in the Albertine Graben (basin) with the licensed oil companies operating in the country,” the energy ministry said. It said in a statement that the deal was signed late on Wednesday with the Ugandan units of Tullow, Total and Cnooc. – Reuters


Bank increases rates by 2%

Ghana’s central bank increased its benchmark interest rate by 2 percentage points yesterday, a day after it announced curbs on foreign currency trading to halt a slide in the cedi. The key lending rate was raised to 18 percent, governor Kofi Wampah told reporters in Accra. All seven economists surveyed had predicted higher rates, with forecasts ranging from 17 percent to 18 percent. The Bank of Ghana moved its rate-setting meeting two weeks earlier than scheduled to respond to the cedi’s slump to a record low against the dollar. On Wednesday, the bank stepped in to stabilise the currency by setting limits on foreign-exchange transactions and ordering all local transactions to be done in the cedi. – Bloomberg