A recent KPMG in Canada survey found that retailers are increasingly adopting generative AI to enhance productivity, predict demand, and personalize customer experiences. The study produced by the multinational professional services network reveals that 81% of retail executives recognize the necessity of investing in generative AI, with 77% already using or planning to implement it soon. Key applications include fraud detection, inventory management, and personalized product recommendations, while proper data management remains a significant challenge for successful AI integration.

Also in AI news, Seoul-based airline Korean Air is developing an AI Contact Centre (AICC) in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). The development is expected to enhance customer support with AI and cloud-based technologies. The AICC will feature voice bots and chatbots for efficient, personalized interactions. Korean Air aims to consolidate call center operations into a single AWS Cloud platform by September this year and integrate machine learning and generative AI by February 2025.

Amid the watershed elections in South Africa, the Western Cape government has indicated that the South African Department of Home Affairs is causing visa delays that are jeopardizing over 4,500 jobs and ZAR1.6 billion (approximately US$85.8 million) in economic value. The country’s BPO sector contributes ZAR35 billion (US$1.8 billion) to the national economy and supports over 100,000 jobs. The visa delays are said to be primarily impacting the Western Cape’s BPO sector, which accounts for 45% of the country’s total BPO market size. Delays in processing critical visas hinder training experts needed to upskill local employees, exacerbating the backlog of 92,000 applications at Home Affairs.

In Uganda, the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance has endorsed a plan to create 100,000 direct jobs by 2030 through an ambitious BPO and IT outsourcing strategy. The plan, originally created by Genesis Analytics and Mastercard Foundation, targets youth unemployment and highlights five opportunity zones: 1) strengthening the domestic core, 2) attracting African operators, 3) winning overflow work, 4) serving under-tapped markets, and 5) serving traditional markets. Uganda’s competitive advantages include low operating costs and a large, English-proficient talent pool. The government is implementing the strategy through coordinated working groups to boost job creation and economic growth.

Just across the border in East Africa, a section of Kenyan youth groups – under the banner, Project Ether – are calling on President William Ruto. They urged the Kenyan president to negotiate for better labor conditions for digital jobs during his visit to the United States to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden. They highlight significant issues such as bans on unionization by U.S. tech firms, urging the inclusion of stringent worker protections in any economic agreements to ensure fair and equitable employment practices for Kenyan workers.

The United Kingdom is set to support Uzbekistan’s IT sector development following meetings hosted by the Embassy of Uzbekistan. The meetings between the Uzbek Deputy Minister of Digital Technologies, Rustam Karimjonov, UK IT representatives, and the British Investment Association (BIA) focused on investment management and promoting Uzbekistan’s investment environment, and a memorandum of cooperation was signed.

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