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Swami India International invests $50 mn in Africa

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Accra: Swami Indian International, an Indian realty company has invested more than $50 million to construct houses in three African countries Ghana, Senegal, Gambia Tarun K Singh the company’s project manager said.

“Last year, the African Development Bank (AfDB) said Africa was growing with an urbanization rate of 3.4 percent, with cities across the continent experiencing the fastest urban growth rate globally. Unfortunately, it looks like this is not being matched by the ability to provide affordable houses,” Singh said.

“The Swami India Group has, therefore, entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do,” he added.

He said the company first decided to enter the accommodation market in 2004 with an investment of $500,000 in Gambia and built 169 units and a land sale project with 177 units.

“Even this is just a tip of the iceberg of how accommodation could be solved in Gambia as like other African countries, more and more continue to be without decent accommodation,” he said.

“This increasing demand has not been met by a proportionate increase in supply, resulting in widespread shortages of affordable housing units in Africa and the proliferation of informal settlements across the continent,” the AfDB had said, adding: “The related consequences and challenges are enormous not only in economic and financial terms but also in terms of human development and social dimensions.”

It is in this context that Swami India’s decision to blaze a trail in the housing market must be seen as an effort to assist governments in the countries where the company is operating and solve a deepening social problem, Tarun Singh said.

Though “the assistance from the governments has been significant,” he was quick to add that there have been challenges as the company prepares to venture in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“We are not daunted,” he said, adding he would encourage other Indian companies to invest on the continent because “Africa has potential and it’s a good time to invest in Africa”.

Though there is a huge deficit in the sector, the poor have been hard hit because of affordability. The AfDB’s manager of the research department, Issa Faye, has identified the “poor and lower middle-income families, including those with irregular incomes in the informal sector” as remaining a key challenge to the continent’s housing finance market.

To solve the problem, he has identified Morocco’s Fonds de garantie pour populations revenus modestes et non reguliers (FOGARIM) guarantee scheme, India’s GRUH Finance and Colombia’s Fondo Nacional de Garant as successful business models which demonstrate that lending to informal sector workers may be feasible.

Tarun Singh, however, said there are some problems that must be solved immediately if investors are to be lured to enter the sector. These include the lack of skilled workers to be engaged on large-scale housing projects, high interest charged by banks and the lack of utility services such as roads, water and electricity.(IANS)(Image-static.panoramio.com)

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Microsoft Announces Indian Languages Support For e-mail Addresses

Microsoft's products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future

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Microsoft introduces Indian languages on various of its platforms. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft introduces Indian languages on various of its platforms. Wikimedia Commons
  • Microsoft announced support in Indian Languages for e-mail
  • There will be 15 Indian languages supported now
  • Indians will be able to use Microsoft in their local languages

Microsoft on Wednesday announced support for e-mail addresses in 15 Indian languages across its apps and services, including Office 365, Outlook 2016, Outlook.com, Exchange Online and Exchange Online Protection (EOP).

Microsoft introduces 15 new indian languages to its support.
Microsoft introduces 15 new Indian languages to its support.

Indian users would be able to use local language e-mail addresses for Outlook accounts on their personal computers, the company said on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day.

It would also allow users to seamlessly send/receive mails to/from local language e-mail addresses via Outlook client on PCs, Outlook.com in addition to Outlook apps for Android and IOS.

“Making e-mail addresses available in 15 languages is an exciting step to making modern communications and collaboration tools more accessible and easier to use for all,” Meetul Patel, COO, Microsoft India, said in a statement.

The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons
The Indian languages which will be supported include Hindi, Bengali, etc. Wikimedia Commons

“We are making technology use the language of people and not requiring people to first learn the traditional language of technology,” Patel added.

The initiative is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to support Email Address Internationalisation (EAI) across its products and services eco-system and make technology accessible in local languages.

The languages being introduced are those that support Unicode — an international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts.

Microsoft’s products will also support additional Indian languages as and when their IDNs and e-mail addresses become available in the future, making this feature forward compatible.

Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA
Microsoft launches 15 Indian languages in its support. VOA

Last month, Microsoft announced the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Neural Networks (DNN) to improve real-time language translation for Hindi, Bengali and Tamil languages.

This technology would help users in getting results that are more accurate and natural while surfing the Internet across any website on the MS Edge browser, Bing search, Bing Translator website, as well as MS Office 365 products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Skype. IANS