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Tech Roundup: Brazilian telecoms switch to solar power

telecom brazil green Photo: Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

You’re reading The Brazilian Report’s weekly tech roundup, a digest of the most important news on technology and innovation in Brazil. This week’s topics: telecom firms eye up solar power as a way to save money, AI could boost Brazil’s GDP, and the country’s beauty market goes online. 

Brazilian telecom operators switch to solar power

The economy’s green drive has reached Brazil’s telecom sector as TIM and Oi —

two of the country&#8217;s biggest telecom operators — announced they are investing in solar power as a way to produce <a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/mercado/2020/12/pesquisa-mostra-que-40-das-cleantechs-brasileiras-operam-no-vermelho.shtml">cleaner energy</a> and cut costs.</p> <ul><li>TIM launched its new energy goals for 2021. The company aims to rely on 60 renewable energy plants — including solar power, hydroelectric, and biogas facilities — to generate 38 GWh, or over 80 percent of the company&#8217;s total demand. This year, TIM has already surpassed its goal of ensuring 60 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources.</li><li>Meanwhile, Oi Telecom announced a deal with Faro Energy to provide solar power for its operations in Minas Gerais. The Janaúba and Jaíba power plants cost BRL 45 million, but can provide 21 GWh per year — enough to power 1,900 company sites. </li></ul> <p><strong>Telecom firms eye the long term.</strong> TIM aims to slash neutral emissions by 70 percent before 2025 and to be carbon neutral by 2030. Oi strives to have a 100 percent renewable energy mix in two years time; it will end 2020 having reached 60 percent of its goal. </p> <p><strong>Cutting costs.</strong> In 2020 alone, Oi saved some BRL 400 million by changing its energy mix, due to the cheaper costs of solar power. This is crucial for the company, as it is currently under court-supervised reorganization. TIM also aims to obtain savings from its green drive, reinvesting this money to update its networks, according to company executives.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>According to TIM, diversification is also necessary because the company will need more energy to expand its mobile coverage in 2021. </li><li>Besides efficiency, procuring its own energy sources can spare telecom companies from the inconvenience caused by disruptions, such as the blackout that left the northern state of Amapá in the dark for two weeks. Plus, as we <a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2020/11/10/cut-off-amapa-state-endures-week-without-electricity/">reported on December 6</a>, the low levels of Brazil&#8217;s hydroelectric reservoirs are driving energy bills up and forcing the country to import power from Argentina.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>AI could boost Brazil&#8217;s GDP by up to 4.2 points</h2> <p>A new study for FrontierView, commissioned by Microsoft, suggests that Brazil could increase its GDP by up to 4.2 percentage points over the next decade by massively adopting AI technology in private companies and government.</p> <p><strong>How so? </strong>The study paints two possible scenarios, providing all AI available technologies are fully implemented:&nbsp;</p> <ul><li><strong>Worst-case scenario: </strong>Industries could boost productivity but fail to invest and increase hires. In that case, a mere 1.8 point would be added to the GDP.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Best-case scenario: </strong>If the country makes a serious push for AI, it could lead to significant economic growth in several industrial sectors and foster demand for domestically generated services.</li></ul> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-scatter" data-src="visualisation/4635087"><script src="https://public.flourish.studio/resources/embed.js"></script></div> <p><strong>Upside.</strong> AI-based platforms could speed up workers’ training, which would eventually boost tax revenue. With regards to government, AI could also help fight tax evasion with platforms that spot frauds or estimate the impacts of fiscal deficits on the government’s budget.</p> <p><strong>Job market.</strong> To reach the best-case scenario, the survey shows it is crucial to invest in training and for Brazil&#8217;s workforce to reskill in AI technology.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Automation would reduce the average number of working hours in Brazil by 46 percent. That would increase the demand for skilled workers to somewhere between 50 and 54 percent of the workforce. Meanwhile, the need for low qualified workers would dramatically plunge by 44 percent.</li><li>A 2018 Pew survey found that 90 percent of Brazilian workers aged 18 to 29 are <a href="https://brazilian.report/business/2018/09/17/brazilian-youth-artificial-intelligence/">afraid of the losing their jobs because of artificial intelligence</a>.</li></ul> <p><strong>Latin America.</strong> The study drew the same scenarios for seven other Latin American countries and found that all of them would benefit from large-scale adoption of AI. Mexico could be poised to benefit the most, potentially growing 2.6 times faster than anticipated.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Brazilian beauty market becomes increasingly digital</h2> <p>A recent survey found that 95 percent of small beauty companies in Brazil lost revenue during the pandemic. Meanwhile, online sales jumped 50 percent, forcing brands to invest more diligently in digital channels, from marketing to customer service.</p> <p><strong>Apps.</strong> In order to optimize the relationship between customers and beauty establishments, beauty startup AVEC launched in 2013 with a completely online service, offering consumers options to scheduling appointments in salons, barbershops, and beauty clinics.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>During the pandemic, AVEC developed an app to allow beauty professionals to visit their clients at home, as a way to mitigate the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 isolation measures.</li></ul> <p><strong>Natura. </strong>Brazilian behemoth Natura invested in Singu, a delivery startup for beauty services — with 3,000 registered beauty professionals and 200,000 active clients.</p> <p><strong>AI.</strong> In the field of digitalization, multinationals are investing in their social media presence and in AI, virtual reality, and beauty apps.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>An example of this is JustForYou, a beauty tech that develops an algorithm to analyze individual profiles and create the &#8220;ideal&#8221; product for each hair, prioritizing natural ingredients in its formulas. During the pandemic, JustForYou doubled its sales.</li></ul> <p><strong>Digital market.</strong> Hypera Pharma is also investing in the digital beauty market and announced the purchase of the Simple Organic brand, a Brazilian company that operates in the field of dermo-cosmetics and makeup, using natural, organic, and cruelty-free products.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Take note</h2> <ul><li><strong>WhatsApp Pay.</strong> Pedro Paro Neto, Mastercard CEO in Brazil, said this week that he believes WhatsApp Pay will get the Central Bank&#8217;s go-ahead to operate in the country in the first quarter of 2021. “We’ve been having weekly meetings with the Central Bank and I think we are close to getting permission,” he told journalists.</li><li><strong>ANPD.</strong> The website of Brazil’s National Data Protection Authority has finally gone live, allowing citizens to file complaints, make suggestions, and view the schedule of agency chairman Waldemar Ortunho. However, the National Data Protection Council — an advisory board made up of members of civil society — has yet to be created.  </li><li><strong>Domains.</strong> The number of websites with the Brazilian <em>.com.br</em> domain reached 4.5 million in 15 years, according to the Núcleo de Informação e Coordenação do Ponto BR (NIC.br). That makes Brazil one of the biggest domain hubs in the world; the funds raised with domain sales are directed to improving Brazil’s network. </li><li><strong>Logistics 1. </strong>Boosted by domestic demand and an investment from a Chinese company, startup TruckPad grew by 6,428 percent in 2020 until October. The company has helped connect truckers and customers to transport 450,000 cargo shipments and, as of October, freight offers reached BRL 1.2 billion. The company’s CEO, Carlos Mira, told <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> back in July that the company was growing at a monthly rate of 40 percent.</li><li><strong>Logistics 2.</strong> Amazon launched the Amazon FBA logistics program in Brazil, allowing sales partners to distribute their products via the Amazon&#8217;s distribution centers, which will be responsible for packaging and shipping. Initially, the logistics program will be available to vendors in the state of São Paulo and who operate under the so-called Simples Nacional tax regime, reserved for small and medium-sized companies.</li><li><strong>5G.</strong> After Vice-President Hamilton Mourão said that banning China from Brazil&#8217;s upcoming 5G auction would make services more expensive for consumers, President Jair Bolsonaro and Communications Minister Fabio Faria rushed to dismiss Mr. Mourão&#8217;s claims, saying the 5G spectrum auction will be handled exclusively by the presidency and Communications Ministry.

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Natália Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Before joining The Brazilian Report, she worked as an editor for Trading News, the information division from the TradersClub investor community.

Ariádne Mussato

Ariadne Mussato is a social media expert

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