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VEON and Beeline Kazakhstan Partner with GSMA and Barcelona Supercomputing Centre to Support Use of AI in Local Languages
[May 15, 2024]

VEON and Beeline Kazakhstan Partner with GSMA and Barcelona Supercomputing Centre to Support Use of AI in Local Languages


Baku and Barcelona, 15 May 2024: VEON Ltd. (NASDAQ: VEON, Euronext Amsterdam: VEON), a global digital operator that provides converged connectivity and online services, is delighted to announce that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Beeline Kazakhstan, the GSMA and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputacion (BSC-CNS) to explore collaboration on the development of artificial intelligence and language technologies for languages with low digital resources.

The parties will explore collaboration opportunities focusing on the development of mechanisms and documentation on language models and AI systems for under-resourced languages, including the local languages of the countries where VEON operates.

The MoU was signed by the four parties during M360 Eurasia. The event, opening in Baku today, welcomes global connectivity leaders and policymakers for two days of discussion, debate and networking. 

Out of nearly 7000 languages spoken around the globe, only seven are considered high-resource languages in the digital world: English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, German and Japanese. The lack of resources in other languages results in an AI language gap which leads to sub-optimal user experience in AI applications, deepens the bias in AI models and risks deepening the digital divide in AI technologies.

Catalan is spoken by 10 million people, spread across various parts of Spain and other areas of Europe, such as Andorra and Alghero. For this reason, the BSC Language Technologies unit has as a priority generating digital resources to guarantee the presence of Catalan in the digital world, while making these resources useful for other languages with the same objective.

Operating in countries that are home to 7% of the global population that mostly speak under-sourced languages, VEON is committed to addressing the AI language gap by supporting the usage of low-resource languages in AI, starting with Kazakhstan where Beeline Kazakhstan’s IT subsidiary QazCode already launched Kaz-RoBERTA-conversational – a Kazakh-language AI module supporting customer service in Beeline Kazakhstan’s digital applications.

“Artificial Intelligence is the next game changer in the history of technology, and it is in our hands to design and develop it in a way that promotes inclusion for all. Enabling low-resource languages to be a part of the world of AI empowers hundreds of millions of people around the globe by addressing the current shortcomings of the AI landscape. We are delighted to be the first operator group to partner with Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the GSMA to explore opportunities to raise to this challenge.” said Kaan Terzioglu, Group CEO of VEON.

“Beeline Kazakhstan is the leading operator in AI technologies in the markets where VEON operates. Having previously developed AI-based solutions in Kazakh language, Beeline Kazakhstan and Qazcode are well aware of the challenges and opportunities that come with Kazakhstan’s transformation into the age of AI. We are extremely excited to partner with Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the GSMA, bringing international experience to our journey of developing new use cases for Kazakh-language AI applications.” said Evgeny Nastradin, CEO of Beeline Kazakhstan.

“The development of artificial intelligence also generates gaps between languages. It is important to close them. For this reason, we are making our knowledge and resources available. The work through the Aina Alliance keeps growing and has allowed us to sign a strategic agreement with the GSMA. This is one more step for making our open-source AI expertiseaccessible to the international community. BSC has published a wide-range number of datasets and open-source models through the Aina project, leading the path into the open-source AI resources availability.”said Mateo Valero Cortes, Director of the BSC-CNS.



“The project with VEON and Beeline Kazakhstan is the first on our exciting journey with the BSC. We now call on industry to join us and work together to reduce the disparity in developing and applying AI technologies across different languages. This disparity exacerbates the AI language gap, and the challenges that come with it, including siloed innovation and widening the digital divide. The Aina Alliance aims to ensure that no language is left behind as the world advances into an increasingly AI-driven future.” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer of the GSMA.

Key to the partnership will be the GSMA Foundry innovation accelerator, an initiative that brings together mobile operators and the wider technology industry, to help members forge the digital future by rapidly developing real-world solutions to industry challenges.


Cooperation will take place within the scope of Aina Alliance, a collaboration between the Government of Catalonia and the GSMA, which builds on the Aina Project promoted and financed by the Government of Catalonia, and which seeks to support the presence of non-global languages in artificial intelligence models, enabling speakers of all languages to participate fully in the evolution of the digital world. VEON is the first pilot in the partnership, with the Aina Alliance now inviting other mobile operator partners and organisations to take part in addressing the AI Language gap through collaborative effort.

About Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputacion
Barcelona Supercomputing Center-Centro Nacional de Supercomputación (BSC-CNS) is the national supercomputing centre in Spain. They specialise in high performance computing (HPC) and manage MareNostrum, one of the most powerful supercomputers in Europe. BSC is at the service of the international scientific community and of industry that requires HPC resources. Their multidisciplinary research team and our computational facilities –including MareNostrum– make BSC an international centre of excellence in e-Science.

BSC has been successful in attracting talent, and their research focuses on four fields: Computer Sciences, Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and Computer Applications in Science and Engineering. The research lines are developed within the framework of European Union research funding programmes, Spanish and Catalan public research calls and collaborations with leading companies.

About the GSMA
The GSMA is a global organisation unifying the mobile ecosystem to discover, develop and deliver innovation foundational to positive business environments and societal change. Our vision is to unlock the full power of connectivity so that people, industry, and society thrive. Representing mobile operators and organisations across the mobile ecosystem and adjacent industries, the GSMA delivers for its members across three broad pillars: Connectivity for Good, Industry Services and Solutions, and Outreach. This activity includes advancing policy, tackling today’s biggest societal challenges, underpinning the technology and interoperability that make mobile work, and providing the world’s largest platform to convene the mobile ecosystem at the MWC and M360 series of events.? 

We invite you to find out more at www.gsma.com

About Beeline Kazakhstan & QazCode
Beeline Kazakhstan is the leading player in the Kazakhstan’s telecoms industry, serving over 11 million consumers on its mobile and fixed networks and with its digital services in finance, entertainment and enterprise solutions such as Simply, izi, hitter and BeeTV. Its software company QazCode is among the largest software development companies in Kazakhstan with a 700-strong team that includes 350 developers. QazCode builds solutions such as telco processes automation, gamification, entertainment, and IT productivity with an AI-first approach.

About VEON
VEON is a digital operator that provides converged connectivity and digital services to nearly 160 million customers. Operating across six countries that are home to more than 7% of the world’s population – Pakistan, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan – VEON is transforming lives through technology-driven services that empower individuals and drive economic growth. Headquartered in Amsterdam, VEON is listed on NASDAQ and Euronext.

For more information visit: www.veon.com

Disclaimer
This release contains “forward-looking statements,” as the phrase is defined in Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts, and include statements relating to, among other things, VEON’s strategy, investment and partnership plans. Forward-looking statements are inherently subject to risks and uncertainties, many of which VEON cannot predict with accuracy and some of which VEON might not anticipate. The forward-looking statements contained in this release speak only as of the date of this release. VEON does not undertake to publicly update, except as required by U.S. federal securities laws, any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after such dates or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

Contact

Barcelona Supercomputing Center - Centro Nacional de Supercomputacion
BSC Communication
[email protected]

GSMA
GSMA Press Office
[email protected]

Beeline Kazakhstan
Yelena Mukhsinova
Head of Communications
[email protected]

VEON
Hande Asik
Group Director of Communications
[email protected]

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