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Issue no 825 29th April 2016

top story

  • Every now and then something comes along that sounds so unlikely your first instinct is to check whether it’s April Fool’s day. American start-up Pangea has put together a service that allows Android smartphone users to call up the Internet using voice outside of data coverage areas. Russell Southwood spoke to its Director of Business Development Marco Scotti and one of its engineers Sebastian Presecan.

    Pangea has launched an Android app in Nigeria recently in what Scotti describes as a “test phase” which is allowing a small number of people to use and test the app. It will go to a full launch soon. It plans to cover more African countries soon. The service has around 70,000 users in India so far, but Scotti said it is aiming for many more.

    So let’s say you’re a Nigerian wanting to call up your Facebook page and there’s no wireless Internet connection available. When you click on your Facebook app, Pangea’s client detects the absence of Internet and intercepts the request.

    It then, Presecan told me, “sends a bunch of SMSs” (via a toll free number) which sends a message to Pangea’s server in California. The server then translates the content request into soundwaves that is then sent as a phone call to your smartphone or any other Internet enabled device able to load apps in a text version.

    Every time you want to send an email or check Twitter, it’ll make a quick (~10 seconds) call and transfer the requested data at up to 64 kilobits per second. Given the slow speeds, Pangea is only for text for now, but co-founder Vlad Iuhas says that down the road, it’ll offer the full Android experience, albeit a lot slower than most users in markets with data infrastructure are used to.

    According to Presecan, “the big issue is the voice CODEX which tries to compress the data and is designed to lose some of it. So we might lose data we need and so we have to repair the sound wave in real time.”

    Obviously there is an issue with latency as the SMS’s have to go to the server and it then has to translate the data into sound and then that sound has to be translated back into text. Presecan told me:”The latency is not very small. The phone call takes a few seconds. The SMS takes a few seconds and so on. But it is designed for areas where there is no connectivity. Some connectivity is better than no connectivity. It does not require other infrastructure (beyond a 2G voice connection).”

    Scotti told me:”There is a bit of latency but it takes 20-30 secs to load a Google page which usually takes 5 seconds. That’s with the technology now but it will improve over time. We have to review the sites that can be reached and will do that with the next funding round. We want to make web sites load with less megabytes.”

    So how did the idea for the technology come about? Presecan says:”If you can send a fax over wireline, why not over GSM. It supports it.” So they created a system of sound waves capable of sending web pages of text.”

    Scotti gives me the standard ICT4D pitch:”There’s a lack of connectivity in the world. Only one third of the world’s population are connected. This is bad both from a social and economic perspective. We think we’ve solved this problem and removed some major barriers. Firstly, it overcomes the lack of connectivity in rural areas. Secondly, it works for people who are not able to afford data plans. Only voice signal readiness is required (2G) and those signals cover a very large part of Nigeria’s population.”

    The business model is currently evolving but has two parts to it. Firstly, it wants to create social impact (something its initial investors are happy with) and grow the number of users to 0.5-1 million and then “grow the value of the company based on that. Secondly, it wants to partner in country with those running e-commerce apps, integrate Pangea into the the app and charge a small fee for every product sold by us.”

    So to summarise if you have an Android smartphone and you’re in a 2G voice only coverage area, you can get very slow, mainly text access only access to the Internet. Even with absolutely the lowest priced smartphones, it’s not clear to me how this helps the unconnected connect. Just having an app may not be enough. It could be that my imagination is failing me here. But if it’s a way of being able to demonstrate that there’s actually data demand out there in 2G coverage areas, bring it on.
    ____________________________________________________________________
    Digital Content Africa: Balancing Act’s web TV channel Smart Monkey TV has an e-letter called Digital Content Africa. On a fortnightly basis, it covers online film, music, media, social media, publishing and services and applications. We have already produced 63 issues and these can be viewed on this  link:

    Essential reading for those in mobile VAS to anyone just interested in what African and relevant international content they can now get online. If you would like to subscribe, just send an email to info@balancingact-africa.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line. Look at the full list of past issues  here:
    Videos interviews to watch:
    Benedict Olumhense on the barriers to success in the Nigerian games sector
    CcHub's Bosun Tijani on its new edtech incubator and research centre re:learn

    Tech Cabal's Bankole Oluwafemi on making Lagos a Playable City - The Mirror that talks back to you

    Corbyn Munnik on start-up Sliide, an African mobile Flipboard with free data, launched in Nigeria

    Papa Cire Kane, Byfilling on start-up digital agency Byfilling and the online landscape in Senegal

    Babacar Birane, Concree on wanting to be Africa's first virtual incubator & its successful start-ups

    Jussi Hinkkanen on raising funds to expand Fuzu, an African careers development platform

    Digitata's Andrew McHenry on its USSD mobile games, played by millions in South Africa

    Anne Amuzu and Selorm Worthmore on start-up NandiMobile's Ghanaian directory product

    Serigne Barro, People Input on its social Instant Messaging platform Ginger and its VIP Club

    NewGenAngels' Sean Obedih on the upcoming Africa Business Angels Forum in London

    Yann Le Beux on how CTIC supports Senegalese start-ups and who invests in them

Money Transfer

  • Econet Wireless is introducing an airtime credit service via the EcoCash platform which will allow more than 5-million customers to borrow airtime.

    The innovation, means that an Econet customer can use EcoCash or the EcoCash App to borrow airtime in denominations from 30c to 75c depending on a customer's historical usage.

    Explaining the service, EcoCash General Manager Natalie Jabangwe said given the recent cash shortages being faced in Zimbabwe, this service makes it possible for EcoCash airtime subscribers to quickly purchase airtime in the case of an emergency. Repayments can always be made from EcoCash airtime purchases.

    Customers will be required to have an active line for three months and a minimum airtime balance of 5c at the time they want to borrow airtime. However, she stressed that an EcoCash balance at the time a customer wants to borrow airtime is not a requirement to benefit from this service. "All credit airtime advanced attracts 10 percent service fee which is payable within seven days, on next airtime recharge," she said.

    Econet Wireless Chief Executive Officer Douglas Mboweni, said the airtime credit service has been introduced to assist its customers who may sometimes be in urgent need of airtime to make calls.

    "Understanding our customer behaviour and meeting their needs allows us to introduce trust based services that deliver value and unparalleled convenience," said Mboweni.

    He said the Airtime Credit Service on EcoCash provides a one-stop shop for all mobile money services Ecocash, EcoSure insurance, EcoCash loans and now EcoCash airtime credit service, amongst others. Ecocash channels provide greater and improved customer experience and convenience.
    Source: Finaincial Gazette Harare 27 April 2016

  • MTN Ghana soon to pay interest on Mobile Money Wallet savings. Read the full story here: 

telecoms

  • It will be easier and cheaper to use your data bundles on different telecommunication platforms within four East African countries from July 1, following the adoption of a price cap per megabyte on mobile data roaming scheme.

    Across all the networks, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan have agreed on a proposal of a maximum retail tariff of $0.11 per MB inclusive of taxes, billed on a per-kilobyte basis.

    A maximum inter-operator tariff of $0.07 per MB has also been adopted. The implementation of these tariffs will however be reviewed periodically.

    The development follows an earlier directive by the EAC heads of state to the four countries that telecommunications companies in the region remove tariff charges for short message services (SMS) and data in order to fully implement the One Network Area initiative they adopted in 2014.

    The drop in roaming charges is expected to stimulate growth in the telecommunications sector and promote cross-border trade.

    High data costs while roaming have seen most mobile users shift from the use of data tariffs and adopt over-the-top services such as WhatsApp, Viber and Hangout.

    In Uganda, for example, an operator using fibre optic cable charges Safaricom subscribers $0.4 per MB while those using satellite charge $0.7 per MB. Airtel charges a standard rate of $0.5 per MB for data roaming in Uganda and Rwanda.

    Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan last year adopted the harmonised money transfer guidelines and uniform rates developed by their central banks and communications commissions with the aim of boosting trade in the region.

    The cost of an SMS while roaming in Rwanda and Uganda is $0.12 in bundles and $0.22 out of bundle while in Kenya an SMS costs $0.11 in bundles and $0.2 out of bundle.

    The wholesale price for SMSs within the region shall not be more than $0.03 per SMS, inclusive of all applicable taxes, while the retail price shall not exceed $0.06 per SMS.

    Calls within the network have already reduced by $0.12 per minute while there are no charges for incoming calls since the implementation of the One Network Area.

    SIM card registration

    Partner states have been directed to fast-track both the establishment of a monitoring system to detect and prevent fraudulent calls (known as grey traffic) and the adoption of a regional broadband strategy.

    The four partner states are also expected to complete the harmonisation of their legal and regulatory framework for effective SIM card registration.

    Kenya and Rwanda have completed linking their SIM card registration to their national ID databases. Uganda's issuance of IDs has begun and parliament has approved the Registration of Persons Bill, which is awaiting assent by the president. The Bill provides for linking SIM card registration with the national ID database.

    South Sudan's national ID database is in place and SIM card registration is ongoing for the five per cent of South Sudanese in the national database but not linked to the national ID database.

    Some of the challenges noted in implementing the One Network Area are grey traffic, and the absence of harmonised regulations for mobile financial services across the region.

    Eight African countries, who are members of the Smart Africa Initiative, recently agreed to join the East African countries in implementing the One Africa Network that will see harmonisation of tariffs on mobile voice calls, SMS and data transmission. They are Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Chad and Burkina Faso.
    Source: The East African 26 April 2016

  • Johannesburg - South Africa’s third largest mobile network Cell C says it has activated its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

    LTE-A represents the next evolution in an LTE network as it delivers faster data download speeds of up to 100Mbps.

    Cell C’s move to launch LTE-A comes after the company was the last among major networks to launch LTE last year in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Rivals Vodacom and MTN launched LTE networks in 2012.

    “Cell C is committed to becoming the broadband destination of choice for South African consumers and the commercial launch of our LTE-A network just reiterates that promise to our customers,” said Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.

    Cell C’s LTE-A network is set to be available on what is dubbed ‘category 6’ handsets such as the Samsung Note 5 (SM-920C), Samsung S6 EDGE (SM-G928C), Apple iPhone 6S, Apple iPhone 6S Plus, Huawei Mate 8_DS, Samsung S7 Flat (G930F), Samsung S7 Edge (G935F) and LG G5 (H850).

    Cell C further said that customers using these devices will only be able to see a 4G or LTE symbol, but that they will experience faster downloads.

    The roll-out of LTE-A in KwaZulu-Natal is further set to commence in the coming months and will be completed in the third quarter of this year, said the company.

    Other networks that have rolled out LTE-A networks in South Africa include the likes of Telkom and MTN.

    Cell C is South Africa's third largest mobile network with over 22 million subscribers.
    Source: Fin24

  • Think SA’s mobile internet is fast now? Well, it’s about to get faster – MTN’s latest wireless internet tech has achieved speeds of 200Mbps, a very impressive 50Mbps faster than the highest advertised speeds of LTE-A.

    It’s called LTE-U, and stands for LTE-Unlicensed as it makes partial use of the currently-unlicensed 5GHz spectrum.

    Running a trial at its flagship channel store in Morningside, Johannesburg, MTN combined two frequencies of spectrum into one application – 10MHz of MTN’s licensed 1800MHz spectrum and 20MHz within the unlicensed 5GHz band.

    LTE-U is a rather big step forward for mobile internet connectivity, and it will play a huge role in activating 5G – fifth-generation mobile networks – when it is ready.

    “LTE-U is designed to take advantage of the capacity available in the unlicensed 5GHz band spectrum. Through aggregating licensed spectrum with unlicensed spectrum a bigger LTE carrier is created. The ability to aggregate spectrum is one of the primary benefits of LTE. Using this technology, MTN is able to combine its LTE spectrum with portions of the 5GHz spectrum band, to enable LTE- Unlicensed,” said Krishna Chetty, acting chief technology officer for MTN South Africa.

    In March last year, Qualcomm announced its first small-cell system-on-a-chip for LTE-U, the same system used by MTN.
    Read the full story here:

  • As part of activities to mark World Malaria Day (WMD) 2016, held on April 25,  Etisalat revealed plans to commemorate this day by setting up ‘Fight Malaria Clubs’ across Secondary schools in Nigeria which forms part of its commitment in the fight against the scourge of malaria.

    The ‘Fight Malaria Clubs’ initiative will be established in Etisalat adopted schools across  the country and is designed to  educate secondary  students on what it will take to eliminate the prevalence of malaria in Nigeria. Furthermore, the establishment of these clubs will help to meet the strategic priorities and approaches that will facilitate the dissemination of advocacy tools and information for empowerment against malaria.

    These approaches will include regular activities which will be organized for the students such as training sessions, conferences talks by experts, internal and external competitions which will be used to disseminate information to the students.
    Read the full story here:

  • The number of subscribers on GSM networks rose by 12 million to 148.68 million in 2015, a report on the sector released by the National Bureau of Statistics has revealed.

    The bureau stated in the report made available to journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that the total number of subscribers had increased rapidly over the previous decade.

    The report stated that total number of GSM subscribers rose from 1.48 million at the end of the third quarter of 2015 to an industry high of 149.7 million in November, but dipped to 148.6 million in December.

    The drop in total subscribers between November and December, according to the NBS, was due to the decline in the figures of MTN (from 62.4 million to 61.2 million) and Etisalat (from 23.4 million to 22.1 million), while Glo and Airtel witnessed increase in the number of their subscribers.

    The report stated, “As of December 2015, the total number of GSM subscribers was 148,681,362, an increase of 12,004,756 or 8.78 per cent relative to December 2014. However, this number is a decline relative to the number in October and November, when there were 149,683,259 and 149,787,120 subscribers, respectively.

    “Taking 2015 as a whole, July marked a clear turning point. Prior to July, each company saw increase in the number of subscribers every month. However, after this date, only Airtel experienced a consistent increase in the number of subscribers, and MTN and Etisalat ended the year with less subscribers than in April.”

    It added that 2015 was a more active year for porting activities than 2014, noting that the total incoming activity increased by 42.88 per cent from 148,652 to 212,401 incoming porters.

    The NBS said the porting activity was driven to a large extent by Etisalat, which gained 137,466 incoming porters compared to 69,364 in 2014.

    The sector, it added, also recorded an increase in outgoing activity from 145,998 to 219,559 in the 12-month period.
    This increase, it noted, was driven mainly by MTN, which lost 125,515 subscribers to other networks in 2015 compared to 67,039 in 2014.

    Airtel also lost substantially more subscribers in 2015 compared to the previous year as the company lost 41,527 compared to 25,883 in 2014.
    Source: Mobile World Mag 28 April 2016

internet

  • SES, one of the world’s leading satellite operators, today announced a satellite broadband deal with Facebook to provide high-speed broadband connectivity services to Sub-Saharan Africa. This agreement will support Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi programme that is part of their Internet.org initiative to connect the world.

    Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, will deliver high speed broadband connectivity using three SES satellites - ASTRA 2G, ASTRA 3B and ASTRA 4A. In addition, SES is providing Facebook with customised SES Enterprise+ broadband services.

    SES designed a highly tailored service utilising its satellite, data centre and implementation services with integrated features such as security, protocol enhancement, and hosting. The solution includes Gilat Satellite Networks’ X-Architecture platform that will enable Facebook’s local African partners to deliver internet services to underconnected and unconnected communities using Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi access product.

    "We are excited about the opportunity to partner with SES and Facebook on this worthy initiative to bridge the digital divide,” said Ron Levin, Director Strategic Accounts at Gilat. “The turn-key solution provided to Facebook is based on expanding SES base with Gilat's most advanced X-Architecture for SkyEdge II-c platform to deliver a scalable and optimised satellite-enabled broadband solution in Africa."

    Source: Company Press Release

  • Algiers — The works of an international workshop on the role of internet and social networks in the preservation and fight against radicalisation and cyber terrorism started Wednesday in Algiers.

    The workshop, to be held until Thursday, brings together senior officials and experts, notably in the fields of information and communication technologies (ICTs), justice, police, different security services, worship, media, education and scientific research involved in the fight against cyber terrorism.

    Minister of Maghreb Affairs, African Union and Arab League Abdelkader Messahel underlined at the opening of these works that by organizing this workshop "Algeria is guided by the concern to protect its own security in a regional environment marked by the persistence and even expansion of terrorism threat."

    "Reducing the use of internet by terrorist groups is to contribute to the reduction of their mobility, connectivity, propaganda, their favourite mean of radicalisation and recruitment, and ultimately to the weakening of their capacities," he said.
    Source: Algerie Presse Service (Algiers) 27 April 2016

computing

  • Huawei recently said that it intended to drive the conversation at its second ‘Huawei Cloud Congress West Africa’ by engaging with industry leaders and Information Technology vendors on cloud technology and new innovations in big data.

    In doing this, the company said it would be promoting “more open, more efficient, and more structured business growth for enterprises and government.”

    The Huawei Cloud Congress, which is one of the top IT events in the year, commenced in 2011, and was held across the globe in China, Europe, Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia.

    The HCC, as it is now known, was designed to highlight Huawei’s latest innovations in Information and Communications Technology, specifically in cloud technology.

    “With the theme, ‘Building an Open, Collaborative and Win-Win Ecosystem for Industry Transformation’, HCC Nigeria 2016 will bring together hundreds of industry elite ranging from telecoms carriers, the finance sector, the different tiers of government, to energy companies and other partners and stakeholders across the West African sub-continent,” a statement from Huawei read.

    “Participants and attendees at this year’s event can expect to share Huawei’s IT trends and new experiences, while Huawei will showcase its latest innovative products, solutions and services for the various sectors of the economy.

    “HCC 2016 is designed as an opportunity for industry leaders and IT experts to build and strengthen cooperative relationships across sectors and seek Win-Win marketing opportunities for all stakeholders.

    Cloud computing and Big Data are two of the leading concepts in IT currently, and adoption of these new technologies is increasing across all business sectors,” the statement also read.

    It added, “These technologies are not only changing IT cost structures, but also enabling industry transformation by creating new business models, with associated innovations and benefits.

    “This transformation was aptly termed ‘Cloud 2.0’ by Huawei.

    At this year’s event, Huawei will share interesting ideas and the latest, most innovative leading-edge IT solutions on industry’s best practices and transformation, especially Cloud2.0.”
    Source: MobileWorld Magazine  27 April 2016

  • When Ms. Geek was launched three years ago, few believed how far it would go in inspiring girls to join technology field, and also pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

    Fast forward 2016; the annual initiative has become one of the most successful initiatives in empowering the girl child in ICT sector.

    Unlike the glitz and glamour that characterize beauty contests, this competition was designed to inspire Rwandan girls to be a part of problem solving for the country using technology.

    The contest focuses on developing ICT solutions that solve societal problems and these are addressed through newly created applications.

    Initiated by members of Girls in ICT, Ms. Geek also aims at expanding girls' innovation and critical thinking skills.

    Claudette Nirere, one of the organisers of the contest, says that Ms. Geek is a platform for young girls to use technology positively and be problem solvers.

    "Our hope as Girls in ICT is that young Rwandan girls will start considering STEM as a career," Nirere says.

    "The quality of submissions has tremendously improved and the number of applications has increased. More schools are willing to support their students to apply and we definitely are being recognised for empowering young girls to join STEM fields," Nirere says.

    However, not all schools have been reached and organisers are thinking of possible projects or ideas.

    Ms. Geek has given girls a platform to express themselves openly; they are given opportunities to step out of their comfort zone, and explore what the STEM field has to offer with hope that they become role models for the younger generations. The level of creativity and innovation that's seen today can only increase.

    Nirere says, "We have seen winners developing a much stronger sense of self-esteem and confidence and are aware of the responsibility bestowed on them when given the title. They are given the opportunity to think creatively on the use of technology and are willing to go the extra mile to have their idea or project implemented."

    The dream of expansion

    Last year, organisers of the contest had plans of expanding the contest to other countries like Uganda and Kenya; this dream is still very much alive.

    "The dream to cut across other countries is still alive; but we believe that there's still so much to do here at home before we go regional. There are still so many girls around the country that we have not yet reached and we are seeking partnerships to be able to get to every single one of them.

    In the meantime, however, should there be interest anywhere else in the world to organise Ms. Geek activities, we will be happy to support in any way we can," Nirere adds.

    The Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, applauds the Ms. Geek project as a very productive one, saying that it's a way of encouraging girls to go for IT professions.

    He says that the competition increases the girls' ability to compete globally for IT opportunities and encourages more of them to join the ICT sector.

    "The ministry supports and sponsors the contest and we want it to grow. So far, we have a national vision of expansion and hopes of taking it to other countries will definitely be set, but that depends on the organisers. It's something that Africa needs," Nsengimana adds.

    The third edition of Ms. Geek will take place on Saturday April 30. Out of more than 130 applicants, five were selected and will pitch their ideas in front of a jury. Read the full story here:

Digital Content

  • Following a rigorous selection process, involving more than 700 applicants from 26 countries across Africa, the top three finalists in the MTN Entrepreneurship Challenge powered by Jumia, have been revealed.

    The challenge, which aims to boost entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as build a stronger and more sustainable business environment on the continent, kicked off in February, and is a joint initiative between MTN, Jumia and the MTN Solution Space based at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.

    Through the entrepreneurship challenge, students were invited to develop a unique digital application or smart solution to address a problem faced in Africa. Applicants heeded the call and hundreds of original ideas covering the areas of E-Commerce Marketplaces, Education Technology, Smart Cities and Solutions, and Health Technology were received.

    Over the past few weeks, the ideas were narrowed down, with 11 Live Pitch events taking place from Cameroon to South Africa, to shortlist the top candidates who will eventually pitch their business ideas at the Entrepreneurship Festival in Cape Town in May 2016.

    The three finalists are:

    1. Pass.ng (Nigeria)

    Pass.ng is a web, desktop and mobile-based CBT examination preparatory and testing platform, with a vision to help candidates excel in all the major Nigerian examinations and tests.

    2. MedRX (Ghana)

    MedRx app is an interactive health platform for all users who have health needs. The app connects users to health personnel from various fields of practice including hospital, pharmacy, laboratory and academia.

    3. Vicoba (Tanzania)

    Village Community Banks (Vicoba) are an important instrument of development work, allowing people who do not have access to conventional bank accounts, to access informal investment groups. Vicoba app creates a collaborative platform that includes existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adapted for the African market.

    MTN Solution Space Manager, Sarah-Anne Arnold, congratulated the winners and commented: “Universities are resource-rich, highly networked and create opportunities for students to find like-minded co-founders and explore and develop new opportunities together, and are therefore the ideal environments to encourage entrepreneurs. This was shown by the amazing talent that emerged during the incredible week of Live Pitches which took place across campuses in 11 countries, in collaboration with partner universities and sponsors. Congratulations and best of luck to the finalists.”

    The top two applications from each region were selected for the semi-finals and awarded the opportunity to undertake a short course from GetSmarter in order to build new capabilities in areas such as Search Engine Optimisation or Digital Marketing.

    The finalists will face a panel of experienced business leaders at the Entrepreneurship Festival, where the winning team will be named. The panel includes Jeremy Hodara, co-CEO Africa Internet Group, Professor Walter Baets, Director of the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, and Herman Singh, MTN Group Chief Digital Officer.

    “We are incredibly impressed with the calibre of applicants and the level of innovation shown. We are looking forward to the finals and wish our contenders the best of luck. We are certain that whichever team emerges victorious, it is the continent that will be the biggest winner, as entrepreneurship and locally developed solutions are what will enable the growth and development of this continent,” says Singh.

    Bankole Cardoso, the Head of Communications at Africa Internet Group added, “From the application phase, we were very impressed with the high quality business models and it was not at all easy for the judges to select from so many promising businesses. Over the last week, we have held over 100 live pitches and given young entrepreneurs across the continent a platform to showcase their business ideas and even more importantly, to receive critical feedback from experienced professionals on our judging panels. The gaps in the African entrepreneurship ecosystem are in capital and mentorship so it was great to undergo an exercise like this that will no doubt force them to improve. I now look forward to working closely with these three finalist teams to prepare them for what’s to come in Cape Town. It is an incredible opportunity for all of them to propel themselves to the next level.”

    The winners will be announced at the Entrepreneurship Festival with the top team being awarded the opportunity for incubation at the premises of either the MTN Solution Space at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, or at one of 9 Jumia offices across the continent. The winner will also win a cash prize of US$25 000 towards their start-up and have access to a Facebook Start Programme to the value of US$15 000, which includes tools and services needed to build mobile applications.

    Source: Big Eye

  • Mr. Celestine Achi, founder/CEO of KairosWebTV, an online TV platform says its entry into the Nigeria broadcasting space is to challenge payTV providers in the market.

    The webTV platform will also stream Rio2016 Live, the company CEO says while outlining plans for the new entrant service.

    According to him, the online platform  was configured to save data for the viewers and also let payTV viewers put behind them what he cites as “the era of ripping off” which his service hopes to challenge through disruptive technologies.

    “We want to restore confidence in the minds of digital natives, while providing enabling ground for the digital migrants to approach the power of the internet. Whether you are on 2G, 3G or 4G LTE, the experience will be such that videos should show seamlessly”, Achi says at the official media lunch of the online TV platform in Lagos.

    The payTV platform which features seven channels with content partners from all over the world such as Fate Foundation, Real Success (SA), Nigerian Olympic Committee amongst others, focuses on motivating and inspiring viewers to success, he says. Moving forward, the platform targets deepening local contents as part of measures to boost the digital migration through Nollywood contents.

    “The Entrepreneurship Channel focuses on motivating emerging entrepreneurs and startups. We are doing that through three key partnerships. Also, the NetNEWS Channel provides up to date news on entertainment, politics, business, Sports. However, we will even go deeper to give you news behind the news, which are usually the human angle stories.”

    He says that “KairosWebTV also recognizes the need to inspire creativity. That is why we have the Winlos Channel; in other words, using creative, inspiring and hilarious skits, sketches and dramatic illustrations to inspire its viewers on real life issues. The TechSavvy Channel delivers news and insights on the latest technology trends”, he further stated.

    He noted that the e-Event Channel will be exclusively for live streaming of events, products launch, conferences, among other, while the EduSense Channel, an edutainment channel will be utilized to inspiring pupils, students and undergraduates on core subjects.

    “Now, as a way of giving back to the society, we have a Digital PR Channel that offers masterclass training and courses in social media and Digital PR. Any organization that wants to be relevant, mediawise, in this digital disruption era, must have competencies in digital marketing and other kits. So, we want to train people for free, through our online channel”, Achi adds.

    Mr. Ono Akpe, Chief Executive Officer of Red Sappire Limited adds that as the online media partners with the Nigerian Olympics Committee (NOC) for Rio Olympics 2016 ‘TeamNaija’ channel is working with a media consortium for live streaming of the Olympic Games.

    “We are already making headway with a lot of partnerships. For instance, we have a sports channel, which at the moment is called ‘TeamNaija’ which is brought to you in partnership with the Nigerian Olympics Committee. TeamNaija is dedicated to the advancement of sports in Nigeria and to the success of Nigeria at the forthcoming Olympics in RIO, Brazil, all activities to be streamed live”, Akpe says.
    Source: Technology Times 28 April 2016

  • The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has made a $500,000 grant to be disbursed over a 3 year period to Umati Capital to support smallholder farmers under Umati Capital's Supply Chain Financing (SCF) product, which is accessible via a software application.

    The App is called Umati Application it is only available to their clients, in this case; smallholder farmers. With SCF, farmers can now sell to more professional buyers who offer better prices but have delayed payments as opposed to selling to informal traders who pay cash on delivery but offer low prices. This product will, therefore, streamline cash flows for smallholder farmers offer the much needed financial cushion during the waiting periods..

    Ivan Mbowa, Umati Capital co-founder says, "Our investors see a great opportunity in the agricultural sector which contributes US$ 16.6 billion to GDP. However, the sector has a credit gap of US$1.8 billion unserved by traditional financiers. To bridge this gap, the funding will advance Umati's goal of financing and providing associated technology to increase the productivity for smallholder farmers."

    AGRA's financial support will be used to design, pilot and implement various capacity building models for both agricultural buyers and suppliers in collaboration with Umati Capital. These models will focus on defining the basic financial literacy knowledge for smallholder farmers to understand how to assess various financing options to grow their agricultural businesses and then to understand Umati Capital's Supply Chain Financing product. The models will also incorporate cost-effective methods to deliver this knowledge at scale.
    Read the full story here: 

  • DiData and Cisco will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors to protect rhinos.

    DiData and Cisco will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors to protect rhinos.
    Systems integrator Dimension Data and US-based networking giant Cisco are bringing together their technologies to combat rhino poaching in SA.

    The two companies will deploy some of the world's most sophisticated technology in an unnamed private game reserve adjacent to the Kruger National Park, to monitor and track individuals from the time they enter the reserve gates, until they exit.

    Using these technologies, the companies aim to deter would-be poachers from killing rhinos – one of the most endangered species in the world.

    According to National Geographic, for the first time since 2008, SA has seen a decrease in rhino poaching. Last year, 1 175 rhinos were poached – 40 fewer than in 2014.

    South African National Parks and the South African government are facing increasing pressure from the public and other stakeholders to stop the poaching. Compounding the problem is the fact that the criminals are highly organised and have vast resources, including sophisticated technology, at their disposal.

    In phase one of the project, Dimension Data worked closely with Cisco to gather information from the game rangers, security personnel, technology, and control centre teams. The first step was to create a secure reserve area network (RAN) and install WiFi hotspots around key points, which is completed.

    At the beginning of the pilot phase in December 2015, a high-value, point-to-point radio RAN was built and tested as a proof-of-concept to create a high security ‘net' that covered the entire perimeter of the reserve.

    The partners say collaboration through reliable communications for alerts and warnings and the ability to share live video footage across the reserve greatly enhances the anti-poaching team's ability to counter incursions.

    Dimension Data is installing Cisco WiFi and local area networks at each gate, which improves and strengthens the communication channels between security personnel and rangers in the reserve.

    Phase two of the connected conservation project will incorporate CCTV, drones with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, vehicle-tracking sensors, as well as seismic sensors on a secure intelligent network.

    Data is collected on every individual entering the reserve. This includes fingerprints of staff, contractors, suppliers, as well as rangers and trackers working in the reserve. ID numbers or visitor passports will be scanned, and registration plates of all vehicles entering the reserve will be captured.

    Using predictive modelling, the analytics team is able to estimate when an individual or vehicle is expected to exit the reserve.

    Digitising the physical security processes has established a more reliable sequence for allowing people in and out of the reserve, ensuring that the reinforcement is more reliable and accurate.

    The data is analysed on an ongoing basis to enable better decision-making, future investments, and technology deployments.

    Dimension Data has also deployed the RAN using Cisco technology, which the company says will be one of the first installations of its kind in the world.

    "The goal of our end-to-end technology solution is to proactively intervene and stop people entering the reserve illegally – whether it's cutting fences, being dropped onto the ground by helicopters, or simply driving in through the entrance gates," says Bruce Watson, Dimension Data's group executive for Cisco Alliance.

    "Over time, the solution will be replicated in other reserves in South Africa, Africa, and globally to not only protect rhino, but conserve other endangered species such as elephants, lions, pangolin, tigers in India and Asia, and even sea rays in the ocean."

    "We're extremely proud to be a partner in the connected conservation efforts," says Chris Dedicoat, executive vice-president of worldwide sales at Cisco.

    "Cisco and Dimension Data have applied their innovation to transformational, cutting-edge technologies and have leveraged our synergies in the latest network, security, datacentre, collaborative workspaces and hybrid cloud solutions. We hope the number of rhino will once again thrive in this protected game reserve."
    Source: ITWeb 22 April 2016

  • The Guardian, Nigeria's most trusted newspaper, launched its online TV platform, Guardian TV, on Tuesday, April 26.

    Guardian TV will provide exclusive video interviews, as well as up-to-the-minute videos from across the world, and will be available on virtually any device that has an internet connection, including personal computers, tablets, smartphones, and Smart TVs.

    Guardian TV has partnered with some of the world's top online news and video outlets in order to provide it's viewers with the best in news entertainment and sport. Partners include Al Jazeera, AFP, Reuters, CNBC Africa, Bloomberg, Forbes Africa TV and France 24. The list also includes Blustar Entertainment, Ebony Life TV, Ovation TV, Frontera, Channels TV, and Omnisport, the world's number one sports content provider.
    Source: The Guardian

  • A small but increasing group of African governments is blocking social media during elections. Clare Spencer asks why and how this is done and how people get around it.

    Why are African governments blocking social media?

    It is safe to say governments aren't blocking social media to cut off the supply of cute kitten pictures.

    It's political.

    African tweeters tend to be more political than tweeters in other continents, according to research by Portland Communications.

    And governments are blocking social media during elections - most recently in Congo-Brazzaville, Chad and Uganda.

    For an indication of the political impact social media can make, you just need to look at the uprisings during the "Arab Spring".

    "Social media did not cause the 'Arab Spring' but helped to co-ordinate it," Arthur Goldstuck from technology market research company Worldwide Worx, told the BBC.

    Governments do not say they are worried that social media could pave the way for popular protests or even a revolution.

    But security is often cited - including in the order for mobile operators to stop services in Congo-Brazzaville.

    Congolese officials added that they were trying to prevent the "illegal publication of results".

    Newsweek interpreted this as a possible attempt to thwart the efforts of election monitors.

    The advent of the mobile phone enabled local observer groups to collate the results from individual polling stations around the country and add them up to see if the results were being rigged.

    If mobile phones don't work, this can no longer be done.
    Read the full story here:

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

  • Multinational telecoms giant Orange Group has published its financial results for the three months ended 31 March 2016, claiming to have continued its strong commercial performance trend of the previous quarters. In the period under review, the France-based company generated a total turnover of EUR10.009 billion (USD12.4 billion), a marginal 0.6% increase year-on-year.

    The group reported a drop in revenues at its units in France (down 0.7%) and Poland (4.2%), which was partly offset by strong growth in Africa and Middle East (up 4.4%), led by Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Mali and Guinea. Restated EBITDA for Q1 2016 stood at EUR2.569 billion, down 1.6% on a comparable basis from EUR2.611 billion in the year-earlier period, with a margin of 25.7% (down from 26.2%).

    Capital expenditures in the quarter under review totalled EUR1.457 billion, up 10.4% from EUR1.320 billion a year earlier.

  • The Nigerian government has issued a fraud alert over requested by suspects fraudster asking interested parties in the upcoming frequency spectrum auctions to pay into a South African bank.

    The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which is planning the spectrum sale, says a letter purportedly written to some bidders/operators canvassing for Intention to Bid (ITB) to remit payment to a certain Bank Pekao, South Africa in respect of the proposed 2.6GHz Spectrum Auction does not emanate from the telecoms regulator.

    NCC assured investors that it will never engage in any act contrary to the approved rules for the process. “As a responsible Commission with proven records of transparency in all its activities including auction processes, we will never do anything outside the rules approved for these processes”, the telecoms regulator says in a statement.

    According to the government agency, “at no time did any letter whatsoever emanate from the Commission to any operator. That is why it looks strange that some unscrupulous persons could forge the EVC’s signature purporting it to be same in a sinister motive to deceive and swindle would-be investors in the Spectrum of payments of such money thereto.”

    It enjoined intending bidders and members of the public to “disregard the content and texture of the vexatious letter as it did not in any way and form originate from the Commission.”

    According to NCC, “the account number known for the auction is domiciled with the CBN and no other. Henceforth, would-be and successful bidders should clarify any letter from the Commission before making payments. So bidders/operators, beware and be guided accordingly.”
    Source: Technology Times 27 April 2016

  • Monrovia — One of the worst-kept secrets in Liberian business circles appear to be gaining traction amid reports that the Government of Liberia is on the verge of entering into the already tight cellular phone market.

    FrontPageAfrica has learned from multiple sources that the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (Libtelco) has sealed a takeover deal with one of the struggling cellular phone companies in Liberia, Novafone.

    Actual Amount Unclear

    The deal, according to multiple sources is valued around US$30 million with the company reportedly to receive US$5 million up front, with the remaining balance expected to be paid to the company within a year. But Mr. Sebastian Muah, Managing Director of Libtelco when contacted by FrontPageAfrica said the amount being speculated is wrong.

    According to Mr. Muah, the deal is actually valued at around US$10 million with US$7 million being paid to the struggling cellular company upfront and the balance US$3 million set to be paid at a later date.

    The deal comes just weeks after the acquisition of another local cellular phone company, Cellcom Liberia by Orange Group via its Orange Cote d'Ivoire

    FrontPageAfrica has learned that once the deal is sealed, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) will replace Ecobank as guarantor.

    The deal, according to sources is being financed by four local banks IB, LBDI, Ecobank and GT Bank which will be providing guarantee for the purchase.
    Source: Front Page Africa

More

  • Ericsson managed services chief moves to Africa

    Ericsson has appointed Jean-Claude Geha as head of the sub-Saharan Africa region effective from 1 July. Geha replaces Fredrik Jejdling who will take up a new role in the organisation. Geha has been active in the ICT space for over 25 years. Currently as global head of managed services, he has been instrumental in extending Ericsson's managed services leadership globally, including in Africa, the company said.

    Prior to taking on that role in September 2013, Geha held several key positions in Ericsson including head of operations in western and central Europe and MD for Ericsson in Belgium and Luxembourg. Between 2005 and 2008, he also served as corporate vice-president for global managed services delivery at Ericsson and between 2008 and 2009 he was corporate vice-president for global services delivery for EMEA North. Before joining Ericsson in 2005, Geha held a number of different executive positions in North America and in Europe with operators such as MCI and TeliaSonera.

    South African inventor wins Vodacom 'Please Call Me' battle

    A South African man has won his legal bid to force leading mobile phone firm Vodacom to pay him for inventing a popular messaging service.

    The country's highest court ordered the firm to compensate ex-employee Nkosana Makate for the Please Call Me service.

    He waged a nine-year court battle, accusing Vodafone of breaching an agreement to pay him.

    Please Call Me was introduced in 2001, allowing prepaid phone users to send a free text asking to be phoned back.

    "I have no hard feelings towards Vodacom. I love the company. I worked for it since I was 18-years-old‚" a visibly elated Mr Makate said after the judgment, South Africa's Times Live news site reports.

    "I've been on this road for 16 years‚ nine years now in trial‚ after three dismissals by the lower courts. It's been a long journey for me‚" he added.

    The Constitutional Court overturned a ruling of a lower court, which said that while Please Call Me was Mr Makate's idea he could not claim payment as he only had an oral agreement with Vodacom's director of product development, Philip Geissler, who lacked the authority to make a deal on behalf of the firm.

    Mr Makate has previously told local media that the invention had generated about 70bn rand ($5bn; £3bn) for Vodacom and he wanted a 15% cut of that.

    A lawyer for Vodacom was quoted by local media as saying they were studying the judgement.

    Vodacom is jointly owned by UK mobile phone firm operator Vodafone and South African telecommunication group Telkom, and has a strong presence across Africa.
    Source: BBC Worldwide

  • Nigeria invites applications for regional 3.5GHz licences

    The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has invited applications from parties interested in acquiring regional spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. The regulator is offering up 25MHz of time division duplex (TDD) spectrum in each of the following 26 states: Adamawa, Katsina, Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi, Bauchi, Kogi, Bayelsa, Kwara, Benue, Niger, Borno, Ogun, Cross Rivers, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Gombe, Plateau, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kaduna, Taraba, Kano, Yobe, Nassaarwa and Sokoto. Frequency licences will be auctioned off on a state-by-state basis. Interested parties have been given a deadline of 13 May 2016 to submit their applications for the concessions. For more information visit here

    EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women programme

    Applications are open until April 29 for the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women programme, which sees EY channel its resources and convening power to help female entrepreneurs achieve the full potential they envision for their companies.

    The programme identifies high-potential female entrepreneurs and provides them with personalised one-on-one business insights and advice, along with insider access to strategic networks of established entrepreneurs, executives, advisors and investors.

    “To accelerate Africa’s growth, we need to harness the potential of women entrepreneurs. Our program empowers women entrepreneurs to think bigger, gain access to capital, learn from their peers and find seasoned advisors. These connections help their companies scale, increasing employment and prosperity,” said Azim Omar, EY Africa strategic growth markets leader.

    Selected female entrepreneurs will become part of a network of women from some of Africa’s best high-growth companies and have the opportunity to participate in a customised programme designed to expand their knowledge, strengthen their executive leadership, and increase their visibility.

    The programme is open to female entrepreneurs with companies a minimum of three years old and with at least US$500,000 in revenue over the past two years. Nominees will need to demonstrate qualities needed to take the fullest advantage of the opportunity.

    Interested parties can apply by completing an online form.

  • 27th – 30th April, 2016
    Strathmore University
    Twitter, iHub partner to present Smart City Challenge in Nairobi
    Twitter and the iHub partnered to host the #SmartCityNairobi challenge for the developer c

    18-19 May 2016
    East Africa Com

    Radisson Blu - Nairobi, Kenya

    29th May to 10th June 2016
    Fourth Edition of the Africa Internet Summit AIS’16

    Gaborone, Botswana
    The Summit aims to bring the whole African ICT Ecosystem under one roof to discuss ICT opportunities and challenges.
    The Conference theme ranges from business to technical topics, including Mobile Networking & Applications, Cybersecurity, Cyber laws & Internet Governance, ICT for Development & Research, Information society issues and African ICT success stories.
    For more information please visit here:

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