Nigeria’s BeepTool offers a home-grown Skype, WhatsApp and Viber rolled into one plus money transfer, claims 500,000 users
With increased smartphone use, voice apps are becoming increasingly popular among African users. Nigeria’s BeepTool is a local voice app that claims to have passed the half million user mark. Russell Southwood spoke to its CEO and Founder John Enoh about this home grown product.
Founder John Enoh had the idea for BeepTool several years ago when he was working for Ericsson as an engineer and started the company in 2014. He was struck by how expensive international voice calls were and wanted to find ways of reducing the cost of communicating.
”If I’m paying for data, technically I can make a call. If I’m buying 1GB a month, I should be able to make a call over the Internet. There are lots of Africans globally in the diaspora who need cheap, international calling. We’re focused on Africans at home and abroad and we provide a cloud where they can communicate.”
The pitch for BeepTool has two parts. Firstly, it offers the same VoIP calling as Skype, WhatsApp and Viber by offering cheap Internet to mobile or landline calls. Secondly, it has added a money transfer service to the app.
The calls to mobile and landlines in Nigeria cost 2.6 cents a minute and other VoIP calls start from as low as $0.008 per minute. The latter shows how the bottom has fallen out of the wholesale minutes market over the last decade because of the transfer to data-made calls.
”Wholesale vendors like IDT are trying to help us with partnerships to lower calling rates to Nigeria. Nigerians can buy airtime for any phone anywhere and top up from a network overseas. You can use the website to log in and check your account.” In addition, BeepTool-to-BeepTool voice and video calling is free as well as SMS messages.
Enoh claims to have just passed 500,000 users through a combination of PC, Mac, Android and iOS users: 478,000 are from Nigeria and the rest are from other parts of Africa:”We’re trying to push more on the Andriod App because smartphone use in Africa is mainly Android.” The Play Store page for BeepTool says it has been downloaded between 10,000-50,000 times.
BeepTool can also handle money transfers:”In the UK we can send money to any bank account in Nigeria instantly via Interswitch. At the moment, because it’s just started it’s free for Beep Tool users.” In future, it’s looking at having free use for those with a US$10 minimum on their BeepTool account.
”We’ve bundled different services together. So you can send an SMS request for money and send reminders. You can also give reasons for sending the money.” The maximum amount you can send is US$1000 as its focus customers are families.
The company has been self-funded:”I’ve not been able to find an investor but I’m pushing for that. I’m not a full-time employee and I’m using part of my salary and friends and family to support it. There’s a small team working in Lagos.”
So how does the business model work?:”It’s going to be a partial fremium model. We can offer traffic to and from Nigeria and within Nigeria for less than traditional carriers. With volume, we’ll be able to make money. On the wholesale airtime, the providers give us a 10-18% discount. On the money transfer, we’ll charge up to 5% so they’ll be some money from that.”
So how will things look in a year’s time:”I’m expecting to have 1.2 million Nigerians in Africa using BeepTool.”
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 email@example.com with Digital Content Africa in the title line. Look at the full list of past issues here:
Videos interviews to watch:
Kemo Toure on his start-up jobs platform Wutiko.com aimed at Francophone Africa and the diaspora
Geneva — The operator of an e-commerce program which reaches deep into rural China believes that its business model could help Africans in areas far from cities.
Sun Lijun is a vice president of the giant Chinese online trading giant, Alibaba, and general manager of Rural Taobao, the company's e-commerce wing which serves areas where the economy lags behind that in the rapidly-developing cities.
Sun recently delivered the main address at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) E-Commerce Week in Geneva, drawing admiring applause during his presentation.
He believes that with help from governments, his model for rural e-commerce can be applied in South Africa and in other countries in Africa.
"We work with local and county governments in China and we believe that with the right backing systems like Alipay could be extended into rural areas in countries like South Africa, stimulating the economies there," said Sun in an interview with allAfrica.com.
Alibaba's Alipay is one of China's biggest payment services and is extending into Europe. Partnerships are key as they promote the platform, getting merchants to lock into its buying and selling arena.
China is a key economic player in Africa and its investment across the continent has skyrocketed in recent years from $7 billion in 2008 to $26 billion in 2013, according to figures cited at a recent Africa Business Forum held by the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Business School.
Read the full story here:
A leading e-payment platform that serves hundreds of thousands of small businesses in four continents, VoguePay.com, has won the best emerging online payment platform in Africa at the African Information Technology and Telecom Awards (AITTA) 2016 held in Accra, Ghana, at the weekend.
This year’s edition of the coveted ICT awards organised by InstinctWaves, publishers of Africa’s only free premium ICT and telecoms magazine, MobileWorld, recognised industry leaders across various categories including e-payment where VoguePay was awarded the Best Emerging Online Payment Platform in Africa.
The CEO of InstinctWave, Akin Naphtal, speaking at the event, remarked that VoguePay won the industry recognition as a result of its contribution to online payment in Nigeria and Africa in general.
Other award recipients include the Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency for ‘Local Content Promotion in Africa’ and Nigeria Communications Commission for ‘African Regulator of the Year,’ among other award recipients.
The CEO of VoguePay while receiving the award reiterated his company’s commitment to champion online payment security, stating that VoguePay’s financial framework is designed to meet International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) and the platform deploys several second-level authentication protocols in order to prevent unauthorised access to merchant’s account.
Source: Leadership 24 May 2016
Pan African banking group, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc has partnered Konga, Nigeria’s leading e-commerce company and Innovectives Nigeria Limited to create a seamless delivery and payment system by integrating mobile point of sale solution into Konga’s delivery system.
Mobile POS (mPOS) which is powered by UBA PLC and MasterCard will make it easier for Konga customers to pay for their orders thereby enhancing payment acceptance and making reconciliation easy for Konga customers and sales agents. The mobile POS payments are 100% secure and accept for local and international card types. Read the full story here:
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that its proposed auction of spectrum in the 2600MHz frequency band attracted one qualified bidder. The regulator offered up 14 lots of 2×5MHz FDD paired spectrum in the 2500MHz-2570MHz and 2620MHz-2690MHz bands (totalling 2×70MHz).
The unnamed party expressed an interest to bid for six of the lots on offer, equivalent to 30MHz of spectrum, and has paid the bid deposit. According to the rules of the auction, ‘if the aggregate demand from approved bidders is less than, or equal to the number of lots on offer … the Commission will provisionally award the licence to the party/parties at the reserve price’ and therefore an auction will not take place. The NCC is currently undertaking a due diligence exercise, following which the qualified bidder will be required to pay USD96 million for the ten-year nationwide licence.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the NCC resumed the procedure for its 2600MHz spectrum auction in March, after the process was postponed twice last year ‘for administrative reasons’.
The spectrum is available on a technology-neutral basis and each lot has a reserve price of USD16 million. Successful bidders are required to launch commercial services within one year of the licence award and must meet certain coverage obligations. The allocation of 2600MHz spectrum is part of the NCC’s efforts ‘to deepen competition and improve broadband penetration in the country towards achieving the goals of the National Broadband Plan’, which was approved by former president Goodluck Jonathan in June 2013.
Source: Naija News 23 May 2016
Mobile operator Tigo has walked away with multiple awards at the 6th Ghana Information Technology and Telecom Awards.
At the event, Tigo walked away with the title of Brand of the Year. Along with the title of Brand of the Year, Tigo also won an award for its Corporate Social Responsibility project titled “Shelter 4 Education.” To add to the accolades, Tigo CEO, Roshi Motman, was acknowledged as “Outstanding Woman in Technology.”
Commenting on the wins Motman said: “2015 was a fantastic year for the business. We invested millions of dollars in various within the business to ensure continued growth, long-term sustainability and customer satisfaction. The strongest component of any company is its people, so I thank every member of my senior leadership team and the wider team for their consistent output and go-getting attitude.”
On winning ‘Outstanding Woman in Technology’, she said: “It’s a real honor to be recognized this way. It is my hope that in the very near future a lot more women will venture into this industry to make a real positive and meaningful difference to the sector. Women have a lot to offer in the telecoms and technology space, and I’m very privileged to have done that.”
In recent years, the company has undertaken numerous investments to improve its network quality and customer experience. Marketing campaigns such as ‘Drop that Yam’, and “Yensor nkoaa” have been a phenomenal success. The overall brand experience has caused customers to react positively to the new, vibrant Tigo brand.
Big 6, the winning Innovative Product of the Year, gave unrivaled value to prepaid customers through various data, streaming music, talk time and bonus packages.
Again, Shelter 4 Education was recognized for the tremendous impact it has had in communities across the country where schools were built, renovated and equipped with learning material. The far-reaching efforts of the project has garnered enormous support from government stakeholders, opinion leaders, and other corporate bodies.
The Ghana Information Technology and Telecom Awards, which took place at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra on Saturday 21st May is Ghana’s premier platform for celebrating top performers within the industry. It seeks to recognize excellence in the ICT industry by rewarding distinction in product development, service delivery and innovation.
Source: Jolly Boss 25 May 2016
The MTN Group, Wednesday announced a slight increase in its revenue and subscriber base for the first quarter of 2016, attributing the slow rise to the decline in the number of subscribers from its Nigeria and Uganda markets.
The MTN Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko, who made the disclosure during the group's annual general meeting held yesterday in South Africa, said in a statement that "As at 30 April 2016, the company increased its subscriber base by approximately one per cent to 230.3 million year-on-year (YoY). This was largely impacted by the seven per cent decline in subscribers in MTN Nigeria and the 11 per cent decline in MTN Uganda, mainly as a result of the non-compliant subscriber deregistration process in these countries which was only completed in quarter one of 2016."
MTN South Africa however reported a seven per cent increase YoY in subscribers supported by improvements in the prepaid distribution channel while MTN Ghana showed a healthy subscriber growth increasing its subscriber base by 20 per cent.
According to the statement, which was made available to THISDAY, the Group revenue increased by 15 per cent YoY, supported by a 21 per cent decline in the average rand exchange rate against the naira together with a 23 per cent decline in the average rand exchange rate against the US dollar compared with the previous period.
It said organic revenue increased marginally by 1 per cent, impacted by lower revenue growth in MTN Nigeria, MTN Uganda and MTN Cameroun.
The statement further explained that organic data revenue across the group continued to deliver satisfactory growth in most of its markets, increasing by 19 per cent YoY. Data now contributes 24 per cent to total revenue compared with 21 per cent for the same period last year. Data revenue was supported by healthy growth in MTN South Africa and MTN Ghana. MTN Nigeria's data revenue declined 12 per cent mainly due to the withdrawing of regulatory services by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The statement said MTN Nigeria's organic revenue was down six per cent, mainly due to uncompetitive pricing arising from the suspension of regulatory services and regulatory restrictions that obliged operators to seek permission from customers to charge out-of-bundle rates upon the depletion of data bundles.
In all, MTN South Africa continued to show positive momentum and increased revenue four per cent on a yearly basis.
The rise is attributed to the 17 per cent increase in handset revenue and 23 per cent growth in data revenue driven by a 59 per cent yearly increase in data traffic as well as a 55 per cent increase in digital revenue.
The Group's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin remains under pressure. MTN Nigeria's EBITDA margin was negatively impacted by dollar denominated costs related to the weaker exchange rate, costs associated with the second tranche of the tower transaction, increased use of build-to-suit sites and costs associated with the subscriber registration process.
Source: This Day 26 May 2016
Senegal’s Regulation Authority of Post and Telecoms (Autorite de Regulation des Telecoms et des Postes, ARTP) has published its market observatory for the first three months of 2016, illustrating that growth in the country’s mobile sector accelerated in the first three months of this year, following a marked slowdown in 2015. Senegal was home to more than 15.354 million mobile users at 31 March 2016, up 2.64% from 14.959 million cellular users three months earlier — a figure which itself was only 4% higher than the 14.380 million at end-2014 as quarterly growth decelerated to 0.82%, 0.60% and just 0.34% in the second, third and fourth quarters of 2015, respectively.
Overall net subscriber additions stood at 395,071 in the three months under review, with gains reported by all three network operators, Orange, Tigo and Sudatel-backed Expresso Telecom. Market leader Orange closed out March with a total of over 8.614 million, compared to 8.415 million the previous quarter, while second-placed Tigo added a net 163,220 users for a total of 3.518 million and Expresso edged up to 3.221 million from 3.188 million.
The fixed line sector, meanwhile, continues to contract. The total number of fixed telephony customers declined 1.5% quarter-on-quarter to 295,820 (including 224,288 residential lines), of which incumbent PTO Sonatel (Orange) controlled 96.5%, up from 94.3% at end-2015, and Sudatel had the remainder (3.5%). In addition, Sonatel (Orange) – which holds a monopoly on the ADSL segment – reported 102,087 broadband (i.e. ADSL) connections, up 1.47% q-o-q, while dial-up usage also stagnated at 18,435 lines. The lack of growth in terms of fixed broadband is, however, in stark contrast to the mobile internet segment where ARTP reported 7.521 million 2G and 3G subscribers at 31 March 2016, up 7.1% q-o-q, and 176,036 mobile internet ‘par cle’ (dongle/key card) users, down from 254,758.
Source: Telegeography 26 May 2016
BICS’ fraud prevention solution proactively prevented criminal activity
targeted at its customers’ networks across the globe
BICS, a global wholesale carrier for voice, mobile data and capacity services, today announced its crowdsourcing fraud prevention platform, FraudGuard, detected and blocked more than 10 million fraudulent call attempts on its customers’ networks during the first three months of 2016.
FraudGuard enables wireless operators to proactively protect against fraud on their network. By crowdsourcing details of suspicious network activity across BICS’ global customer base, the platform is able to identify and block activity to known fraud destinations. Its comprehensive fraud database now contains over 400,000 numbers around the world associated with criminal activity.
The Communications Fraud Control association estimates global telecoms fraud costs the industry €3.3bn each year, with the most prevalent types being International Revenue Share Fraud, PBX hacking and Wangiri. BICS’ fraud prevention solutions are powered by a global anti-fraud crowdsourcing platform which, in addition to offering other value added services, is designed to proactively protect mobile networks from current and common fraud threats.
Among the tier one operators to adopt FraudGuard is French provider Bouygues Telecom. In the first three months of 2016, BICS blocked over 200 attempted attacks on Bouygues, saving the operator an estimated €130k.
“The advent of all-IP networks has magnified the speed and magnitude of attacks aimed at the telecoms industry,” said Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud Operations, BICS. “Being a truly global industry means attacks can come from anywhere at any time, so it’s imperative network operators share knowledge of incidents to enable proactive measures to be taken by their peers. Only by collaboration and adopting proactive measures can the industry beat this growing problem.”
Thierry Nedellec, Wholesale Manager at Bouygues added: “Protecting revenue from fraudulent activity is a key priority for Bouygues and we have already reaped the benefits from adopting BICS’ FraudGuard platform, with over 200 fraud attempts blocked at the start of this year and no incidences of legitimate calls being prevented – all with minimal input from our operational team.”
Source: Press Release
O3b Networks, in partnership with Presta Bist, has proven via live demonstration that its satellite enabled services deliver crystal clear voice, live HD video and high speed downloads. The live Demo Day event held in the Republic of Chad tested link speed, video streaming, file download, interactive maps, file upload and web page loading. The outcome was that O3b services performed at 5X the speed and clarity of a traditional geostationary satellite service and comparable to a fiber connection.
O3b operates a global constellation of 12 satellites and a robust ground infrastructure to deliver high throughput in 23 locations in Africa. O3b Networks is the fastest growing satellite operator in history, enabling over 40 customers around the world to bring high performance connections to unconnected remote or offshore areas, accelerate the deployment of 3G/4G or enhance fiber reliability. O3b has recently completed funding for an additional eight satellites currently in production in Europe, half of which are expected to be launched at the end of 2017.
Source: Company Press Release, may 2016.
Ministry of Communication will soon start a process of including more private sector companies in the Ghanaian DNS industry to sell '.gh' names and expand the rather low uptake of the '.gh' domain names.
Dr Edward Omane Boamah, the Minister of Communication, who announced this at a training workshop, said Ghana was now selling about 3,500 Domain Name Service (DNS).
He said the situation, however, did not reflect the explosive mobile internet data usage, which stood at about 63 per cent of the total population of 29 million.
Read the full story in Modern Ghana here:
Microsoft has largely stood by as other technology giants like Facebook and Google have begun work on grand plans for balloons, satellites, drones, simplified apps and even bicycle hot spots to deliver Internet access to the four billion or so people around the world who are not yet online.
The venerable software company, still best known for the Windows software that runs most of the world’s personal computers, did buy the handset business of Nokia, the Finnish cellphone maker, in 2014 — a platform that could have been the basis of a mobile access strategy — only to write off most of the business a year later and sell the low-end side of it last week.
But now Microsoft finally seems to be settling on a strategy for addressing the great global disconnect: It is going to fund other businesses developing local solutions and help build the ones that show the most promise.
On Tuesday, the company, which is based in Redmond, Wash., announced the first winners of grants under a new program called the Affordable Access Initiative. The 12 recipients, who will get $70,000 to $150,000 apiece, include a company in Rwanda franchising solar-powered mobile kiosks that provide Wi-Fi and battery recharges, and an Argentine firm that uses monitoring technologies and chatbots so that farmers can keep tabs remotely on the health of their cattle.
Read the full story in The New York Times here:
CamTel, Cameroon’s state-owned incumbent telecoms operator, has secured a financing arrangement with US lender William F Clark & Co to extend the country’s fibre-optic cable network from 6,000km to 20,000km. Bloomberg quotes CamTel’s General Manager David Kotto Emane as saying in a release read on state radio that ‘the extension will enable us to link up one million households and offices in urban areas with high speed internet’.
William F Clark will also finance the construction of two data centres, Emane said. The new funding follows a XAF24.47 billion (USD41.8 million) loan secured last year from the African Development Bank to roll out 916km of fibre-optic cables over four years, with connections to Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic and Republic of Congo.
2015 and 2016 have been crucial in terms of elections in Africa. Over the course of these two years, there have been 14 elections to date.
Internet users have developed a range of initiatives to empower the people to exercise the full range of their civic rights. In Guinea, for example, where 65% of the population is illiterate, the Guinean Bloggers Association (l’Association des blogueurs de Guinée, or ABLOGUI) launched a campaign to raise awareness and address the use of ethnic differences as a political agenda, to avoid clashes within the population. (Full disclosure: The campaign has funding from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa; Global Voices receives support from Open Society Foundations).
ABLOGUI is doing so in Pulaar and Malinke (Maninka), two languages widely spoken in Guinea. While French is the official language of government in Guinea, two-thirds of the country's people don't speak or understand it, so making information available in these languages is important.
Global Voices asked Tafsir Baldé, head of the commission for the promotion of national languages within the Guinean Bloggers Association, to give his thoughts on this experience. Read the full story from Global Voices here:
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened its African regional office in Kenya. ICANN Senior Vice President, Global Stakeholder Engagement Sally Costerton said Kenya was chosen because it scored highly in terms of ICT usage and ICT-oriented policies. There is growth in mobile money and digital economy, a young online population and growth in entrepreneurship with excellent trade links. The office will expose Africa to global registrars and help raise opportunities and awareness to the world and what the internet brings.
Pretoria – A Pretoria school has received a mobile computer lab which will be used to access educational content, provide connectivity to the internet and assist with facilitating training for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills.
“This lab has been equipped with 21 laptops, an interactive white board, projector, a printer, speakers and four desktop workstations for educators,” said Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
The computer lab was launched on Friday as a part of Telkom’s “Connected Schools” programme at the DA Mokoma High School, in Mabopane.
Read the full story here:
Local mobile operators say they are not investigating network level ad blocking services, at least for now.
About 20% of data traffic on a smartphone is intrusive advertising, according to a research note from Strand Consult.
And in February, European carriers Three UK and Three Italy announced that they would implement a consumer ad block service using technology from ad-blocker startup Shine.
Read the full story on Business Wire here:
A notice on the station's YouTube channel reads: "NTV Kenya has been terminated because we received multiple third-party claims of copyright infringement regarding material the user posted."
Read the full story on CapitalFM here:
The 26th World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali ended yesterday and, building on the previous continental forums, it aimed to discuss and agree on strategic transformative technological actions that can deliver shared prosperity in the region.
I expect that this objective has been achieved, if only to chart the way the strategic actions can be “upscaled” in Sub-Saharan Africa and across the continent.
The WEF’s theme, Connecting Africa’s Resources Through Digital Transformation, was in recognition that Africans have the power to shape their continent’s transformation.
This is the kind of power Africans have amply demonstrated with their innovations. Some of these innovations have gained broad international recognition, with some like Mpesa impacting so many sectors.
Take the BRCK WiFi device, for example. Developed in Kenya, the solar-powered gadget can provide 4G internet for up to 20 connections from almost anywhere in the world.
BRCK –named so because of its likeness to an actual brick – is a mobile gadget for power and internet outages that is being used in digital dead spots in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
Ushahidi, a crowd sourcing app, has proved highly effective as a tool for digitally mapping demographic events anywhere in the world, and was used by the Obama campaign in the 2012 US presidential elections.
Such examples from Africa are peppered throughout WEF resource materials. One commentator notes how research he has been involved with highlights the existence of roughly 200 African innovation hubs, 3,500 new tech-related ventures, and US$1 billion in venture capital to a pan-African movement of start-up entrepreneurs.
But that is the sunny side of things. The WEF is quick to recognize the other side, and the work that remains to be done.
Currently, only 40 per cent of Africans have access to reliable energy supply. Up to 600 million in Sub-Saharan Africa – almost two thirds of the region’s population – do not have regular electricity, and just 20 per cent of people on the continent have internet access.
Some 80 per cent of online content is only available in 10 languages, which only about 3 billion people speak as their first language.
East Africans are a bit lucky, and can access the internet in English, French, Kiswahili or Kinyarwanda. But it leaves a lot of Africans unable to access the internet. This becomes a vicious cycle, underscoring a lack of skills and awareness of the internet’s value adding to the access barriers.
Read the full story in New Times here>>
If you don’t know who Yagazie Emezi is, it’s time to catch up — she’s on the verge of blowing up.
The social media star is making it her personal mission to change the way people think about modern Africa. But perhaps what’s so interesting about Emezi is that her ability to tell compelling, engaging stories is just the tip of the iceberg.
When I first met Yagazie Emezi a few years ago, the most striking thing about her wasn’t her big, glorious afro, or her effortless style — it was her voice. Deep, melodic, a pleasing blend of Nigeria (where she was born) with hints of the Southwest (she spent her adolescence in New Mexico). But it wasn’t just the sound of her voice, but the way she uses it to tell stories. Her tone is playful and earnest, intimate — she’s a pro at the dramatic pause.
It’s not surprising. When you ask Emezi what most inspires her, the answer is quick and definitive: “Stories, stories, stories... No filters, no staging, just the raw truth.”
You can witness Emezi’s uncanny knack for telling raw, unfiltered stories in her many vlogs on YouTube, where she has open and honest confessionals about everything from grappling with bulimia, to being an introvert, to the fetishization of interracial couples. Read the full story in The Huffington Post here:
Young South Africans have used the web series format to create eclectic and authentic South African stories. From animated hip-hop tales and food, to spirituality and discussions on modern African society, check out some of the best web shows created by young South Africans, for young South Africans.
See clips and read the full story here:
Source: Okayafrica 25 May 2016
Absa Bank customers will no longer have to ensure that they have an active data bundle to transact via the online application, the bank announced on Thursday.
The Barclays-owned group said that it had concluded deals with network operators to offer its customers reverse billing.
“The agreement that Absa has signed with Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom allows the service providers to charge data costs back to Absa rather than our customers, allowing them to enjoy the full benefit of banking from their mobile device and buying airtime even if they have depleted their pay-as-you-go or monthly contractual data allocation,” said Jan Moganwa, chief executive of Customer Solutions at Absa Retail and Business Banking.
Free data could boost the bank’s ability to convince its nine million customers to conduct mobile application banking.
The banking application has had more than 500,000 installations on smartphones, according to the Google Play Store.
Read the full story in Business Tech here:
UK based private equity firm Helios’ acquisition of a 60 percent stake in Telkom Kenya has been delayed further by failure of cabinet to approve the sale.
The Government, which holds 40 percent of the company, is yet to agree to a new shareholder agreement with Helios, delaying the transaction which begun in October 2015.
Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich has said legal advisors have been brought on board to comb through the deal before the government gives the go ahead.
“The documentation has been finalized and is being reviewed legally before a decision is made,” Mr Rotich said
France Telecom acquired a majority stake in Telkom Kenya in 2007 but has been struggling to make profit prompting its exit from the market. Helios emerged as the best candidate to acquire the majority stake in the telecom operator but been forced to await clearance from both cabinet and the Communications Authority.
The private equity firm has not given much in terms of the strategy it intends to adopt in the Kenyan market, but is believed to planning major operational changes.
“We are on the final stages now. The documentation is being reviewed and in due course once we have all the final approvals which include cabinet, the transaction will be executed,” Mr Rotich said.
One of the last hurdles for Helios remains the requirement to pay off Sh1.4 billion to the Communications Authority as frequency and license fees for two financial years. The Competitions Authority has already given the deal the green light arguing it did not pose a threat to fair competition in the telecom sector.
Source privy with the deal however say Helios has appointed Aldo Mareuse as the Chief Executive Officer to take over from Vincent Lobry once the deal is concluded.
Source: Citizen Digital 23 May 2016
MTN to name new CEO in June
MTN Executive Chairman, Phuthuma Nhleko is expected to step down as acting CEO by the end of June 2016 “at the latest”, the group said on Wednesday (25 May).
According to a statement put out by the group ahead of its AGM, the search for a new MTN Group CEO is well underway, and it will make an announcement in the coming month.
The statement also dealt with the group’s overall fears for key markets in the year ahead.
MTN said it expects its overall performance to be impacted by the weak macro environment in key markets as well as by tougher competition – most notably in South Africa and Nigeria.
The company is still faced with a $3.9 billion fine in Nigeria, which it says it is actively engaging with Nigerian authorities over.
Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that talks with MTN over the fine were suspended by the Nigerian government, as it sought to further investigate the matter.
The talks are reportedly suspended indefinitely while the country’s House of Representatives finishes an investigation into the size of the penalty, and how it was delivered.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, a crushing economic climate, along with the company troubles, have given way for the company’s biggest local competitor, Vodacom, to overtake it as the country’s – and the continent’s – highest-valued mobile operator.
Despite its short- to medium-term worries, MTN said that it remained confident about the longer term.
“While not without challenges we expect MTN Nigeria’s performance to improve given the focus on reconnecting subscribers and the re-instatement of regulatory services enabling the operation to provide more competitive tariffs and promotions,” it said.
“We expect the South African operation to report improved revenue growth through the rest of the year supported by 3G and LTE network roll out, improvements in network quality and competitive offerings.”
As at 30 April 2016, the Group increased its subscriber base by approximately 1% to 230.3 million, year-on-year.
Reported Group revenue increased by 15% YoY, supported by a 21% decline in the average rand exchange rate against the naira together with a 23% decline in the average rand exchange rate against the US dollar compared with the previous period.
Telkom's head of strategy quits
Miriam Altman has left her role as head of strategy at Telkom but says she remains committed to SA's future.
Telkom's head of strategy, Miriam Altman, left the company at the end of March.
This was revealed this morning, when Altman sent an e-mail to her contacts entitled "belated update". Altman writes: "The last three years at Telkom have been intense, challenging, rewarding – overall an incredible and life-changing experience."
She was appointed as head of strategy, reporting to CEO Sipho Maseko, in June 2013. She was part of a new team that aimed to transform the company.
Altman says she left Telkom at the end of March and is taking some time to work on personal projects but "remains committed to South Africa's future...and exploring opportunities that involve Shanghai/Asia".
In an interview with ITWeb's Brainstorm magazine last year, Altman spoke of her plans to help do what many before her have tried: transform Telkom.
African Innovation Foundation announces finalists of its Innovation Prize for Africa
The African Innovation Foundation, an organization which works to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalysing the innovation spirit in Africa, has announced the finalists of its Innovation Prize for Africa.
Innovation Prize for Africa seeks to strengthen African innovation ecosystems and spur the growth of market-driven African solutions to African challenges.
In no particular order, the finalists and their innovations are described below.
Johan Theron, South Africa: PowerGuard enables consumers to determine the maximum amount of power supply required for daily operations.
Andre Nel, South Africa: Green Tower is an off-grid water heating and air conditioning solution based on solar power that uses advanced thermos-dynamics to create up to 90% savings in electricity consumption.
Samuel Rigu, Kenya: Safi Sarvi Organics is a low-cost fertilizer made from purely organic products and waste from farm harvests, designed to improve yields for farmers by up to 30%.
Olufemi Odeleye, Nigeria: The Tryctor is a mini tractor modelled on the motorcycle. By attaching various farming implements, it can carry out similar operations as a conventional tractor to a smaller scale.
Godwin Benson, Nigeria: Tuteria is an innovative peer-to-peer learning online platform that allows people who want to learn any skill, whether formal or informal, to connect with anyone else in proximity who is offering that skill.
Dr. Youssef Rashed, Egypt: The Plate Package (PLPAK) is a robust software solution that assesses the architecture of building plans or technical drawings, determining structural integrity of the end design.
Dr. Kit Vaughan, South Africa: Aceso is an imaging technology, capable of performing full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound at the same time, dramatically improving breast cancer detection.
Dr. Imogen Wright, South Africa: Exatype is a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment.
Valentin Agon, Benin: Api-Palu is an anti-malaria drug treatment developed out of natural plant extract.
Dr. Eddy Agbo, Nigeria: Urine Test for Malaria (UMT) is a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.
The 10 finalists were selected from 985 successful submissions from 46 African countries through a rigorous process that included pre-screening, screening, preliminary assessment by judges, selection meeting panel et al.
“As we celebrate the five year IPA journey, our mission to engage, inspire and transform is evident in the IPA process – from the growing registrations, to the level of talent and ingenuity we see in the nominees, as well as the enthusiasm from our expert judges in seeing these innovations at work to solve some of Africa’s intractable challenges. Now while we await announcement of the winner, we call on all innovation enablers to join hands with us to unlock the potential of these nominees,” said Walter Fust, Chairman of the AIF Board.
The finalists will, for the last time, pitch in front of an expert panel of IPA judges who will go on to select the top three winners.
The first prize winner will receive US$25,000 while the second prize winner. A special prize of US$25,000 will be awarded to the innovation considered to have the greatest social impact, and a US$5000 voucher will be awarded to each nominee as a post-prize technical support to assist in moving their innovation to the next level.
The winners will be announced at a special gala ceremony on June 23, 2016 at the Gaborone International Conference Centre (GICC).
Mest Is Organizing An App Challenge To Solve Accra’s Transport Problem
With a current population of about 4 million and more than a million people commuting to the city for various socio-economic activities, Accra is faced with a significant public transport and mobility challenge.
Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), a Ghana-based business incubator and accelerator, has announced it is organizing an app challenge to help find solutions to these nagging challenges.
Called the Accra TroTro apps challenge, the contest will bring together key players in the tech ecosystem to brainstorm and develop solutions that’ll enhance mobility in Accra.
The participants will develop apps using data of Accra’s over 300 active trotro (private mini buses) routes, which were collected using smartphones with GPS capabilities by Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and AFD in collaboration with Concordia University.
Interested developers/hackers can apply here to be a part of the challenge. The challenge will take place at the MEST Campus on May 27-28, 2016.
The challenge is organized in partnership the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and the French Agency for Development (AFD).