Tech (443)

In a continent, like Africa, where digital transformation is underway, health data is highly strategic. When used wisely, it can provide advanced analytics, disease modeling, and enhance various forecasts.

The African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Smart Africa Alliance plan to accelerate the use of digital technologies to improve care and strengthen health systems on the continent. For that purpose, on September 19, 2022, on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly, the two institutions signed a collaboration agreement. 

The agreement focuses on connecting all of Africa's health facilities and personnel by 2030, advancing the protection, portability, interoperability, and governance of health data. Smart Africa and Africa CDC will also work with African Union member states to advance digital healthcare. 

Digital health innovation holds great potential to expand access, increase quality and reduce the cost of health services across the continent,” said Dr. Ahmed Ogwell Ouma (photo, right), acting director of Africa CDC.  

During the coronavirus pandemic, in Africa where access to quality healthcare remains a challenge, digital technologies once again demonstrated their importance.  The ability of those technologies to bring quality care to even remote populations and to help anticipate potential future crises makes digital health a high-value service that is urgently needed to ensure economic and social development on the continent.

Even large financial groups and foreign investors have realized the importance that digital health will play in Africa's next growth cycle. This fact is reflected in the growing volume of financial support the African healthtech has mobilized over the past four years. From US$18 million in 2018, that support rose to US$230 million in 2021, according to investment platform Partech. 

For Lacina Koné (photo, left), Smart Africa's CEO, "the future of healthcare in Africa is digital-first, powered by mobility and a growing population of digital natives who demand to play a more proactive role in their health and care."

Muriel Edjo

Posted On jeudi, 22 septembre 2022 14:24 Written by

The seed funding comes a few months after the healthtech’s last fundraising operation. It will help conquer additional states in Nigeria and expand outside the country.

Nigerian healthtech startup Remedial Health announced, Tuesday (September 20), it raised US$4.4 million in seed funding. According to the startup, the funds secured will help accelerate expansion in Nigeria and provide “access to credit for inventory purchases for [its] growing customer base of neighbourhood pharmacies, Proprietary Patent Medicine Vendors (PPMVs), and hospitals in the country.”

Neighbourhood pharmacies and PPMVs have the potential to be the face of a thriving healthcare system in Africa, and we believe that technology can play a significant role in making this vision a reality. The funds that we have raised and the strategic support from our investors will enable us to deliver the solutions to address various challenges that have hampered these businesses’ growth for many years and make it easier to safeguard lives and livelihoods across the continent for years to come,” said Samuel Okwuada, Remedial Health co-founder and CEO, in a release. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Africa, counterfeit drugs cause some 100,000 deaths every year and more than 30% of medicines sold on the continent are counterfeit.  Remedial Health wants to solve this problem, by offering its customers a digital procurement platform that allows pharmacies to manage their operations by making it easy to take and track orders. The startup also supports financial reporting and accounting, while providing real-time market intelligence that improves manufacturers' forecasting, production, and distribution decisions.

The healthtech startup was founded in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2009. From January 2022 to date, it has witnessed a 600 percent increase in the number of its customers and expanded its reach from six to 16 states. Thanks to the new financing raised, it plans to cover the remaining 20 states but also lay the groundwork for its African expansion by 2023. 

Samira Njoya

Posted On mercredi, 21 septembre 2022 15:02 Written by

In this interview with We Are Tech Africa, Karine Doret, Customer Experience and Digital Director for Orange Middle-East and Africa, expands on the operator’s goals with its digital customer service. She also presented the investments made by Orange to increase network coverage and increase customer satisfaction in its African markets.  

Orange recently digitized its services and offers to its African clients. Why such a revolution?  

With the coronavirus pandemic, new uses have emerged across the continent and our customers’ needs, uses and expectations have evolved. During the health crisis, telecommunication infrastructures proved to be more essential than ever for governments, businesses, and families. At the beginning of the crisis, we saw data traffic increase by 60% in some countries. In 2020, mobile data consumption per user almost doubled.

The digital sector offers numerous opportunities. For instance, in the education sector, MOOCs are gradually becoming the norm. Also, the use of mobile financial services continues to grow, with two-thirds of mobile money transactions worldwide taking place on the African continent (source: Financial Industry Summit 2021). Businesses are giving increased importance to remote work, which is also becoming the norm. This coronavirus-fueled acceleration of digital adoption is not slowing down. Far from that, our customers’ digital needs and expectations are rising. 

At Orange Middle East and Africa, we truly believe that digital technologies can help Africa grow faster, train its youth, empower its entrepreneurs, and overcome the lack of infrastructure and transportation. Accelerating this adoption is essential to addressing the many challenges facing the continent.

As an operator, Orange must be a leader in this area. Customers expect digitalization to drive simplicity in every aspect of their lives. This is what we strive for by digitizing all of our customer paths and interactions. Cameroon is a tangible example of our efforts in that area. We have a Whatsapp chatbot that facilitates the collection of subscribers’ identification documents. The process is simple, secure, and efficient. They only need to take a picture with their smartphone. So, there is no need for them to go anywhere and waste time. Subscriber satisfaction increased by more than 100 percent in that area thanks to the simplicity of the path and almost real-time processing.  

What are currently the services already digitalized by Orange and which countries are concerned? 

Currently, the array of services and offers already digitalized by Orange is quite large.  Let's start with our mobile applications. To date, 13.5 million subscribers use "My Orange" to easily manage their mobile and fixed lines. The free application, launched in 2016, is available for Android and iOS devices. It also has a web app. It is available in 17 countries, offering services like voice and data subscriptions, money transfers, balance checking, etc. In 2021, a new service, "My Place" service was added to the application. The service is available in eight countries and offers content (films and series, games, music, news, etc.).

We also have an Orange Money application to digitalize our subscribers' financial transactions. It is an e-wallet that allows our subscribers to transfer funds nationwide or to international parties, and pay their bills or merchants simply and securely. In several countries, we have enhanced the application with a QR code that simplifies their experience. In countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, and Senegal, they can also subscribe to microloan offers.  

In 12 countries, our subscribers can order their cellphones as well as telecom and internet accessories online. And since March 2022, Orange Cameroon has created a Business space allowing professional customers to access a catalog of dedicated offers. This e-commerce proposal is enriched with proposals of a fully-digitalized customer journey, from order to delivery, and similar assistance offers. To date, this offer is available in Jordan, with "Jood", but also in Morocco. Similar offers are planned in Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal.

Our digitalization effort is not limited to offers and services, we are digitizing our entire customer relationship. Bots are available in 12 African and Middle Eastern countries, namely Morocco, Jordan, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, and recently the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The bots are accessible on the web portal, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and in the My Orange application. Initially designed for informational purposes (checking one's offer, voice and data balance, etc.), they are now evolving towards transactional purposes (money transfers, top-ups, etc.). In Guinea, Cameroon and Jordan, in addition to customer assistance, our chatbots enable the purchase of products and services. We have also digitalized B2B offers by developing self-care tools for professional clients. 

In Africa, internet penetration is around 30 percent. How is Orange planning to enable access to its digital services for everyone? 

We invest nearly €1 billion in our infrastructures and networks every year.  Our 2G/3G networks are deployed in all of our 17 African markets and provide connectivity to 139 million subscribers. Orange 4G is available in almost every one of our markets and over 40 million subscribers have access to this technology.  We also plan to soon launch 5G, which is already being tested in several countries. 5G will relieve congestion on saturated 2G and 3G mobile networks, especially in densely populated areas.

We also invest heavily in ultra-high-speed fixed broadband, particularly in fiber optic, to meet governments’ and businesses’ strong connectivity demands.  We have already deployed FTTx fiber for households and businesses in seven countries: Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

To support the growth in data consumption, our investments are also directed towards international infrastructures, both submarine and terrestrial. The ACE, Main One, 2Africa, and Djoliba submarine cables are projects that illustrate our commitment to strengthening connectivity in Africa. Orange is part of the "2Africa" consortium with Facebook and China Mobile. That consortium is financing the construction of a 45,000-km subsea cable -the world's longest subsea cable to date- that will boost connectivity across Africa. 

For your subscribers who have no access to your digital services, what alternatives do you offer to let them benefit from quality customer service?

Customer experience is the core of our strategy.  We are operating a human-centered digital transformation. We aim to democratize digital services as much as possible while remaining close to our subscribers daily thanks to our 5,000 customer service employees.

The mission of our customer service staff is to assist clients in their usage and new tech adoption. We adapt to our subscribers’ new usage. For instance, subscribers can now contact our agents by phone, or via Whatsapp or Facebook messenger. In every one of our markets, subscribers choose what suits them best.

What are your digital achievements in the social sector? 

We have launched Orange Digital Centers which are ecosystems entirely dedicated to innovation. Each Orange Digital Center includes a coding academy, a Fablab Solidaire,  Orange Foundation's digital fabrication workshop, and Orange Fab, the corporate start-up accelerator. All of these programs are free and open to all. They provide digital training to young people, support project leaders, accelerate their growth, and invest in them.  To date, we have equipped more than 100,000 young people with digital skills in those centers.

Wherever we are in Africa and the Middle East, we have a strong societal commitment,  which is reflected in our business activities. The commitment is also reflected in the many actions carried out by our local foundations, including 1,400 digital schools and more than 170 digital literacy centers built to teach digital skills to women.  

Interview by Muriel Edjo

Posted On mardi, 20 septembre 2022 17:22 Written by

After raising $600,000 in April to support its growth, Malagasy edtech Sayna is partnering with Orange, one of its investors, to reach its flagship goal of training 8,000 developers by 2024.

Orange Madagascar and Malagasy edtech platform Sayna signed, Wednesday (September 14), two partnership agreements to offer tech digital skills to young Malagasies. The agreements were signed by Frederic Debord (photo, left), CEO of Orange Madagascar, and  Matina Razafimahefa (photo, right), one of Sayna's co-founders. Under the agreements, Orange will deploy Sayna licenses, enabling access to the platform’s online courses for its learners’ network.  

The two parties explain that "with Sayna's 100% online and gamified training, Orange is extending its impact, as far as digital inclusion and prompting equal opportunities are concerned, to the entire country.”

They add that thanks to the two agreements, Orange Digital Center Madagascar has become a partner space that will host in-person sessions and events organized by Sayna in Malagasy provinces. 

Sayna was founded in 2018.  By using cutting-edge techniques, it introduces young people to digital professions. It also takes care of their professional integration and assigns various business tasks to trainees, depending on their levels. Its teaching techniques earned the trust of many investors, including Orange Ventures. 

The agreement between Orange and Sayna will enable access to the ed tech professional integration feature for the young people trained at the Orange Digital Center. “With the tasks assigned by Sayna to Orange Coding Academy learners, the latter will get paid professional experience that gives them hands-on training while awaiting their first jobs,” the two parties indicate. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Posted On lundi, 19 septembre 2022 13:41 Written by

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the African data center exploded with increased demand for managed services amid an accelerated digital transformation. Raxio wants to capitalize on the growth prospects.  

Carrier-neutral data center operator Raxio Group held the groundbreaking ceremony of its DR Congo-based Tier 3 neutral colocation data center yesterday. The data center, which is said to be the first of its kind in the country, was announced in March 2021. 

For Raxio Group president Robert Mullins, “access to data center infrastructure is more important now than ever before as connectivity and digital transformation make rapid progress in the DRC.” 

“As with all our facilities, our customers and partners have been at the heart of our design process and it is our aim that the DRC’s first Tier III carrier-neutral data center will provide a critical and missing part of the country’s digital infrastructure,” he added. 

The infrastructure is expected to be inaugurated in late 2023. It is designed as a state-of-the-art facility with a planned IT capacity of 1.5MW that can accommodate nearly 400 racks. It is expected to improve the traffic between local and international content creators, but also enhance Internet connection and make it more affordable for users.

For DRC officials, the data center under construction aligns with the government’s strategic plan to equip the country with digital infrastructures of international standards, as reflected in the national digital plan horizon 2025.

According to the report "Data Center Market in Africa - Industry Outlook and Forecast 2020-2025", the data center market in Africa is expected to grow by over 12% annually in 2020-2025. Its value is also expected to rise to US$3 billion. Raxio wants to take advantage of this burgeoning market by building 10 to 12 data centers across Africa.  Currently, it has data centers in Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ivory Coast, and Tanzania.

Samira Njoya

Posted On vendredi, 16 septembre 2022 17:13 Written by

One year after the first edition of the YouthADAPT Challenge, which rewarded twenty African start-ups, the two partners are again calling on young people to submit innovative solutions and business ideas that can help adapt and build resilience to climate change.

The Global Centre for Adaptation in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched, on Wednesday 15 September, the second edition of the Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (YouthADAPT Challenge) on climate change adaptation.

The call is open, till, October 4, 2022, to young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well as other youth-led or youth-owned companies in Africa (50% female-led).

To be eligible, start-ups must be based or legally registered in Africa. They must also provide climate adaptation or resilience solutions that address real-life challenges. 

The twenty successful business plans will each receive development grants of up to US$100,000. They will also benefit from a 12-month business acceleration program to help them scale up their businesses and create decent jobs. In addition, dedicated support and mentoring for the winning companies will help them develop partnerships, share knowledge, and learn through a network of young entrepreneurs invested in climate change adaptation. 

Posted On jeudi, 15 septembre 2022 16:31 Written by

Since the launch of the eNaira on October 25, 2021, Nigeria has been working to stabilize its weakening currency, curb the rising inflation and boost growth after the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nigerian company Flutterwave announced on Wednesday, September 14 that merchants will now be able to accept eNaira payments from their customers on their platform. The new payment option adds to the existing ones, including bank cards and transfers, barter payments, etc.  

In its product update published the same day, the company explains that the move aligns with its commitment to providing the “best payment experience for businesses everywhere.

The eNaira joins the robust list of payment options available on Flutterwave. Merchants can now enable the eNaira payment option for collection from their customers via API and Checkout,” it wrote. 

The latest information from the Nigerian Central Bank (CBN) revealed that about 270,000 eNaira wallets have been opened, of which 252,000 are consumer wallets and 17,000 are merchant wallets. In addition, the volume and value of transactions have reached over NGN200,000 naira (US$467.5) and 4 billion respectively.

To transact in eNaira on Flutterwave, users will now need to either scan QR codes or generate unique tokens using the app.

Through its platform, Flutterwave provides technology, infrastructure, and services to enable global businesses, payment service providers, and pan-African banks to accept and process payments on any channel (Web, Mobile, ATM & POS). The company which currently operates in Africa, Europe, North America, and other emerging markets provides a suite of payment tools that enable over one million businesses to accept payments from their customers worldwide in over 150 currencies, including Naira and now eNaira.

With this move, Flutterwave eases the implementation of Nigeria’s economic strategy to boost the use of its digital currency by attracting even more unbanked users including merchants “after a first phase adoption saw 850,000 downloads by bank customers.”

Samira Njoya

Posted On jeudi, 15 septembre 2022 16:27 Written by

In Africa, with the acceleration of digital transformation, there is currently a shortage of digital skills. The situation is concerning for various governments, which are stepping up efforts to create digital skill pools and reduce unemployment at the same time.  

The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) recently launched a national digital academy to promote digital skills in Benin.  The founding memorandum of understanding was signed, last Thursday (September 8), by Lacina Koné (photo, right), CEO of Smart Africa, and Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou (photo, left), Beninese Minister of Digital Economy. 

According to Lacina Koné, “SADA is a direct solution to the digital skill shortage facing Benin, in particular, and Africa as a whole. SADA Benin will support [authorities’] agenda that aims to place digital skills at the core of Africa’s current and future socioeconomic development.”

In the framework of the partnership agreement between Bening and the Smart Africa alliance, forty cybersecurity and artificial intelligence instructors are already being trained. Once their training is completed, those instructors will train and pass on their skills to other instructors to build a pool of qualified instructors. The SADA also plans to offer advanced ICT courses to managers and teachers.

Thanks to the reforms and flagship projects in the Beninese government's strategic plan, the country jumped from the 177th spot in the UN e-Government Development Index in 2016 to the 157th spot in 2020. 

The SADA Benin initiative will therefore be a key support to the country’s digital transformation plan, which aims to transform Benin into a digital services hub in West Africa. 

For Minister  Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, the alliance will "consolidate the efforts already undertaken by the Republic of Benin in the framework of its national development program and provide new cooperation opportunities.”

SADA Benin is the fourth national academy launched by Smart Africa since January 2022. The first three were in Congo, Rwanda, and Ghana. The alliance plans to launch similar academies in Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone in the coming months.

Since it began operations in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained approximately 3,000 decision and policymakers across 26 countries on topics related to digital transformation and hot emerging technologies. Its goal is to train more than 22,000 people in partner countries, by 2023.

Samira Njoya

Posted On lundi, 12 septembre 2022 13:11 Written by

In Africa, economically disadvantaged populations’ poor access to technological skills raises concerns about increasing inequalities in the job market. Actors are inking partnerships to ensure the digital economy benefits everyone. 

Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-A), the Mastercard Foundation, and the Rwanda government will train 10,000 African youth from economically disadvantaged communities in digital skills. For that purpose, the three parties signed a US$275.7 million agreement yesterday. 

According to an official release, the investment provided by the Mastercard Foundation “includes a $175M endowment to perpetually fund CMU-Africa [...] and $100.7M to establish CMU-Africa’s Center for the Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa.” The funds will help reach  a broad audience as well as specific targets, including young women, youth with disabilities, and forcibly displaced youth.  The beneficiaries will receive advanced training in information technology, electrical and computer engineering, and artificial intelligence. Some of the training programs will be delivered online. 

According to the World Bank, millions of young Africans will be in the job market by 2030. For Farnam Jahanian, president of Carnegie Mellon University,  "it's important to give them access to education in the high-tech fields that are driving the economies of the future.”

Rwandan Minister of Education, Valentine Uwamariya, indicated that the “strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University is one of the Government of Rwanda’s key investments to support the development of a critical mass of skills [...] required by the knowledge economy and to help accelerate Rwanda and the region’s socioeconomic transformation.”

The agreement between Carnegie Mellon University Africa and the Mastercard Foundation builds on a previous partnership between the two parties, as well as a successful 10-year collaboration between the Rwandan government and the academic institution.

Samira Njoya

Posted On vendredi, 09 septembre 2022 15:54 Written by

In the last few years, blockchain has become one of the important technologies used in the development of a wide range of IT solutions. In recent months, several games and service platforms using cryptocurrency and NFT technologies have made the news.  

Nigerian blockchain gaming platform blockchain Metaverse Magna (MVM) announced, Monday (September 5), that it had secured US$3.2 million during a seed token sale round. Thanks to the funds raised, it plans to build Africa’s largest gaming decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and offer gamers access to world-class opportunities.  

According to Yele Bademosi, CEO of Netscoin (which developed MVM),  “Africa has the highest youth population globally, but over 60% of the continent’s youth are unemployed […] Gaming presents a unique opportunity to help young Africans earn and lift themselves and their families out of poverty.”

Therefore, “MVM’s seed sale token ensures opportunities for millions of gamers in these emerging markets,” he added. 

In its 2021 cloud gaming report, Newzoo indicates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the gaming population rose from 77 million in 2015 to 186 million in 2021. The report also forecasted that the population would grow further in the next three years. 

During its market research for MVM, Nestcoin noted the ever-growing number of African gamers and the lack of platforms combining gaming and blockchain. In 2021, it started a gaming guild offering play-to-earn scholarships to over 1,000 gamers to play crypto games like  Axie Infinity and Pegaxy.

To date, Nestcoin claims more than 100,000 members across its products and community. It plans to build a social gaming app that would reduce unemployment in Africa and create opportunities for the continent's 186 million-plus gamers. "[...]In a decade, I would love for us to have the kind of impact that Tencent has had on the gaming industry in Asia. If we can do up to 2% of that, it will be incredible," said Yele Bademosi.

Samira Njoya

Posted On jeudi, 08 septembre 2022 20:41 Written by
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