Tech (424)

Technology now appears as an essential tool that can be leveraged for improved governance and growth. In line with its commitment to socio-economic development in Africa, Orange wants to support the development of innovative tech solutions.   

French telecom group Orange announced Friday (May, 20), the launch of its 12th Orange Summer Challenge, a 3-month competition helping students create innovative tech solutions. Backed by Google and EY Tunisie, the competition is open for students in the eight MENA countries where Orange already has its digital centers. Those countries are namely Tunisia, Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Jordan.

In the framework of the summer challenge, students who have projects aimed at leveraging technology for the greater good will receive training and mentorship from local and international coaches. The experts teaching and mentoring them will notably come from Orange Coding Academy (for the software component of the competition) and the FabLab Solidaire (for the hardware component).

They will also receive technical support, notably in project design (business modeling, business plan writing, etc…), from EY Tunisie. 

The three partners will also provide design thinking and soft skill courses to help mentees present their projects during the final stage of the competition in each of the participating countries. Applications for the summer challenge are open till June 15, 2022. Interested students can submit their applications here

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On lundi, 23 mai 2022 16:05 Written by

Most of the reports focused on Africa’s development stress the fact that entrepreneurship can address unemployment and wealth-creation problems. However, there are funding problems. To address those problems, investors, venture capitalists, business angels, and alike are stepping in with ever-innovative financing offers. 

London-based venture capitalist Mustard recently launched a £4 million (US$5 million) investment vehicle to support African startups with “globalizable” ideas. Through its investment vehicle, Mustard plans to be both an investor and builder that will develop African idea-stage ventures that are likely to appeal to a global audience.

According to Mustard, African startups have the potential to influence the global scene, therefore imprinting a positive image of the continent.  Therefore, it will invest both capital and technical expertise (engineering, design, and storytelling) even before the beneficiary projects and ventures are incorporated. 

For the former Tony Elumelu Foundation CEO and Venture Capital advisor for the current project, “Mustard’s approach will [...] bring stories from Africa and other cultures to the world [...] through the meaningful brand narratives it builds for tech ventures.”  

Africa has many stories to tell, and over the last twenty years the story of its resilient youth seen through the growth of tech startups has been one of its most significant,” she added. 

Meanwhile, Seni Sulyman, founder of Black Ops (a community of African Venture builders and operators), believes that “right from the first time [...] Mustard’s thesis and idea-stage investment approach [..] was really powerful.” 

I am keen to see what comes next from the Mustard team because I want to see African brands go global, which will not only mean massive changes for the continent but also for its place in the world,” he commented. 

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On vendredi, 20 mai 2022 20:25 Written by

Internet is an important tool for socio-economic development in Africa, but the majority of the population still has no access to it mostly because they are far from enabling infrastructures. To address that challenge, operators are turning to satellite internet. 

In Senegal, Orange subsidiary Sonatel will improve its broadband coverage through its Gandoul-based ground station. On Tuesday, May 17, on the sidelines of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day and the fiftieth anniversary of the ground station, the operator reactivated the satellite internet infrastructure.

With Gandoul ground station, Sonatel wants to allow internet access for a larger population, notably those located in rural areas far from fiber-optic infrastructures and telecom towers. The service will be provided through “O3b mPOWER,” an advanced communication satellite system currently consisting of eleven satellites, intelligent software, and innovative ground infrastructures. In February 2022, it signed a service agreement with “O3b mPOWER” owner,  Société Européenne des Satellites (SES).  

"The multi-terabit capacity of O3b mPOWER satellite constellation and its automated ground infrastructure can generate thousands of dynamic beams to deliver unprecedented multi-gigabit per second and low-latency connectivity services to clients in Africa,” Sonatel says.  

This will facilitate access to public and private online services for millions of Senegalese. In the long run, Sonatel may even extend its offers to other West African countries.  

Gandoul ground station was inaugurated on April 5, 1972, by former president Léopold Sédar Senghor. It was first renovated in 1991, then in 2003 before welcoming Africa’s first intercontinental satellite antenna in 2020.  In 1978, the ground station empowered most of Senegal’s international communications, making the country the first to transmit satellite communications in Africa. In 1981, it contributed to the successful launch of NASA’s space program Columbia. 

Muriel Edjo

Posted On jeudi, 19 mai 2022 14:11 Written by

In January 2022, Twiga Foods launched a diversification strategy by adding a range of products to its offering. With Twiga Fresh, it pushes the commitment up a notch to offer quality and affordable food products to Kenyans.  

Kenyan agritech Twiga Foods recently launched Twiga Fresh, its subsidiary dedicated to commercial farming. According to Twiga Foods CEO Peter Njojo, the startup invested US$10 million with the support of development funds. The commercial farming subsidiary is already producing watermelons, onions, and tomatoes on a 650-hectare piece of land leased in Taita-Taveta, we learn. To boost its yield, Twiga Foods will use modern farming techniques.

Twiga Fresh, in addition to our growing range of private label products, will ensure we drive growth in customer numbers and broaden the basket size by offering quality produce at a discount against prevailing market prices,” said CEO Njono.  

It is in line with the diversification strategy unveiled by Twiga Foods last January by adding sugar, salt, rice, cooking oil, maize flour, etc to the list of the products it sells. In November 2021, the agritech raised US$5 million to support its East and West African expansion.  

The startup, which connects farmers, sellers, and final consumers, promises to continue sourcing fresh farm products to address food inflation. By leveraging technology, it offers low prices by reducing the number of intermediaries in the supply chain. “The commodity-driven volatility in the world today is causing an unprecedented level of food inflation across the world. In Africa, we can least afford this disruption, and that is why we are excited about the imminent impact our technology-enabled supply chain will have in reducing the cost of food,” explained Peter Njonjo.

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On jeudi, 19 mai 2022 14:03 Written by

Since 2020, most African countries have been investing heavily in their digital transformation. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic demonstrated that their socio-economic ecosystem was not resilient to major crises. Although the pandemic is gradually waning off, they are intent on enhancing their preparedness.

Mauritania's Minister of Digital Transformation Cheikh El Kebir Ould Moulaye Taher (photo), unveiled, Monday (May 16), the key projects to be launched by his Ministry in the coming days. 

 The projects were presented on the sidelines of a cybersecurity event. According to the government official, the projects include connecting the country to a second subsea cable system, launching a dozen new e-services, accelerating e-governance, and creating a computer emergency response team.  

The investments will boost the use of digital tools, which efficiently improve public service and inclusive growth, he added. They will also raise Mauritania’s preparedness for the digital economy. Indeed, in the past ten years, the country made little to no digital progress. It did have three telecom operators and several internet service providers but its internet penetration rate is 35.8%, revealed Hootsuite and We Are Social in the Digital Report 2022

By enhancing connectivity, e-governance, and cybersecurity, the government wants to improve residents’ access to quality internet and the development of innovative entrepreneurship. Its aim is also to enhance the efficiency of public services whose credibility depends on the security of online users.  

In its latest e-government development index (EGDI), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) ranked Mauritania 38th out of 54 African countries. In its Cyber Security Index, the ITU did not even rank the country because there were no data on its cybersecurity performance. 

Muriel Edjo

Posted On jeudi, 19 mai 2022 13:55 Written by

The seed round raises the volume of funds already raised by Topship this year to US$3 million. With the funds, it intends to upgrade its infrastructure to “make the shipping experience in Africa as easy and stress-free as booking an Uber ride.” 

Nigeran startup Topship announced, Monday (May 16), the successful completion of a US$2.5 million seed round to expand its international presence. According to the Tweet announcing the event, the round was led by “Flexport, Ycombinator, Soma Capital, Starling Ventures, Olive Tree Capital, True Capital, Capital X and some amazing angel investors including Immad Akhund (Founder and CEO of Mercury) and Arash Ferdowsi (Co-Founder of Dropbox).”

With this capital, we plan to invest in strategic partnerships and product innovation tailored to solve a myriad of shipping problems we’ve identified through daily interactions with our merchants,” the startup wrote.  

For Topship CEO Moses Enenwali,  the startup currently allows 1,500 merchants to send cargoes and parcels to over 150 countries. Following requests from merchants in Ghana, Tanzania, and Kenya, the startup plans to launch operations in those markets. 

The coronavirus-spurred e-commerce boom trickled down on the freight market. Although there are actors already offering a mix of air and ocean freight services, Topship wants to focus mainly on the air freight in Africa because the continent is “not yet ready” for heavy cargo freight activities. 

“... We don’t have enough ports on the continent. For example, in Nigeria, we have one functioning port, and for ocean freight to work, we need ports, railways, and roads for trucking. But we don’t have the roads, and we don’t have the railways. [...] It’s difficult to connect the continent with ocean freight. [...] So what we’ve seen is the way to connect the continent is via air [since] every country and major city on the continent has a functioning airport, and airlines are flying to all those airports daily,”  Enenwali said.  

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On jeudi, 19 mai 2022 13:41 Written by

During the coronavirus pandemic, several socio-economic activities were halted in Africa. It forced governments to accelerate digital transformation to ensure continuity of public services. Although it was mostly forced on them, the digital transformation seems now to be a key to solving several problems for African countries. For the Malagasy government, the virtual university planned will facilitate access to University courses for thousands of young people. 

Madagascar will soon transform its National Center for Distance Education (CNTEMAD) into a virtual university. In that regard, last Thursday, a tripartite framework agreement was signed by Prof Slim Khalbous (photo, center), rector of the AUF, Elia Béatrice Assoumacou (photo, left), Madagascar’s Minister of Higher Education, and her peer of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Tahina Michel Razafindramalo (photo, right).

The virtual university will be established by creating a virtual network of the CNTEMAD regional centers/agencies, dematerializing administrative tasks, and rolling out an e-learning platform to allow access to the regional centers’ digital resources. 

Under the framework agreement mentioned above, the Francophone University Agency (AUF) will support the project in five key areas. First, it will carry out studies to determine the best options for the projects. Secondly, it will mobilize international experts for the implementation of the project. Then, it will ensure the application of best practices in the management of digital spaces and the development of online courses. It will also train the teaching, technical and administrative staff involved in the project. The last key area is helping the government find international partners and backers for the virtual university project. 

The support provided by the AUF aligns with one of the key focuses of the latters’ 2021-2025 strategy, namely “digital transformation and university governance.”

The virtual university is in line with Madagascar’s digital transformation strategy aimed at leveraging information technology for socio-economic development.  Indeed, with the virtual university, the government wants to facilitate access to university courses for thousands of young people who lack the necessary financial resources to settle in Antananarivo to pursue university studies.  Thanks to the virtual university, they can take university courses anywhere they are in the country. All they need is a connected laptop or smartphone. 

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On mardi, 17 mai 2022 16:06 Written by

Postal services are important for socio-economic development. However, in several African countries, it is not the case because the old systems are still being used. Most of those countries have decided to address the situation by using new technologies.  

The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) and the National Population Commission (NPC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to roll out digital postcodes in the country. The agreement was announced by Dr. Ismail Adebayo Adewusi, Postmaster General of NIPOST, during a press briefing last Thursday. 

According to the Postmaster-General, the adoption of a digital postcode system will improve the efficiency of the postal administration. It is a critical system for Nigeria, where some streets have no name and properties no number to identify them, he added. 

We drew up entities in a manner that ensures every part of the country is effectively captured, using a systematic framework of alphanumeric characters from the State, Local Government Areas, Postcode Districts, Postcode Areas, and Postcode Units,” Dr. Ismail Adebayo said. 

The transition from the old analog postcode system introduced in 1986 is expected to help improve mail sorting, delivery, response to emergencies, tax collection, and postal services as well as reduce crimes (banditry and frauds) and internet scams. In that light, it will boost trust between entrepreneurs and their clients. 

Such advanced addressing system will promote the proper functioning of not just the Postal sector. It is a critical infrastructure for meeting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, including poverty reduction, disease control, and provision of basic services such as water and electricity,” the Postmaster-General explained.  

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On mardi, 17 mai 2022 15:43 Written by

In Africa, healthcare access is still limited despite the reforms and projects implemented by governments. To address the situation, private firms, and startups are stepping in. 

Canadian firm UniDoc Health announced Wednesday (May 11), an agreement with  Northern Pacific Global Investment Services Limited to offer telehealth services in Nigeria. 

Under the agreement, UniDoc Health will lease some telehealth equipment and license software to allow Northern Pacific to offer the intended services in the target country. The software to be licensed include UniDoc Health’s proprietary solution VCSM which integrates “a range of physical products, web-based services, and analytical tools, along with access to the Company’s developing network of healthcare providers, pharmacies, and hospitals.” 

UniDoc’s goal is to make health care accessible to everyone. We are excited to work with our Partner to bring our Virtual Care Solutions Model to the people of Nigeria. Our kiosks will help to allow our Partner’s network of health care professionals to reach patients in remote locations throughout the country,” said UniDoc CEO Antonio Baldassare. 

As is the case in several African countries, Nigeria’s medical density is below WHO recommendations.  The UN Agency recommends at least 2.3 medical staff per thousand residents. However, according to data published by the World Bank in 2018, Nigeria’s density is 0.4 doctors per 1,000 residents. The agreement between UniDoc Health and Northern Pacific offers an innovative solution to the problem by allowing the population living in remote areas access to healthcare, through the VCSM. During the five-year leasing period, up to 1 million patient subscribers will be taken care of. 

Adoni Conrad Quenum

Posted On lundi, 16 mai 2022 16:13 Written by

With the open innovation framework, Algerian authorities want to boost the number of cleantech operating in the country, address various challenges and ultimately export local expertise. 

Algeria Venture (A-Venture) and  Schlumberger signed Wednesday (May 1) an open innovation framework for technical support to Algerian energy startups. 

Speaking during the signing ceremony,  the Minister of Startups Yacine El-Mahdi Oualid explained that the innovation framework would encourage more startups to enter the energy sector, which is vital for the national economy. It will also increase the number of projects and cleantech developed in the sector while helping address the energy transition challenges facing Algeria. 

Ultimately, thanks to the innovation framework, Algerian energy startups will be able to export their expertise in the North African sub-region and beyond. 

Under the open innovation framework, “international, private, state and parastatal groups will collaborate and help startups and project owners address Algeria’s future challenges in sectors like digital transformation and energy transition,” indicated Redha Kelkouli (photo, left), MD of Schlumberger North Africa.  

Startups play a key role in the improvement of access to various vital services. In Africa where businesses and households are still affected by the energy deficit, startups can offer alternative solutions. For that reason, the volume of investments they attract yearly is growing steadily. In its report  “2021 Africa Tech Venture Capital,” Partech estimated the volume of investments attracted by cleantech in 2021 at US$193 million, up by 30% year on year. 

Ruben Tchounyabe

Posted On vendredi, 13 mai 2022 17:55 Written by
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