Given his training, one would expect Hossam Taher to create a healthtech, not an edtech. However, his choice proved well-founded as he is now trusted by several investors who are committed to the development of ORCAS.

Hossam Taher is a young Egyptian entrepreneur, CEO, and co-founder of ORCAS, a startup that networks parents and students with nearby tutors through its eponymous mobile app.  

Founded in 2018, ORCAS allows tutors to offer quality training to students in elementary, middle, and high schools with personalized learning plans and assessments. It is “currently working on growing (..) to become the biggest school in terms of hours taught in the world by operating in developing countries on K-12 students,” as Hossam Taher puts it. 

To fulfill its ambition, the startup co-founded by Amira El Gharib successfully raised US$2.1 million, on January 16, 2022, during a pre-Series A round led by NFX Ventures and Access Bridge Ventures.  

Thanks to the funds raised, Hossam Taher plans to add more features to ORCAS, attract more talents and expand into the Middle East, North Africa, and Pakistan (this year, it is expected to launch operations in Lahore). 

ORCAS was previously CairoSitters. It was founded in 2014, months before Hossam Taher graduated from Cairo University with a BSc in Medicine. From 2014 to 2016, CairoSitters was an “online virtual platform where parents can find, book and manage sessions with high-quality babysitters and tutors.” It was an avenue to offer flexible work opportunities to university students and above all fill the demand for qualified and trusted tutors.  

To address the specific needs of every student, CairoSitters was rebranded as ORCAS with more offers. “Learners today have different needs that edtech companies must cater to. For that reason, we have evolved into a learning platform that offers the complete spectrum of teacher-led & self-paced learning environments,” Hossam Taher explains. 

Melchior Koba

Published in TECH STARS

Training is a crucial economic development issue in Africa. The continent currently has the highest unemployment rate, the youngest population in the world, and a high NEET population. The initiative launched by Trace aims to bridge the education gap.

French media group Trace launched, Thursday (April  21), Trace Academia, a free training platform for young Africans. 

The mobile app was officially presented during a virtual press conference hosted on April 21, in Johannesburg. It offers technical and cross-cutting courses covering 15 industries and skills including energy, beauty, fashion, DIY, digital marketing, hospitality, creative arts, journalism, film, technology,  entrepreneurship, public speaking, and well-being.

The courses are developed in partnership with well-known international groups like Orange  Visa, and Google. 

The courses already available are notably Entrepreneurship developed by Valued Citizens and the University of Johannesburg, Becoming a DJ developed by Trace, and Introduction to the Electrical Trade by Schneider Electric. There is also DIY by Leroy Merlin, Tech the Power by MasterCard, Sexual Wellness by Durex, and Introduction to Digital Marketing by Google. French telecom group Orange will also offer ten training modules to showcase digital professions in Senegal, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To build Trace Academia, we’ve combined our expertise and experience in entertainment with cutting edge learning approaches adapted to the realities and cultures of Africa…We believe that Trace Academia has the potential to positively impact the lives of millions of young people in South Africa and across the continent,” indicated  Olivier Laouchez, Trace Co-Founder and Executive Chairman. 

With Trace Academia (available on PlayStore and AppStore), Trace wants to offer professional and cross-cutting skills to 26 million Africans by 2025. In its 2020 “Report on Employment in Africa (Re-Africa),” the International Labour Organization reveals Africa is the only continent where the labor force is expanding quickly. In 2020, 34.2% of the continent’s working-age population was constituted of young people aged 15-24 against a global average of  23.6%. 

The ILO also estimated that the continent’s unemployment rate (6.8%) was higher than the global average (5%). Africa’s unemployment population was close to 34 million at the time, including 12.2 million people aged between 15 and 24. The organization added that between 2010 and 2020, the unemployed population aged 15-24 grew by 6.4 million in Africa. 

 At the same time, in Africa, the number of young people not in employment, 

education or training (NEET) was four times (53.5 million actually) higher than the number of unemployed youth (aged between 15 and 24).   

Ruben Tchounyabe

Published in Tech

 Less than two months after its launch, Kouncel has already piqued the interest of many investors. With his online training courses, the founder wants to contribute his over five years of practical experience to making legal concepts understandable for everyone.

 Ibrahim M. Saleh (photo) is the CEO of edtech Kouncel. A law graduate from the University of Cairo, he co-founded Kouncel in February 2022 to provide legal online training and courses on various topics like arbitration, corporate law, and intellectual property.

On February 28, Ibrahim Saleh successfully raised US$1.2 million from the African Development Bank, the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), the Egyptian Entrepreneurship Development Project (Tanmia wa Tatweer), and Zaldi Capital. The funds raised will allow Kouncel to scale its services in the MENA region. 

 Ibrahim M. Saleh created Kouncel to help companies and lawyers active in the MENA region better understand legal concepts and their specificities. He sees Kouncel as his contribution to the development of his native country, Egypt.  

“Education forms a key part of Egyptian Economic Vision 2030, and law plays an important role in creating a healthy environment for businesses and pushes FDIs forward. And we aim to provide a highly sophisticated education experience to everyone in the legal field which will positively impact the ecosystem,” he says.

Before Kouncel, Ibrahim M. Saleh founded MLP Legal Academy in 2016 with Mohamed Adel. The educational institutions offers legal training programs to individuals and businesses. With technology, Ibrahim Saleh is reaching a wider audience. 

Melchior Koba




We are tech


Published in TECH STARS

The government of Benin has in recent years made e-education a priority. The need for such a system has been highlighted with the Covid-19 pandemic, prompting the government to accelerate the process.

Benin wants to build a solid e-education system inspired by the model used in Côte d'Ivoire through the “Digital School” project. Last March 18, the Higher Education Minister, Eleonore Yayi (pictured) led a visit to the Lycée classique d'Abidjan, one of the sites where the project is rolled out.

With the Minister of Digitalization Aurélie Adam Soule, Eleonore Yayi visited two multimedia rooms and a data center. The first one is equipped with more than thirty computers, two giant touch screens, and last generation cameras and is intended for courses by videoconference. It is interconnected by optical fibers to 149 other sites across the country. The second room, equipped with computers and a high-speed Internet connection, allows students to follow courses remotely. The data center contains all the educational data produced during the courses, the teaching manuals, etc.

The Minister said her department is already in talks with tech giant Huawei to reproduce the Ivorian model in Benin. This measure aligns with the ambitions of President Patrice Talon, the official said. With e-education, the Beninese government wants to give young learners access to experts, the most current research, and the most advanced knowledge. With digital technology, interacting with education professionals remotely will be facilitated. This will enable the country to gradually build a strong human resource to boost growth.

Muriel Edjo

Published in Public Management

The online library YouScribe unveiled plans to strengthen its presence in Africa. Yesterday February 8, it announced it has secured €5 million from the French Banque des Territoires.

The startup will use the money to accelerate its expansion on the continent, especially in the ten countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, South Africa, Cameroon, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, DRC, and Madagascar) where it already operates. YouScribe also eyes seven new markets on the continent and plans to expand its collection with new books, and diversify payment methods.

According to Maud Franca, deputy director of the Program of Investments for the Future at the Banque des Territoires, the investment aims to support the profound changes that the French-language book and publishing sectors are experiencing with digital technology.

"YouScribe is a response to the challenges that must be met collectively to provide alternative offers to the large online library platforms, often foreign, and to support publishers and authors in the French-speaking world, while also thinking of the younger generations, who are fans of social media and mobile applications,” she said.

The number of French speakers in the world is expected to increase from more than 300 million currently to 750 million in 2050, making French the second most spoken language after Mandarin, according to the Observatoire démographique et statistique de l'espace francophone (ODSEF). The latter estimates that more than 70% of French speakers will be Africans and Africa will have more than 90% of young French speakers aged 15-29. However, the lack of distribution infrastructure and the high cost of paper books could accentuate the low access to reading for Africans.

The relevance of the project earned YouScribe the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Award in 2013. In 2015, the initiative received the 2017 Digital Africa Challenge Award, organized by AFD, French Tech, and Bpifrance. In 2018, Orange Africa chose the startup to promote access to reading in countries where books are poorly distributed.

By the end of 2021, YouScribe was already claiming nearly 700,000 subscribers, up 100% from 2020. By 2025, the online library with more than one million books, audiobooks, and educational digital documents targets several million subscribers, 80% of which will be in Africa.

Published in Finance

The low mobile internet penetration rate in Africa (only 28% in 2020 according to GSMA) is a huge obstacle to online learning. To tackle this issue and make learning content more accessible, the startup Kajou came up with an offline solution. The company is now in full expansion.

Kajou closed a €1 million round of financing last January 10, with the impact investment funds Phitrust, Colam Impact, and Hippolyte Capital. Business Angels, mostly from the Ashoka network, also took part in the round. The beneficiary plans to use the money to intensify its activity in Senegal and accelerate the development of its digital training content offer in West and Central Africa, particularly in Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo, and Cameroon.

The digital training content offered by Kajou is available on micro SD cards that can be inserted into a smartphone. The information is then accessed via the Kajou application. Users can browse up to 32 gigabytes (GB) of selected content in local languages. Multiple sectors, including health, the environment, agriculture, and entrepreneurship are covered. The app also allows users to share content with their friends, without using data.

Jérémy Lachal (pictured), the founder of Kajou, sees the digital solution as "a great tool to bring knowledge directly to your phone. It allows you to consult thousands of contents without using your Internet data. We are knowledge activists. Because where there is knowledge, there is hope.”

Kajou has been in operation for 18 months and already has more than 20,000 users. The startup is a response to the need for access to knowledge in Africa, where the mobile Internet penetration rate is still only 28%, according to "The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2021" report by the Global System Operators' Association (GSMA). 

Kajou wants to reach more than 3 million people in West Africa with its digital library. It sees this investment as a way to allow its users to get information, educate themselves, and develop their professional activity.

Muriel Edjo

Published in News
mardi, 01 février 2022 15:37

Gabon seeks to digitize primary education

The government of Gabon announced a partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to introduce digitalization in primary education. A meeting was held for this purpose between the Gabonese Minister of National Education, Professor Patrick Mougiama-Daouda, and the resident representative of Unicef in Gabon, Dr. Noël Marie Zagre. This initiative aims to make distance learning more dynamic through new technologies.

"The program will spread over five years. We plan to establish a mechanism that will help both students and teachers to get used to the digital tools. A first phase will see us implement the project in 3 schools per region," said Dr. Noël Marie Zagre.

The UNICEF Resident Representative also revealed that the program will later cover secondary and higher education. "It will take into account all aspects including staff training, infrastructure, and content to ensure that primary education can benefit from the digital," he said.

Gabon gradually started its digital migration process about a decade ago. With the advent of Covid-19, the country wants to accelerate its process.

Brice Gotoa

Published in News

The government of Benin has adopted a new five-year multi-sectoral plan for digital migration. For the education component, the government has defined a technical framework to accelerate the digitalization of the sector. A workshop was organized for this purpose on January 27 by the Minister of Digitalization, Aurelie Adam Soulé Zoumarou (pictured).

It was attended by Salimane Karimou, Minister of Nursery and Primary Education; Eléonore Yayi Ladekan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research; and Kouaro Yves Chabi, Minister of Secondary and Technical Education and Vocational Training.

According to Aurelie Zoumarou, the meeting enables participants to set “the fundamentals of the information system to be put in place, as well as the governance and the roadmap of the e-Education project.” She stressed that “per the vision of the government, the e-Education project must optimize learning and foster a better quality of the transmission of knowledge using digital tools.” The e-Education project is a sub-component of the Government Action Program (PAG) 2021-2026, in its fifth strategic axis: "promotion of quality education and technical and vocational training." Accelerating the project will help the government address the challenges faced by the sector during the coronavirus pandemic.

Once implemented, e-Education will contribute to improving the governance and management of education systems, introducing new teaching and learning practices, improving the monitoring and development of learners, making certificates and diplomas more reliable, strengthening teachers' capacities and skills, and improving research.


Adoni Conrad Quenum

Published in News
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