Société Générale Set To Disrupt Africa’s Mobile Payment System With The Launch of YUP


Société Générale has announced the launch of YUP, a mobile money solution that provides access to financial services even without having a bank account.

Deployed in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, YUP already has more than 30,000 open wallets and nearly 600 agents. YUP will continue its development by launching in Ghana and Cameroon by the end of the year and in 2018 in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Togo before being extended to the entire network.

Société Générale hopes to open 1 million wallets within 3 years, doubling its customer base in sub-Saharan Africa, and building a network of 8,000 agents to serve their users.

Commenting on the launch, Alexandre Maymat, Head of the Africa/Mediterranean Basin & Overseas region said: “Africa is inventing the future of banking. The project’s key ambition is to be a part of this revolution by offering a simple transactional tool that’s accessible to all residents of the countries in which Societe Generale does business, be they individuals or corporations, Group customers, account holders with our competitors, or customers without bank accounts. This last category makes up 80%-90% of the population depending on the country, and it’s a major financial inclusion challenge in which the Group wants to take part through YUP.”

The wallet, built on technology from French start-up firm TagPay, allows customers to transfer money, receive cash and pay bills with a mobile phone. It is targeted at both banked and unbanked customers and is available to any mobile phone user, regardless of its telephone operator.


General Electric Signs Three Year Partnership Agreement with Hewlett Packard Enterprise To Provide Digital Solutions Across Africa, Middle East And Turkey


GE signed a strategic partnership agreement with Hewlett Packard Enterprise that will bring GE Digital’s breakthrough digital industrial solutions at scale to the Middle East, Africa & Turkey. The three-year agreement worth  $25 million with HPE is the first collaboration of this scale and scope in the region and will focus primarily on cyber security solutions in Operational Technology, with the potential to move into other digital solution in the future.

One of the first solutions this partnership will focus on is OpShield from GE Digital. OpShield was created specifically to protect critical infrastructure, drawing on years of embedded device testing and assessments of hundreds of industrial facilities. The solution reduces the risk of cyber related unplanned downtime; improves asset protection from cyber-related damage; helps safeguard protected health information (PHI); reduces the risk of damage to reputation and intellectual property theft due to cyber incidents, and increases customers’ confidence to connect and optimize assets.

In the first year of the partnership, GE Digital Cyber Security solutions will be distributed through the HPE Channel Partner Network across the MEA &T region, with a particular focus on the Gulf, Levant, Northern Africa, South Africa, and Turkey. By using this existing Partner Network with more than 1,500 partners in the region today, HPE and GED together will bring critical digital and cyber security solutions to industrial controls and infrastructure networks. To enable this outreach, the HPE Partner Ready Program (recognized as the industry’s number one partner program in EMEA will ensure that more than 340 HPE specialists and Channel Partner technical and sales resources will be trained and certified on GE Digital solutions to deliver the solution on HPE storage and server infrastructure. In addition, HPE’s own security capabilities for information technology infrastructure will complement the solutions provided by GE for the operational technology environment.

Ali Saleh, Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for GE Digital MEA said, “This partnership will enable our most important customers and partners in the region to begin the journey of digital transformation in a secure environment. HPE has the strongest partner program among peers to manage a partnership of this scope and scale, to bolster a secure digital ecosystem, and reach customers quickly through an innovative business model.”

Johannes Koch, Managing Director, Middle East and Africa for HPE said, “This agreement for the Middle East, Africa & Turkey builds on our global partnership with GE to help our customers and partners take advantage of the Industrial Internet of Things and drive digital transformation across their business. The requirement for security in both information technology and operational technology environments, and the need to protect critical infrastructures makes this an ideal opportunity for our partners.”
GE Digital and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have also agreed to discussions around bringing Predix-based applications to the market. Predix is the platform for the Industrial Internet of Things – connecting machines, data, and people to power the digital industrial companies of the future. It is the foundation that enables industrial businesses to securely collect and analyze data in real time so they can operate faster, smarter, and more efficiently. Specifically, GE Digital and HPE will look at “on premise” Predix-based applications. Predix is the only platform that provides connectivity capabilities from machines to full premises, and all the way to the cloud for a complete, integrated view of a company’s devices, processes, and people.

GE has introduced its advanced digital capabilities in the Middle East, Africa & Turkey through several landmark agreements announced over the last year. With a presence of over 80 years, GE has more than 20,000 employees in the region driving the Aviation, Digital, Healthcare, Oil & Gas, Power and Transportation businesses.

See the List of 2017-2019 Next Einstein Forum Fellows, Africa’s Top Scientists Solving Global Challenges


The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) has announces its second Fellows Class, 16 scientists, all under 42 years of age, who are solving Africa’s and the world’s challenges. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF Fellows will present their groundbreaking research at the NEF Global Gathering 2018, to be held on 26-28 March 2018, and help craft an exciting, high impact forum.

“Two years ago it was my great honor to announce the inaugural Fellows Class. Today again, I am excited to announce a brilliant NEF Fellows Class. The selected Fellows, six of whom are women, are doing cutting edge research in renewable energy, nanomaterials and nanotechnology, food security, regenerative medicine, cognitive systems related to fintech, cosmology, seismology etc. Beyond just theoretical research, our Fellows have developed impressive technologies from their research. We strongly believe their discoveries and initiatives, current and future, will solve global challenges in health, energy, climate change, education, agriculture to name a few,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

NEF Fellows are selected by a prestigious Scientific Programme Committee using a rigorous process that looks at academic and scientific qualifications including a strong publication record, patents, awards, and independently raised funds for research. Fellows also have to demonstrate the relevance and impact of their research/innovations to society as well as a passion for raising Africa’s scientific profile and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders.

Meet the 2017-2019 NEF Fellows:

  • Vinet Coetzee (South Africa) is working on affordable and non-invasive methods to screen children for nutrient deficiencies and inborn conditions, by training computer models to recognise the links between physical features and these conditions. For instance, Vinet’s team developed an affordable 3D camera at one tenth of the price of comparable commercial systems.
  • Abdigani Diriye (Somalia) is developing, together with his team at IBM Research Africa, new approaches to mine, model and score people, identifying the right amount of credit and appropriate products. Last year, they developed a machine learning approach that leverages new data sources (mobile phone behavior) to evaluate the financial profile and credit score of millions of people in East Africa.
  • Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe) is leading an inter-university collaboration between ICGEB/University of Cape and the University of Pretoria on developing a ‘stem cell-ECM’ bandage or patch which when fully developed can be used on injured tissue.
  • Jonathan Esole (DRC) introduced, while at Harvard University, a new topological invariant known as the orientifold Euler characteristic, which is now used daily by physicists working in F-theory. Jonathan also solved problems in supergravity open for more than twenty years.
  • Yabebal Fantaye (Ethiopia) investigates the statistical properties of the Universe using the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) data from the Planck satellite. More practically, his research focuses on developing machine learning and other advanced statistical methods for harnessing the African GIS and social Big Data for extracting actionable insights to help Africa meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Aminta Garba (Niger) is interested in finding key policies, technologies and applications relevant to the development of ICT, particularly in rural and underserved areas. As well, she is interested in methods that allow increasing the data rate of communication systems by shaping and reducing the interference.
  • Mamadou Kaba’s (Guinea) research projects led to better understanding of the risks of transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from animals to humans. He is currently conducting a prospective longitudinal study on how the composition of the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal microbial communities (microbiota) influences the development of respiratory diseases in African children.
  • Rym Kefi (Tunisia) is mainly involved in research on human genetic disorders, genetic diversity in North Africa and the impact of consanguinity on health. As well, she is strengthening research on ancient DNA and providing genetic profiling for paternity tests and human forensic identification at Institut Pasteur de Tunis.
  • Aku Kwamie’s (Ghana) research is in the area of health system governance, looking at how and where within health systems decisions get made, applying complexity theory to issues of management and leadership, accountability and organizational innovation.
  • Justus Masa (Uganda) leads several research projects in the field of electrocatalysis and energy conversion, focused on the development of advanced low-cost catalysts and electrode materials for electrochemical energy systems, including fuel cells, electrolyzers (power to gas energy conversion), rechargeable metal-air batteries and other modern battery systems.
  • Sanushka Naidoo (South Africa) is dedicated to plant defense in the forest species, with an emphasis on Eucalyptus. Her research is focusing on mechanisms that can confer broad-spectrum, long lasting resistance by dissecting gene families and responses to pests and pathogens.
  • Maha Nasr (Egypt) focuses on advanced technologies such as nanotechnology based drug carriers and composite delivery systems. She is currently investigating the possibility of creation of novel carriers for treatment of diseases, mainly cancer and Alzheimer’s.
  • Sidy Ndao’s (Senegal) research group has recently developed the world’s first high temperature thermal rectifier, a building block for future High Temperature Thermal Memory and Logic Devices, i.e., thermal computer. He is also the founder of the Pan-African Robotics Competition.
  • Peter Ngene (Nigeria) developed a strategy which is now widely used to make complex hydride nanocomposite materials for reversible hydrogen storage applications and solid-state electrolytes for rechargeable batteries. He has also developed inexpensive eye-readable hydrogen sensors for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance via hydrogen breath test.
  • Tolulope Olugboji (Nigeria) builds sophisticated computer models and designs novel remote sub-surface imaging techniques to improve the understanding of the architecture and composition of the solid Earth interior.
  • Hamidou Tembine’s (Mali) research investigates game theory and aims to contribute significantly to existing knowledge on the interactive decision-making problems with incomplete information, and in the presence of self-regarding, other-regarding, altruistic, spiteful, risk-sensitive, and irrational agents.

VC4A Launches Startup Academy


Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A), African platform for startup funding, has launched VC4A Startup Academy, an online resource designed to empower founders to take their business to the next level.

Founders can take their business to the next level by learning about the latest insights, download tools and listen to advice from 35 experts active in the emerging African startup ecosystem.

The VC4A Startup Academy is broken down into three learning courses, each focused on a different life-stage of a starting business.

The first course is called, ‘Start your business’, and introduces participants to main themes to consider during the founding stage of a startup. Course two is ‘Grow your business’, and covers what’s needed after a startup finds its feet and is ready to scale up. And course three, is ‘Finance your business’, introducing different funding concepts and tips on how to raise capital.

The theoretical content is presented by Andile Masuku (African Tech Roundup), and among the experts are the likes of Tomi Davies of the Lagos Angel Network, Rebecca Enonchong of the African Business Angel Network, Brett Commaille of AngelHub Ventures, Fatoumata Ba of Jumia, Emeka Afigbo of Facebook and Wim van der Beek of Goodwell Investments.

Content on the platform is available free of charge and can be accessed by members registered on VC4A.com. After each module, participants can test their learning by taking a quiz and unlock a personalized certificate that can be downloaded, and to recognize the entrepreneur for successfully completing the course. Graduates from the VC4A Startup Academy gain access to the VC4A Mentorship Marketplace, select startup opportunities and fundraising tools.

According to the VC4A founder, Ben White, “We are committed to helping entrepreneurs enhance their capabilities by providing knowledge and expertise that will empower them to successfully grow their business. Industry insiders pass on wisdom earned over the course of their careers as they’ve built companies, invested in startups, and raised venture capital. With this Academy we are working to unlock this knowledge in a way that makes it more accessible to a new generation of founders coming up across the continent.”

Six Ways Autonomous Vehicles Will Benefit Africa


Self-driving cars are no doubt the future of the automobile industry. Although autonomous vehicles are yet to hit African roads, it has been tested and used severally in the US and other countries. In fact, the billions of dollars being spent on making self-driving cars a reality should even convince doubters that these cars will soon become a reality. Thus, whether we like it or not and even if a Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer study found that 47% of South African consumers desire limited self-driving technology, with 39% interested in full self-driving vehicles, self-driving cars are here to stay As such, we share some of the benefits of self-driving cars.

Fewer accidents

The leading cause of most automobile accidents today is driver error. Alcohol, drugs, speeding, aggressive driving, inexperience, slow reaction time, inattentiveness, and ignoring road conditions are all contributing factors. All this will be avoided if autonomous vehicles take over the roads.

Reduced traffic congestion

One of the leading causes of traffic gridlock is self-centred behaviour among drivers. It has been shown when drivers space out and allow each other to move freely between lanes on the highway, traffic continues to flow smoothly, regardless of the number of cars on the road. Perhaps, this will be a perfect solution for the traffic imbroglio major African capitals like Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo, Addi Ababa, Kigali, Accra, and Johannesburg.

Lower fuel consumption

With car-to-car communications systems enabled, self-driving cars would know the next action of the cars in front of them. Consequently, the road will be free and as a result, car owners will spend less on fuel. In fact, it has been rumoured that some of the autonomous vehicles may not need fuel but batteries.

Improved productivity

With you not driving your car, you can focus on work and other things on your way to work. This will definitely boost your productivity.  Thus, you will be able to finish up a project, type a letter, monitor the progress of your kid’s schoolwork, return phone calls, take phone calls safely and enjoy the ride.

Better mobility for children, elderly, and disabled

If you are visually impaired, can’t walk, or you’re older, self-driving cars can ease the burden of transportation for you considerably. So, the aforementioned people can get to work just as easily as sighted people.

Little or no presence of traffic officers

If every car is plugged into the grid and driving itself, then speeding,—along with stop sign and red light running will be eliminated. The traffic officer will become redundant and have little or nothing to do.

Co-working space Nairobi Garage moves to bigger premises as demand skyrockets


Office, co-working and event space provider  Nairobi Garage has moved to a 33,000sqft premise as demand for shared offices skyrockets in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa’s biggest economy.

Now taking up three floors of an entire office development, the new Nairobi Garage is located on Ngong Road’s Pinetree Plaza, just a few minutes away from its previous premises.

“We’re thrilled to unveil the all-new Nairobi Garage // Ngong Road today. With our old premises at full capacity, we embarked upon an ambitious project to design and create a state-of-the art headquarters for Kenya’s entrepreneurs and business leaders.  Today we’re excited to open the doors to the new and improved Nairobi Garage, and look forward to welcoming old and new faces,” said Hannah Clifford, director of Nairobi Garage.

The new space also has a club membership model allowing entrepreneurs, creatives and investors to walk in, use the space on-demand whenever they need to instead of paying for a full-time office space. The development highlights the growing demand for serviced shared offices and co-working spaces in Nairobi and globally as tech hubs and incubators look to new business models. Nairobi Garage began as a tech hub complete with a startup fund but its accelerator arm has since been quietly closed after the firm said it would pause fundraising and doing seed stage investments.

iHub went all out for this shared office space model limiting which groups of entrepreneurs access and use the space as a tech hub. Nailab has also intensified its efforts to provide companies a place to work and do their events from. The shift is not just happening in Nairobi,  WeWork,which runs shared office space in the US and various parts of Europe has sold these flexible office dream to hundreds of enterprises and its continuing with its global expansion.

WeWork, now runs in over 200 locations in 50 plus cities and is reportedly worth over $20bn and is among the world’s 10 most valuable start-ups, according to a report by the FT beating oldie Regus which is run in 3,000 locations in 1,000 cities but valued at just $4.1bn. Though Nairobi Garage is yet to launch in as many locations as its global counterparts, it’s targeting entrepreneurial cities such Nairobi and Lagos with plans to expand further. These expansion in Nairobi could be its great start to launching Garages across Africa and probably exiting to WeWork in the near future.

To get your 10% discount on your first three months membership, book your visit now, or contact ngongroad@nairobigarage.com.



eBay And Mall for Africa Partner To Bring African Goods To Global Shoppers


eBay and Mall for Africa have partnered to make it possible for shoppers in any part of the world to purchase African goods.The partnership expands upon an existing relationship between the two companies, which allows Africans the ability to purchase items from eBayforAfrica.com or directly through the Mall for Africa app.

The partnership expands upon an existing relationship between the two companies, which allows Africans the ability to purchase items from eBayforAfrica.com or directly through the Mall for Africa app.

Mall for Africa and eBay will now provide Africans in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Burundi a new platform to sell their one-of-a-kind artisan products into the U.S. The inventory will be surfaced on the Mall for Africa store on eBay.com, allowing sellers to expand their businesses and increase brand awareness. To start, product categories will include fashion, art & collectables, jewellery, and clothing.  Expansion into other categories and additional African countries will occur in the upcoming months.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with extending our partnership with eBay as we empower, expose, and positively affect thousands of hardworking artisans while making it convenient for US shoppers to purchase African made products that would otherwise be unavailable to them, “said Chris Folayan, CEO of Mall for Africa. “As someone who grew up in Africa became an entrepreneur, and who currently does business in Africa, I know first-hand the importance of cross-border trade and having the opportunity to expand a business internationally.”

Mall for Africa’s long-time shipping partner, DHL, will be responsible for all shipping needs. The seller simply packs the product, prints the label, and drops the package off at DHL’s nearest drop-off location.  Last February, DHL published research that indicated a significant forthcoming increase in cross-border e-commerce sales. It also asserts that in 2020, 1 out of 5 e-commerce dollars will be generated cross-border and the market is anticipated to grow at 25% annually—almost twice the rate of domestic e-commerce.

“eBay’s vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology, and open to everyone,” said Sylvie De Wever, eBay’s General Manager of Latin America and US Exports. “This expanded relationship with Mall for Africa will not only bring great inventory and more selection to our marketplace but will also create greater economic opportunity for African artisans looking to expand their reach.”

Mall for Africa provides African consumers with a platform to purchase items directly from over 200 of the best US and UK retailers in the world. As a leader in the industry, MFA manages every step of the order process, offering its customers a simple, secure and convenient solution to online shopping.


Promising African Startups Can Now Apply For The Second Batch of The In2Korea Accelerator


The Korean government has launched a second batch acceleration programme to lure African and foreign startups to the Asian country. Tagged In2Korea, it aims to assist foreign startups to relocate to Korea.

The programme, which is managed by Korea’s National IT Industry Promotion Agency (NIPA), is open to all tech startups with a minimum viable product that is keen on developing their business in Korea. Only 30 spots are available.

In In2Korea’s first batch 31 teams from 18 countries including South Africa, Russia, India and Singapore were selected. The cohort will kick off next week on 21 August.

Guillaume Parvaix, the programme’s media liaison, said three African startups had been selected to join the first cohort. They are Hello Denim Africa, and digital wallet company, Jump Queue, both from South Africa as well as a Ghanaian startup, True West Media Consult.

“In2Korea helps startup entrepreneurs, professional job seekers and investors succeed in Asia’s hottest startup hub, Korea,” said DJ Kim, Vice President of NIPA, the National IT Industry Promotion Agency in charge of this program. “We’ve already recruited some of the best mentors and area experts in Korea, and they’re eager to get started working with the startups.”

Full perks for startups include:

  • Access to Experts: Legal, accounting, marketing and other professional services to help you take your business from a concept to corporation
  • Free Office Space: Work from Korea’s $160 million Startup Campus in Pangyo, within walking distance of Korea’s tech giants and 15 minutes from the glitz of Gangnam
  • Access to Talent: Exclusive access to monthly job fairs where you can meet qualified engineers, marketers and support staff
  • Fast Track Visa Process: Get your Korean Startup Visa within a matter of months, so you can legally do business in Asia’s new startup hub
  • Cultural Acclimation: Learn Korean and get insider tips from expats and entrepreneurs who have spent years succeeding in Korea

How To Apply

All foreign startups and entrepreneurs interested in developing their business in Korea are eligible to apply for the program. Rolling applications are now open. To apply and find more information, visit In2Korea’s website at www.in2korea.org.

One Africa Media, Owners of Jobberman Establishes Pan African Company To Cater For Cross Border Recruitment


One Africa Media Company, the owners of Jobberman and Brighter Monday, has floated a new pan-African company to cater for cross border recruitment in the continent.

The new company named The African Talent Company (TATC) was established due to the clients of the aforementioned companies that were asking for more services across the borders of Africa.

TATC will offer better-bespoke services in terms of recruiting, consulting, in terms research work, salary surveys and more HR involvement.

In addition, TATC will leverage on Jobberman and Brighter Monday which covers East, West and Southern Africa to help its client find the best candidate for African markets. For instance, if an employer in Nigeria wants to hire someone from Kenya all the employer needs to do is to contact TATC and they will get him the best candidate from East Africa through their entity Brighter Monday which operates in East Africa. An African company that is looking to hire from Indonesia for example, can also contact TATC to get the best candidate in from Indonesia.

Commenting on the new company, Lekan Olude, Co-founder of Jobberman and the African partner for TATC said: “Just because we were structured as a job website there were engagements that we couldn’t deliver so we decided to setup this company known as TATC. It is that company that gives clients the opportunity to be able to hire in any African country.”

This is good news for the continent as clients looking to hire staff no longer need to outsource this job to recruitment companies outside Africa.



Tencent Africa Launches Music Streaming Mobile App Launched in South Africa


A music streaming app, JOOX, that allows South Africans stream and download music has been launched by Tencent Africa.

The app comes with features, such as a rich locally curated playlists that provide a soundtrack for every mood. The application offers both a free and paid VIP experience providing offline music listening to save on mobile data. An additional feature allows for three different streaming quality options enabling listeners to manage their data consumption on-the-go.

Commenting, Brett Loubser, CEO of Tencent Africa Services said: “JOOX has seen tremendous success, surpassing its competitors to become the number one music streaming app in all four markets where it has launched. With the combination of a proven emerging markets content model and the experience of our local team, JOOX will provide a truly accessible and mobile-first experience for South African customers.”

JOOX has also secured relationships with all major international record labels ensuring that music lovers are able to stream all their favourite global hits and back catalogue. Two of such international record labels are Universal Music Africa and Sony Music Entertainment Africa.

Speaking on the partnership, Sipho Dlamini, the MD of Universal Music Africa said: “At Universal Music Group, we are working closely with digital distributors around the world to provide more consumer choice and competition in the market. With its intuitive and engaging features, JOOX has created a compelling mobile music streaming service. Working with local artists, Tencent Africa has paid close attention to the listening habits of South Africans and developed a service that has the potential to resonate with music fans across this ‘mobile first.”

“JOOX is differentiated by a compelling feature offering and we’ve observed the service to be both intuitive and engaging,” says Sean Watson, Managing Director Sony Music Entertainment Africa.

Customers who download JOOX will get their first month VIP access for FREE, as well as having access to an ongoing Freemium option. Paid VIP monthly access thereafter will cost R59.99 while two weeks’ VIP access will cost R29.99. JOOX is available from both the Apple iOS and Google Play stores.

Google To Train 10 Million Africans In Digital Skills


Google has announced plans to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years in an effort to make them more employable

The U.S. technology giant also hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa according to a company spokeswoman.

This pledge by Google marked an expansion of an initiative launched in April 2016 to train young Africans in digital skills. It announced earlier in March that it had reached its initial target of training one million people.

Google also announced plans to provide more than $3 million in equity-free funding, mentorship and working space access to more than 60 African start-ups over three years.

In addition, YouTube will roll out a new app, YouTube Go, aimed at improving video streaming over slow networks, said Johanna Wright, vice president of YouTube.

YouTube Go is being tested in Nigeria as of June, and the trial version of the app will be offered globally later this year, she said.

China’s taxi hailing firm Didi acquires an undisclosed stake in Taxify to teach Uber a lesson in Europe & Africa


Didi Chuxing, China’s leading mobile transportation platform popularly known as Didi has invested an undisclosed amount in Taxify in Europe and Africa in a move that will see it expand its web of influence across the continent and definitely break Uber’s hold on some of these markets where Taxify is gaining ground.

The two did not specify the details about the deal but said they will collaborate  to support the Taxify’s further growth and innovation across its diversified markets. The 2013 launched firm is headquartered in  Estonia and offers both taxi- and private car-hailing services to over 2.5 million users in major hubs across 18 countries, including Hungary, Romania, the Baltic States, South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Didi brings on board AI technologies and an extensive range of mobility services, including Taxi, Premier, Express, Luxe, Hitch, etc., to over 400 million users in more than 400 cities. In addition to creating over 17 million flexible work and income opportunities for its driver-partners, DiDi leverages its AI capabilities to help cities develop integrated and sustainable smart transportation solutions.

Markus Villig, Founder and CEO of Taxify, said: “Taxify will utilize this partnership to solidify our position in core markets in Europe and Africa. We believe Didi is the best partner to help us become the most popular and efficient transport option in Europe & Africa”.

This is not the firm’s first partnerhip to dominate the world. In December 2015, Didi, then known as Didi Kuaidi, partnered with Lyft, GrabTaxi and Ola to expand their earlier global rideshare agreement formed in September giving them access to nearly all of Southeast Asia, India, China and the United States, reaching nearly 50 percent of the world’s population.

The firms said they would release joint partner products by collaborating and leveraging each other’s technology, local market knowledge and business resources so that international travelers can seamlessly access local on-demand rides by using the same application they use at home. Each company will handle mapping, routing and payments through a secure API, providing the best global experience for the millions of travelers that cross between the U.S., Southeast Asia, India and China every year.

With Lyft making over 7 million rides per month in more than 190 cities, Didi Kuaidi providing 7 million rides per day across 360 Chinese cities, GrabTaxi, the leading ride-hailing platform in Southeast Asia with 95 percent market share in third-party taxi-hailing and more than 50 percent market share in private cars and India’s Ola- available in 102 cities across the country with over a million booking requests a day and $7 billion raised collectively, the group had only Uber to worry about until it began burning up with its own internal sexual harassment allegations.

The partnership now gives them an opportunity to have a greater impact on the future of transport in major cities worldwide. To clear the way for its own expansion, Didi acquired Uber’s China unit and gave Uber and its shareholders a 20 percent stake in the combined entity with Kalanick as part of Didi’s board. The Taxify’s investment is set to change Uber’s course in Africa as well as Europe making it a leader only in the US and DiDi the King of the rest of the world.

Will Cheng Wei, Founder and CEO of Didi Chuxing, said: “Taxify provides innovative, high-quality mobility services across many diverse markets. We share a strong commitment to harnessing the power of mobile technology to satisfying rapidly evolving consumer demands and revitalizing traditional transportation industry. I believe this partnership will contribute to cross-regional smart transportation linkages between Asian, European and African markets.”

Didi Chuxing is good for Africa and Latin America and some markets in Europe as apart from its Taxi hailing business, it has Premier, Express, Hitch, Luxe, Bus, Minibus, Chauffeur, Car Rental, Enterprise Solutions and bike-sharing and as many as 20 million rides were completed on Didi’s platform on a daily basis in October 2016. Didi acquired Uber China in August 2016.

Safaricom to Launch eCommerce Platform, Masoko


Kenya’s telecom giant, Safaricom is set to launch e-commerce platform, Masoko in the coming weeks, TechWeez first reported the development.

The platform would provide an avenue for local merchants, including supermarkets, and customers to interact and trade in a bid for Safaricom to boost its M-Pesa payments platform (Lipa na M-Pesa).

Like other general ecommerce platforms, it will stock various items from tech to fashion and food products.

While the internal testing phase for Masoko will be launched today, July 27, with a 50-percent off offer for employees on all fashion items, it would be launched to the public before the end of August.

Masoko comes with a number of advantages that would give it an edge over big players like Jumia and Kilimall.

With Sendy for logisitics, Safaricom’s deep pocket – as it controls close to 70% of Kenya’s stock market, millions of Safaricom subscribers – who will all be turned to Masoko customers, as well as Lipa na M-Pesa for online payments, they are coming fully ready to take on the market. Jumia and Kilimall sure have a lot to deal with in a few weeks.

African Mobile Subscriber to Hit Half a Billion by 2020


According to a new GSMA study, more than half a billion people across Sub-Saharan Africa will be subscribed to a mobile service by the end of a decade.

The report titled ‘The Mobile Economy: Sub-Saharan Africa 2017’, was published at the GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa event. It forecasts that the number of unique mobile subscribers1 in Sub-Saharan Africa will grow from 420 million (43 per cent of the population) at the end of 2016 to 535 million (50 per cent of the population) in 2020, making it the fastest growing region in the world over this period. The report also highlights the Sub-Saharan Africa mobile ecosystem’s growing contribution to regional GDP, jobs, innovation and socio-economic development.

“Sub-Saharan Africa will be a key engine of subscriber growth for the world’s mobile industry over the next few years as we connect millions of previously unconnected men, women and young people across the continent,” said Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA. “Mobile is also offering sustainable solutions that address the lack of access to services such as health, education, electricity, clean water and financial services, which still affect large swathes of the population.”

Subscriber growth is expected to be concentrated in large, under-penetrated markets such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, which together will account for half of the 115 million new subscribers expected in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

The report further revealed that growth will also focus on currently under-represented segments such as the under-16 age group, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of the population in many countries, and women, who are currently 17 per cent less likely to have a mobile phone subscription than their male counterparts.



healthymagination Programme Welcomes 2nd Cohort of Social Entrepreneurs


GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship have selected 14 African social entrepreneurs for the second cohort of its healthymagination Mother and Child Programme.

Startups selected include: Afya Research Africa – STONE HMIS, Cedars Diagnostics, doctHERsEarly ReachLiberian Energy NetworkMaternity FoundationMDaaS, MOBicure, NeopendaSevamobSisu Global HealthSouthlake Medical Centre – under LiveWellSubQ Assist and Totohealth Tanzania.

The program, designed to help the organizations acquire business fundamentals, improve their strategic thought processes, and articulate business plans that demonstrate impact, growth and long-term financial sustainability begin with a kick-off workshop. This will be followed by a six-month, online accelerator programme with in-depth mentorship from Silicon Valley-based executives and local GE business leaders. The accelerator and mentorship programme will culminate in a “Premier Pitch” event in Africa where the 14 organizations will present their respective enterprises to an audience of potential investors.

The startups will work to accelerate maternal health outcomes across Africa with impact areas including, Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and more.

According to Robert Wells, Executive Director of healthymagination, “solving local health challenges calls for locally-adapted interventions and innovations, and Social Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa are playing a major role in this regard.

“The healthymagination Mother and Child programme will continue to provide them with mentorship and in-depth training, accelerating health innovation and furthering our goal to increase the quality, access and affordability of maternal and child health.”

healthymagination Mother and Child programmed was launched in March 2016 by GE and Santa Clara University’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and it aims to continue to accelerate health innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Innovation Doesn’t Have To Be Disruptive


Howard Miller and Grace Njoroge dig deeper into the idea of innovation and what it means for the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity.

 It is clear that technology is changing the landscape of financial services in rural Africa. From the largest banks to the smallest fintechs, financial service providers are gearing up for a world in which finance is digital first and in which anyone with access to a mobile phone can also derive benefits from formal financial services.

The rapid uptake of mobile money in many countries has sowed the seed for a thousand new innovations that could further extend inclusive financial services. An outcome of this success has been that everybody in digital finance is looking for “the new M-Pesa”, in the same way that elsewhere, entrepreneurs want to be “the Uber of…” An underlying assumption here is that change is generally linear until a special company comes along with an idea that creates non-linear change, which we often call disruption.

But when you map this idea on to the landscape of unbundling that financial services are currently going through, it is not so clear that disruption is what’s needed. It used to be that a bank, or a microfinance institution, or an insurance company, would aim to provide a vertically integrated service to the customer, from initial acquisition to all aspects of relationship management and back end services. This is changing. Technology, and in particular the ability for different platforms to link with each other, opens up new opportunities for collaboration. Not everyone needs to develop the next big product or service – there may be much more value and impact for a fintech company to build a business- to-business solution that works at a specific pain point for a financial institution.

For example, the Fund is supporting a partnership between Juhudi Kilimo, an asset financing company, and the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab to develop a psychometric credit scoring tool for smallholder farmer borrowers with no or limited verifiable credit information. This is a tech-enabled solution for a specific challenge – how to estimate likelihood of repayment in a data-light environment – that could reduce costs and improve efficiency of Juhudi Kilimo’s credit processes.

A similar partnership in the Fund portfolio is between First Access, a fintech company, and Esoko, an agricultural information and communications company. The two will develop a rural agricultural credit-scoring platform for lending institutions from disparate data sets, from soil and weather data to mobile phone usage and farmer profiles. The solution has the potential to impact a large number of farmers who do not have traditionally accepted banking histories.

These are great innovations, that could have a real impact on micro and small business finance, but they probably won’t be putting other lenders out of business. And that’s fine. Innovation can be highly effective without being disruptive.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, and there is certainly scope for massive changes in Africa’s rural finance markets. But if you focus too hard on the next disruption you can lose sight of the great ideas that represent an evolution, not necessarily a revolution. At the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, we love big ideas. But the most important aspect of the big idea is the impact it has on the livelihoods of rural communities in Africa, not necessarily on how it disrupts the structure of the financial system.

So if you want to apply for support from the Fund, we’re not so fussed about if you’re the next big disruption to African financial markets. We want a credible plan that overcomes some of the many challenges of financing rural populations, and can have a real impact on the lives of people living in or close to poverty. We want ideas that work from the bottom up, which solve real problems. Maybe you’ll be disruptive. If you’re not, that’s fine too.

Howard Miller is an Associate Consultant, Nathan Associates

Grace Njoroge is a Financial Inclusion Advisor, KPMG International Development Advisory Services

Asia’s Richest Man, Jack Ma Visits Africa to Inspire Entrepreneurs


Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba and Chinese billionaire is on a three day visit to Africa. The visit marks his frist time on the continent, which would last from July 19 to 21, where he is expected to attend the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Rwanda.

On Wednesday, 19th, he paid a visit to Kenya in what he has said is a trip to inspire young entrepreneurs.

While dropping several nuggets of wisdom on starting a business, Ma noted that he came to Africa to share the entrepreneurial dream not to sell Chinese products.

According to him, “Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company, a society, a civilization… work.”

“Find people who can be your boss, not those who are willing to be your servants. That is how you’ll grow.”

“When you’re profitable, after paying your employees, you can then pay yourself as an entrepreneur.”

“Opportunities are always found where people complain.”

In his entourage are 38 other billionaires, including Internet tycoon Bob Xu, Alibaba’s founding partner Lucy Peng, founder and chairman of Mengniu Dairy Niu Gensheng, and real estate tycoon Huang Youlong.

According to BusinessDaily, the Chinese tycoons are expected to scout for business opportunities in East Africa’s largest economy where Chinese influence has been rising rapidly, with the balance of trade highly in favour of China.

Jack Ma is a special adviser for youth entrepreneurship and small businesses for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).


Meet The Winners of The 2017 Innovation Prize For Africa


The winners of the  2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) has been announced. Out of the total of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact.

Each one of the seven remaining nominees also went home with US$ 5 000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.

The patented innovation, Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB), by Dr. El-Shafeiis a smart bearing that significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants as well as conventional generator technology. Patented in the US since 2010 with another patent pending, the device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines more efficiently and cost effectively in Africa. SEMAJIB is an innovation that does not currently exist in the West, and already Siemens’ has indicated interest in the device. A world class innovation originating from Africa, SEMAJIB reverse Africa’s image as a technology consumer to technology producer. Production of these bearings in Africa will also generate jobs and increased revenue for Africa.

The second prize of $25,000 was won by Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda. Philippa’s innovation is an Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECFG), which is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. It is easy to operate and has key safety features, which include alarms for rate of infusion (rapid or slow), total volume (over or under) and faulty sensors. A battery utilizing a hybrid (AC mains and solar) charging bed powers the device. IV infusions are critical for both adults and children in various situations. Over 10% of children admitted to East African hospitals need immediate infusion therapy. Findings from the FEAST trial indicates that over-infusion in children increased the absolute risk of death by 3.3 % at 48 hours. Erroneous delivery rates can result into serious adverse effects. The ECGF has the potential to save lives by providing accuracy and safety at 8% the cost of a brand new infusion pump.

Dr. Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia, who was awarded the Special Prize for Social Impact of US$25 000, developed a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time. His diagnostic test is fast and easy to use in any setting and is able to detect and distinguish multiple infections which bear the same symptoms for instance, when a patient has yellow fever, malaria, and Ebola. Whereas most testing methods take three to seven days, this device gives test results in ten to forty minutes. Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation after obtaining positive results from his first prototype. The results have been validated with human clinical samples, peer-reviewed and published in several respected scientific journals such as ‘Nature-Scientific Reports’. His innovation has the potential of being a game changer in the continent in the detection and management of infectious diseases for quality patient-care.

Each one of the seven remaining nominees also went home with US$ 5 000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.

AIF collaborated with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and Ghana@60 Planning Committee to host IPA 2017, which was themed ‘African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity’. H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, presided over the prestigious awards ceremony, held at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra in Ghana.

AIF Founder, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, Founder, African Innovation Foundation, commented, “This edition of IPA has been all about galvanizing support for African innovators in order to mobilize increased investments to help them commercialize and scale their innovations at a greater rate. AIF has rewarded IPA 2017 for developing solutions that can truly add value to the lives of Africans, and I believe that these innovations have incredible commercial potential and will succeed in attracting the right investments to go to the next stage.”

IPA 2017 Chairman of the Jury, Prof Nyasse Barthelemy said that the deliberation was tough as the quality of innovations were high. “Each of the innovations, in their own respective ways, were winners as they represented local solutions to local challenges. It came down to the wire but we believe we have awarded the most compelling innovations this year. We look forward to seeing what comes next for the incredible innovations from IPA2017 innovators and wish them the very best”.

Speaking at the Awards ceremony, H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, commented, “As Ghana marks 60 years of independence, there is no opportune time than now to reiterate our nation’s commitment towards investing in innovation-led growth and prosperity. Our decision to partner with the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) to host the 2017 edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa is a result of our commitment to support African innovation not just at a national but at a Pan-African level. Platforms such as IPA are vital for building stronger synergies amongst key Science Technology and Innovation influencers and stakeholders in Ghana whilst expanding linkages with international partners to promote STI development capacity building, knowledge transfer and forge new partnerships with regional innovation leaders and expand our nation’s innovation footprint.”

The 2017 awards welcomed hundreds of entries from outstanding innovators. For the first time, IPA nominees include innovators from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe, and featured a stronger presence of women that in any of the years past. The exceptional quality of entrants, finalists and winners delighted this year’s judges and made for a thrilling awards celebration night.

IPA has seen tremendous growth in applications and increasing interest from both innovators and innovation enablers over the years. To date, IPA has attracted more than 7 500 innovators from 52 African countries, making it a truly Pan African initiative. IPA 2017 edition witnessed a record number of entries from over 2 500 innovators across 48 African countries. The Foundation has supported past winners and nominees with approximately US$ 1 million to move their innovations forward. Due to exposure generated by IPA, past winners have gone on to secure over US$30 million in investments to grow and scale their businesses.

M-Shule raises undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders to deploy its platform across Africa


Kenya’s M-Shule, an edtech startup using SMS to deploy tailored education content for children in Sub-Saharan Africa has raised undisclosed funding from Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) to take its mobile learning management platform to 144 million primary school students across Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to Claire Mongeau, CEO and Founder of M-Shule, “We are excited and thrilled to work with EWB Ventures as a partner and investor, given their deep expertise, commitment to ongoing support, and shared focus on ground-breaking and sustainable change. This partnership will enable us to continue to innovate in primary school learning alongside our stakeholders, and scale our impact across the region.”

M-Shule uses artificial intelligence to create and deliver personalized learning experiences for each child and empower schools with insights all through SMS and web. As students engage with platform, the data is provided to parents, teachers, and school administrators and stakeholders for insights and opportunities.

Having launched in Nairobi, Kenya in 2017 from M-Lesson, M-Shule aims to scale to educate millions of children and learning communities around the African continent and the world. Mshule.com becomes the eighth venture to receive a cash investment from EWB Ventures the venture arm of Engineers Without Borders Canada (EWB) which invests up to $100,000 in ventures from concept to revenue. The Canadian firm chose M-Shule because its platform has a holistic and unifying approach and arms stakeholders in the primary school ecosystem with data-driven tools critical for improving the quality of education for all students.

“We are delighted to welcome M-Shule to our portfolio where they join other bold teams defiantly tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems,” said Nicky Khaki, Managing Director for EWB Ventures.

Being based in  Sub-Saharan Africa where around one billion children will need to be educated in the next three decades makes M-Shule so attractive to EWB. EWB also sees the current educational landscape as ill-equipped to handle this demand as millions of children are currently falling behind.
Though Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest growing and the youngest population in the world, too many students are locked out of future opportunities due to issues such as high pupil-teacher ratios, high teacher absentee rates, and lost classroom time. Statistics show that up to 40% of students in SSA remain illiterate even after 5 years of school and 42% of SSA students drop out before the final year of primary school.There are just 28% of SSA students are enrolled in secondary school.
M-Shule aims to give equal opportunity for education to reduce prospects for economic growth and exacerbate issues such as hunger and child mortality as sustained access to equal education can increase income per capita by 23%.
Some of its competiton include Eneza Education and Kukua among others.

TLcom Capital Raises $40 Million For New Africa Fund To Support Tech Startups In Sub-Saharan Africa



TLcom Capital, the VC fund started in London two decades ago with over $300m under management and tech investments spanning Europe, Israel, and the US has raised US$40 million for its TIDE (Technology and Innovation for Developing Economies) Africa Fund, the first international VC fund focused exclusively on technology enabled solutions serving Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

TIDE will provide capital for early to growth stage in the US$500,000 to US$10 million range and business building support to world class African entrepreneurs in financial services, commerce, energy, health and education among others.

According to Maurizio Caio, Nairobi-based Founder and Managing Partner of TLcom, “While the Africa tech ecosystem is still maturing, we don’t see why Africa is any different from other tech investment opportunities across the globe in terms of the magnitude of the investment upside.”

With offices in Nairobi and Lagos and successful investments and exits into the best among the first generation of African mobile start-ups, such as Upstream (acquired by private equity group Actis) and Movirtu (acquired by BlackBerry). In Africa, TLcom Capital sees an opportunity of building companies serving large markets highly valued by global acquirers and capital markets, making it the world’s next attractive tech investing destination.

The Fund has now reached its first close of US$40 million – of the US$100 million target – with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing US$10 million each, alongside other African, American and European corporate investors and family offices such as FBN Capital, and Silicon Valley-based Bob King, founder of the Stanford SEED Institute. Other investors are currently working with a view to joining the final close of the Fund scheduled in June 2018.

“TLcom believes that African scalable tech enterprises represent not only a massive value generation opportunity but also a unique development tool that can result in job creation and much wider inclusion. Low-income segments that still represent the vast majority of local demand can access many basic services only when technology enables affordable solutions for consumers and SMEs”, says Andreata Muforo, Nairobi-based Partner of TLcom, previously with African Development Bank.

The unique combination of African and London presence of the four partners of TLcom, allows the team to work closely with their portfolio companies, actively participate in the Africa tech ecosystem, and access their global network of co-investors, advisors and technology expertise.

“TIDE Africa offers a great opportunity to our investor partners and to global private capital to achieve significant returns and support world class technology entrepreneurs who are working in Africa to create solutions for local and global markets. We look forward to finalizing our first deals and working closely with African entrepreneurs to help them reach their full potential,” concludes Omobola Johnson, Lagos-based Senior Partner of TLcom, and former Minister of Communication Technology in the Nigerian government.