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Trine is raising $3.7m to connect investors to profitable solar energy projects in Africa

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© Emmy Jonsson
TRINE Team photo by© Emmy Jonsson

TRINE, a crowdfunding investment platform which helps investors locate and fund profitable solar energy projects in developing countries is raising 3,500,000 EUROS ($3.7m) to scale its operations in East Africa, in a move expected to  enable the spread of solar energy in the region and beyond.

Trine works with solar partners, who use the site to raise working capital from crowd-investors to be able to offer affordable and reliable solar energy to local communities. This helps to relieve the pressure of up-front costs, whilst encouraging people to abandon the traditional use of expensive and harmful fuels.

“We aim to bring solar energy to the 1.2 billion people in need of access to electricity and make it easy for people to make a social and environmental impact while also earning a return on their investment,” said Sam Manaberi, founder and CEO Trine. ”We had a seed round of 5 million SEK at the beginning of 2016. Our next major step, in terms of funding, is our A-round. We’re currently in the raising process, and we’re targeting around 3.5 million EUR to allow us to scale as planned.”

Sam added that Trine is fully focused on building its platform and scaling globally.

Backed by a significant advisory panel, including Palle Stenberg (Nudie Jeans), Lena Apler (Collector Bank), Niklas Adalberth (Klarna) and Lars Jacobsson (The Perfect World Foundation), the firm has funded eight projects and catalyzed €442 000 of crowd-investment in total.

“By 2021, the goal is to have funded 1000 projects and provided 66 million people with clean energy,” Manaberi added.

Launched in February 2016, Trine initially had an open mind about which regions to focus on, and rather let the most experienced entrepreneurs decide which markets were best for investment. However, as the year advanced, it turned out that East Africa, and in particular Kenya and Tanzania, were the thriving markets for solar energy in the off-grid space. These countries not only have positive regulation in place for solar energy, but also have the necessary mobile payment technology spread that is needed for PAYGO solar systems.

Safaricom, Kenya’s largest telco facilitated over $52 billion in value over its M-Pesa mobile money in the year through March 2015.

Trine adds that the market of energy access in general requires about EUR 21 billion annually until 2030 to eliminate energy poverty.

“Solar energy is already today one of the key solutions to rural off-grid electrification and is becoming more bankable each day. The price of solar shows this clearly, with a drop in cost of 60% over the last 5 years, which is projected to continue to drop,”Manaberi told TechMoran. “There is huge potential for off-grid solar to reach people who are not currently included in national plans for energy access. We are convinced that solving energy access requires a multifaceted approach, with different technical and financial solutions working towards dynamically towards the same goal.”

Solar partners pay a 5% arranger fee for successful funding of their project, and currently pays between 10-16% interest rate on a declining balance of the loan. Trine and the crowd-investors evenly split the expected returns. Trine says there are no hidden fees on using the platform.

And just super simple. Factors like the results from the due diligence process, risk level etc. all play a part in forming the loan agreement.

12191664_1060086184003028_6154772831494098322_nTo reduce risks associated with solar access projects, TRINE performs extensive due diligence processes on all solar partners before deciding to sign a loan agreement with them. It has developed an in-house risk tool and assessment framework focusing on the areas of technology, market, organisation and – most importantly – financials. This framework includes checking third party references, analyzing interim and audited accounts, debt-sizing adjusted to future cash flow, and back-end system access.

During the project duration, Trine does quarterly follow-ups, bi-annual checks on interim financials and weekly follow-ups on sales and payment progress while on future potential risk reduction, Trine is working on getting guarantees from the likes of UK Aid or SIDA – and commercial hedging – to protect the crowd’s investments from potential project default.

Contrary to popular belief that solar energy is only for off-grid customers, Trine says some people actually have both a grid connection and a solar system, due to the grid being unreliable. Most times a grid connection is too expensive for the people living in energy poverty.

The rural and peri-urban communities ability to pay upfront for the more sophisticated systems are not high enough – and thus a PAYGO model is needed to bring down the threshold for them. Trine makes sure that what the end-users pay compares fairly with the alternative options (e.g. kerosene).

Disputing the notion that PAYGO firms end up overcharging their customers, Manaberi says a profit margin of 20-30% is normal in a distribution business and companies must have a margin that ensure they can handle defaults in their portfolio (normally 5-10%).

”Pay as you go solar in Africa is an immature, high risk market, therefore margins must be a minimum of 20% in order to build a sustainable business and have a long term impact on energy access. One of TRINE’s long term aims is to reduce the risk of this market by providing companies with working capital, and therefore allow our solar partners to make their products more affordable and attractive for the end consumer,” Manaberi told TechMoran.

Sam Manaberi 9CEO) and Andreas Lehner (CTO)
Sam Manaberi (CEO) and Andreas Lehner (COO)

For Trine to achieve true sustainability, for itself and for Africa, Manaberi says the firm needs to keep building momentum and awareness around energy access as a serious issue. Its biggest challenge is ensuring that its project pipeline grows in parallel with a steady inflow of crowd-investors to meet the annual need of around EUR 21 billion in financing to eliminate energy poverty. He believes crowdfunding could cover a notable chunk of that funding as some platforms in the US have raised over USD 10 billion to-date.

Instead of leaving energy and other strategic public needs to governments in Africa and emerging markets, Trine, as a private solution, aim to leverage its resources to support this vision of a world with no energy poverty. The people the team has met have all shown strong interest and the right attitude.

For the next six months, Trine’s focus will continue to be on East Africa but towards the end of 2017, it might potentially look more towards West Africa again.

To send your friends or family some sunshine this Christmas. Trine has launched a TRINE Christmas voucher, which can be used to invest in one of its solar energy project, by going to www.jointrine.com/christmas. You then just choose the amount (from €25 and up) and design your gift card to be sent digitally to the recipient or printed out. Once the recipient has activated the gift card through the unique voucher code (www.jointrine.com/activate), the person can choose any available project on the platform to invest in.

Trine has solar energy projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania,  Zambia and Senegal.

Efritin.com rewards Buyers and Sellers with 12 days of Christmas discounts and giveaways.

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Efritin.com, Nigeria’s No 1 marketplace where you can buy and sell everything has just launched its 12 days of Christmas celebration to reward its loyal customers with the best discounts on Laptops, Mobile phones, electronics, cars, fashion and beauty, etc; from partner sellers this Christmas.

At Efritin.com, Christmas goes beyond a single day, creating opportunities for loyal buyers and sellers to shop for the best discounts while also winning prizes every day till Christmas.

In the last 3months, Efritin.com has recorded huge success with its used cars category with Sellers on its membership platform reporting sales of cars within 24-48hours on the platform. A Christmas window has opened up for new sellers to join the Membership platform which guarantees sales of your products.

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Buy Now, a nationwide product verification and delivery service launched  a few months ago by Efritin to help Buyers and Sellers guarantee exchange of products has also just achieved a big milestone with more users signing up to use the service.

Speaking about the 12 days of Christmas and other milestones, Gbenro Dara, MD, Efritin Nigeria said;

“2016 has been a very big year for us at Efritin.com; from the launch of our Buy Now service which continues to distinguish us in the classifieds market, to achieving our quality targets in different categories to all time highs in transaction numbers, etc;

Our loyal buyers and sellers have continued to show trust in our used goods platform and we decided to show our appreciation with our discounts store, giveaways on our social media pages as well as a special outreach to the poor in collaboration with COTSNG – Christmas on the streez.

Christmas and the end of the year celebrations are a time for giving, sharing and shopping, and we want to continue to put smiles on the faces of our buyers and sellers all year round”.

New and old customers can visit Efritin.com immediately to start enjoying discounts this season.

 

NTSA Directs Kenyan Drivers to Submit Information to TIMS before End of Year

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The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has issued a public notice requiring every driver to transfer their details to the electronic system before the end of 2016.

“NTSA has migrated Motor Vehicle Registration, Motor Vehicle Inspection Booking, Motor Vehicle Transfer of Ownership, Motor Vehicle Record Search, Driver License Record Search, Driving License Issuance, Driver License Renewal and Application for Road Service Licenses to the Transport Integrated Management System (TIMS),” the statement read.

Manual transfer of vehicle ownership will come to an end beginning next month, making the process purely digital in the new year.

“From January 1, 2017, NTSA will not accept any manual submission of transfer of ownership applications”, NTSA director-general Francis Meja said in a notice.

Moving the transfer of motor vehicles by dealers, individual owners and finance institutions to the online portal is aimed at easing the process and cutting the amount of time vehicle owners spend on the task.

The system allows for real-time transfer of vehicles without having to lodge physical paperwork with the regulator.

The buyer and seller will be required to register on the TIMS portal and submit their full details, including Personal Identification Number (PIN), identity card and mobile phone numbers

“Individual car owners, companies, motor vehicle dealers and financial institutions are required to create own profiles on TIMS by December 31st,” says Mr Meja in a gazette notice.

The notice says all persons holding onto transfer forms are required to submit them to the nearest NTSA offices for processing,

The system is linked to the Kenya Revenue Authoriy’s online platform and will update all the vehicles registered to a person based on duty payments.

To transfer a vehicle, one is required to enter the buyer’s PIN, paving the way for the system to prompt for payment of the transfer fee.

The fee varies based on engine capacity and can be paid through the mobile money system. It’ll cost buyers Sh 1,500 to transfer a small car.

Once the fee is paid, the system will generate a two part verification code. The first part will be sent to the seller and the second to the buyer through their mobile phones.

Each has to enter the code on their TIMS profile for the transaction to be completed. The system will then show that the vehicle transfer has been completed.

“If there is a dispute after the transaction, then the parties have to come to the office to have it reversed,” Fernando Wangila, NTSA’s ICT director said in an earlier interview.

This message came days after the Authority dismissed a message making rounds on social media instructing license holders to send a short code message in order to know the status of their DL and avoid being delayed on roadblocks.

The false warning claimed that those who failed to ensure their details are on the eCitizen and NTSA portals by December 31, 2016, would have to redo the driving test.

Innovative Mobile Phone POS, BankIT POS Launched by eTranzact at e-banking Conference

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If it is in your mind, it could soon be in your hand. We are in the age where Science fiction is becoming science reality- Valentine Obi, 2016 at CEBIH 2016.

Valentine Obi, CEO of eTranzact (https://twitter.com/mrvalentineobi) was a speaker at this year’s edition of the committee of e-banking heads (CEBIH) conference held at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja last week. He talked about “Adding value through disruptive innovation” and how disruptive innovation is affecting every part of life from payments to banking to transportation to hotels to health, etc.

He talked about how disruption can be ugly even bordering legality, using the example of MMM which has over 1.2million users in Nigeria, with everyone required to have a Bank account.  He charged the Bankers and other tech companies to look at consumer behavior patterns in MMM and how the knowledge can help transform banking.

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The event saw the launch of BankIT POS, a point of sale application that you can install on your phone to help take advantage of your most used device as a tool of business. BankIT POS allows you simply install an application on your phone that processes debit card and direct bank account payments.

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Earlier in the year, eTranzact launched BankIT, a payment service that allows businesses to receive payment from bank accounts on Mobile, Web, USSD and POS. In a short time since launch, BanKIT has already processed millions of transactions for companies like Multichoice( DSTV and GOTV), Airtel, GLO, Etisalat, Slot, etc, providing the engine for millions of Customers to pay subscription fees using 3899*SmartcardNumber#; buy airtime and data- *444# for Airtel, *805# for GLO and *695# for Airtel, as well on the web for schools and ecommerce companies.

The CEBIH event had in attendance Heads of e-banking from top Nigerian banks; Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank; Mitchel Elegbe, CEO, Interswitch; John Obaro, CEO, System Specs; Ade Sonubi, MD, NIBSS; Adia Sowho, Director, Digital Business, etisalat and other professionals in Banking, payments and telecommunication sector.

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CEBIH executives with Mr Adeyemi Adeyemo, Group Head, Business development, eTranzact and Mr Valentine Obi, CEO, eTranzact at the CEBIH conference.

Businesses can sign up to start using BankIT POS here: http://bit.ly/BankITPOS. You can see more pictures below and others here: http://bit.ly/CEBIH2016

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Improved Collaboration will save N200b from Cyber Crime and Hard tokens In Nigeria – Valentine Obi,eTranzact

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Fotolia 37375108, 76855752; Thinkstock 454370457, 522205077; iStock 54971658, 20842607

eTranzact International PLC has started the implementation of Applock – a technology that ties mobile financial service apps with mobile phones to help Banks, mobile money operators and other partners reduce fraud and safeguard financial information of customers.

With over 15million smartphones currently in circulation in Nigeria and with efforts by the OEMs to increase this number by making smartphones even more affordable, mobile banking and mobile money adoption in Nigeria has also increased, leading to the need to scale up technology resources as well as think up new ways to make the process easier and safer for consumers. eTranzact has been heavily focused on building the infrastructural backbone of what is required to take this industry to new heights.

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Speaking at the Information Systems Audit and Control Association Conference in Lagos, Mr Valentine Obi, CEO of eTranzact, talked about how fighting cybercrime and fraud is a collective effort, and proper coordination among the stakeholders is currently lacking to the advantage of the fraudsters.

He said; “Fighting cybercrime requires the collaboration of the entire ecosystem from the banks, switching companies, to the regulatory bodies.

The current strategy to fight cybercrime in Nigeria is not sufficient. N127b is lost every year in Nigeria to cybercrime according to the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu.

The payment industry stakeholders need to clearly define the rules of engagement in the event of a fraudulent activity in the industry. Information technology risks have evolved dramatically in the last few years but the approach that financial institutions use to manage them has not kept apace. Hard tokens cost as much as N3000 and if a customer with 4 accounts needs to get a token, that amounts to N12,000 per customer leaving the customer to either get the tokens or be excluded from electronic transactions altogether. We believe this is the age to deploy other cheaper and safer options that are not dependent on hardware.

Fotolia 37375108, 76855752; Thinkstock 454370457, 522205077; iStock 54971658, 20842607

eTranzact has created an Enhanced Strong Authentication system (ESA) which, in addition to the Applock technology, will significantly help reduce cybercrime and fraud in POS, Mobile and web transactions. With ESA, the Mobile phone becomes the token, allowing the user secure multiple bank accounts with one phone. 

ESA will translate to savings of over N120b spent on hard tokens for 40million cards and will result in no foreign exchange loss.  ESA allows the generation of one time password codes and setting dynamic spending limits on ATMs and Cards”.

 

Exclusive: Uche Ajene Accuses Zakaria Hersi, Former MD of Efritin.com of Theft and Fraud

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Uche Ajene, former marketing manager of Efritin.com has accused Somalian national and former MD of Efritin.com, Zakaria Hersi of stealing thousands of dollars, turning a blind eye to internal mismanagement  and false fully creating invoice trails that led to her.

In a set of tweets on November 17, 2016, Uche also named Chioma Viola Opara, Regional Sales Director at Flexenclosure AB as his co-conspirator.

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Uche Ajene who held a similar position at Rocket Internet’s Jumia is well respected in online marketing cycles, and also held a similar role at Naspers’ MIH Internet Africa, a consultancy role with United Bank For Africa, Interra Network inc. and Silverton Bank.

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Uche who has made a name for herself on twitter with her blunt and direct tweeting style was absent from twitter earlier this year around the time when whispers of her exit from Efritin were first brought to our knowledge. She was accused of fraud and mismanagement of funds but sources have confirmed to us that she was able to clear her name of accusations within the company but not to the larger online marketing community who did not have access to her side of the story.

Uche in her tweets mocked the duo of Zakaria and Opara over thefts of $50,000 and $100,000, and promised to reveal more information about their illegal activities while at the company.

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In communication with Techmoran, Uche talked about Efritin’s unique approach to classifieds in Nigeria and how Zakaria’s greed and mismanagement had led the company to lay off a lot of its Nigerian staff in 2015, increasing the need to rely on it’s central team.

In collusion with Chioma Viola Opara, Regional Sales Director at Flexenclosure AB, Zakaria Hersi had created a company “VC Stratem” and created invoices for online marketing services worth $40,000 for services never rendered. He also faked email communication from Uche asking for approvals for this invoice and other invoices that he sent to the parent company in Sweden.  She also mentioned reporting theft by Gabi, a former member of the Efritin Nigeria team to Zakaria but he ignored it.

Responding to questions about how Zakaria’s theft affected Efritin Nigeria’s operations and prospects of growth, she talked about how hurried expansion to other parts of Nigeria and the volume of theft created pressure on Efritin Nigeria leading to fears about the viability of the Nigerian market from the parent company.

The entire experience reinforced a lesson for her on great record keeping which she eventually helped clear her name with the company.

 

 

 

Africa Code Trains 427,000 Students How to Code in a Week

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Africa Code Week is a continent-wide initiative to spark the interest of African children, teenagers and young adults in software coding. Spearheaded by SAP in 2015 as part of its social investments to drive sustainable growth in Africa, Africa Code Week (ACW) is the story of hundreds of schools, teachers, ministers, community centers, code clubs, NGOs, businesses and non-profits getting together to give birth to the largest digital literacy initiative ever organised on the African continent.

SAP’s goal of equipping 5 million African youth with basic coding skills by 2025 took a bold step forward following the release of the results of this year’s Africa Code Week. Almost 427,000 youth from 30 African countries completed training between 15 and 23 October, dramatically exceeding the initial participation target of 150,000 students.

“In Southern Africa, we trained more than 32,600 students of which 56,5% were female,” says Claire Gillissen-Duval, Global Project Lead for Africa Code Week. “In Lesotho, Africa’s poorest and least populated country, we engaged more than 5,245 youth with the help of our partners, UNESCO Science and Mathematics Education Foundation, Department of Science and Technology and Department of Education. This puts Lesotho firmly in second place in Southern Africa.

With Africa contributing more than half of global population growth by 2050, the continent will play a leading role in the future global economy. By learning basic coding skills in an open, supportive environment, Africa’s youth are able to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by the Digital Revolution and become active players shaping the global economy.”

Africa Code Week’s long-term goal is to empower more than 200,000 teachers and positively impact the lives of 5 million children and youth within the next 10 years. Key partners include the Cape Town Science Centre and the Galway Education Centre. Strategic Partners include UNESCOGoogle, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and DevelopmentAmpionKing Baudouin FoundationALink TelecomCamara Education and many more.

With the highest engagement ratio of 0,47% youth per 100,000 population and a total of 165,352 introduced to coding during this year’s initiative, Morocco wins the continent-wide Africa Code Week 2016 award, retaining their top spot from last year. Cameroon was second with 0,26% per 100,000 youth engaged and a total of 62,918 introduced to coding, while Lesotho took third place with an engagement rate of 0,24%.

 

Safaricom’s Sendy Ditches Online Taxi Hailing Service

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Safaricom-backed courier firm Sendy has terminated its online taxi hailing service, According to Business Daily this was done in a bid to concentrate on its core logistics business at a time when competition in the cab sector is growing.

According to the Business Daily, Sendy Ride, the on-demand taxi and motorcycle service offered by Safaricom, was shut down last month after just two months in operation.

The tech start-up was launched in September 2014 linking parcel senders to a network of transporters using motorcycle, van and pick-up trucks to deliver goods.

Sendy, which received Safaricom support in November last year through its Spark Fund, ventured into the taxi business in August while also expanding its logistics business to Kisumu, Mombasa and Thika.

Business Daily reports that Meshack Alloys, the Sendy chief executive officer, said the company was piloting the taxi business and the decision to pull the plug on it will enable the company expand its courier services.

Competition in the taxi hailing business has been growing since San Francisco based Uber launched in January 2015, with companies like Mondo Ride, Little Ride, Taxify, Easy Taxi and Pewin now offering similar services.

Mr Alloys told the Business Daily that the pilot was suspended in October due to the demand from customers in the core logistics business. The company’s mobile application allows senders to keep track of the goods in transit through live updates.

The company has a fleet of 800 vehicles which include motorcycles, trucks and pick-ups.

Is Afia Udofia, the techie behind Linda Ikeji’s Smile & Empire that may also be her downfall?

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Linda Ikeji, the ever smiling African blog queen, runs one of the biggest blogging businesses in Nigeria and indeed Africa with an estimated page views of over 500,000 daily in modest terms, and an estimated net worth of N3.2 billion according to Wealthresults in 2015. We believe a combination of advertising revenue from the Nigerian elections and spending by Nigerian companies has increased this net worth in 2016.

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Afia Udofia, technology consultant and Linda Ikeji, African blog queen

Afia Udofia, a native of Akwa Ibom according to his Linkedin profile is a Senior Consultant at Abstract Works Limited, an IT outsourcing and brand management firm based in Surulere,Lagos which according to our source he actually co-owns.

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linda Ikeji and Afia Udofia

We first learnt about the relationship between Linda Ikeji and Afia Udofia a few months ago and got confirmation when Lindaikejisocial.com was launched a few weeks ago. He happily shared the picture below on his Instagram page with the caption “Finally, after months of hardwork, #lindaikejisocial is born”

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We made a mental note to do some research into this man with a relatively unknown company that had convinced Africa’s blog queen to finally take blogging from blogspot to her own name domain then to the next level pivot to a social network. How had he convinced her where others had failed and what influence did he have on the decisions she had taken with her blog over the years.

The ever smiling Afia has founded and worked in technology for over 8 years building web and mobile products. His company built the https://www.lindaikejisocial.com/ platform which according to Linda Ikeji had 50,000 signups in 24 hours, the largest for any homegrown platform in Nigeria ever. linda-ikeji-and-afia-udofia-2

So many positive and negative articles have been written by techies in the local and foreign press about the LIS platform focusing on design, platform stability and framework.

The negatives haven’t deterred Linda Ikeji with her team launching online and offline adverts to drive adoption of the platform.

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Proud of his company’s work, Afia has continued to share content about the LIS platform on his social media pages

afia-and-lindaWe did a few tests on the LindaIkeji social platform including a whois search which revealed some interesting results. See for yourself below;

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The domain name Lindaikejisocial.com, one of the most important assets of the social network is registered in the name of Afia Udofia and Abstract Works Ltd and not in Linda Ikeji or Linda Ikeji Media’s name. Checking the lindaikejisblog.com domain name, registrant information is blocked but a peek behind the veil may reveal some interesting things as well.

The biggest question this raises is why Linda Ikeji allowed Afia to register the domain name to his godaddy account which also houses his awltd.com domain. Is Linda Ikeji the full owner of Lindaikejisocial.com or just a name and revenue partner to drive up signups?

The risks of not owning the domain name for your business are enormous. A few years ago in a story we covered( also covered by Linda Ikeji), Konga and Jumia were at war over  look alike domain names that Konga accused Jumia of registering to divert traffic to their website as well as to stifle Konga’s expansion to other countries. Jason Njoku’s irokotv.com also faced a similar issue and won a case in court over registration of a similar domain name by another company in 2012.

If for some reason Afia Udofia and Linda Ikeji have a fallout, she runs the risk of losing access to her domains and files and will have a tough case in court as they are not registered in her name.

We hope to have a chat with Linda and Afia to clear some of these things up.

Trine; An Investment Platform Where You Fund Solar Energy Projects

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1.2 billion people around the world currently lack access to electricity. Founded by Andreas Lehner and Sam Manaberi, Trine is closing the gap between private capital in developed countries and solar partners in emerging markets by offering an alternative finance solution to off-grid solar projects through a novel crowdfunding model. They bring solar energy to the 1.2 billion people in need of access to electricity and make it easy for people to make a social and environmental impact while also earning a return on investment.

Trine believes in profit with purpose. Their commitment to this principle stems from Trine’s founding goal: ending energy poverty. They realize that in order to end energy poverty, finding a sustainable long-term solution is key.

  • Their customers profit with purpose meaning that they can make an investment and earn a reasonable return while changing lives and helping to save the planet.
  • For local solar partners, it enables them to receive the funding to build a sustainable business. This will allow them to develop a long-term partnership to bring cheap, clean, and reliable energy to their communities.
  • For the end users, it empowers them to invest in their futures. This will allow them to gain access to energy, a cleaner and safer local environment, and a host of new opportunities.

One such project being carried out can be seen in Kitale, Kenya with funding of about Kshs 5,000,000 from 80 investors.

As a customer you can make your contribution by first, finding your project and Investing; through our platform you can find a solar project to invest in and bring solar energy to emerging markets. The project will then get installed, their local solar partner will install and manage the solar installation on the ground. Finally, your investment yields a return; once the project is completed, you get your initial investment plus return back.

For more information, head to their website here.

African YouTube Awards 2016 Winners Announced

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On November 11th, Google announced the winners of the inaugural Sub-Saharan African YouTube Awards. Held in other regions since 2007, the YouTube Awards celebrate the talent and creativity of the YouTube community.

According to the CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki, “We’re incredibly proud at YouTube to provide a platform that shares Africa’s creativity with the rest of the world. Films from Nollywood along with stories like the one of Olympic medalist Julius Yego show that inspiring talent and stories from anywhere can find a global audience. By holding our first ever YouTube Africa Awards, we hope to celebrate these incredible achievements, while also demonstrating our long-term commitment to the continent.”

YouTube Awards were given to 25 creators across 23 categories at a glittering event held in Sandton. Nominees were chosen based on subscriber numbers. Users had to have a minimum of 50 000 subscribers to qualify, and be based and currently residing in one of eight launched countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The eight launched countries in SSA are Tanzania, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal. There are over 70 channels from launched SSA countries that have reached over 100 000 subscribers.

“YouTube is about the opportunity for people to express themselves,” says Teju Ajani, YouTube Partnerships, SSA. “Creators across Africa are using YouTube to find their voice, connect with audiences around the world and build channels while earning revenue from it. The number of hours of video content being uploaded in Africa has doubled year over year for the past two years. And the audience has grown with it. Average watchtime on mobile phones is growing 120% year over year.”

Full list of winners:

Broadcaster – Channels Television

Comedy – Kansiime Anne

Comic – Ramscomics / Supastrikas

Education – Retutpro – Photography and Photoshop Tutorials

Entertainment – NdaniTV

Fitness – Six Pack Factory

Games – Slushy AJ

Makeup and Fashion – Kangai Mwiti

Music – Yellow Brick Cinema

News and politics – Millard Ayo

Nonprofit – Jim Nduruchi

People and Blogs – Suzelle DIY

Pets and animals – Earth Touch

Top Subscribed Creator in Uganda – Kansiime Anne

Top Subscribed Creator in Ghana – OfficialSarkodie

Top Subscribed Creator in Kenya – Churchill Show

Top Subscribed Creator in Nigeria – Mark Angel Comedy

Top Subscribed Creator in Senegal – Prince Arts

Top Subscribed Creator in South Africa – Yellow Brick Cinema

Top Subscribed Creator in Tanzania – DiamondPlatnumz

Top Subscribed Creator in Zimbabwe – Mufti Menk

Top Subscribed Nollywood Channel – IbakaTV/Nollywood

Special mention: Yellow Brick Cinema which recently reached 1 million subscribers and was awarded a YouTube Gold Play Button in recognition of the achievement.

Female Entrepreneur wins 2 Million Naira in the Etisalat Prize For Innovation with Online Bespoke Fashion Idea

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It was a night of glitz,glamour and dreams come true at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, the venue of the #EtisalatPrizeForInnovation grand finale event yesterday.

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Tobiloba Ajibola, a fashion designer won the Ideas category with her #DressbyAloli idea to create an online platform for women to create and order bespoke clothing for weddings, owambe parties(very popular in Nigeria) and other events without worrying about missed tailor deadlines, and other common problems they face. At a pitch event lastweek, Tobiloba whose current team is 3 person strong including herself, identified her potential market as a 3 trillion naira fashion retail market targeting tech savvy and other women who face the problem she is trying to solve.

The prize money for the ideas category is 2million naira and will help Tobi and her team create an online platform and also invest in machines and talent to help ensure the quality of the service.

Adegoke Olubusi and the Onemedicalng team won 5 million naira in the products category to scale their digital cloud-based health records platform. The platform is highly user-friendly, cloud-based and works on any device including a dedicated android app. Hospitals sign up for free and patients pay a small fee of N500 to create their record.

Speaking about the winners, Adia Sowho, Director, Digital Business at Etisalat Nigeria said; “Judging the Etisalat Prize for Innovation this year wasn’t easy. We had to cut the entries from over 500 to a final list of 10 in the Ideas and product categories. I am happy for the Entrepreneurs behind #DressesbyAloli and One Medical, our winners for this year. #DressesbyAloli is particularly close to my heart as it solves a problem that myself and a lot of women have with an online bespoke clothing service that if well executed will be a big success. The team behind One medical have done some amazing work with their digital health records platform and the judges were very satisfied after going through series of product demos and hearing them pitch”.

adia-sowho-at-the-etisalat-prize-for-innovation
Adia Sowho talks to Ifeanyi Abraham about judging the 2016 Etisalat Prize for innovation

Speaking about why Innovation is important to Etisalat, Matthew Willsher, CEO, Etisalat Nigeria said; “Innovation differentiates leaders from followers and is the core of growth. Nigeria and our industry are both institutions and entities that require growth, taking advantage of technology change with a lot of creative thinking and new ways of doing things to help us meet the needs of society. Innovation helps us run things more efficiently, meeting the education, health care, lifestyle and communications needs which makes life easier for people. The Etisalat Prize for Innovation is our initiative to reward innovation and we hope it will catalyze the innovation spirit in Africa”.

Easy status also emerged as the most innovative value added service winner at the event.

#EtisalatPrizeForInnovation Winners to be announced today| Meet the contestants

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Innovation is rising in Africa, but African innovation is not yet getting the level of global recognition and support it truly deserves.  The continent is brimming with a rising crop of innovators and Entrepreneurs who are not afraid to isolate the problems in the continent and solve them.

Catalyzing the innovation spirit, encouraging and celebrating valuable innovation in the African market led to the birth of the Etisalat Prize for Innovation by Etisalat Nigeria in 2012 with winners across a product and an ideas category.

The 2016 winners of the Etisalat Prize for Innovation will be announced at Eko Hotel in Lagos today, and Techmoran will be at the venue.

The first prize of $25,000 is for the most innovative product or service launched in the previous year and a second prize of $10,000 for the most innovative idea for driving mobile broadband use in Nigeria (SME or Individual). Beyond the cash prizes, there are other value-based opportunities available to the top applicants as they journey through the Prize activities, some of them include trainings, seminars and networking opportunities.

Last week, we interviewed some of the innovators in the products category at a pitch event held at 4Points by Sheraton in Lagos. There were a total of 577 entries, cut down to a shortlist of 10.

prize-for-innovation

See the list of product innovators below. You can also watch some of the short video interviews on our twitter timeline @techmoran.

Adegoke Olubusi

One Medical: OneMedical is an advanced digital health records platform designed specifically for Nigeria. It’s highly user-friendly, cloud-based and works on any device including a dedicated android app. Hospitals sign up for free and patients pay a small fee of N500 to create their file.

Ugochukwu Nwosu

GetJama: Getjama is a market data gathering solution poised to unlock real time and authentic data verified by human intelligence. We see unlocking data as the veritable tool to help organizations build business intelligence, while encouraging financial inclusion in Nigeria. Our growth plan will thrive on a balanced reward for all parties; e-workers earn for every submission, Clients get authentic information, partners earn commission for sales and businesses grow through intelligence

Samwul Datong

Recit-E-Receipt Platform: Recit (https://www.recit.com.ng) is a free invoicing platform that targets tech savvy sole entrepreneurs and small businesses. It enables them send e-receipts to their customers email addresses as a way of acknowledging a sale. The sales data supplied to send the e-receipt is also recorded to help the business keep proper records of their sales

Michael Onuorah

Nibule: Nibule is an online illustration engine, and content generation and curation platform. It enables users, content creators, and digital marketers easily and swiftly build custom illustrations to express their ideas without any prerequisite drawing skills. Illustrations created with Nibule can be sold in stickers stores like BBM Store, or shared on social media to promote ideas, products and services. They can also be printed on an array of products like greeting cards, t-shirts, phone cases etc and delivered to your doorstep.

Funke Talabi

City Hires Nigeria: City Hires is Nigeria’s Premier Video Resume Portal. It is the first video recruitment portal launched in 2015 that provides the recruiter an all in one solution; profiles of qualified candidates with resumes and also with pre-recorded video resumes reducing time wasting in sorting for the right candidate and giving job hunters the platform to audition for the role.

Ideas Category

  1. DressesbyAloli.
  2. Smart Office
  3. Smartguard
  4. FarmIntel
  5. Juris Court reporting software

We will be providing live updates on twitter.

 

Want to Receive upto $100,000 in Funding? Here’s How

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Johnson and Johnson invite Africa’s top entrepreneurs to participate in The Africa Innovation Challenge. This initiative aims to support Africa’s vibrant and growing ecosystem and help develop locally sustainable consumer health solutions. Startups across the continent will have an opportunity to showcase their innovative ideas to Africa and the rest of the world.

The challenge focuses on three critical health areas which are:

  • Promoting early child development and maternal health
  • Empowering young women
  • Improving family well-being.

Participates with the best solution will receive up to $100 000 in funding and mentorship from Scientists, engineers and researchers in the Johnson & Johnson Consumer Research & Development organisation. Winners will also receive dedicated space at a lab facility in Africa throughout their product or service development, dependent on the needs of the solution submission. Award recipients will be announced in February 2017.

Applications from individuals, teams or companies from across Africa are eligible to apply for the challenge. The deadline to submit applications is 17 January 2017.

Evaluations will be based on the ability to meet the following criteria:

  • Solution submission addresses at least one of the three challenge categories: Promoting Early Child Development & Maternal Health in Africa; Empowering Young Girls in Africa; Improving Family Well-being in Africa
  • Submission is innovative and creative
  • Submission is scale-able
  • Submission outlines a commercialization plan and how the award would help the applicant reach a critical milestone within the time frame of a single year

To apply for the innovation challenge visit http://www.multivu.com/players/English/7967451-jnj-africa-innovation-challenge/

Nigerian Military and eTranzact Launch Pensions Card to Appreciate the Resilience of the Nigerian Armed Forces

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At a press briefing yesterday, the Nigerian Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali launched a military pension card powered by leading pan-African mobile banking and payment services company, eTranzact International PLC, to offer identification, verification and rewards to all members of the Nigerian armed forces.

eTranzact International PLC has a well-developed public sector offering with services that help identify ghost workers, plug revenue leakages, enable bulk payment of pensions, salaries, grants, etc.; opening up opportunities for growth and development.

In collaboration with the Military Pensions Board, the launch of the card will allow over 100,000 retired members of the Army, Navy and Airforce access a biometric military pension card with a 4-in-1 value proposition: identification, verification, rewards, and receiving and making payments.

miliary-pensions-card-by-etranzact
eTranzact Founder and CEO, Mr Valentine Obi launching the Military Pensions card with the Nigerian Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali

“We are happy to be key partners in this great and commendable project in support of our courageous ex-service personnel and military pensioners. The resilience and courage of the Nigerian military is a source of joy to everyone and we hope that this pension card project not only solves identification and verification issues for the military but also gives the private sector an opportunity to offer special rewards and discounts,” says Valentine Obi, Founder and CEO, eTranzact International PLC.

valentine-obi-speaking-about-the-military-pensions-card

The card scheme powered by eTranzact, with Mastercard and Access Bank in partnership, allows holders perform financial transactions at any ATM or POS, and can also be used for Web transactions.

The 2016 Global Firepower index ranks Nigeria as the fourth most powerful military in Africa.

Protected: Kenya’s Pesa Zetu entangled in a bitter feud with former employees over unpaid wages

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Small business owner looking for finance? OneFI’s Flex Advance is looking for you

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OneFI with Flex Advance believe getting loans and cash advances for your business should be much easier no matter what type of business you run.

Meet Nkechi, Nkechi runs a food Bukka in Festac that sells out breakfast at 8am, lunch at 1pm and dinner at 5pm. The quality and taste of Nkechi’s food have helped her conquer the food business in road 12 in Festac, and now Nkechi wants to expand to office deliveries and set up shops in other areas of Festac. Nkechi registers her business name “Nkechi Foods limited” at the Corporate Affairs Commission for less than N20,000 and goes to a bank first, then a Micro finance bank next, but even after smiles and promises made are more interested in giving Nkechi a POS than actually helping her with a business loan to help expand her business.

Nkechi is determined to expand her business and sees the POS as an opportunity to reduce or stop credit payments because of the excuse of “no cash” or “ATM no dey around here”. She prints a flyer and inserts “Card payments via POS now accepted at Mama Nkechi Bukka”, and in a short time frame she is able to make POS a major form of payment with an average of 30 POS payments per day, also attracting more corporate type clients who heard about the quality of her food and the innovative approach to payments.

bukka-in-lagos
Mama Nkechi feeds workers and families in Festac everyday. Picture credit: Lost in Lagos.

Enter OneFI, a Nigerian company that wants to use innovation to solve real problems for consumers and business owners. OneFi’s mission started out to provide short-term and affordable consumer credit to individuals who have limited access to finance but has extended to business owners like Nkechi who through their needs have stumbled on technology, and have the potential to be even bigger with just a little help.

Working in partnership with Unified Payments Services Limited, a payments solution provider in Nigeria, One Finance & Investments Limited(Onefi) have created a product called  Flex Advance that wants to give Nkechi up to 20million naira in cash advances and business advisory services to help her grow her business.

The Flex Advance product is offered to all Nigerian businesses/entrepreneurs as long as they are registered with the CAC, use a POS to conduct their business, and meet the sales volume requirements.

Speaking with Kellogg School of Management-trained Amaka Odogwu, Onefi’s VP of Business development who also held a leadership position working with small businesses as part of Konga’s marketplace operations, Flex Advance was created to address the financing needs of business owners and entrepreneurs and will continue to evolve as more businesses use the product.

In her own words; “Financing is one of the biggest issues affecting businesses in Nigeria. Through the flex advance product, we aim to empower Nigerian business owners by offering them access to working capital more conveniently and flexibly than the traditional sources. We provide working capital in the form of cash advances of up to N20 million. The amount disbursed is based on a merchant’s monthly average card sales and repayments are collected as a percentage of future daily card transactions.

The aim is two-fold: to enable these business owners access funds flexibly to grow their business, and to promote and propagate digital/cashless transactions by offering merchants incentives to offer POS as a means of payment”.

flex-advance

The parent company was co-founded in 2012 by Chijioke and Ngozi Dozie, Harvard and Wharton MBA-trained entrepreneurs and investors, who are also the founders of Café Neo, a silicon valley-style coffee shop enabling a collaborative space for entrepreneurs to thrive, OneFi is filling a vacuum created by the failure of traditional financial institutions to meet the emergency finance needs of low/medium income earning individuals and businesses.

You can sign up for the Flex Advance product here.

Airtel Kenya pledges to support youth employment | partners with the government

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Airtel Kenya has partnered with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts in efforts to support youth employment through the national creative economy conference.

Airtel Kenya provided free internet at the conference and has also committed to ensure internet connectivity at the various creative hubs set up by the government across the nation. Further to this, Airtel will facilitate better revenue share models with content providers to ensure that the musicians get better remuneration for their art, offer digital and social media support to highlight the positive stories by the youth in music, art, craft, ICT innovations as well as create specialized data bundles for the various sectors represented in the creative economy.

Speaking at the event, Airtel Kenya CEO, Adil El Youssefi expressed his joy to be part of the conference that seeks to offer employment opportunities to the youth. “As a company, we are devoted to support and help our youth reach their full potential because we value the role that they play in the country’s development. We are delighted to be in partnership with the government as we seek to empower our youth who are vital in boosting the country’s economic growth.”

“We commit to offer our support in ensuring that the creative hubs that have been set around the country are connected to the internet as we believe this will open a world of opportunities for the youth to gain knowledge, insight and business ideas.” Adil added.

Established in June 2013 the Creative Economy Work Group aims at demonstrating how Kenya can strengthen the creative economy to create employment thereby boosting the country’s economy as well as portray it as a viable economic sector in Kenya and influence legislation that is relevant to the creative economy sector. The overall goal of the Working Group is to see Kenya’s creative economy integrated in the national development agenda and supported and developed consistently and strategically by stakeholders at all levels of government, national and at the counties.

Statistics show that the youth make up 80% of the unemployed in Kenya which is a great number. In order to address this, there is great need for the private sector; academia and Government to collaborate in developing innovative business models, industry-relevant curricula and enabling favorable national policies.

Airtel continues to invest in community capacity building through its CSR projects which focus on empowering, enabling and unlocking the potential of future generations to succeed and create.

Notable projects include the Airtel FREE Internet for schools which is a flagship program that seeks to provide internet access to students thus allowing them to gather meaningful information that will aid in their learning, so far over 250,000 students and over 300 schools in 36 counties in Kenya have been impacted by this program.

The Airtel Rising Stars program in association with the Kenya Secondary Schools Sports Association (KSSSA) which has accorded many young boys and girls a platform to showcase their prowess in football.

And in the music arena, Airtel in partnership with TRACE TV has successfully run the Airtel Trace Music Star for two seasons, whereby music talents are scouted across Africa and the winner is given a cash prize and other prizes such as mentorship by well-known artistes etc.

 

 

 

FERO Royale X1; Unboxing and first impressions

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When you open the box you will be able to remove the other wrapped accessories; the earphone and the charger - all of them are in white.

Spoiler alert; I have already used the phone, so this unboxing will not have the glossy wrappers and instruction manual. Fast forward, Fero Royale X1 is an ideal budget smartphone which was launched a few weeks ago in Kenya by Midcom. The phone’s selling point is the massive battery capacity and the price – Ksh13,999; but on a general scale it comes with some of the best features. Now, let’s unpack the device.

First impression

The phone has a metallic design and a 5 inch display which is very fashionable. The 5 inch display makes it look a little big just like Samsung’s phablets, but the phone is surprisingly light and smooth to the touch.

In the box

  • FERO Royale X1 Samartphone
  • A screen protector
  •  Earphones
  • 2A Charger with unattached –
  • USB data cable
  • Manual and Warranty Information

fero2

FERO Royale X1 Specifications 

  • 4000mAh non removable battery
  • 1.0 GHz Quadcore processor
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow Operating system
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB Storage
  • 128GB expandable storage capability
  • 13MP Main Camera
  • 5MP Front Camera
  • Dual Micro SIM support
  • 4G Enabled
Fero X1 comes in golden and designed box; and for security purposes the box has sticky papers on the sides
Fero X1 comes in a golden designed box; and for security purposes the box has sticky papers on the sides
Inside the box, Fero X1 sits on one side of the box to give the earphone and battery enough space
Inside the box, Fero X1 sits on one side of the box to give the earphone and battery enough space
When you open the box you will be able to remove the other wrapped accessories; the earphone and the charger - all of them are in white.
When you open the box you will be able to remove the other wrapped accessories; the earphone and the charger. 
If you like loud music, then this phone's earphones will offer you the best when it comes to quality music. It has earbuds that provide a comfortable feel
If you like loud music, then this phone’s earphones will offer you the best when it comes to quality music. It has earbuds that provide a comfortable feel. The earbuds allows users to play loud music without irritating the ear.  
The phone comes with a non removable 4000mAh battery
The phone comes with a non removable 4000mAh battery. It has the two sim card compartments on one side of the gadget and the memory card slot is at the top. In addition, the 13MP shooter is at the to above the flash.                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Little drivers can now enjoy discounts on fuel | Little partners with KenolKobil

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Besides being customer centered, Little is extending their generosity to drivers. The company has unveiled new features on the hailing solution that will allow drivers to enjoy discounts on fuel thanks to the pledge made by KenolKobil.

Little now allows users to pay for someone else’s ride through the Sambaza ride option, in addition to purchasing airtime at discounted rates. Drivers will also receive a K-Card, KenolKobil’s fuel card, with which they will pay for fuel and fuel products at discounted rates.

Speaking during the signing of the agreement, the CEO of Craft Silicon Kamal Budhabhatti said that whereas the new features on the app are geared towards increasing convenience, the partnership with KenolKobil will contribute towards enhancing drivers’ earnings by reducing their operational costs.

“Improving our customers’ experience, and empowering our drivers economically remains twin key objective for us. Today, we have demonstrated that we are not only listening to our customers’ feedback but also looking into opportunities to empower our drivers. Through this partnership, we hope to significantly lower the drivers’ costs of operation, considering that fuel is a huge component,” Mr Budhabhatti added.

On his part, the Group Managing Director of KenolKobil David Ohana said: “We are delighted to extend our fuel card services to Little drivers and offer further discount benefits to them. This move is meant to improve their experience at KenolKobil service stations across the country”.

KenolKobil has also waived all the application and administrative cost for Little in the acquisition of the fuel card.

Safaricom’s Director of Enterprise Business, Rita Okuthe added that the company was always on the lookout for strategic partnerships that unlock value and transform lives.

“We are constantly looking for opportunities that not only benefit our customers, but are also beneficial to the ecosystem. In the case of Little, we are pleased that it is empowering drivers, who work hard each day to deliver satisfactory services to our riders”. Added Ms. Okuthe

Launched in July, the Little app has so far been downloaded more than 50,000 times on IOS, Windows and Android stores with over 3000 registered drivers, over 1600 of whom are active. The service can also be accessed by non-smartphone users by simply dialing *826#. Users can also share their expected time of arrival with their loved ones using any digital communication channel using the Safari Share feature.

The app also features a corporate option though which businesses can offer service as a convenient corporate taxi option for their employees. A corporate dashboard enables businesses track and manage employee rides down to department level, while users can easily switch between personal and corporate rides on the app.