BBOXX, one of the UK’s fastest growing renewable-energy businesses, met with H.E. President Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Republic of Togo to discuss the “CIZO” (“light up” in Guin local language) presidential initiative.
BBOXX will implement 300,000 BBOXX solar home systems in Togo over the next five years under Togolese government’s Vision 2030, which will provide the entire Togolese population with access to electricity via a sustainable energy mix. The current population of Togo stands at 7 million people, of which 700,000 households are living without access to the grid, although 66% of the population has access to a mobile phone.
According to Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Hamayun: “The President has a strong vision to provide access to electricity to 2 million Togolese people. The governmental authorities have created the right framework to facilitate and attract private capital to electrify Togolese rural households. BBOXX is proud to have been selected by the Government of Togo and we will work hard to deploy our systems across the country.”
The new, innovative partnership between BBOXX and the Government of Togo will seek to roll out the first 10,000 BBOXX systems across Togolese rural areas over the next 12 months. The BBOXX Home – which has successfully been deployed in Kenya, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and South Africa – enables the consumer to charge up to five lights, television, radio and torches on a 12V battery. The system’s remote monitoring capabilities allow the operator to view the status of the customer’s product – particularly the battery life and what the customer is using the energy for.
The BBOXX Home permits customers to pay for their energy usage via a mobile-money platform. In turn, BBOXX provides the customer with a full energy service, replacing or upgrading the battery, solar panel and much more.
The presidency press release stated that “in addition to increasing the rural electrification rate from 7% to 40%, the CIZO initiative aims at providing massive adoption of mobile payment solutions across rural areas thus facilitating financial inclusion of rural populations”.
Entry to the Togolese market marks the third West African nation after Nigeria and Cameroon in which BBOXX has successfully launched its solar home system.
The Government of Malawi has set up an air corridor to test potential humanitarian use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones being the first country to dedicated a corridor to drones as well as the first in Africa and one of the first globally with a focus on humanitarian and development use.
Working with UNICEF, the corridor is centred on Kasungu Aerodrome, in central Malawi, with a 40km radius (80km diameter) and is open to the private sector, universities and other partners to explore how drones can be used to help deliver services that will benefit communities.
According to Malawi’s Minister of Transport and Public Works, Jappie Mhango, “Malawi has over the years proved to be a leader in innovation and it is this openness to innovation that has led to the establishment of Africa’s first drones testing corridor here in Malawi. We have already used drones as part of our flood response and we can see the potential for further uses, such as transportation of medical supplies, which could transform lives in remote rural communities.”
Last year, Rwanda’s Zipline became the world’s first national drone delivery service and raised $25m series to test the service and scale it to more services. However, Malawi becomes the first to dedicate a testing corridor specifically for drones. The corridor will test drones for aerial imagery to monitor situations such as floods and earthquakes. It will also test Wi-Fi or cellphone signal drones for emergencies and marginalized areas and will test delivery of small low weight supplies such as emergency medical supplies, vaccines and samples for laboratory diagnosis, including for HIV testing.
The government says UAV corridor will run for at least one year, until June 2018. Drone manufacturers, operators and telecom companies such as: GLOBHE (Sweden) in collaboration with HemoCue and UCANDRONE (Greece), and Precision (Malawi) have applied to use the corridor for testing their services.
Malawi has limited road access to rural areas even most times, and after a flash flood earth roads can turn to rivers, completely cutting off affected communities.
“This humanitarian drone testing corridor can significantly improve our efficiency and ability to deliver services to the world’s most vulnerable children,” said UNICEF Office of Global Innovation Principal Adviser Christopher Fabian. “The success of these trials will depend on working in new ways with the private sector, government and local entrepreneurs and engineers who can ensure that technologies deliver appropriate solutions for the people who need them the most.”
The launch of the UAV testing corridor follows a pilot project in Malawi in March 2016 on the feasibility of using drones for the transportation of dried blood samples for early infant diagnosis of HIV. UNICEF has also deployed drones to support the Government of Malawi’s response to recent floods. UAV flights went out in Salima, Lilongwe and Karonga between February and April 2017 to provide aerial footage to help assess the needs of affected families.
By Amrote Abdella, Regional Director Microsoft 4Afrika,
Four years ago, the Africa Rising narrative was a hot topic among journalists, economists and investors discussing Africa. Some celebrated the refreshed outlook on the continent. Others, including some Africans, were more sceptical on the trickledown effect of the projected growth. Some felt there was too much focus on GDP projections and the urban middle class, and not enough on inclusive growth that reached every underserved village, where challenges around healthcare and education remained unsolved.
It was within this context, in 2013, that Microsoft launched its 4Afrika Initiative. As a technology company, we wanted to contribute not only to Africa’s economic growth, but to its economic development through the adoption of innovation – fast-tracked by affordable access and enabled by a skilled workforce.
We believed that by empowering Africans to create and consume locally relevant technology, we could foster the kind of inclusive transformation that Africa wanted to see. Four years later, we still believe in this vision. Our commitment to fast-tracking relevant technology adoption remains unchanged.
Technology is transforming people’s lives for the better
Start-ups and SMEs are celebrated and looked to for driving economic growth and job creation. But we have also seen them play a key role in driving social development. Armed with mobile and cloud technologies, these young innovators are helping communities access previously unavailable services – advancing healthcare, education and general living standards.
In Ethiopia, for example, Microsoft 4Afrika has supported the Tulane Health project, which has helped 3,000 healthcare clinics in 10 regions to digitally transform. With Windows devices, Tulane collects relevant health data and now stores over 150 million digital records. Using Power BI, Tulane then analyses this data and produces real-time insights, empowering the federal ministry to make data-driven decisions. For the average patient, this means more informed consultations, a more accountable government and overall better quality healthcare. In addition, 2,500 new Ethiopians have also been trained and upskilled as health information technologists, to run and maintain the system locally.
Similarly, in Botswana, through our work with Vista Life Sciences and the Botswana Innovation Hub, we’re using TV white spaces technology to deliver telemedicine services to over 3,000 patients in remote clinics in Lobatse, Francistown and Maun. A patient no longer needs to walk miles to get specialised care. Screenings and diagnoses can be done remotely, helping to quickly and accurately detect diseases and improve maternal care.
Since 2013, 4Afrika has helped 82 start-ups – and brought over 500,000 SMEs online – to drive this kind of economic development using mobile and cloud technology.
Towards an environment for success
However – the democratising of mobile and cloud technology in itself is not sufficient. The innovation ecosystem still needs more enabling policies if more of these start-ups and technologies are to succeed and benefit every person in Africa. We have spent four years working with hubs, accelerators and government entities to develop regulations that allow new business models to flourish, encourage trade between borders and develop climates that promote investment into local businesses.
Lessons from investing in Africa
The good news is that the continent is on the right path. Investments into local tech start-ups increased by 17% in 2016. And governments in Africa have been very adaptive to and serious about embracing the cloud to positively influence their investment climates, cut costs and efficiently serve their citizens. Together, we have incubated 11 cloud-based solutions, including BioSIM in Kenya, which collects school data in local counties to help governments benchmark quality and take informed actions around education. Where there are security concerns around gathering such data, we’re working with the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) to accelerate trusted cloud infrastructure through enabling policies in the areas of cyber-security, data privacy and data protection.
Equally important to creating new technologies is developing the skills for the meaningful consumption of them. Across our 15 TV white spaces connectivity pilots we have running in last-mile communities in Africa, for example, we’re not only introducing people to the internet for the first time, but also helping them use it as a tool to seek employment and register with government.
We believe technology has been – and will increasingly be – a game-changer for Africa. With the right foundations in place, it is the tool that will help Africa rise in the inclusive and sustainable way Africans want to see it rise. The tool that gives every African the power to actively shape transformation that works for all its citizens, by creating infrastructure and services where there are none, trading and consuming local products, and holding their governments to account.
Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative remains a partner in this journey. In the last four years, we have experienced successes, setbacks and shouldered new risks. But our focus, belief in and commitment to invest in affordable access, skills and innovation for economic development in Africa remains unchanged. We have seen the transformation that has already taken place – and this gives us hope in the work still to be done. We will continue to empower local partners, start-ups, SMEs and government entities through technology to enable growth and development in Africa – creating shared value that truly benefits us all.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have officially unveiled a Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs) enabling them to jointly track movement of goods from Mombasa Port to Kampala and Kigali.
The system, launched by the three countries Revenue Authorities is excepted to reduce the cost of doing business by reducing transit time, enhancing cargo safety and helping traders to better predict arrival of goods. The service was launched in Nakawa, Kampala and will be free as Revenue Authorities will meet all operational costs.
According to URA Commissioner General Doris Akol, “The partnership with Kenya and Rwanda helps us monitor goods from end to end, easing cargo handling, improving revenue collection and reducing diversion of un-taxed goods into the market. It will lead to improved fair trade as goods that have not been taxed will not be diverted to distort the market. This will benefit our traders and assure potential investors of level playing field in our region”.
The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has supported the project by giving USD4.4million grant through TradeMark East Africa. The launch of the Regional Electronic Cargo tracking System marks is expected to reduce by a third the time to import and export goods, seal loopholes that lead to revenue loss because of diversion of un-taxed goods into the market, enable transporters to reduce their transit costs and increase the productivity of their fleet and eliminate the need for physical escort and monitoring of sensitive cargo, such as batteries, fuel, cigarettes.
RECTs comprises satellites, central command centres in each of the revenue authorities in Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali, smart gates and rapid response units. An electronic seal is attached on transit cargo vehicles and communicates with the command centres giving real time updates such as vehicle location, speed, and if the container is tampered with or not. Importers, transporters, and the revenue authorities can see this information.
Rapid response units are stationed along sections of the Northern Corridor identified as notorious for diversion of goods. These rapid response units respond to alerts, received from the command centres, about suspicious behaviour like diversion from designated route, unusually long stop over, or attempt to open a container, which they investigate and resolve on the spot.
Frank Matsaert, TMEA CEO said, “RECTs efficiency will ingrain fair terms of trade by creating a level playing field for both importers and local industries as it helps in eliminating diversion of cargo. Surely, with this strong partnership between the private sector, the revenue authorities and TMEA it is possible that we can reduce transit time from Mombasa to Kampala down to 2days”
KRA, URA and RRA hope to work with other revenue agencies in the region to continue integrating their systems and further simplify trade. The first phase of the Electronic Cargo Tracking System in Uganda reduced transit days from an average of 6 days (December 2013) to 1.5days for truckers moving from Busia to Elegu (the border with South Sudan.).
Amazon’s Prime Video is now live in over 200 countries and territories around the world with original series in English, with French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles just days after BBC and ITV launched BritBox and Netflix unveiled its simple download features.
Apart from Netflix, Prime Video’s competition in Africa includes NuVu and ShowMax and iFlix.
According to Amazon, Prime Video is now available at no additional cost to Amazon Prime customers in Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy and Spain while customers in new Prime Video territories will pay $2.99 USD per month for the first six months—a 50 percent discount off the full price of $5.99 per month.
Netflix’s prices include US$7.99 for basic, US$9.99 for standard and US$11.99 for Premium while ShowMax charges $3.30 and $8.80 for its ShowMax Select and ShowMax premium packages respectively. YouTube Red is also producing its own movies and will be a competition to all this players so let whoever has the best content, more hours and better pricing win.
“We are excited to announce that starting today, fans around the world have access to Prime Video,” said Tim Leslie, Vice President, International, Prime Video. “The Grand Tour and other critically acclaimed Amazon Original Series like Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, and The Man in the High Castle, along with hundreds of popular Hollywood movies and TV shows, are now available at the introductory price of only 2.99 a month. And what’s really exciting is that we are just getting started.”
Prime Video members can watch anytime, anywhere through the Amazon Prime Video app on Android and iOS phones and tablets, Fire Tablets, popular LG and Samsung Smart TVs or online at PrimeVideo.com—and can also download all titles to mobile devices for offline viewing.
Prime Video members can also control how much data they use when streaming and downloading video by choosing between Good, Better and Best visual quality settings, all of which utilize Amazon Prime Video’s state of the art video compression technology to use less data without reducing visual quality.
Tigo published its Impact Report which shows a total of 131 social entrepreneurs were supported through the Tigo Digital Changemakers Award and its Accelerator and Incubator Programs provided in partnership with non-profit foundation, Reach for Change. Millicom and Reach for Change held five social innovation competitions throughout 2015 that attracted over 1,300 applicants across Africa.
According to information made available to Allafrica, Tigo Digital Changemakers Award seeks and selects exceptional social entrepreneurs who use digital technologies to positively impact their communities and specifically the lives of children.
Successful applicants receive Accelerator support to help them refine and test their digital solutions, and prepare them to pitch their social innovation. After completion of the Accelerator program, the very best social entrepreneurs are selected to receive a grant from the local Tigo operation (usually around $20,000) and a space in Reach for Change’s Incubator program.
Through this platform the winning Changemakers receive business, communications and financial training, mentorship, collaboration with Tigo experts and access to a network of global social entrepreneurs, potential investors, media partners and more.
As a result of the support provided to the promising African social entrepreneurs, more than 146,800 children have benefited from various projects in Senegal, Ghana, Chad, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Cynthia Gordon, CEO Africa at Millicom said: “Through the Tigo Digital Changemakers Award we have been able to connect with and support outstanding local social entrepreneurs, and I am very impressed with the positive impact that their initiatives have had on thousands of lives so far.
We at Millicom believe technology can be used to change people’s lives for the better. We are committed to offering our digital expertise to support Africa’s brightest entrepreneurs in bringing about this change.”
Reach for Change’s Africa Regional Director Amma Lartey explained that organizations like Millicom, which support social entrepreneurship, are instrumental in ensuring their long-term sustainable development.
“Our partnership with Millicom enables us to use digital technology as a key driver of social change,” said Lartey, adding, “Our Accelerator and Incubator programs have grown financially sustainable social enterprises across the continent. This would not have been possible without Millicom’s support and belief in the power of social entrepreneurship as a driver of change.”
A new innovation by rapid diagnostics firm Alere Inc dubbed Alere q HIV-1/2 Detect aims to change the way HIV is detected among infants globally as it gives results in 52 minutes as opposed to the three to four weeks that has been the norm in Kenya and across various countries.
The Alere q HIV-1/2 Detect identifies HIV-1 and HIV-2 at the point of care in less than 60 minutes, and the first testing application on the Alere q platform. Point-of-care HIV testing could have a significant impact in Kenya, where an estimated 37,000 to 42,000 infants are infected with HIV each year due to mother-to-child transmission (MTCT).
“This is a significant milestone in the health sector in globally and more so the country. We are now working closely with the Ministry of Health and other relevant health insitutions to see how we can adopt the new innovation in our hosipitals both at national and county levels. This will go a long way in saving more lives in the country,” noted Dr. Martin Sirengo, Head of Kenya National Aids & STI Control Programme.
“Diagnosing HIV in infants via molecular, as opposed to antibody testing, is critical because babies born to HIV-positive mothers have the mother’s protective antibodies in their blood, and current point of care antibody tests are not able to discriminate between a mother’s and an infant’s antibodies to detect if a newborn is infected with HIV,” added Dr. Sirengo.
Early detection and treatment significantly increases the likelihood that HIV positive infants will survive.
“Currently, most newborns in Kenya are screened for HIV infection with dry blood spot testing. Because health workers have to wait 3 to 6 weeks for results, many potentially HIV positive infants are lost to follow-up and remain untreated,” said Dr. Martin Sirengo, Director of the National AIDS and STI Control Program (NASCOP) for Kenya.
MTN Rwanda has partnered with the Bank of Kigali to improve access to mobile financial services (MFS) by enabling customers to transact money between MTN Mobile Money wallets and the Bank of Kigali accounts.
Bank of Kigali customers can now use the MTN service centres and MTN Mobile Money agents to first load their wallets and then push funds from their wallets to their bank accounts.
MTN Rwanda is part of the Y’ello family of 223.4 million subscribers across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The newly launched Mobile Money platform is aimed at supporting the Rwandan government’s efforts to deepen financial inclusion in the country and promote a cashless economy.
Customers can indirectly load their wallets by depositing in their bank accounts at any of the BK branches, mobile vans and over 900 agents countrywide.
DSTV has announced the premiere of an exciting new Nigerian telenovella dubbed, Hotel Majestic on Africa Magic. The telenovella will air every weekday on Africa Magic at 10pm (Kenyan Time).
Hotel Majestic focuses on the Emeni family as they fight one another and the outside world to protect a hotel that has been in their family for decades. The Hotel, which is situated in a beautiful and flawless riverside community in Nigeria, has been in the family since the late 1800’s and is currently run by two great- great grandchildren of the original owner.
The Regional Director, M-Net (West), Wangi Mba-Uzoukwu says: “Hotel Majestic is yet another addition to the exciting content line up on Africa Magic. This new and exciting telenovella features a fresh storyline and the cast, an impressive mix of established and up and coming names in Nollywood, brings to life all the intrigue, suspense, ambition, betrayal and love that make it a must watch.“
Hotel Majestic boasts a stellar cast which includes renowned industry names like Sadiq Daba, Gloria Young, Tina Mba, Oge Okoye, Bukky Ajayi and Anne Njemanze. The telenovella also features Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) nominee Ivie Okujaye in the lead role as Alero.
Hotel Majestic premiered on the 5th of January, 2015 and airs weekdays at 10pm (Kenyan time) on Africa Magic Showcase (Dstv channel 151).
SPRING accelerator is a new program set to launch in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to invest in startups developing products that target or support girl’s economic empowerment.
Initially starting with 18 companies, the accelerator says it will invest USD 80,000 in capital funding, product development and access to world-class innovators. Spring accelerator is an initiative of the Nike foundation, USAID and DFID.
The move aims to address the over 250 million girls who live in poverty globally to break intergenererational poverty and to create a better distribution of income. Accelerating early-stage ventures with products that improve the lives of girls in poverty.
After kicking off in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, Spring Accelerator will be rolled out to eight countries in Africa and Asia and team will work with successful business leaders, legal, and financial experts for support, insights and learning and to equip them with crucial skills for success in the target market.
The teams will follow a customized curriculum — tailored to their specific needs as well as a unique and powerful network of sponsors, investors, business leaders, and partners that will help them locate new resources to overcome potential constraints and facilitate new local and international partnerships.
Apart from the intitial funding of $80,000, the selected startups will receive financial grants and get help tp raise follow-on funding from a network of domestic, global, and non-traditional investors.
The 2014 Rule of Law Index (RLI) measures the level of adherence to national laws in 99 countries based on 9 sub-indices (scores from 0 to 1, 1=High). One sub-index measures the level of government transparency and accessibility, and Ghana (0.5) outperforms Italy (0.49) as well as Russia (0.43) and China (0.41). Another sub-index reveals that constraints on government powers (checks and balances) are more effective in Ghana, Botswana and Senegal than they are in the BRIC nations. Read more here…