Telcos

Safaricom High Speed Fibre Internet Launched in Malindi

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SMEs in Malindi can now enjoy affordable internet following the introduction of Safaricom fibre at a cost of Kshs 5,000 per month.

Malindi becomes the latest town to benefit from high speed internet connectivity in the second phase of the project that kicked off in Eldoret last month.

The rollout follows successful deployment of fibre in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa with the current focus now on other major towns around the country.

Fiber technology provides unlimited bandwidth capabilities and offers the fastest high-speed data connectivity.

Speaking during the launch in Malindi, Safaricom’s Head of SME Sales and Regional Operations Agnes Gathaiya said that the high speed internet will offer faster connectivity to SMEs which will enable them manage their business operations affordably and conveniently.

“We live at a time when technology dictates how we run businesses. The current business environment requires that SMEs must adopt to new technologies to stay relevant and access global platforms to market their products. We want to be part of this growth as an enabler for SMEs to take advantage of the changing landscape” said Agnes

Businesses that sign up by 31st of December will get one month free connectivity.

Safaricom has in the recent past launched various projects targeting Coast residents. In September this year, Safaricom signed a strategic partnership with Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi that would see residents of the real estate development and surrounding communities enjoy enhanced connectivity after the company erected a 4G base station in the area.

Safaricom has also been aggressively launching products and services targeting SMEs including Ready Business, a business solution aimed at making SMEs’ operations easier.

Safaricom & M-PESA Foundations invest over Kshs 355million to end poverty across the Coast region

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Safaricom and M-PESA Foundations have called on their partners in the coastal region to make a strong contribution towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals so as to improve the livelihoods of the people.

Safaricom and M-PESA Foundations have invested over Kshs.355million in various projects across the Coast region aimed at transforming the lives of the local community in the last 10 years.

Speaking during a forum bringing together Foundations’ partners from the six Counties – Mombasa, Taita taveta, Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi and Kwale, Safaricom Foundation Chairman, Joseph Ogutu said this is an investment that has had a huge positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the region.

“Since our inception, we have actively engaged with communities across the Coast region and we are glad to be implementing transformative projects that are aligned to our vision of transforming lives as well as aligned to the country’s economic blueprint- Vision 2030,” he said.

One of the signature projects is the rehabilitation of Nyalani dam in Kwale through the   Kinango Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction Project which was implemented in partnership with the Kenya Red Cross and the County Government of Kwale. M-PESA Foundation invested Kshs.207million towards the project which has transformed the lives of more than 15,000 people in the surrounding community through farming.

The forum focused on sharing development experiences in the Coast region,   localising the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals and ways of reducing poverty through sustainable livelihoods.

“Eliminating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing the world today. The Millennium Development Goals helped in reduction of extreme poverty by more than half by 2015. However, many people across the world are still struggling to meet their basic needs and Kenya has not been an exception,” Ogutu noted.

Global estimates show that 800 million people are still living in poverty, many lacking access to adequate food, clean drinking water and sanitation.

In Kenya, 42 percent of the population still lives below the poverty line.

The SDGs are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states adopted in September 2015 aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.

 

Safaricom opens new base to consolidate its hold on the Rift Valley region

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Safaricom opened a regional office in Nakuru to serve the Rift Valley region as the company takes its operations closer to customers.

The headquarters located in the CDN Plaza in Nakuru, will serve as a base from which the firm will run its operations within the Rift Region. It is the first of six such bases that Safaricom is setting across the country, to coordinate operations in each of the regions.

Speaking during an event to officially launch the new headquarters Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore noted: “The opening of this office marks an important milestone in our regionalization strategy. We are optimistic that it will go a long way in enhancing our business operations and in the long run strengthen our relationship with our customers.”

“Safaricom remains focused on offering the best customer experience with products and services that differentiate us from competition. The expansion of our services to the regions is aimed at engaging our customers from the grassroots, which then helps us address issues faster.”

The other five regional offices will be based at Sameer Business Park (serving Nairobi East Region), Avenue Building in Nyali (serving the Coast Region) and Nyeri Golf area (serving the Mt. Kenya Region). Other offices will be in Nairobi West and Nyanza/ Western region. The regional headquarters are expected to be operational by March 2017. Once fully operational, the offices are expected to provide all staff amenities and solutions.

Since the roll out of the regional structure last year, Safaricom has been closely engaging customers in the regions through various initiatives targeting its various customer segments.

Some of the activities include consumer promotions such as Stori Ibambe, the Safaricom Business fibre to business projects targeting SME’s and social responsibility initiatives aimed at transforming lives of communities in the regions.

Vodafone using app to locate doctors to patients in Malawi’s remotes & worst HIV hotspots

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The Vodafone Foundation is using a pioneering mobile-based HIV programme in Lesotho, a country with an estimated 23% of the population is HIV positive, many of whom live in extreme poverty in remote rural communities separated by mountainous terrain with minimal infrastructure.

According to the Vodafone Foundation Director Andrew Dunnett: “HIV is an immense healthcare crisis for the people of Lesotho. This pioneering Vodafone Foundation programme will ensure that thousands of mothers and young children in some of the poorest communities in the world receive the care and support they need.”

The Vodafone Foundation programme is combining Vodafone’s M-Pesa mobile money service with travelling clinics and a smartphone app designed for healthcare professionals which enables the tracking of patients in remote areas. It’s like giving patients coupons but on M-Pesa.

The firm says the travelling clinics – using a fleet of 4×4 vehicles – provide on-site HIV testing in remote areas as part of a wider effort to provide basic primary healthcare. When people are identified as HIV positive, they are immediately registered with the M-Pesa mobile money service and receive the M-Pesa funds needed to pay for transportation to a treatment centre.

The patients details are also recorded – via mobile – on a central database so that their future treatment and care can be planned and recorded.  These details can then be recalled in real time by healthcare professionals in the field using a smartphone app produced by the Vodafone Foundation and Vodacom Lesotho.

The programme is specifically oriented towards pregnant women, mothers and young children who are among the most vulnerable groups in Lesotho society as they are less able to walk many hours to the nearest HIV clinic. The Vodafone Foundation has developed the programme in conjunction with the Lesotho Ministry of Health.

The costs of the programme will be fully funded by the Lesotho government from mid-2017. The mobile clinics are run in partnership with Baylor International Pediatric AIDS Initiative (BIPAI) and Riders for Health.

 

Safaricom could do more to woo loads of women into tech

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Safaricom says it plans to recruit 62 interns by January 2017 as it progresses its agenda to woo more women to the technology field but we think it could do more than that.

The giant telco which was trading today noon at Shs 20 per share (SCOM 20.50)  recently said in its true economic value report its activities helped generate over 845,846 jobs in Kenya and placed the firm’s true value at KShs413.8 billion, 10.86 times bigger than the KShs38.1 billion net profit for year to March 2016 and 4.45 times the total amount of transaction fees it earned in the same period.

With KShs38.1 billion net profit most of it repatriated, we believe the firm and it’s majority shareholders should give back more to get women in tech, especially those in marginalized areas. But business is business.

Though the internships will target 40 female university students under its Women In Technology initiative, with a further 18 internships open to all university applicants and an additional four internships that will be filled through the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya, it could still do more.

The firm’s ratio of female to male engineers was 9% in 2013 and it’s at a sad 20% today. It’s a good sign as the firm is not giving up. More than 320 students have undergone the technology Internships, with Safaricom absorbing 22 former interns to full-time positions with more than 30 others employed by other industry players.

The 67 internships are open to Kenyan applicants, preferably those in their 3rd to 5th year of study in ICT related fields including Computer Science, Information Technology, Electrical and Electronics Engineering or Telecommunications Engineering. Applicants must not have graduated. Applications for all internships close on 28th November 2016

ISP Throttling and Best VPNs to Deal with Them

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Internet structure in Africa isn’t as well established as other continents. Only a few countries have high internet usage rate, and even fewer countries are providing good speeds. In most African countries, user IP and bandwidth consumption is monitored, and if someone exceeds the approved limit, their speed is lowered even further. This deliberate lowering of speed by local internet service provider (ISP) is known as throttling, and almost every internet service provider in Africa is doing it. Throttling causes a lot of problems for internet users who are fond of streaming content, online gaming, downloading movies, etc.

Fortunately, a simple and reliable solution to this problem exists in the form of virtual private network (VPN) apps. They let users mask their IP and hide their online activities, thus keeping their ISPs guessing. There are plenty of VPNs available in the online market, but only a handful of them are cut out for dealing with the ISP throttling problem. We’ve shortlisted the best VPN options to save you the trouble.

FalcoVPN

FalcoVPN is a multiplatform paid and free VPN proxy that can take care of your throttling problem without a hitch. When installed and enabled on your mobile device, it directs all your traffic through a secure channel to the VPN server, thus hiding your IP, data, and basically your entire internet usage from your ISP. This allows you to keep downloading to your heart’s desire without letting your ISP catch a gist of what you’re really doing on the internet. Do keep in mind that your ISP will notice an increased bandwidth consumption from your end, though they won’t be able to discover anything beyond that. It is pertinent to mention that FalcoVPN boasts a wide range of additional features, enabling it to deliver a gratifying VPN experience, and receives regular updates to keep pace with the dynamic technological trends.

HideMyAss

In a continent like Africa where throttling of internet connection is commonplace, HideMyAss can deliver coveted relief by passing your data through a tunnel that your ISP is unable to peek through. It is unable to determine why so much bandwidth is being pulled by you or what exactly is the bandwidth being allocated to. Since it has no way of overcoming this confusion, it is unlikely to mess with your internet connection. If it does, you can always make an angry complaint and completely deny the fact that you were actually downloading something or streaming your favorite show in high resolution. HideMyAss will make sure they are unable to verify your claim.

PureVPN

If both of the aforementioned VPNs don’t do the trick for you, then you can give PureVPN a shot. It works quite similarly to the others, but it is quite user-friendly. Even if you don’t possess enough knowledge about technology, you will still be able to use this tool rather easily. Every option you need is presented up front so you don’t have to navigate through multiple menus just to see what this tool has to offer. It lacks the build quality and feature-rich arsenal that its rival apps boast, but if you’re just interested in evading the probing eye of your ISP, PureVPN is more than capable of delivering you complete satisfaction.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has been around for quite some time now and the reason it has managed to survive the test of time is because of its huge variety of features, impressive performance, and superb support. It is well-equipped to help you bypass your internet throttling issue, with its tunneling and encryption protocols second to none. Furthermore, it keeps getting new updates, thus allowing it to evolve with the changing market demands. The only downside to ExpressVPN is that it’s privacy policy is slightly ambiguous. The lack of clarity tends to raise a few doubts. Hopefully, the VPN provider will address this weakness soon and instill confidence in potential users that it’s committed to keeping their data hidden from even the most powerful of forces.

Sierra Leone regulator stems up fight against SIM Box fraud to recover $1M lost monthly

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The National Telecoms Commission (NATCOM) in Sierra Leone has appointed The Subah Group to tackle SIM Box Fraud and improve Revenue Assurance in the country.

According to Birendra Sasmal, CEO of The Subah Group, “Our SIM Box solution can detect and block SIMs as well as identify the physical location of fraudulent SIM box operations so they can be destroyed.  We will be deploying all our expertise and experience to increase revenues for both the operators and Government of Sierra Leone.”

Subah has already deployed successful systems in both its home country of Ghana and in The Republic of Guinea where it is estimated that an additional US$1.5 million of additional voice traffic is now being billed every month by operators.  This, in turn, is producing an extra US$30,000 a month in tax revenues for the Government of Guinea.

Fraudulent SIM Boxes are a blight on networks both in Africa – and around the world -with criminals using the Internet and VSAT to convert international incoming voice calls into domestic calls and avoid the higher termination rates.

Fraudulent SIM boxes can be found in the most innocuous of places. They are often operated remotely with locals returning regularly to load credit or insert new SIM cards. In fact, so lucrative is this activity, some SIM box operation sites are protected by armed guards.

As a result, operator revenues are reduced and Governments are missing out on tax revenue. In its 2015 Global Fraud Loss Survey, The Communications Fraud Control Association estimated that SIM Box Fraud cost operators $5.97 billion in lost revenue.

Subah will be monitoring international voice and data traffic between Sierra Leone and overseas destinations using its SIM Box Fraud and Traffic Monitoring systems.

NATCOM carried out a thorough evaluation of bids submitted by twelve companies (eleven international and one local).

Sensie Kannon, The Director General of NATCOM, said “We estimate that our Government is losing close to US$1 million in tax revenue every month as a result of poor and ineffective monitoring of the gateway system. This is money that our country needs.

We will abide by latest court decision on artistes royalities-Collymore

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This week, Safaricom was on the receiving end of backlash by members of the public on social after artiste Eunice Njeri complained over unpaid royalties amounting to Ksh. 30 million.

In a rejoinder, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bob Collymore has said the company will abide with a ruling made by the Malindi High Court   as it is the latest High Court position on this matter, and that directed Section 30A is unconstitutional as it limits the manner in which artist royalties are paid.

 

 

The court further enabled Collective Management Organisations (CMOs) such as Music Copyright Society of Kenya, Kenya Association of Music Producers and the Performance Rights Organisation of Kenya (PRSK) to collect royalties on behalf of artists.

The ruling also directs that Safaricom pay all royalties from Skiza – the music download platform – directly to Content Service Providers (CSPs).

 

The ruling was made on November 1 judgment on Constitutional Petition Number 5 of 2016 and was filed by Mercy Munee Kingoo and Lydia Nyiva Kingai.

The new directive contradicts an earlier judgment delivered by the Nairobi High Court on 11th May, 2016 under Petition Number 317 of 2015.

In that judgment, the Nairobi High Court directed that we pay artists’ royalties through the CMOs, effectively affirming Section 30A. In compliance with the Nairobi High Court directive, and following various consultations with industry stakeholders, in July we entered into an Agreement with the CMOs to pay the artists To date under this Agreement, we have paid out over Sh325 million.

 

We will abide by the Malindi High Court directive, as it is the latest High Court position on this matter. However, we ask that all the parties involved in this dispute – the artists, CMOs and CSPs – to seek clarity on the matter and settle on a payment structure amicable to all.13615441_10208971470178055_1986750935888489710_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telkom Kenya appoints former Safaricom head of finance as new Chief Finance Officer  

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Telkom Kenya has appointed Sundararaman Pattabiraman, Safaricom’s Head of Finance, Planning and Analysis, as its Chief Finance Officer as the firm mulls a great come back as Kenya’s biggest telco before its fall.

Prior to his erstwhile position at Safaricom Limited, Mr. Pattabiraman was a Director of the Board and Chief Financial Officer at Essar Telecom Kenya Limited and also a Chief Controller at Bharti Airtel Limited. He also held senior positions at Hutchison Essar (Now Vodafone India) and Gillette and TVS Electronics.

A career accountant, Mr. Pattabiraman joins recently appointed Kris Senanu and John Barorot, MD, Enterprise Division Chief Technical and Information Officer from Internet Solutions Kenya and Safaricom respectively.

Bringing aboard over 22 years’ experience, in Africa and Asia, 16 of which have been in the telcom sector, Mr. Pattabiraman, has a solid track-record in strategic performance and building robust operations across reputable telecoms and FMCGs.

“I am extremely pleased to have Mr. Pattabiraman lead our Finance functions and serve as our Chief Finance Officer,” says CEO, Telkom Kenya, Aldo Mareuse.  “Mr. Pattabiraman has distinguished himself as an exceptional leader with a proven track record. He has a strong knowledge of the Kenyan telecommunications market and has broad experience from both the market leader and challenger.”

In his previous roles, Mr. Pattabiraman was a key architect in executing the complex Merger & Acquisition process between Essar Telecom, Safaricom and Airtel and in securing USD200m and USD50m medium and short term loans for Essar from a consortium of lenders.

He holds a B.Com from the University of India, Madras and Chartered Accountancy qualifications from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. He is also a Cost Accountant from the Institute of Cost Accountants of India and a Company Secretary from the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.  He has also taken a Senior Management Program from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

Mr. Pattabiraman succeeds François Bresson who resigned from the company.

Non-voice revenue helps to drive Safaricom’s Half Year Profits to Kshs. 23.9 Billion

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Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom

Safaricom announced its HY 2017 financial results for the period ended 30th September 2016 with non-voice revenue that includes M-Pesa, data, smartphone sales contributing the lion’s share    the Ksh98 Billion total revenue as compared to voice revenue.

The total revenue represented a 15.4% growth with  voice revenue raking in Kshs  45.7 Billion while non-voice revenue bringing in Kshs. 52.3 Billion.

M-Pesa, the mobile money service owned by Safaricom on the other hand experienced growth and now stands at   17.6 Million users. Customer transactions grew 38.4% to 9.3 transactions per month for each customer.

M-PESA revenue recorded a growth of 33.7% to Kshs 25.9bn driven by 12.2% increase in 30 day active M-PESA customers to 17.6m and a 38.4% growth in monthly usage per customer to 9.3 transactions per month.

“Our cashless platform, Lipa na M-PESA, has been well received among enterprises. We had over 50,000 merchants who were active on a 30 day basis as at end of September 2016. Mobile data revenue, which accounts for 13.7% of our service revenue, grew at 46.3% to Kshs 13.4bn. This was driven by a 13.7% growth in 30 day active mobile data customers to 14.9m, increased bundle users and smartphone penetration. We introduced ‘My Data Manager’ functionality which gives customers control to in-bundle browsing. This has seen bundle users grow by 38.5% to 7.4m. By 30 September 2016 we had 10.5m customers on 3G and 4G enabled devices. Our Fixed data revenue increased by 29.1% to Kshs 2.4bn on the back of 21.6% growth in fixed service customers,” said Chief Executive Officer of the telco.

During the six months under review, Free Cash Flow grew by 111.6% to Kshs 20.1bn on improved trading results and completion of the National Police Security(NPS) Network Project (we spent Kshs 8.44bn on NPS by 30 September 2015).

” Improving our network quality remains key and we continue with our efforts to increase network coverage and capacity to ensure excellent performance and superior customer experience. In the six months to 30 September 2016, we invested Kshs 18.9bn on capital expenditure. We remain focused on delivering efficiencies in our processes. In the period, our operating expenses as a percentage of total revenue declined to 20.6% compared to 22.5% in a similar period last financial year. The business delivered good results and has continued to create value for our shareholders, supported by growth across all our revenue streams and focus on cost efficiency. This has resulted to an underlying EBITDA margin of 46.5%3, being a 2.8ppt improvement over the same period in the last financial year,” he added.

Safaricom is now looking to improve its customer experience with initiatives such as expanding the capacity of the call center to handle more calls and offering customers more self-help options.

The company will also continue to embed segment marketing approach in the business and offer segment specific propositions to customers.

“Mobile data is our fastest growing revenue stream, and we will focus on increasing the numbers of 3G and 4G smartphones on our network through launching more 4G (LTE) sites and offering affordable smart devices. We will continue with our fibre rollout to homes that will enable us to offer high speed internet and data, “said Collymore.

Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom
Bob Collymore, CEO Safaricom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gospel artiste Eunice Njeri’s takes on Safaricom over Ksh 30 million in royalties

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Giant telecom Safaricom cannot seem to shake off controversy. Just a week after subscribers accused the company of stealing their credit, now renowned gospel artiste Eunice Njeri is taking on the company over unpaid royalties.

In a recent Instagram post, the recently engaged artiste revealed a payment log amounting to Ksh 30 million in royalties every month which are the unpaid dues for her music.

Here is the post

[email protected]
My name is Eunice Njeri
Am a Gospel musician and i Love Jesus.

Maybe you might remember me from the close to 30 Million Kenya Shillings you make every month from my music…or almost half a billion Kenya Shillings you have made the last one year, not so big in your eyes but enormous to mine.

The 15 percent you gave to liberty Africa has been generously distributed to themselves and nothing reached me.

Today I struggle with not much to live on but a few shillings I get every now and then…. I tried my best to do what God called me to do but you made the money.

Bound with contracts I may never get anything from you….big as you are who can touch you? I can’t. Hopefully you read this and God touches you to remember the singer…that would be me….. Eunice Njeri Mathenge.”13615441_10208971470178055_1986750935888489710_n

Huawei and Safaricom discussing 5G roll-out

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During the celebration of Huawei and Safaricom’s 14 year anniversary as a partners, Huawei said it’s a matter of time before the 4G+/5G technology starts being tested between the two and discussions about the technology are underway.

”Safaricom is a company that embraces and emphasizes a lot on use of new technologies and it’s a matter of time before the 4G+/5G technology starts being tested. Discussions for this are underway,” said Huawei in a statement. ”So far it’s a fairly straight forward workflow for the two companies, Huawei will innovate on 5G ready devices and network infrastructure for Safaricom to improve customer experience.”

The two firms says they will continue to strengthen their existing partnership by innovating more on devices and networks respectively starting with modernizing the 2G, 3G, Transmission, Core Network and billing (CBS) systems.

Huawei has also helped Safaricom establish a state of the art MPESA platform and are currently rolling out a 4G Network.  

This partnership has also strengthened the two companies’ relationship on device sales front. Safaricom has played a big role in facilitation of Huawei Mobile’s devices across the country with focus on all devices from flagship devices to low end devices.

Speaking during the celebration event in Nairobi, Bob Wang Tie, SFC Senior Director stated, ”Huawei’s main core value as putting the customers at the apex of everything a business does, which translates to why the company strives to ensure that Safaricom gets the best state of the art equipment and software, services, quick deployment time and operational flexibility. These are our main differentiating facts which have encouraged Safaricom to work with us.”

“I would like to take this opportunity to also recognize Safaricom’s effort in ensuring that our devices are readily available to customers across the market.  Since we entered the market 14 years ago they have been our support system in ensuring we reach to customers in the most remote areas of the country where we cannot be able to reach on our own”. Says Tie.

The improved business and operation integrations between the two companies has seen great efficiency on how customers use MPESA, the platform has become faster to transact and easier for Safaricom to plug in new customized features for users. In addition, 4G has greatly improved data network access which has provided high speed data exchange and quicker access to Safaricom billing services. By developing low cost sites communities living in remote areas of Kenya have managed to have easy access to communication services.

According to Victor Ngumo, Head of department, Safaricom Nairobi west the uptake of 4G is improving by day. The main challenge has been the availability of affordable 4G devices. This situation is however changing fast with many device vendors bringing in affordable but not cheap devices. With as little as five thousand Kenya shillings, one can buy a 4G device. This is still prohibitive though especially for the rural folks implying that the lower class population does not have the chance to use the 4G network.

Going forward, the device prices will eventually get lower and thus more affordable.

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.

etisalat-prize-for-innovation-4

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.

 

Liquid Telecom’s BilaWaya Wi-Fi project wins global telecoms award

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Wi-Fi networks built in Kenya by Liquid Telecom and the Kenya’s Office of the President (Kenya) were named as the Best Connecting the Unconnected Initiative in the world at the fourth Global Telecoms Awards.

The network designed in the Nakuru BilaWaya initiative, which covers a 10-kilometre radius from the city’s Central Business District (CBD), is built around strategic points accessed by the highest proportions of the town’s population. There are currently more than 300 concurrent users enjoying the service during waking hours.

“The success, recognition and the hugely positive response of BilaWaya has triggered demand for similar services across Kenya. We have already been approached by five other county governments to implement a similar solution,” said Ben Roberts, Liquid Telecom Kenya CEO.

 

With 51 nodes installed, the network serves users in the streets and open public areas such as stadia and parks. The nodes are concentrated along Kenyatta Avenue, Geofffrey Kamau Road, Top Market, the main bus terminus in the CBD, Afraha Stadium, the county headquarters, Nyayo Gardens and the Westside Mall. Academic institutions in Nakuru also enjoy the free, outdoor, Wi-Fi access, among them JKUAT Nakuru Campus and Mount Kenya University.

The free Wi-Fi has enabled rapid access to information that is vital for economic growth and has increased the use of e-learning tools in the city.

The WiFi has, for example, given farmers access to online tools that can increase their yields and income helping them with farm management, providing discounts on seeds, providing diagnosis on plant diseases and calculation of the ROI on irrigation projects and others.

A portal – BilaWaya – has also been created to provide a wealth of valuable and practical advice for Internet novices, as well as the more experienced.

These moves have seen the initiative emerge as one of the most successful in Africa. It won a prestigious award from The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) in the Best Wi-Fi Deployment to Connect the Unconnected in a Rural Environmentcategory during the World Wi-Fi Day on 20 June this year. Last year, Liquid Telecom and the Office of the President (Kenya) won the Changing Lives category at the AfricaCom awards for the project.

The Internet service provider recently signed a three-year partnership with Kiambu County government that will see residents enjoy free wireless Internet in designated areas in the county.

Additionally, Liquid Telecom has been shortlisted at four other upcoming award ceremonies to be held later this month in three different continents:  Global Capacity, CommsMEA, MEF and AfricaCom.

The Global Carrier Awards, which recognise innovation, vision and excellence across the global and regional wholesale industry, will be held in Paris. Liquid Telecom will be defending its title as the Best African Wholesale Carrier, a category it has won for the past four years.

At the Comms MEA awards taking place next week in Dubai, Liquid Telecom has been shortlisted in the Best Marketing Campaign category for its AfriCAN campaign.

At the MEF awards taking place in the US, Liquid Telecom is again shortlisted in the Best African Wholesale Carriercategory.

At AfricaCom later this month, Liquid Telecom has been shortlisted in the Best Marketing Campaign alongside ZOL, its sister company, in Zimbabwe.

Airtel Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer leaves the firm as it mulls sale of Africa unit

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Farhan Khan, Airtel Africa’s Chief Commercial Officer has left the telecom company to join Al-Yah Satellite Communications Company as its new Chief Commercial Officer with media reporting Airtel is mulling sale of its pan-African operations.

Airtel in June 2010 spent $9 billion to buy out Kuwait-based Zain Group out of 15 countries in Africa, taking $8.5 billion in debt targeting 100 million subscribers and $5 billion in revenue and move to profitability. The telco further added another $5 billion cash to reorganize its Africa operations but by March 2015 the firm was $585 million in losses and a subscriber base of 76.2 million.

These losses led the firm to sell off sell four subsidiaries Airtel Burkina Faso, Airtel Chad, Airtel Congo Brazzaville and Airtel Sierra Leone to Orange. The leaving of the telco’s COO might signal more danger for the telco than anticipated. The rest of the Airtel operations are not doing any good either.

Appointed in January 2015, Farhad Khan was plucked from MTN South Africa where he led the firm’s Sales and Distribution since August 2013.  He had been working at MTN IranCell and MTN Zambia before these roles. He took over from Andre Beyers, MTN’s former Chief Marketing Officer.

Farhad was expected to drive the telco’s commercial strategy for Africa and to build a strong marketing team to turn around Airtel Africa’s fortunes but things didn’t work as expected. Yahsat, might give him the chance he wants to grow professionally as well as apply his leadership knowledge unlike at Airtel Africa where major decisions are made in India and imposed on Africa.

According to  Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO of Yahsat, ”After careful selection, we are pleased to have found the best individual for the job. Farhad has a proven record in the telecommunications industry combined with strong leadership skills and deep industry knowledge. I wish Farhad every success in his new role and have full confidence that with his leadership we will continue our growth trajectory.’’

Khan said he is delighted to be joining Yahsat at such an exciting time. Yahsat’s achievements in less than five years of operations, with the launch of two satellites and serving many communities across the Middle East, Africa, Central and South West Asia, shows the firm is growing faster than Airtel.

‘During this next critical growth phase, I will concentrate on establishing new partnerships, work on the launch of Yahsat’s third satellite Al Yah 3 and drive the business as we enter more than 20 additional markets,’’ Khan said.

Khan has over 25 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has worked extensively across Africa and Asia.

Casual labourer in Bungoma bags 1M in Safaricom promotion

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A single mother of three from Ekitare village in Bungoma County is the latest millionaire in the ongoing Safaricom Shinda Ma Mili Na Stori Ibambe promotion.

Winrose Nyongesa, a casual labourer, brings to 16 the total number of winners that have so far won Kshs. 1 Million in the ongoing regional consumer promotion. Thousands of Safaricom customers have also walked away with various prizes in the different regions.

“I am grateful to God that I will now stop being seen as a beggar and a poor villager. I now have something to be proud of, thanks to Safaricom. From this, I can at least buy a pair of shoes first, since I have had to borrow the shoes I am wearing to this event” Said Ms Nyongesa, as she fought back tears when she received her KSh. 1 million cheque in Bungoma

Winrose has for the last two years been struggling to raise her three children after she separated with her husband. Since then, she has been surviving on casual jobs in farms near her home where she earns Ksh. 80 daily to feed her mother and children.

With her newfound fortune, she plans to buy a piece of land and resettle her family.

So far, Safaricom Stori Ibambe has awarded 16 Millionaires across the country, 112 Boda Boda, Neon phones and hundreds of other prizes.

The 8–week promotion will see Safaricom reward customers with Ksh. 1 Million per week per region, in addition to over 400 Motorcycles, 400 M-Kopa Solar Kits and 400 smartphones every week. In total, over two million consumers will be awarded various prizes over the promotion period.

The Grand prize will see one winner from each of the eight regions stand a chance to win Kshs. 2 million as well as an additional Kshs. 1 million which they will be able to donate to a community project of their choice.

“The promotion has been progressing well so far, and we are glad that we are transforming people’s lives in a huge way. It is our joy to see the positive impact of the prizes that customers are winning and we hope that their lives will not be the same,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Director – Consumer Business, Safaricom.

“Through this campaign, we aim to engage with our customers extensively in the regions so that they also feel they are part of us. This is by giving them the opportunity to participate in our activities and win prizes that will transform their lives,” she added.

To take part in the promotion, customers only need to use their Safaricom line to make a call, send short messages or use data to stand a chance to win prizes when they hit their Stori Ibambe target.

The shinda-mamili promotion kicked off on 6th October 2016 and will run for 8 weeks across all regions across the country.

Equity Bank opens its EazzyAPI to the public for third party applications

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Every time some readers hear someone mention the term API  (application program interface), the think of sophisticated computer programming out of their reach, yet they use and experience APIs everyday of their lives!

Some of them book their flight and hotel tickets online, shop online and in-store and even have simple applications using API’s.

Whopping online or paying for anything electronically, there are API’s involved. For example, anyone shopping online on Amazon or eBay will use either Visa or MasterCard or PayPal to pay. Because of presence of APIs or Bridges one will easily pay for a good or service in one process and instantly because Visa or MasterCard API or bridges have been inbuilt between Amazon or eBay to allow information and in this case money to flow from one’s bank account to clear for the chopping cart either online or offline.

Setting up an API can therefore be seen as laying up a bridge between to companies to allow them to communicate seamlessly and instantly. During the communication, there is an exchange of information needed by both for a task to be accomplished by an end-user who might not be aware of that bridge.

A transport technology company like Uber needs maps but it doesn’t have to build its own. By using a Google Maps API, its users can access and use Google maps minus leaving the Uber app. That’s the bridge an API brings. The Google Maps API allows software engineers like Uber to link Google Maps simply and seamless using a few lines of code. on webpages using a JavaScript or Flash interface. The Google Maps API is designed to work on mobile devices.

Though not so seamless, Kenya’s PesaPal API allows for millions of people to pay for their electricity, DStv, GOtv, Nairobi Water and other utility bills straight from their mobile phones on the go. PesaPal has also signed up thousands of merchants to to its payments API or payments bridge. The user doesn’t have to leave their Jubilee Insurance app to pay for their insurance.

Now let’s get to Equitel EazzyAPI.

With EazzyAPI, application developers, businesses, institutions  and payment providers in Kenya and across Equity Bank’s markets can build a simple bridge between their applications or online stores and the bank to enable their customers transfer funds within and outside Equity,  top up Airtime top up  from any telco, pay bills or simply shop for goods and services instantly.

These developers, businesses, institutions can use the EazzyAPI to collect and communicate to and from Equity Bank’s online or offline services such as debit and credit cards, POS systems, online banking among others. The API gives third-party users say merchants or investments groups Equity Bank’s capabilities regardless of the goods they sell or services they offer.

With EazzyAPI developers can build applications allows a Merchant to receive both online or in-store payments, purchase airtime and create remittance or track payments and get payment status.

One such firm using EazzyAPI to track payments and get payment status is Kenya’s ChamaSoft, a Digital Vision EA software focused at Saccos or investment groups. ChamaSoft solves the book keeping aspect of Kenya’s Investment Groups or Chamas by reminding the members when contributions are due and how much is due.

Because most of this payments are paid to the bank, Equity Bank in this case, ChamaSoft generates statements which show how much each  member has contributed or how much is in arrears. It fines members automatically for late payment of contributions and keeps a track of all loans disbursed to members.

ChamaSoft also keeps track of all investments carried out by the groups and provides interfaces to record all deposits and withdrawals made to the group’s accounts namely contribution deposits, fine payment deposits, loan repayments, asset sale payments, stock sales, income, expenses, money market investments.

Without need for a human accountant, ChamaSoft generates reports required for effective monitoring of the group’s financial position after communicating via the API with the bank. These reports include summary of how much each member has contributed per contribution and how much each member owes, summary of how much each member has been fined for misdemeanors such as contribution late payment vs how much has been paid against the fine and summary of how much is out in terms of loans and projected profits for the group.

ChamaSoft also generates a Bank Loans summary, an expenses summary, account balances, transaction statement, cash flow statement,  income statement, balance sheet and trial balance.

The ChamaSoft-EazzyAPI integration allows groups to receive real time reconciliation of transactions made to the group’s bank accounts with their records on Chamasoft, there minimizing the role of the treasurer to that of monitoring while Chamasoft handles the bulk of the work.

image-1Jumia’s online store is another good example of EazzyAPI at work. The integration betweeen the two (still in steakth mode) would allow Jumia to receive online payments from shoppers at a click. EazzyAPI allows a shoppers to pay for their shopping seamlessly via the bank’s robust systems minus leaving the website or application say for example someone ordering for food from Jumia Food. They don’t have to go looking for the restaurants Till number as the API in-builds them between the systems so the customer only identifies himself or herself then the payment process takes place.

The shoppers will also has a statement from the bank about the purchase and Jumia will also have the records of who shopped for what at what time in its systems minus the need to confirm with Equity Bank about payments.

completeWith such an integration, paying for an Uber becomes seamless and takes less than a few seconds compared to clunky M-Pesa’s Till and Paybill numbers.

For developers who want to integrate online booking apps or online stores with EazzyAPI, the process is simple and will allow shoppers to sign up online, provide names, location and address and payment information, indicating currency and amount per item.

Jumia then securely sends this identity information to Equity Bank via the robust EazzyAPI so that payment can be processed for the shopping cart to be released. The EazzyAPI payments page becomes integrated directly on Jumia so that whenever anyone wants to pay there’s a seamless experience on checkout.

Orange’s mobile customer base in Africa & Middle East hit 113.5 million

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Present in 29 countries, Orange Group has a total customer base of 250 million customers worldwide at 30 June 2016, including 189 million mobile customers and 18 million fixed broadband customers.

According to its 3rd quarter 2016 financial results, In Africa and the Middle East, orange’s mobile customer base at 30 September 2016 stood at 113.5 million customers including Tigo’s 3.4m customers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cellcom”s 1.5m customers in Liberia.

The firm says the trend in net additions improved significantly, with 103,000 net customer additions in the 3rd quarter after a decrease of 1.4 million customers in the 2nd quarter on a comparable basis. Orange Money had 20 million customers at 30 September 2016 (+30% year on year).

Orange Group’s revenues reached 10.323 billion euros in the 3rd quarter of 2016, up 0.8% , after rising 0.3% in the 1st half (on a comparable basis). At 30 September 2016, revenues had increased 0.5%. The improving trend was confirmed despite the impact of the decline of national roaming in France and of roaming price reductions in Europe.

Growth accelerated in Spain, rising 7.8% in the 3rd quarter after an increase of 6.2% in the 2nd quarter. Growth resumed in the Belgium and Luxembourg segment (+1.7%), and the trend improved in the Enterprise segment (+0.7%). France posted a modest decline of 0.6% in the 3rd quarter, while revenues rose 2.5% in Africa and the Middle East in the 3rd quarter following growth of 2.3% in the 2nd quarter.

For the full-year 2016, Orange confirms that restated EBITDA will be greater than that of 2015 on a comparable basis. This objective will be supported by continued commercial momentum,
investments, and efforts to improve the cost structure. The Group also confirms the target of a restated ratio of net debt to EBITDA of around 2x in the medium term to preserve Orange’s financial strength and investment capacity. Within this framework, the Group is maintaining a policy of selective, value-creating acquisitions concentrating on markets in which it is already present.

Commenting on the publication of the results for the first nine months of 2016, Stéphane Richard, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group, stated: “In Africa and the Middle East, where Orange Money customers now exceed 20 million, the increasing take-up of smartphones and our commercial strategy has translated into strong growth in mobile data revenues.”

Stéphane also said the integration of the recently acquired operations in Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is on track, with the latter two operations now consolidated.

Safaricom’s socio-economic & environmental impact valued at Ksh 414 nillion

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Safaricom’s value chain generates wealth ten times the amount the company earns in after tax profit according to report generated by KPMG which places Safaricom’s true value at KShs413.8 billion, which is 10.86 times bigger than the KShs38.1 billion net profit for year to March 2016.

“The greatest contribution the company makes to Kenya’s Social Value is through M-PESA, which this year has contributed KShs184.6 billion to the economy, excluding transaction fees,” Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore said. “This is 4.45 times the total amount of transaction fees earned by Safaricom in the same period.”

KPMG’s “True Value” methodology identifies the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the company and quantifies them in financial terms. The net value of the monetized positive and negative externalities (both the supply and distribution value chain) gives an indication of the company’s contribution to the country’s wealth created for the Kenyan people.

Also released was the company’s 2016 Sustainability Report: Widening Our View, Sharpening Our Focus.  The Sustainability report looks at the business activities impact on the society and communities it operates viewed from an economic, environmental, social and governance impact perspective.

“Safaricom believes that we exist to Transform Lives. These two words capture our commitment to building a company that performs well, creating a tangible difference in the lives of our customers,” Collymore noted.

“But we know that we cannot continue to Transform Lives if we are not commercially sustainable and, equally, we are unlikely to be able to Transform Lives in a meaningful, lasting manner if we focus solely on profits and dividends.

The firm has heightened its ethics watch and as part of the drive for responsible business, at least 81 per cent, or 269 of its suppliers have signed up to the Code of Ethics for Business in Kenya.

“This minimizes the risk of corruption and fraud, which, in turn, bolsters the reputation and trust we enjoy, strengthens employee morale and engagement, and improves stakeholder sentiment and interest,” Collymore added.

As a result of robust our anti-corruption corrective measures the firm reports that it has let go of 18 employees in the 12 months to March 2016, an improvement from 58 sacked in similar circumstances in 2015.

In the year under review, Safaricom worked hard to minimize the negative impact of the network on the environment collecting 430 tonnes of electronic-waste, equivalent to 78 adult African elephants.