Telcos

Telkom Kenya reviews its mobile data offering

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As the mobile broadband market hits up, Telkom Kenya has reviewed its data offers for its pre-paid Internet on Mobile and Internet Everywhere (modem) customers to become more competitive.

The firm has lowered its data prices to offer low as 9 cents per MB and in a wider range of validity periods for data bundles  including daily, weekly, monthly and ninety day options to give value to its customers. The firm’s data offer include 24hr and 48hr data expiry notification, improved navigation tools to view data offers, ease of USSD purchase via the universal *544# code and data bundle extensions before the expiry of a current running data offer.

 

The introduction of notification on expiry of data bundles 48 hours and 24 hours before the expiry of the bundles will allow customers to either top up and purchase additional bundles or continue browsing at the Pay As You Go rate of KSh 4 per MB.

Customers can be able to extend the expiry periods of data bundles before they expire by purchasing another bundle of equal or higher validity before the expiry of their current bundle.

To subscribe to the offers, customers need to dial *544# from their Internet-enabled phones. Customers can also subscribe to the offer by visiting https://www.myaccount.orange.co.ke   from their laptop, desktop pc,tablet or ipad. Equally, subscribers can check their data usage by dialling *131# on their mobile phone, or by visiting the recharge portal https://www.myaccount.orange.co.ke  on their devices.

The firm is also banking on an array of entry level phones like the Kaduda Series and the new Xiaomi Redmi 2, to increase its broadband consumer market. This affordable smartphones come fixed to Orange’s 3G Internet allowing the firm to recruit more customers who might be getting online for the first time.

MPT Installs Data Centers For Tanzania’s Tigo

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Master Power Technologies (MPT), a company founded in South Africa, specializes in quality backup power solutions where uptime-(time during which a machine, especially a computer, is in operation) is essential. They concentrate on the supply, installation and after sales servicing of a comprehensive range of engineered power solutions. The company identifies and creates solutions for businesses throughout Africa that enables them to increase availability and reliability while saving money and improving efficiency. They have several customers ranging from telecom and banking to mining and heavy industry.

One such customer is Tanzania’s Tigo, who selected MPT to design, manufacture and install a new data center. The job involves project managing the entire procedure and managing the building structure for the data center.

MPT provided an independent, self-reliant data center created from different units, hence why they managed to obtain the tender from Tigo to design, build, and implement a number of news data centers throughout its operating countries such as Rwanda, Senegal and Chad. The project provided by MPT will involve a completely independent power management solution which wouldn’t necessitate use of Tanzania’s national electricity to operate fully.

The project is said to require a 5-module data center, with a sixth module to ensure backup power. The modules were made in 250 m2 containers, while the backup power required a 50 m2 container. These were created by the MPT’s head office in South Africa, which were then taken apart and shipped to Tanzania, for reassembling.

All containers also enjoy a full security solution, which comes with fire detection, intrusion alarms and surveillance cameras.

The overall package is created to be efficient yet cost effective when providing control and monitoring of power. The package created can be used for a multiple functions such as battery management, generator control, and building management.

As such the new data centers with state of the art power management tools will help grow Tigo’s network expansion, while also providing resources for other requirements needed. Also an advantage is that spare data centers can be rented out to other companies. The success rate of the data centers may lure Tigo, into possible future negotiations to install further data centers.

MTN Group & MMI Holdings launch aYO, a micro insurance solution for Africa

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MTN Group and MMI Holdings, an insurance-based financial services player have launched  aYo, a micro insurance solution for their customers across the Africa to increase penetration on the continent.

Commenting on the partnership, Herman Singh, Group Chief Digital Officer of MTN said that “as MTN, we are excited about this partnership as it gives us an opportunity to further expand our bouquet of mobile financial services offerings across our footprint. Working with MMI, and harnessing the rapid growth of mobile on the continent, we will be able to leverage our core competencies, strong brands and scale to deliver much-needed insurance solutions to our customers.”

Danie Botes, Group Chief Operating Officer of MMI Holdings remarked that “the partnership with MTN will create new revenue streams for MMI, help achieve significant scale, explore opportunities in new markets and segments, and capitalise on the growth of micro insurance on the continent. The partnership will also allow us to further extend our client-centric vision of financial wellness across the Africa continent.”

The aYo offering will be rolled out in a number of African countries from the end of 2016. Launched in 1994, the MTN Group has subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As of 30 June 2016, MTN recorded 232.6 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.

By working with MMI Holdings Limited, the two firms will expand the reach of MMI’s client-facing brands including insurance and wellness & rewards programmes.

TESPOK & A.U Commission Launch Africa’s first GSM Global Roaming Exchange

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big-data1The Technology Service Providers Association of Kenya (TESPOK) in partnership with the African Union Commission yesterday launched Africa’s first GSM Global Roaming Exchange (GRX).

Hosted at the East Africa Data Centre (EADC), the Global GSM Roaming Exchange (GRX) is very similar to the most common IP Internet Exchange and is built and operated on the same principles. GRX, is a special service within an IPX that is established to facilitate efficient interconnection and peering between a group of GSM Mobile Network Operators; so as to support GPRS/UMTS roaming, and Mobile Network Operators service Interworking.

“All african GSM mobile operators can get access to other networks through the KIXP Global GRX to provide customers with mobile capabilities such as roaming, phone calls , data transfers and messaging. Mobile operators as well as currnet KIXP peering community will benefit from global coverage arising from the connections and secure network routes,” said Ms.Fiona Asonga , C.E.O Tespok.
Roaming the ability of a mobile device to work outside the home coverage area provided by its primary Mobile Network Operator for example when customers travel and use their phones or modems whilst on a foreign (“visited”) network. The most common mobile roaming services are:
1. SMS: Sending and receiving SMS text messages whilst roaming.
2. MMS: Exchanging rich multimedia messages while roaming with other customers on 
GSM/3G networks at home (or roaming as well).
3. Push e-mail: Reading and replying to e-mails while abroad, automatically ‘pushed’ to 
mobile devices such as Smart Phones and Tablets.
4. Mobile internet: Using feature phones, smart phones and tablets to access internet 
services such as Web pages, Web applications, music downloads and video 
streaming whilst roaming.
5. Mobile broadband: Connecting laptops via broadband modem to the internet to 
access applications such as e-mail, Web browsers and enterprise networks whilst 
roaming.
6. Carrier-grade WLAN: Connecting mobile devices via ‘Carrier-grade’ WLAN to the 
internet to access applications such as e-mail, Web browsers and enterprise networks whilst roaming. This is used to mitigate high load of traffic currently experienced by MNOs.
Interworking is the ability of a service offered to subscribers of one MNO to communicate with a similar service offered to subscribers of a different MNO. These days, MNOs have to interwork with wireless operators and Fixed Network Operators. Due to market forces, operators are constantly looking to improve reliability, capacity, efficiency and profitability of the Interworking through 3rd party GRX/IPX operators.The global roaming exchange will help in cutting cost of mobile operators ,removing the need for a dedicated link between each mobile service provider.GRX will help to reduce the roaming charges and facilitate easy connectivity to the exchange.
“The presence of GRX here in Kenya and Africa is expected to enhance the mobile communications services and particularly roaming operations. By keeping African content within the continent we are all helping to build Africa’s digital future,” said Ben Roberts, CEO Liquid Telecom Kenya.

MTN South Africa to discontinue its mobile money service

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MTN_Logo_onlyMTN South Africa, the country’s second largest mobile network has pulled the plug on new mobile money sign ups in a move that might likely see the firm end the service totally.

According to Fin24, the firm has around 140,000 users and is no longer signing up new mobile money customers and is now reviewing its mobile money service.

“MTN can confirm that the platform is not available for new customers. MTN is currently in discussion with all relevant stakeholders to explore the feasibility of continuing with this service,” chief consumer officer at MTN SA Larry Annetts said in a statement emailed to Fin24.

MTN is not the first company to discontinue its mobile money service to its customers. In June this year, South Africa’s Vodacom discontinued its M-Pesa product after showing a little prospect of growth in the country.

Speaking about the decision, Shameel Joosub, Vodacom Chief Executive Officer, said “Vodacom’s decision is based on the fact that the business sustainability of M-Pesa is predicated on achieving a critical mass of users. Based on our revised projections and high levels of financial inclusion in South Africa there is little prospect of the M-Pesa product achieving this in its current format in the mid-term.”

MTN’s closure of the service does not come by surprise. Unlike other markets in Africa, South Africa has high financial inclusion rates limiting the use of mobile money. In Kenya, M-PESA has over 23 million customers and over 100,000 M-PESA Agent outlets countrywide and is taking centre stage as the country’s biggest payments service for both online and in-store purchases. Like a digital wallet, the service allows users in Kenya to send or receive money, pay for bills and transact easily, safely and conveniently using their mobile phones. M-PESA continues to lead the world in mobile money transfer. It has revolutionised the way Kenyans do business leading to more financial services such as M-Shwari, a savings and loan service among others.

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Safaricom is hiring 600 people to revive its struggling customer care team

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Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, Chairman, Board of Directors, Nicholas Nganga and Steve Chege, Director of Corporate Affairs during the release of Safaricom Limited Annual Report held at the Bomas of Kenya.

 

 

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, Chairman, Board of Directors, Nicholas Nganga and Steve Chege, Director of Corporate Affairs during the release of Safaricom Limited Annual Report held at the Bomas of Kenya.

Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore, Chairman, Board of Directors, Nicholas Nganga and Steve Chege, Director of Corporate Affairs during the release of Safaricom Limited Annual Report held at the Bomas of Kenya.

In his speech during the Safaricom AGM held on September 2 2016, Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore admitted that the firm is not providing its customers with the best experience when it comes to customer care.

To address this issue, Collymore said Safaricom planned to increase Safaricom’s customer care capacity by four times to make it more responsive to its customers’needs.

“We know that we are not providing our customers with the best experience when it comes to customer care,” said Collymore. “That is why I was pleased to announce today that in line with our continued strategy of investing in our People and Customers, we plan to increase our customer care capacity by four times.This will entail hiring 600 new staff to join our existing customer care team, and will make what is already the biggest customer care facility in the region even more responsive to customers’ needs.”

According to Collymore, the 600 new people will help fix some of the capacity issues the firm has faced as  it tries to respond to the over 400,000 calls it receives every 24 hours from its customers.

As the biggest telecom in East and Central Africa, Safaricom serves over 25.1 million subscribers offering over 100 different products under its portfolio. Recently, the firm launched Blaze, a youth-focused sub-brand. With annual revenues in excess of Kshs 150 Billion, this year Safaricom invested Kshs 32.13 billion in infrastructure providing over 78% of Kenya’s population with 3G coverage and providing 2G coverage to 95% of Kenyans. It’s M-PESA service has over 23 million customers and over 100,000 M-PESA Agent outlets countrywide.

Serving this huge number of customers turns into a nightmare with an estimated team of less than 300 people handling customer care.

“The aim of this initiative is to improve our services and make sure we are offering custom-fit products to our customers,” added Collymore. “This means that we are now able to respond faster to the needs of our customers. We have also given our dealers the power to do more for our customers.This will allow us to manage more customers and provide more services through more than 250 outlets all over Kenya in the coming year.”

With its Ksh32 billion investment into its network last year, Safaricom expects to cover 80 percent of the country with 3G coverage as well as push towards fibre and advanced technologies such as 4G to expand its data footprint and provide better connectivity to businesses and homes.

Safaricom says it has rolled out over 560 sites on 4G in over 20 towns across Kenya and has committed to connect 23,000 public primary school to the internet for free.

innovateAFRICA Fund to Invest $1 Million into Digital Media Startups

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innovateafricaCode for Africa (CfAfrica) through its innovateAFRICA Fund is offering media pioneers in Africa $1 million in support for leapfrog technologies or digital innovation. innovateAFRICAFund will be a combination of seed funding, technology support and expert mentorship and is open to both mainstream media organisations and individual innovators.

According to Code for Africa’s (CfAfrica) direector, Justin Arenstein, “African media are experimenting with digital journalism, but the steadily worsening market situation facing mainstream media often has a chilling influence on the really big ideas. innovateAFRICA is meant to help newsrooms leapfrog obstacles, by giving the types of support that neither media companies nor traditional donors can provide themselves.”

innovateAFRICA will run alongside a $500,000 companion fund, impactAFRICA, a $20,000 grant  launched in February this year for journalists to get out into the field for pioneering digital reporting projects. impactAFRICA’s second round is offering grants for investigative data­driven journalism stories.

CfAfrica manages innovateAFRICA, as part of the International Center for Journalists’ (ICFJ) data journalism initiative in Africa. innovateAFRICA will provide grants from $12,500 to $100,000 for projects judged to have the best chance to strengthen and transform African news media.

Grantees will also receive technical advice from civic technology laboratories across the continent, along with startup support and one­on­one mentoring from the world’s top media experts.

Projects can range from new ‘digitally native’ journalism start­ups, to ideas for improving the reach and impact of legacy media operations. Projects that tackle journalism’s changing role as a civic watchdog will receive special attention.

“Citizens need reliable and actionable information to make informed decisions. A strong media remains amongst the most effective ways for giving citizens both information and a voice, and we are therefore keen to help journalists be as digitally savvy as possible,” explains Arenstein.

Proposals from international digital news pioneers may be accepted but entries must have an African media partner who will help co­develop and test the innovation and who will deploy the project for African audiences. The deadline for applications is 01 December 2016.

innovateAFRICA’s partners include Omidyar Network, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CFI, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF), the Global Editors’ Network (GEN) and the World Bank.

Entries must be submitted to the innovateAFRICA website by midnight (Central African Time) on December 01, 2016.

 

Fastest mobile internet speed ever recorded – 1.9 gigabit-per-second

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Have you tried downloading a movie on your phone? Let’s say a 2GB movie on a 3G enabled smartphone for that matter. You will definitely take forever to save the whole film on your downloads. A friend of mine tried to download an episode of the flash which is less than 1GB. I tell you what, it took this guy a whole day to get the film, which later turned out to be camera copy, well this is after he had exhausted his bundles. Anyway, the network was moody that day so he couldn’t get the whole thing at once.

A tech firm in the Diaspora called Finnish claims that they were able to break the 4G network speed record by achieving a 1.9 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) speed on a test network.

The super fast mobile internet service could download a Blu-ray film in 44 seconds, and according to Elisa, it used technology provided by Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to deliver a mobile network speed that edged close to the 2Gbps threshold.

“We know there hasn’t been a speed this high announced by any other network.” said Elisa’s chief executive, Veli-Matti Mattila. “Although 5G technology is in the early stages, and soon we will see that tech piloted, with 4G working at faster and faster speeds, it also means coverage just yet.”

The firm is also planning to provide a much faster speed premium 1Gbps network in Finland which will be operational within the next two to three years. Other companies that have plans to start offering offer1 Gbps speed on 4G network is Vodafone Germany.

Last year, a story was done by BBC and it reported how Researchers at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) managed one terabit per second (Tbps) which is many thousands of times faster than current data connections.

 

Cybercriminals are now using telcos employees to access networks

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I though insider jobs and conspiracy theories transpire in movies and books. These are activities that most organizations and individuals shy away from because the implications are always tragic. Although, security experts released a report claiming that cybercriminals are using insiders to gain access to telecommunications networks and subscriber data, recruiting disaffected employees through underground channels or blackmailing staff using compromising information gathered from open sources.

Employees do the job.

According to the experts, attackers engage or entrap telecoms employees by Using publically available or previously stolen data sources to find compromising information on employees of the company they want to hack. They then blackmail targeted individuals – forcing them to hand over their corporate credentials, provide information on internal systems or distribute spear-phishing attacks on their behalf.

Another way is by recruiting willing insiders through underground message boards or through the services of “black recruiters”. These insiders are paid for their services and can also be asked to identify co-workers who could be engaged through blackmail.

The blackmailing approach has grown in popularity, following online data breaches such as the Ashley Madison leak, as these provide attackers with material they can use to threaten or embarrass individuals. In fact, data-leak related extortion has now become so widespread that the FBI issued a Public Service Announcement on 1 June warning consumers of the risk and its potential impact.

Telecommunications providers are a top target for cyber-attack. They operate and manage the world’s networks, voice and data transmissions and store vast amounts of sensitive data. This makes them highly attractive to cybercriminals in search of financial gain, as well as nation-state sponsored actors launching targeted attacks, and even competitors.

According to the Kaspersky Lab researchers, if an attack on a cellular service provider is planned, criminals will seek out employees who can provide fast track access to subscriber and company data or SIM card duplication/illegal reissuing. If the target is an Internet service provider, the attackers will try to identify those who can enable network mapping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

“The human factor is often the weakest link in corporate IT security. Technology alone is rarely enough to completely protect the organisation in world where attackers don’t hesitate to exploit insider vulnerability. Companies can start by looking at themselves the way an attacker would. If vacancies carrying your company name, or some of your data, start appearing on underground message boards, then somebody, somewhere has you in their sights. And the sooner you know about it the better you can prepare,” said Denis Gorchakov, security expert, Kaspersky Lab.

 

Eneza Education Hits Over 1 Million Users Across Africa

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enezaEdtech platform Eneza Education just announced it has hit over 1m users four years after it launched a simple leaner platform in Kenya armed with relentless passion on learning in Africa with little resources.

“We have surpassed the million mark, at 1,100,000 unique devices on our platform. A million at any scale is such an impressive number, isn’t it? The significance of our million is the fact that while web traffic has created avenues to attract unique visitors left, right and center, the last mile space is a different story. But before we tell it, appreciation,” announced the firm.

According to the firm, 1 million requires magic, and 26 full-time rock-star magicians to power the execution of a platform now ready to take on 50 million.

Founded 4 years ago by Kago Kagichiri and Toni Maraviglia, the firm recently launched Shupavu 291 in partnership with Safaricom.

An estimated 10 million learners in primary and secondary schools in Kenya now have an opportunity to access tutorials through the mobile phone. Shupavu 291  is accessible on a basic mobile phone allows learners to access Kenya National Curriculum aligned lessons through Short Message Service.

The firm also partnered with UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Vodafone foundation and education NGOs to create an Instant network Classroom designed to answer connectivity, configuration and supply chain issues encountered when implementing a mobile device based education programme in remote locations. It provides an all-in-one easy and quickly deployable solution.  To date 3,000 students in Kakuma and over 20,000 students and 378 teachers in Daadab refugee camps have benefited.

In March Shupavu 291 was estimated to reach over 572,000 mobile learners across Kenya with at least 469,000 are primary school pupils while 86,000 are secondary school students.

Eneza Education also works with the Xavier Project which manages 8,000 high-risk refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma camps and saw the IDP Foundation fund itsr pilot in Ghana targeting 250 IDP schools. It also has learners in Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria taking the same curriculum under W.A.E.C. In Tanzania, Shule Direct duplicated its model and the firm is now working with Internet.org to deliver affordable content and billing for smartphones and web-capable feature phones. Just this year, the firm says it signed up 450,000 last mile users in Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana.

Apart from its SMS platform, Eneza Education also uses its online system, Internet.org, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram and now eyes hitting 50m users in the near future over all these platforms.

Equitel users can now buy KQ air tickets

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Equity Bank and Kenya Airways (KQ) have entered into a partnership that will allow travelers pay for their KQ air tickets using the Equitel mobile money platform.
The move comes after Equitel recorded a 6,470 per cent growth in loan disbursements since its launch in July 2016.According to Equity Group Holdings CEO Dr. James Mwangi,the platform has processed loans worth Ksh.20.8 billion as at the end of June 30 3016, a 6,470 per cent increase from Ksh.0.3 billion recorded when the platform was launched in July 2015. In addition, Equitel now processes 82 per cent of the banks loans and the platform is expected to continue reducing the bank’s costs.
KQ Air tickets
Kenya Airways travelers and Equitel users now have a safe, secure and convenient payment channel through Paybill Number 777887. Under the partnership Equitel users will be able to; buy tickets for any of Kenya Airways’s 54 destinations using their Equitel lines, buy tickets without any additional charges such as mobile payment transaction fees and travellers will also have the option of paying for their air tickets at any of the bank’s 174 branches.
On the flip side, in 2015 Equitel increased the fees it charges to transfer money from Equity Bank to M-Pesa, denying customers the cheaper services the bank promised. The platform used to charge Sh33 per transaction below Sh1,500. However,the CEO commented that “all Equity charges on mobile money remain Sh27, the addition is a fine by Safaricom. They have doubled their minimum charge to Sh66.”

Branch Hits 100,000 Customers |Launches Revamped App & Expands to Tanzania

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branch2Mobile financial services firm Branch has today announced it has hit 100,000+ borrowers in Kenya, revamped its app and launched in Tanzania just a year after it launched operations in Kenya.

“The level of demand we have seen for our product is overwhelming.”, commented CEO Matt Flannery. “Business owners love borrowing through Branch as we are responsive to their requirement for credit that is convenient, reliable and super fast.”

Branch works simply. Applicants agree to share their phone data such as handset details and M-Pesa transaction logs with the company as they request a loan within the app. A proprietary algorithm then analyses over 2000 markers in the data that correlate with good repayment behavior and builds a personal credit profile that is used to assess applications and create loan offers. This means that Branch can do away with traditionally used lending requirements such as paperwork and collateral so as to credit customers’ mobile wallets in mere minutes.

The firm has today launched a revamped version of its Android application, which features a complete design overhaul as well as new functionality that further personalises the loan offers applicants receive allowing borrowers to be able to choose between multiple loan offers that reward shorter schedules and on-time repayment with lower interest rates and faster increases in loan limits.

Branch offers loan amounts ranging from KSh1,000 to KSh50,000. Customers build their credit limit as they continue to take out loans and repay on time. On average, each Branch customer has taken out 5 loans each. Repayment terms range from 4 weeks to 6 months, with fees of 6-16% per loan, which decrease as customers move up the loan ladder.

Branch is currently available for download in the Google Play Store in Kenya and Tanzania and is really simple. It’s like a bank branch in your pocket, only much faster!  Users just download the app from the Google Play Store, login with their Facebook account, and they get a loan.  Branch has — a machine learning algorithm — which analyses data from a user’s phone, Facebook, and other sources to determine how much to lend to them.  Branch will deposit the funds in their mobile money account in a matter of minutes.  

As users prove themselves, loan sizes go up, loan length goes down, and APR goes down as well.  Branch’s current fees range from 6% to 16% on loans from 3 weeks to 1 year in length. Branch’s default rate has dropped from 25% to under 5% and the firm says it has disbursed millions of USD in loans and is growing 50% month-over-month.

In March, Branch has raised a Series A equity funding round of $9.2 million led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Khosla Impact and Formation 8 also participated in the Series A round.

Get the app and see how much you can borrow!

Safaricom’s taxi hailing app Little hits over 23,000 downloads | Launches USSD platform

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Img:surdelltaxi.com
Img:surdelltaxi.com
Img:surdelltaxi.com

Safaricom and Craft Silicon’s taxi hailing service Little has hit over 23,500 downloads on IOS, Windows and Android stores, with over 1,400 drivers signed up. The firm has today launched its USSD platform making it available to non-smartphone users as the firm moves to attract non-smartphone users in the country.

Customers will now be able to request for a ride by simply dialing *826# from their mobile phone bringing on board millions of Kenyans who were previously locked out due to the fact that they do not own a smartphone.

“The idea behind Little powered by Safaricom is to provide affordable and convenient cab services to as many Kenyans as possible and I believe we are well on our way to achieving this through the launch of the USSD service,” said Craft Silicon CEO Kamal Budhabhatti.

Mr Budhabhatti added, “We are also committed to our drivers’ welfare. Since our launch, Little takes no more than 15% off drivers’ earnings compared to other players in the market who take between 18% to 25%.”

Craft Silicon has also partnered with Safaricom to reward customers with airtime worth their ride up to a maximum of 500 shillings upon completion of their first and fifth rides.

Other key distinguishing features of the solution include free Wi-Fi – powered by Safaricom and Live fare which gives customers the ability to monitor their taxi charges in real time as they ride.

Little also introduced a lady friendly category, Lady Bug, with professional lady drivers to ensure women’s safety on the road.

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 will enable businesses track and manage employee rides down to department level, while users can easily switch between personal and corporate rides on the app.

Other features of the App include: Real-Time Driver information, Live GPS enabled maps and ability for customers to give feedback.

SEACOM to provide VoIP services to its corporate and SME customers

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seacomSaicom Voice Services has entered into a strategic partnership with SEACOM to allow SEACOM to provide Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Cloud PBX services over a white-label platform to corporate and SME customers.

“We are looking to build long-term relationships with trusted partners and the strength of our partnerships have been key to the success of our business right from the beginning.

Our strategy is to build our channel platform in order for resellers to partner with us and in turn extend their service offering to their customers with voice solutions,” says Greg de Chasteauneuf, chief technology officer at Saicom Voice Services.

Through the partnership, SEACOM will offer voice services to its growing customer base, in addition to its existing high-speed internet access and cloud services.

“We were looking for a voice partner that uses reliable and high-quality infrastructure, and Saicom Voice Services’ Broadsoft carrier-grade platform gave us the quality assurance that we needed.  Having a full-fledged IP telephony solution completes our service offerings to customers in terms of data and voice,” says Grant Parker, head of SEACOM Business.

“Our platform allows SEACOM to operate autonomously and to support its clients on an end-to-end basis without having to own the infrastructure. The confirmation of the strength of our channel platform is in how quickly SEACOM could sell and deliver services to their customers. They were able to deploy their VoIP and Cloud PBX offering within a couple of months as opposed to a couple of years,” adds de Chasteauneuf.

Another factor that clinched the partnership was Saicom Voice Services’ Cloud PBX portal for customers. “The premise of our offering to our business customers is that they need to have an effortless experience when doing business with us and the Cloud PBX portal is easy to interact with, which was another criteria we had when we evaluated potential voice partners. We want to make sure that we have an outside-in approach, meaning that we look at what customers want, how they want to interact with us, and then we make it easy for them to do business with us,” says Parker.

de Chasteauneuf adds that the company’s strong suit is its ability to deliver what is required to ensure that its channel partners’ customers experience a smooth installation and excellent service.

With the ability of fibre to scale bandwidth, SEACOM is well positioned to offer fully-converged services that enable both data and voice, and other value-added services, on one medium. “We own the undersea fibre cable system and supply all Tier 1 internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa as well as all Tier 1 ISPs in countries where our cable system lands, including Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and now also Uganda. We may look at extending these new services into these markets in the near future,” adds Parker.

SEACOM’s new voice offering forms part of its suite of value-add services that enable businesses to unlock the power of the internet and cloud in order to grow and support their operations. “The feedback we have received is that customers are happy with the service and impressed that the installations have gone so smoothly,” says Parker.

Corporate and SME customers are going to reap the benefits. “SEACOM’s stature gives us added credibility in the marketplace and its fibre coverage across the country allows us to open our voice channel to all areas of South Africa,” says de Chasteauneuf.

Equitel launches ”multiple approval” feature for joint account mobile money withdrawals

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womenIn a move to secure mobile money withdrawals by investment groups, chamas and joint account holders, Equitel has launched a “multiple approval” feature that allows multiple users to request to withdraw cash on their Equitel menu which then requests other account signatories to enter their PIN to approve the withdrawal request.

The “multiple approval” feature allows account holders to use their PINs as their account signatures and Equitel users will have to link their lines to the joint account to be able to use the “multiple approval” feature.

The new innovative feature aims to make it easier for chamas, joint accoun tholders and similar users to transact by replacing signatures with individual Equitel PINs, thus eliminating the need for signatories to physically meet or sending cheques for co-signing by respective signatories.

Equitel had over 2 million subscribers as at June 23rd 2016 who transacted Ksh119.1 Billion, at the same time the value of Equitel loans stood at Ksh23.1 Billion over the same period. The latest quarterly statistics report from the Communications Authority shows that the number of transactions processed through Equitel stood at 44.7 million, up from 42.7 million in the first three months of 2016.

Equitel through the “Eazzy Loan Plus” product lends borrowers from Ksh100 to Sh3 million repayable over a 12-month period. The loan amount is determined by the user’s borrowing history, number of transactions, amount of savings and other variables.

KCB M-PESA loan disbursements cross KSh10B mark since inception

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KCB-42Savings and micro credit platform, KCB M-PESA has advanced KSh10.3 billion in loans to its customers since inception about two years ago, boosting access to credit in Kenya according to the bank’s latest announcement.

 

Launched in partnership between Safaricom and KCB, the mobile banking platform has also signed up 6.4 million account holders who have KSh286.1 million saved on the platform. The bank says every day, the platform advances between KSh25 million and KSh30 million in loans. The platform competes Safaricom and CBA’s M-Shwari, Inventure’s Tala and Branch among others.

 

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore said that the huge success that KCB M-PESA has enjoyed highlights the value of strategic partnerships in delivering innovative solutions that are aligned to customer needs.

“Through this platform, we have been able to contribute towards driving the financial inclusion agenda. Of great significance has been its role in providing a backup plan for our customers to free them from the fear of unforeseen events,” Mr Collymore added.

KCB M-PESA was launched in March 2015. The platform allows registered customers to save up to KSh1 million, earning up to 6 per cent in interest. Accountholders can also access up to KSh1 million in instant loans, accessible on the M-PESA menu on the SIM toolkit under the updated Savings and Loans tab.

 

KCB M-PESA is now available directly on the M-PESA menu, and customers no longer need to dial *844# to access it. Customers registered on KCB M-PESA are required to  go to their M-PESA Menu > Loans & Savings > KCB M-PESA to see how much they can borrow and follow the prompts to secure the loan which will be sent to their KCB M-PESA accounts instantly. The loan amount is determined by the amount of savings that the customer has made, M-PESA balance, and their savings on both Safaricom and KCB platforms and usage of their suite of products. Customers also have the option of operating fixed deposit accounts – fixed savings account and target savings account – on KCB M-PESA.

 

On his part, KCB Group CEO, Joshua Oigara said that the new platform leverages technological innovation to deliver financial products and services.

“The ubiquitous mobile phone has changed the way financial services are consumed. It has made it cheaper and more convenient for accountholders to access their bank accounts,” Mr Oigara added.

 

 

 

Tigo Pesa Customers Pocket $2.6m in Ninth Quarterly Profit Share

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tigoghana
Tigo Tanzania has announced another quarterly payment of Tshs 5.6 billion (US$ 2,570,120) to Tigo Pesa users, the ninth time in a row that the telecom is distributing profit to its mobile financial services users.

Speaking at press conference in Dar es Salaam today, Tigo Head of Mobile Financial Services, Ruan Swanepoel said cumulatively the company has paid its mobile financial services users a total of Tshs 46.2 billion (US$ 21,203,490) in quarterly payments since the launch of the service in July 2014.

Swanepoel said that this year’s second quarterly profit share recorded a growth of 8%, attributing the surge to favorable interest rates on the trust funds placed with various commercial banks.

“This profit share is payable to individual customers, retail agents and other Tigo business partners who each receive payment based on the e-value they stored in their Tigo Pesa wallets,” Swanepoel explained.

“We are really excited to be announcing this increased profit share distribution for the ninth successive time. This underlines our commitment to provide financial access to our customers and the country at large through our Tigo Pesa services,” said Swanepoel.

He cited Tigo’s increased profitability, improved market condition and steady growth in the number of Tigo Pesa users as the major drivers to the significant increase in profit share especially from the merchant segment. Tigo Pesa currently has the largest network of over 50,000 merchants

As before, according to Swanepoel, the return to customers is calculated based on Tigo Pesa customers’ average daily balance stored in their mobile wallet adding that this profit share distribution scheme is in line with the Central Bank Circular issued in February 2014.

Tigo Tanzania became the first telecom company in the world in 2014 to share profit generated from its mobile money Trust Account in the form of a quarterly distribution to its customers.

MainOne’s MDXi to host and manage SAP applications after certification

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mainone logo_12 april 2013MainOne‘s subsidiary, MDXi is now an SAP-certified provider of Infrastructure Services for SAP® solutions after a recent certification confirming the firm’s ability to deliver high-quality cloud and infrastructure operations services for customers running SAP solutions.
The certification will enable MDXi to host and manage SAP applications utilizing the company’s enterprise cloud platforms, across its private, public and hybrid cloud solutions, via a consumption-based delivery model. As a SAP-certified provider of hosting services, MDXi will offer a cost-effective yet reliable delivery model for mission-critical applications for customers of SAP.
Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke stated “We are pleased to receive the SAP certification for Infrastructure Operations Services, as it validates our commitment to providing world-class data center and cloud solutions in Nigeria. With this certification from SAP, it is now possible for Nigerian enterprises and businesses to host SAP applications in-country on MDXi’s Cloud platform and optimize their accounting processes, data analytics and sales chain management. This will improve response times for SAP applications, ensure data security and assure more cost effective subscription charges”.SAP HANA® Cloud is an in-memory platform that runs analytics applications smarter, business processes faster and data infrastructures simpler! It is the foundation for all the data needs of a business, removing the burden of maintaining separated legacy systems and siloed data, so business can run simple in this new digital economy.
Managing Director of SAP West Africa, Kudzai Danha said “More than ever, SAP Africa is excited about the SAP HANA® certification of partners like MainOne. The current market demand for attractive business applications in the cloud presents great business opportunities and through SAP HANA®, customers can innovate and redesign business processes, capitalizing on the agility of this unique platform.”
The SAP certification process is rigorous and culminates with an onsite audit session to determine that the provider meets all the local and global requirements as stipulated by SAP to run its applications.

Kwese Free Sports TV promises viewers a free live EPL match every weekend

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Kwese Sports (98)
Ben Amadasun, CEO Kwese Free Sports

Econet Media today launched its free to air sports channel, Kwesé Free Sports TV promising to give viewers in Kenya one free live English Premier League match every Saturday and previews and reviews of every match played in the EPL, meaning DStv’s SuperSports’ viewership won’t be greatly affected.

Speaking to TechMoran, Shalamar Zandamela, the Head of Marketing, Kwese Free TV said, “For us like we said, we are free to air, so we get the free to air rights. Currently what we have are free to air rights so you get one game a week on Saturday at five and it is live and you get the preview show before and the review show after the games are over.”

Though the firm didn’t tell TechMoran when Kwese Free Sports viewers will have more live EPL matches, Zandamela confirms that much more content will be launched in the coming months.

Apart from the one EPL match every Saturday, Kwese has signed up rights to the National Basketball Association (NBA), Extreme Fighting Championship (EFC), Formula E Championship, AVIVA Premiership Rugby and most recently the National Football League (NFL) which will be broadcast to viewers in Kenya for free among others in its bid to see the country’s DTT and DTH viewers access premium content for free. Kwese Free Sport’s first task in Kenya is building an audience and not just any audience but a loyal one.

“Like our name, we want to be anywhere everywhere, it suits where we want to position ourselves as a brand,” said Monicah Ndungu, General Manager, Kwese Free Sports Kenya. “What we are looking at is to provide our audience with the best of the continent. It’s been very receptive actually, I think the market has been looking for something to give them a breath of fresh air as everybody who hears about Kwese Free says that’s different, that’s a welcome thing, we feel quite welcome.”

Monicah Ndung'u, GM Kwese Sports Kenya
Monicah Ndung’u, GM Kwese Sports Kenya

Kwese Free Sports TV is now looking at partnering with other broadcasters as well as working with its digital team to reach audiences at home and online. It is also investing of millions of dollars into rights acquisition and content creation.

“We can say it’s a lot. We can confirm that it is in millions of shillings that we have invested. It’s a significant investment and its a long-term investment and is across various pillars for the business,” Zandamela told TechMoran. ” We are investing hard costs in terms of infrastructure, and once you do that it’s a clear signal that you are here to stay. We will have physical presence here in Kenya through a studio we’ll be building here, we have an office building here and we’ll be employing an almost fully local team developing talent with the entire team so it’s in the best of the industry and we will also be commissioning local content and so it’s a significant investment and is one that we intend to see grow and get a return on that investment specifically.”

Apart from real sports, Kwesé Free Sports also runs sports related entertainment content including Xtreme Outdoor Africa (100% proudly Kenyan), Ball N’Africa (Kenyan production) Sports Stars Uncovered, The Secret Lives of Sport, Football Stars, Sports Confidential, The Fast Lane and Sporting Greats on the channel. It will also showcase the best in local productions giving Kenyans a platform to share their stories on platform.

Kwese Free Sports TV aims to monetise through advertising and sub licensing to other channels when the time is right. Econet Media is a sister brand to Liquid Telecom, Econet Wireless both subsidiaries of Zimbabwe’s Econet Group founded by Strive Masiyiwa.

CBA & MTN Uganda launch MoKash, a service for short term mobile loans & savings

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  • MTN Uganda in partnership with Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA) yesterday launched ‘MoKash’ a short term micro savings and loans product on MTN Mobile Money to enable registered MTN Mobile Money users to conveniently borrow as much as sh1 million using their phones.
    The product is commercially called ‘MoKash’ and also allows MTN Mobile Money customers to save as little as 50sh money on their phones while earning interest of up to 5 percent. Just like Kenya’s Mshwari, which is also a product of CBA in partnership with Safaricom, MoKash allows MTN customers who have registered MTN Mobile Money to save and borrow using their phones. Customers can save while earning an interest or take out short term loans at a reasonable fee.

The customer does not have to visit any bank to fill out forms.

To activate a customer should dial *165*5# and enter their MTN Mobile Money PIN.

  • To use the service you have to be an MTN customer and active on MTN Mobile Money.
  • Dial *165*5# to get started.
  • You will be prompted to enter your MTN Mobile Money PIN to activate your MoKash account.
    • Activation of a MoKash account is free.
    • Any transactions between MoKash and Mobile Money are free. Ie Savings, Auto savings, Loans, Loan payment, Account balance check.

    Interest Rates – Savings.

    You can save a minimum of UGX 50 up to any amount depending on KYC level

    Amount Interest
    1 – 300,000 2%
    300,001 – 800,000 3%
    800,001 – 1,600,000 4%
    1. 1,600,000
    5%

     

    Interest Rates – Loans

    You can borrow between UGX 3,000 to UGX 1,000,000 depending on your loan limit at a fee of 9%.