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More News from Africa

  • Jack Ma launches the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) Award

TheJack Ma Foundation offers $1 million worth of prizes to 10 African entrepreneurs winners. First prize this year went to Life Bank, a technology logistics company based in Lagos which was set up to tackle the problem of blood shortage in Nigeria. As at January 2017, the company had helped deliver over 2000 pints of blood to patients across the state. In partnership with the Ethiopian government agency tasked with exploring technology, Information Network Security Agency (INSA), the LifeBank team successfully tested drone delivery in Ethiopia last month. The drones were programmed to automatically pick up samples from blood banks and deliver to laboratories or hospitals without any form of human control.

  • Assembling of mobile phones in Uganda

A new factory run by the Chinese firm ENGO Holdings near the capital Kampala will produce SIMI-branded items. The first phase will see the plant assemble up to 2,000 feature phones (so-called “dumbphones”), 1,500 smartphones and 800 laptops per day. Later stage it will begin manufacturing. Smartphones will retail at US$54 (about R810) and feature phones at $8 (about R120).

  • 10 Reasons Why Africa is a Source for Top Tech Talent

Technology is fast growing in Africa and so is tech talent. The Continent is experiencing transformative impact as a result of technology – from rural Ghana where low-income earners are able to buy insurance policies through their mobile phones to the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, where residents are able to send and receive money through their mobile phones.  The test of time is an excellent indicator of success – some African tech solutions have been in operation for more than 10 years, providing solutions to some of our most pressing socio-economic and communications problems.  These include Ushahidi (Kenya), Instabug (Egypt), RoamSmart (Tunisia), Skyrove (South Africa), Njorku (Cameroon), Bonglive (Tanzania), among many others.

  • Jumia cuts back further 

Last month we reported that Jumia had closed two of its smallest operations in East Africa. This month it closed down its Cameroon operations and hardly a week later its operation in Tanzania. Jumia points out that it struggles to cope with ecommerce challenges such as low internet penetration, serious logistics problems and customers without easy-to-find addresses. The company also faces lawsuits amid accusations it filed misleading information when it listed at New York Stock Exchange in April. The stock which started at  $14.50, making Jumia the first Africa unicorn on the NYSE, is now trading at about $6. The closure of its businesses in Tanzania and Cameroon leaves Jumia operating in 10 countries.

  • Ethiopia signs agreement with Alibaba

The Alibaba Group has signed an MoU with Ethiopia to establish an Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) hub. The hub will enable Ethiopia to provide smart logistics and services, conduct cross-border trading targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by helping them penetrate markets in China and other parts of the world, as well as serve as a centre of excellence in training young entrepreneurs. The first major initiative for partnership in Ethiopia will be the development of a multi-function digital hub to serve as a gateway for Ethiopian products to China, a training centre and to promote cross-border ecommerce and trade within African.

  • Nigeria’s Border controls remain an issue

Nigeria has announced 5 conditions that must be met for the reopening of its borders to neighbouring countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These include controls on country of origin (imported goods that are repackaged by neighbouring countries); that goods imported for the Nigerian market must be escorted directly from the port of Member States directly to the Nigerian land borders; dismantling of all the warehouses along common borders with Nigeria, and that foreigners in future must present recognized travel documents at entry points.

  • Liquid Telecom launches the fastest direct land-based fibre link connecting East to West Africa.

This coast-to-coast digital corridor follows the completion of Liquid Telecom’s new high-capacity fibre link running 2,600-kilometre (km) across the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The new high-capacity digital corridor from East to West Africa across Liquid Telecom’s ‘One Africa’ Broadband Network will vastly improve transcontinental communication. This aims to create a foundation for social mobility, economic diversification and private sector-led growth both in the DRC and more widely across Africa. It also underscores the company’s commitment to bring high-speed connectivity to every African on the Continent.

  • African Emojis

Ever noticed that there are almost no real African emojis?  O’Plérou Grebet, a 21-year-old graphic design student from Ivory Coast, has created more than 200 emojis representing objects, symbols, food, clothing, etc, that identifies African culture.

  • The Hotel Sector in Africa

From high-end business hotels in Luanda to sprawling leisure resorts near Victoria Falls, the diversity of properties in the sub-Saharan African hotel industry is growing due to several factors, including solid economic growth, improved travel links and record tourist arrivals, which are driving new investments by global brands. With a record 67m tourists arriving in Africa in 2018, up from 58m in 2016, the Continent now ranks as the 2nd fastest-growing region for tourists globally. Also, the number of flights and routes into Africa continues to develop, however, this brings some issues. Flights between African nations remain costly and lengthy, whereas, it is flights from Europe to Africa which have increased. It is now easier (and cheaper)  to fly from SA to Europe and then back to many destinations – particularly in the West of Africa.

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Alastair Tempest

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