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Africa

  • Banking Africa’s unbanked — time for a reality check

    Plenty of progress has been made on increasing the size of Africa's banked population. The trouble is, from the amount of noise that is made about the topic, you would be forgiven for thinking we had fixed the problem when we really haven’t. According to the World Bank, today, 62% of the world’s population has a bank account. In 2011 that figure was 51%. In three years, 700 million people became “banked” in some way, and the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped 20% to two billion adults. Much of this progress was attributed to mobile money. Mobile money is clearly a...

  • Gates Foundation injects $75 million more into African and south Asian disease control

    If you had as much money as you wanted, literally US$79.3-billion and a whole bunch of time what would you do? I would build a rocket, strap that floating trash island in the Atlantic to it and blast that bad boy all the way to the sun. No more trash. Simple and stupid expensive. I just need billions of dollars...If Bill Gates reads this, I hope he would chuckle to himself and jot the idea down on his to-do list. Money aside, the Gates Foundation is so far outside the box it needs a passport for the ideas and...

  • Is Elon Musk’s Tesla Energy just what Africa’s energy grid needs?

    It's a week-day evening in South Africa and I'm tapping away at my keyboard for an article due the next day. Suddenly, I get a notification on my phone warning me that load shedding level one is about to start, again. I'm going to have to cut my research short and settle for the next, not-so-tempting early morning instead. A few days later, serial entrepreneur and futurist Elon Musk announces Tesla's Powerwall -- a battery that might just be the key thing the world's been looking for to cut down on carbon emissions and making sustainable energy, well, more sustainable. "Hooray!...

  • 6 trends that will help accelerate Nigeria’s tech revolution #MWA2015

    On Day One of Mobile West Africa in Lagos, Nigeria, a panel of five experts predicted what they believe are the next things that would happen to accelerate the evolution of the tech industry in Nigeria. Members of the panel were James McNab who's Africa's MD of Basebone, Toyosi Akerele, founder and CEO of RISE Group, Omatsola Osawaru Barrow sales executive at MTN Nigeria, Valentine Obi who's CEO of eTranzact International, and Emmanuel Revmatas -- a director at Samsung Electronics West Africa. 1. Relevant and engaging apps Barrow believes in the next few years we will witness the release of more applications...

  • BBC World Service, Connected studio look to SA for new ways of distributing audio content

    The BBC's World Service, together with the BBC’s digital innovations team -- BBC Connected Studio, today kicked off its Development Studio event in Cape Town, South Africa. The event, held in conjunction with community-based tech incubator RLabs, aims to identify news ways of distributing the broadcaster's audio content online. As part of the BBC’s Cape Town Development Studio brief, teams will consider existing technologies on offer -- such as Internet Protocol (IP) Raspberry Pi, audio streaming, software defined radio, podcasts -- to develop tools that deliver BBC content to communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Cost-efficiency will also be explored...

  • Facebook’s Internet.org is coming to Nigeria #MWA2015

    Facebook on Wednesday announced plans to launch Internet.org app next month in Nigeria. The Internet.org app encourages telecoms to provide free and affordable access to certain web services like Facebook and Wikipedia. Announcing the plan for Nigeria, head of public policy for Facebook Africa Ebele Okobi, told participants at the Mobile West Africa 2015 conference, that the imminent launch in Nigeria follows similar ones in other African countries including Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. Speaking to Memeburn on the sidelines of the conference, she added that the app could be launched on more than one telecoms network in Nigeria, making the...

  • Why Africa’s mobile games should become powerful marketing tools #MWA2015

    Even though the opportunities for them are quite vast and numerous, mobile game companies in most parts of Africa are still trying to crack the market with varying degrees of success. In a fireside chat at Mobile West Africa 2015 with Zubair Abubakar, the Nigerian game developer and co-founder of ChopUp admitted that no game company in Africa is at the same level of monetisation as their counterparts such as King's Candy Crush which makes more than US$1-million weekly from in-app sales alone. This is while the local industry continues to grow in terms of number of companies, games and...

  • Report Xenophobia maps real-time insights through SMS, social media

    Kenyan non-profit Ushahidi and online publication iAfrikan have developed Report Xenophobia to help better understand the landscape of the violent attacks taking place against foreign nationals across the rainbow nation. Ushahidi was first popularised as a tool when it crowdsourced and mapped violent attacks during the Kenya's 2007 elections. The open-source software was soon rolled out to be used during the Haiti earthquake in 2010 as well as Chile and many other humanitarian disasters. Similar to Ushahidi's other platforms, the system provides a real-time reporting and alerting tool for incidents of xenophobia across the country. Information is collected from the...

  • iROKOtv gets pay TV distribution deal

    Nigerian video streaming service iROKOtv has inked a deal with StarTimes to have two new linear TV channels, IROKO Play and IROKO Plus included on the digital TV operator's platform. The deal has the potential to substantially increase iROKOtv's reach, given that StarTimes has 4.6-million subscribers across 14 countries. Subscribers will have the choice of two Nollywood channels. IROKO Play, available in the StarTimes Basic Bouquet, will showcase classic Nollywood movies from 2007 onwards, with a brand new exclusive movie added to the schedule each month. IROKO Plus, in the StarTimes Unique Bouquet, will reportedly show premium Nollywood movies...

  • Here’s how Africa’s mobile money players fit into the global landscape

    Think Africa and technology and chances are one of the first things that come to mind is mobile money. In conference talk after conference talk, you'll hear Africa referred to as "the mobile continent". There's a good reason for that too. This year for instance, the use of mobile financial services in sub-Saharan Africa to perform tasks like pay utility bills and send money to relatives could produce an estimated US$1.5-billion in fees for mobile-money providers by 2019. Even Bill Gates reckons that “digital banking will give the poor more control over their assets and help them transform their lives...

  • 2015 African Blogger Awards deadline extended

    The 2015 African Blogger Awards is extending its deadline and will now accept entries until 16 April 2015. The competition is aimed at African YouTubers, Instagrammers, Twitter and Facebook influencers. The awards aim to expose “truly exceptional African content creators and their unique story-telling approaches”. “Our aim is to broaden the industry for bloggers in Africa and allow brands to see the value in blogging as a marketing platform,” the organisers say. The top five categories in these awards are for Africa’s Top Instagrammer, Top Twitter Profile, Top YouTuber, Top Blogger and Best Facebook Page will be awarded to entrants...

  • SMS, Facebook dominate mobile activity in 5 of Africa’s biggest economies

    People speak about Africa as "the mobile continent" so frequently that it's become a cliche. People throw the phrase around as if it explains everything, without ever really interrogating exactly what it is Africans do with their mobile devices. One attempt to change that comes courtesy of technology research outfit World Wide Worx, which has published the results of its survey of 3 500 mobile phone users in five of Africa’s major markets, namely South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda. The survey reveals somewhat unsurprisingly, that there's been a rise of internet access via phones, the potential demise of...

  • 5 ways technology impacted the Nigerian elections

    Last Saturday (and Sunday in some parts of the country), Nigerians went to the polling stations to participate in the presidential election which was eventually won by four-time presidential candidate and former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. For this electoral exercise, technology was on trial as those in favour of -- and those against the deployment of technology -- in the electoral exercise anticipated the outcome of the election and how far technology would, or could, go in the country’s electoral process. 1. Rigging could be curbed Rigging during elections is a fairly popular electoral tactic in Nigeria. ‘Rigging’ is the word...

  • Kenya’s internet access continues to experience growth

    Kenya The Communications Authority of Kenya has revealed impressive data about Kenya’s internet access. According to them the number of internet users in the country has grown to reach 26.1-million. This translates to 64.3 per 100 inhabitants with access to internet. Data/internet subscriptions grew by 10.8% to reach 16.4-million during the second quarter of the 2014/15 financial year, October to December 2014. Coming as no surprise, the report reveals that the majority of users continue to access the internet through their mobile phones. The increased uptake has been attributed to the number of promotions carried out by various service providers and...

  • Trevor Noah to succeed Jon Stewart as The Daily Show host

    The Daily Show is about to get a lot more South African. Some big big shoes to fill for South African stand-up comedian Trevor Noah who has just been announced as the new show host for The Daily Show in the US. The New York Times reported that Noah is to Succeed Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's satirical comedy show. "I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Stewart said in a statement to the New York Times. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.” He added that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be...