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Kenya’s Billion-Dollar Dash to Become the Tech Hub of Africa

April 22nd, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Technology

Bloomberg reports:

Nairobi, Kenya has become the tech hub of Africa, a niche that could be worth more than one billion dollars to the country in the next three years despite its 40% unemployment rate. Kenya is throwing all their eggs in the tech basket as they build a multi-billion dollar infrastructure in the form of a “Techno City” that will support 200,000

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Using Twitter for Nigeria election reform

April 12th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Events, Politics, Technology

At the center of grass roots efforts to keep Nigeria’s notorious election process clean is a small, indistinguishable man armed with a cell phone…Amara, wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “Light Up Nigeria” and with his mobile phone always close by, is perhaps Nigeria’s best-known Twitter activist….But as Amara tours polling stations across Lagos, he is leaving nothing to chance. He uses the internet as a platform to encourage as many people to get involved in the voting process as possible….Nigeria has 43 million Internet users — the largest in Africa — and they are increasingly using Twitter, Facebook and blogs, such as Nigeria’s Saharareporters.com, to access information and make their views heard.

Read more at CNN.com

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Western Union partners with M-Pesa for international mobile money transfers

March 31st, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Business, General, Technology, Travel


Western Union has announced a partnership with M-PESA, the popular Kenyan mobile cash-transfer service. This deal opens up Western Union’s huge money transfer network to the Safaricon-owned “mobile wallet” service. The parnership will allow customers in US, UK and other countries to transfer money to a Safaricom/M-Pesa user’s account and the receiver will receive an SMS message from M-PESA notifying them that the money is available in their account.

Kenyans living abroad can now send money to their relatives back home through Safaricom’s mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.
This is after Safaricom and Western Union signed an agreement, which enables Kenyans living in 45 countries in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa to access the now world famous M-Pesa service.
Although they can send up to Sh35,000 per transaction, limits per day, per month or per year will depend on the country the money is sent from, following the link-up that is likely to give the NSE listed firm a head start in the increasingly competitive mobile telephony market.
“Through this partnership, our customers and their friends and families will benefit from affordable, faster and more convenient international remittances,” said Safaricom chief executive officer, Bob Collymore.
Mr David Yates, of Western Union, applauded the service as an impressive adoption of the mobile channel.
“Cash payout through M-Pesa is projected to go up from 23 per cent to 40 per cent, as the traditional cash payout will take the rest,” Mr Yates said.
The transaction is similar to a traditional cash-to-cash money transfer, except that the sender specifies the recipient’s mobile phone number at the time the funds are sent.

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IT giant Infosys seeks African market expansion

March 30th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Technology

Indian IT company Infosys Technologies is continuing its entrance into the African continent. It said in a statement Friday morning that it believes Africa is a market for long-term IT services and hopes it will be able to implement an investment strategy.

In an interview with the Times of India, Infosys CFO V Balakrishnan said that Africa has great potential and populations are demanding an improvement in IT services.

Nigeria’s regulatory body this week echoed similar statements when it said that mobile phone services in the country are sorely lacking adequate customer service and infrastructure. Infosys could capitalize on this exact issue, said Ahmed Gabr, an IT specialist based in Nairobi.

Read more at itnewsafrica.com

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Microsoft chairman plots Africa’s tech revolution (video)

January 18th, 2011 | 3 Comments | Posted in Business, General, Technology

In the video featurette below, CNN’s African Voices highlights Cheick Diarra, the Microsoft chairman for Africa who has been trying to make technology more accessible on the continent. In the video Mr. Diarra talks about tech affordability, connectivity, and training in Africa, and also comments on combatting software piracy by developing the local software development community, Before joining Microsoft in 2006, Cheick Diarra spent 10 years working for NASA as its first African astrophysicist.

The latest chapter in his career has seen him return to Africa, where he has been heading Microsoft’s operations since 2006, trying to make technology more accessible on the continent…’This is a unique opportunity because somebody like me, who is known for his scientific achievement, being able to have the opportunity to use, to leverage a company like Microsoft to really put the technology-access issue at the middle of the table,” he says….However, Diarra is quick to point out that access to technology will do little to accelerate Africa’s economic and social development if it is not accompanied by investment in the continent’s most important resource — its people. – CNN African Voices
More in the video below.

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Insights on mobile banking & advertising in Africa (videos)

January 5th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted in Business, General, Technology

If you’ve been following this website or been engaged in any recent conversation about Africa’s future, you can’t have missed a mention about mobile technology innovation and it’s impact in Africa. For the curious or uninitiated, here are a couple of videos which focus on the trend and give some insight particularly in the banking and advertising industries.

Banking revolution saving lives in Africa (CNN)

According to the Bureau of International Information Programs at the U.S. State Department, around one million of Tanzania’s 41 million inhabitants use mobile phone technology to carry out financial transactions and save money.
At the same time, only 12% of the population have a formal bank account, while almost half of them own a cell phone.

M-Pesa: Kenya teaches the developed world about the mobile wallet (BBC)

In developing world countries like Kenya, the technology to do this has been around for several years – and you do not need a bank account to use it. M-Pesa launched in 2007, and there are now nearly 100 services like it around the world, mainly in developing countries. Can the developed world learn from Kenya’s experience with the mobile wallet?

Mobile Advertising in Africa (A talk by Ankit Rawal of InMobi)

Ankit Rawal, Head of Advertising, Africa, InMobi speaks about the state of mobile advertising in Africa at iHub in Kenya.

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Bill Gates: Mobiles not PCs for global health in developing markets


via mobihealthnews.com

Microsoft Chairman and philanthropist Bill Gates recently sat down at UC Berkeley to discuss the need for personal computers versus cell phones in so-called developing markets.

Africa’s digital revolution (video)

April 26th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Film/Television, General, Technology

Radio Netherlands Worldwide features a short video on Africa’s digital revolution. The video, highlights the use of digital tools, online and mobile, by young Kenyans to bridge the learning and economic gap. A key observation when watching the video is the underlying shift from formal organized education to informal individual education as a result of Kenyan youth’s access to technological tools. Watch the feature below featuring Mark Kamau of Nairobits and John Karanja of Whive.

Nairobi is buzzing! There is an energetic and innovative vibe in the city. A young generation has risen to take matters into their own hands.

ALSO WATCH
CNBC Africa: East Africa Business Report on Social Media from Moses Kemibaro on Vimeo

If you can’t see the videos above go here to view

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African youth and the African brand (presentation)

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be invited to Harvard University to give a short talk and participate in the  Rebranding Africa through the Youth panel as part of their Africa Focus series. The panel was a lively, collaborative one with both panelists and attendees providing perspectives on the topic. As a follow-up, I’ve put together a slide deck of my prep notes and am sharing here. Hopefully, the presentation embedded below will allow those who couldn’t attend the event a chance to join in and continue the conversation here and elsewhere. Feel free to download and share the presentation. You can contact me here or on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) for further info or to discuss. Thanks to the Harvard team, especially Essie Yamoah and Julia Mensah, for having me up.

The youth and branding Africa

If you can’t see the presentation above go here to view

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Notes from Columbia U’s 2010 Africa Economic Forum

2010-AEF-Logo-300x223Last week I attended Columbia University’s annual African Economic Forum (AEF). The two-day conference was a diverse and insightful one with discussions ranging from Branding Africa to the growing, sometimes controversial China-Africa relationship. The organizers put together a great program with much discussion during and in-between panels. While I couldn’t attend the full program, I was able to participate in some great discussions with attendees and panelists in the Africa Arena. I’ve provided my notes from the discussions I was able to attend below. My notes cover a mixture of discussion topics and perspectives from the esteemed panelists and attendees. Please keep in mind that the notes below are portions of the hour plus long discussions from my perspective as an attendee. If you have any insight into any of the topics in my notes please feel free to comment. For clarification on any of the points in my notes please shoot me an email.

ATTENDANCE NOTES:
Panel: African Fashion Going Global
Moderator: ZANDILE BLAY, Market Editor, Paper Magazine
Panelists: OLUCHI, Supermodel and the Original Face of Africa; BUSIE MATSIKO, CEO and Co-Founder, Fashion Indie Media; AISHA OBUOBI, Designer & Founder, Christie Brown; MIMI PLANGE, Designer and Founder, Boudoir D’huîtres

  • Should Africans sell primarily to Africans?
  • African designers are more torn about designing Africa-inspired clothes vs. other western designers designing Africa-inspired clothes
  • Western designers are not limited or stigmatized when using African influences in designs
  • Should there be an African fashion capital? Some panelists say no
  • Is there a viable African consumer enough to support African fashion industry?
  • Designers don’t want to get pigeonholed as an ethnic designer; need room for growth
  • There is very limited support (i.e. factories, retail outlets) for African designers on the continent
  • Some panelists say African designers should focus on African consumers rather than targeting global consumers first
  • There is lack of business expertise among designers on the continent
  • Designers need to partner up with business professionals on the continent
  • Pricing African designs is tricky
  • Not too many Africans will pay high prices to support African designers
  • There are two types of African consumers: 1) those that travel and buy high-end western clothes 2) the locals who can’t afford couture and buy mass
  • It’s hard to produce on the continent particularly if you’re not doing mass production
  • Many African designers aspire to go to South Africa fashion week because it’s the top African continent fashion industry
  • Just like you don’t only have New Yorkers in New York Fashion week, South Africa’s Fashion Week has Africans from all over continent
  • African designers get inspiration from everywhere just like other designers
  • Some African designers are more drawn to cultural design than others

More »

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