[Africa Tech Week] African Startups shortlisted for major awards
This has been perhaps one of the busiest weeks for African startups seeking funding to improve the operations or products. Ecobank announced the 11 startups that have been shortlisted for its 2nd edition of the annual Ecobank Fintech Challenge.
The startups include Lypa from Kenya, Wallet.ng from Nigeria, Nala from Tanzania, and Litee from Benin.
10 other African startups were also selected as finalists for the 2018 Zambezi Prize for innovation in Final inclusion. The startups will compete to win a total of $200,000 in prize with the Grand Prize winner taking home $100,000. Two runners-up will each receive $30,000 while the seven remaining finalists will each receive $5,000 in cash prizes.
This week, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) also released its annual Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) 2018 report for Africa. The report highlights a clear increase in global well-being post the financial crash in Africa. Despite the encouraging rise, the assessment notes that African countries still have much room for improvement. This is because they display lower than average well-being levels, in particular in Sub-Saharan nations. The report came in the wake of a new strategic partnership announced by Bharti Airtel and Telecom Egypt, Egypt’s first integrated telecom operator to roll out a submarine cable system.
On matters of financial inclusion, the United Nations Economic Commision for Africa (ECA) announced a new collaboration with the International Financial Corporation (IFC) and Ant Financial (Ant) to promote digital financial inclusion in Africa. This according to the three partners will be done through investment and technical capacity building. Digital payments service provider Visa also partnered with Branch International to offer custom financing to merchants who accept payment via Visa. The eligible merchants will be able to access loans of up to KSh30,000 ($300) which can be repaid within 6 months.
As financial service providers try to reach out to more customers Vodacom announced that it was launching over 200 rural sites in South Africa. This comes after the company extended its South African rural coverage by 101 villages in FY18, in areas which did not previously have network access. In Kenya, Family bank unveiled a new loan mobile application that will allow both the bank’s customers and non-customers access instant loans. Still, in South Africa, global innovation company Wirecard launched a new digital payment product. Known as secureEFT, the electronic funds transfer payment service will allow customers to make secure online payments directly into a bank account and get notified in real-time.
In Rwanda, telcos are seeking approval from the relevant regulator to roll out mobile money interoperability. The approval will allow the telcos which include Airtel Rwanda, MTN, and Tigo Rwanda to begin commercial negotiations. They will also “agree on tariffs and sign agreements with an independent switch provider,” and offer the services across networks.
To help merchants obtain actionable customer insights about their business, Kenyan Mobile Consumer Feedback Company mSurvey also announced a new partnership with Safaricom’s M-Pesa. The new partnership will enable merchants across the country to access customer feedback via Lipa Na M-Pesa through mSurvey’s platform.
E-commerce also continues to grow stronger in Africa and major players are working with different service providers to support this growth. Jumia signed an agreement with Bolloré Transport & Logistics to facilitate e-commerce in Cameroon and contribute to its development. This three-year protocol is part of the commitments made at the Customs-Business Forum put in place at the initiative of the World Customs Organization (WCO) and already formalized by the partnership between Bolloré Transport & Logistics and the Customs administration in 2015.