[Africa Tech Week] Mobile operators join hands to ensure safe online environment for African children
Keeping children safe online means staying informed and getting involved to make sure these children or young adults know the risks, as well as the rewards, of the internet. While the internet offers goodies galore like educational materials, fun games etc, it can pose risks to children physical safety and emotional well-being.
This week, Kenya’s mobile operators, regulator and government came together to support a major GSMA initiative aimed at ensuring a safe online environment for children and young citizens in Kenya. Airtel Kenya, Jamil Telecommunications, Safaricom and Telkom Kenya became signatories of a new Child Online Protection (COP) Charter, marking the first stage in the launch of the GSMA’s We Care campaign in Africa. In 2015 Airtel Ghana also announced efforts to keep the internet safe for children in the country when it joined the international cause to mark Safer Internet Day. The theme for Safer Internet Day 2015 is 'Let's create a better Internet together'.
As these operators were signing this charter, MTN Group announced that it will apply for a mobile banking licence in Nigeria and plans to launch the service there next year. In Uganda, the company became the first telecom company in the country and in the MTN Group to grant access to third-parties to its Mobile Money Access Programming Interface (API). At the same time, the company also announced the launch of Ugx1bn (US$270,000) fund to support technology startups in Uganda. The fund is expected to provide a financial boost to startups that participate in the MTN innovation challenge series. MTN has over the last few months been involved in a number of partnerships and activities across the African continent. It Still, in Uganda, it announced a music and video streaming service in partnership with Global Music streaming platform TIDAL.
African startups were also in the news this week. Nigeria’s digital agriculture startup Farmcrowdy celebrated its second year of empowering close to 8,000 farmers across 10 states in the country. Early this year, the startup made it possible UK-based Nigerians to invest in poultry and local farms via mobile phones. Last year, the startup closed on seed funding of $1 million from international and local investors including Cox Enterprises, Techstars Ventures, Social Capital, Hallett Capital and Right-Side Capital; as well as angel investors Tyler Scriven, Michael Cohn, Josephine Group, FC Agro Allied SPV and Dr Christof Walter.
Still, on startups, The Royal Academy of Engineering announced the 16 African startups that have been shortlisted for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. South African venture capital firm Knife Capital also announced the twelve African startups that will take part in its fourth Grindstone Accelerator programme.
On matters of financial inclusion, The National Association of Savings and Credit Unions (NASCU), the apex organization for all financial cooperatives in Zambia, and global payments technology company Mastercard, today announced a landmark agreement on financial integration by means of formal financial products and services to underserved members of cooperatives. In Cameroon, Global development institution, International Finance Corporation, IFC announced an agreement to a value of $1.6 million with Atlantic Financial Group Central and East Africa (AFG C&EA) to expand access to digital financial services for low-income people, small-scale entrepreneurs, and rural populations in Cameroon.
This week, Visa also announced a new partnership with Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) to become the payment technology sponsor of the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in 2019 and 2021. This came just a few weeks after the company announced a strategic partnership with Halotel to enable Visa on mobile payments on Halotel’s HaloPesa wallet in Tanzania.
In Kenya, Wananchi Group announced plans to expand its services to Nakuru town as part of its regional expansion strategy. This will be the third city the company is expanding to after Nairobi and Mombasa. Back in 2014, the company embarked on Kshs.220 million network upgrade to meet increasing usage. Last year, it appointment of Mr Thomas Hintze as its new Group Chief Executive Officer. Still o fibre, telecommunications service provider, SEACOM acquired 100% of FibreCo Telecommunications in a move to achieve its vision to expand its African footprint through the consolidation of fibre assets particularly as the market moves into the 5G environment with its requirement for pervasive fibre networks.
Pan-African Payments company, Cellulant, this week also announced that it has built Africa’s first Augmented Reality (AR) powered try-on experiences in Facebook Messenger. Last week, it also announced its partnership and title sponsorship of the inaugural Pwani Innovation Week in conjunction with Swahilipot Hub. Remember in May 2018, The Rise Fund, a global impact investing fund managed by growth equity platform TPG Growth, announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a stake in Cellulant,
Other highlights of the week include Morocco successfully launching a new satellite christened Mohammed VI-B, Cybersecurity research firm, ESET partnering with Airtel to launch a new mobile security product specially designed for Airtel Nigeria subscribers and Rocketmine signing deal with Exxaro to digitize mines in Africa.