[Africa Tech Week] Training eyes on startups, World Cup
A burgeoning demand for improved services across key economic sectors, a boom in tech startups and the World Cup have this week shaped the space of ICT in Africa as both governments and private players trained eyes on the numerous opportunities the sector has to offer.
Multinational technology company Google has announced plans to open an artificial-intelligence research center in Accra, Ghana, the latest in a string of investments the tech company has made in Africa. The research center will focus on using AI in areas such as healthcare, agriculture and education. This making the many inroads the company is making in Africa from funding startups, investing in low cost mobile smartphones, mentorship and mobile money.
And as the World Cup euphoria intensifies, WorldRemit, a digital money transfer service, has signed a deal with Pan-African broadcaster Kwesé TV to use the power of football to scale up its global operations and help more people save money on international transfers. This comes as Kwese TV continues to strike partnerships with like minded players during the World Cup. It recently entered into a deal with Kenya’s Safaricom allowing the mobile service provider’s customers to stream live all the 64 World Cup matches on Iflix, a platform it acquired earlier this year, at subsidized rates.
With Kenya leading in innovations and tech startups, the country has agreed to work with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to protect and grow start-up tech innovations. ECA committed to help Kenya develop policy and legislative initiatives that would make it harder for intellectual property abuse, and assist start-up tech companies grow to their full potential, bringing in jobs and revenue. This as the country continues rolling out innovative programmes to tap into tech startups. The country still remains one of the most popular investment destinations in Africa for investors looking to fund startups.
Telecoms in the country continue to align their businesses with market needs. This week Telkom Kenya rejiggered its Enterprise Division to enhance Kenya’s business growth. It has invested KSh. 3B towards Fiber To The Building which will see buildings connected to high speed fibre Internet to power businesses. The largest telco on the other hand Safaricom launched a loyalty promotion that seeks to reward all M-PESA customers and agents every time they send and receive money, transfer money from a bank account to M-PESA and for all Lipa Na M-PESA transactions. MPESA continues enjoying dominance beyond borders. International online payment company Paypal picked MPESA to allow movement of funds, a huge boost to international eCommerce. It marks a good year for the platform that was also recently awarded the GSMA Mobile Money Certification, a global initiative that defines and promotes excellence in the provision of mobile money services.
Innovation continues being embraced for benchmarking and monitoring. The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) also launched its knowledge platform coming after the historic signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The online platform will provide daily monitoring of national, regional and international trade policy news, current affairs, and related developments of interest to Africa’s business.
On the expansion front, global technology company NuRAN Wireless Inc. signed an agreement with Africa Mobile Networks, a wholesale mobile operator, to supply its rural 2G radio access network (RAN) solutions for a minimum of five countries with the potential of expanding to 13 additional countries.
One of Sub Saharan Africa’s largest online car marketplaces, Africar Group continued this week on a winning streak having now reached 800 million people, in 40 countries with 15 languages.
And finally mobile phone manufacturer itel has this week unveiled its first three smartphones which run on the Android™ Oreo™ operating system (Go edition) into the African market. This as it seeks to enjoy a pie of a market that has now hit record values according to latest reports.