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African Tech News Tidbits: Week of May 30th

Kente Clothes Weaver

It’s been a month since the last iteration so there is a lot to go over. Let’s not then waste time:

  • This right here is absolutely cool, straight: Teaching algorithms through kente cloth: a case for Culturally-Situated Educational Software
  • Upcoming in December 2012 in Cote d’Ivoire, The WHUB: It’s a yearly conference and exhibition hosted by Waleya Hub, startup incubator and social business actor in Africa. The event provides with a unique opportunity to showcase a vibrant tech community in Africa and creates amazing networking experience to develop business activities and investments for the continent. This year edition of the Whub Internet and technologies conference and exhibition will take place in Abidjan, Cote d’ivoire from the 13th to the 15th of december 2012. Check it out, it will be worth it.
  • Over at Afrinnovator, a must read series if you are interested in the current state of tech opportunities in Africa as well as all the buzz that is happening about investing in Africa. It’s called “Africa:The Present Frontier” by Muchiri Nyaggah and the first two parts (“Message from Africa: Have Money“, Will Buy and “Where Opportunities Lie in the African Mobile Space” ) are available. I also liked an earlier article outlining the missing key skills in African startups by Will Mutua.
  • From VC4Africa, an interesting look at the top 5 startup trends in Africa – http://pulse.me/s/9GHO5
 
  • At How We Made It in Africa, some good reads, if you are interested in retails, finding out these four things about the African retail environment might prove useful. On the flip side of things also, some argue that Africa (Kenya more precisely) needs more engineers and less wannabe overnight IT billionaires. Not an invalid point given the ferver ICT has elicited on the continent.
  • A question I have asked myself often: Can Africa position itself as an outsourcing destination?
  • A multifunctional payment card, incorporating both near field communication (NFC) and debit card functionality, has just been rolled out by Standard Bank’s innovation incubator and business development unit Beyond Payments. This dual function card has met Mastercard stringent requirements and is believed to be a world first in the realm of cashless payment technology.
  • The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)’s latest statistics on telecommunication in the countryshowed that the number of active telephone subscribers in the country stood at 99.14 million as at the end of March, 2012.
  • Linux vs. Microsoft is the most useless debate in ICT4D
  • An interview with Ory Okolloh, Google Africa’s Strategic Director (founder of Ushahidi) in French. She discusses the Open Government work Google is doing in Kenya as well as discussing minor aspects of Google’s presence and vision for Africa.
  • Microfinance provider BabyLoan is setting up shop in Dakar, Senegal after successful runs in Benin and Togo. It was founded in 2008 by a partnership between Bred and the Acted NGO. Babyloan provides microloans to small business entrepreneurs and has founded 9400 projects thanks to 17000 loans totalling 3.4 million euros.
  • Senegal is experimenting with online payments for duty fees through SGBS and Ecobank. The backend software was created by a French company, Paybox, specialized in electronic payments while the web portal was created by Gainde 2000 a Senegalese web development company.
  • That same bank in Senegal, SGBS is launching its own mobile payment solution called “Yoban’tel” in collaboration with mobile operator Tigo. This is the second such service in Senegal, the second one being Orange Money, a joint venture between the previously national telecom company now French owned (France Telecom), Sonatel, and the BICIS bank whose parent company is French bank BNP. With these two products, French companies are strengthening their hold on a part of the Senegalese economy with a big potential for growth.
  • The University of Ziguinchor in the South of Senegal will hold a Information and Training Day in Open Source Software and Linux on June 2nd 2012
  • Dubbed “Operation Coltan” (the name of a mineral essential for the mobile phone and chemicals industries), the latest protest from the hacktivist collective is focused this time on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In the firing line – multinationals such as Sony, LG, Samsung and Bayer
  • RD Congo is positioning itself in any case, at least in writing, to fully enter the digital and Internet revolution. An ambitious new government program envisions by 2016 to attain 40 land or mobile telephone lines by 100 residents for a total a 30 million lines, to lay out 5000Km of optical cable all over the territory, to bring online all of the public administration, state, and border services. Alluring on paper, let’s then watch the implementation.
  • Cote D’Ivoire is also investing in ICTs to spur its development: mobile penetration is at 80% (16 million mobile users out of 20 million inhabitants). Mobile investments stand at 170 million euros and were poised to double but are hampered by an outdated regulation dating from 1995 which slowed down the deployment of newer technologies such as 3G and the development of local content. Internet has very low penetration, standing at a ridiculous 5.3 percent mainly through ADSL technology. The future looks brighter though with the installation of the SAT 3 submarine cable bring broadband speeds and other optical offerings (Wacs by MTN, Glo-1 by Globacom and ACE by Orange) should come boost the high speed internet access market soon and help the sector grow. For its 2010-2015 outllook, the government of Ivory Coast is opening itself to local and international operators through many initiatives including its e-gov one and many others having to do with improving enterprise processes, groupware sharing and collaboration tools, as well as CRM tools for business to improve customer relationship.
  • Cote D’Ivoire: Customers can now pay their water and power bills using BIAO bank’s new EasyCollect automated pay stations or ATMS. The cost of the transaction  is US 40 cents. Big deal you might say but you have certainly not then been in those long lines under a boiling sun waiting to pay your bills.
  • Burkina Faso went one step further in their E-Gov program with the launch of PREVIOUS, an online information service for current and retired government workers of the CARFO including court magistrates, military personnel, contractors and current government workers. It allows creating and following the processing of a retirement claim, managing retirements contributions and estimating the monthly payment of a retirement account.
  • Armed with the success of the previous edition in 2011, Orange is launching the second edition of its Orange African Social Venture Prize. The goal is to promote social innovation that supports development through Information and Communication Technology (ICT).With this prize, Orange will provide a financial endowment as well as expert support to the young companies that put forward innovative projects with a significant social impact.
  • Jobberman, the largest online jobs service in Nigeria has ventured into Ghana to provide online recruitment services to employees and employers in the West African country.
  • It was #AfricaDay, but no Google Doodle to celebrate!

That’s it until next week!