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African Tech News Tidbits – Week of June 28th 2012

EthiopiaTecno-T3 Ethiopia's first local cellphone

As some of you may already know, last week’s edition of the Coders4Africa Radio show was cancelled due to a quite ironic power outage at the studio in Maryland but everything is back on track so make sure to tune in this Sunday July 1st at 1:00PM Eastern, 17:00 GMT for the show, hosted by myself. We will be talking to the founders of Coders4Africa, as well as some members from around the continent. And don’t worry we will be done in time to watch the Euro 2012 final . Now for what’s interesting in African Tech this week:

  • Tecno Mobile Ethiopia, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based mobile manufacturer, will next month release its first smartphone completely assembled in Ethiopia. The smartphone, Tecno T3, will sell for $339 to $400 from mid-July. The smartphone runs on Google’s Android 2.3 operating system and features the Amharic language and GPS and supports SMS, email and other information transferring systems.Tecno already has several models in the Ethiopian market which support Amharic, Oromiffa, and Tigrigna languages. The new phone, Tecno T3, will however support only Amharic. The Amharic soft keyboard and messaging application feature was developed by an Ethiopian firm called Information Technology Transfer Services (ITTS). The Amharic language software can work on all Android operating systems.
  • Take a look at DealDey, the fastest growing Groupon clone in Africa.
  • Firefox is now available in Fulani. Take that!. Announcement in French.
  • Dinfin Mulupi interviews Ashish Thakkar, MD of Uganda-based Mara Group, about entrepreneurship and doing business on the continent.

  • SeeAm Mobile App Wants To Help You Locate ATMs In Nigeria.
  • The Burkinabe Minister in charge of Digital Economy has seen is personal email and Facebook account hacked in a classic scheme asking his contacts for money. He was able to regain possession of his accounts and send out apologies.
  • Ivorians are being called to register their SIM cards with their mobile operators, an operation that was started in December 2011 and is set to close in October 2012. Similarly to what I hear is happening in Nigeria, this is a move by the government to protect voice and data services and ensure the safety of the mobile networks users. Violators are threatened with total service interruption.
  • The Ministry of Health in Cote d’Ivoire is also launching and Electronic Vaccination Record initiative through mobile phones that is aimed at informing the population through SMS on hygiene regulations, alert them off vaccinations dates, save vaccination records and in some cases, facilitate the delivrance of the actual paper document.
  • Nigeria’s gaming startup industry is about to get hotter as cool graphical and artistic photos of upcoming casual games titled AgberoOle and Snake has leaked and been made available to TechLoy.
  • To help people lessen and, when possible, prevent the severe effects of climate change-induced emergencies, more cities in African countries are turning to ICTs.Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for example, are helping local governments identify flood zones on maps, measure communities’ vulnerability to flooding, and plan for new flood-prevention infrastructure like drainage systems and levees. Through mobile phones, citizens are being alerted via SMS texts to coming floods or cyclones. And Early Warning Systems are simulating weather patterns and predicting disasters in advance.
  • Kenya is among the six nations earmarked for a multi-million project in six Sub Saharan African nations, for the launch of digital hubs under Badiliko project. The project which is being funded by the British Council and Microsoft Company will build 90 digital hubs in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria.
  • Modern Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is aiding and abetting religious violence and insurgency in northern part of Nigeria, the president of Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, Shehu Sani, has said. Sani said in a statement in Kaduna yesterday that “all efforts at promoting peace and discouraging violence and vendetta is constantly, instantly and intensively undermined by belligerent religionists exploiting the ICT”. Gory and horrific photos of victims of suicide bombings and reprisal attacks shared through Blackberry in Kaduna aided in funneling tension and encouraged violence, he said. Recently there has been a video circulating of a heap of dead bodies through mobile phones that was purpoted to display the victimes of the attacks but on analysis seems to be unrelated footage used to incite violence and anger.
  • Office365 launches in Africa, but be careful of the fine-print and usage limits.
  • PassCo Africa is a company whose main goal is to provide an avenue, at a reasonable cost, for students in Africa to increase their performance in preparation for their standard examinations.
  • The Jomo Kenyatta University Taita Campus is holding a Mobile Boot Camp in partnership with Coders4Africa July 14th 2012.
  • An IT based-educational database for teachers and students has been launched in Abuja. The data base called Green Book system will provides a wide range of IT enhanced free learning tools for students and teachers in Nigerian schools.
  • The live activation ceremony of the much-vaunted West African Cable System (WACS) took place yesterday at the resort town of Swakopmund, signalling the commercialization of the U$650 million cable.The cable consists of four fibre pairs and is 14 000 km in length, linking Yzerfontein in the Western Cape of South Africa to London in the United Kingdom. It has 15 terminal stations along the western coast of Africa.The total cost of the cable system is US$650 million. DRC was another country scheduled to be part of this event but was left out due to the theft of $20 million set to be used for the local implementation of the project.
  • Two organisations that support entrepreneurship have partnered to launch a project aimed at transforing budding technology enthusiasts into successful entrepreneurs. The initiative, launched by Enablis Entrepreneurial Network and NetHope on June 14 this year, targets 100 tech savvy youth from universities, technical institutions and technology incubation centres. Overall, it will support 100 innovative technology ideas from Kenya Rwanda and Ghana.
  • is a version of YouTube that will give Ghanaians an easy way to discover local content and content producers. As of June 21st 2012, when Ghanaian users visit the Ghana domain, they will instantly see the most popular videos in Ghana, as well as videos that are most relevant to them.
  • The Republic of Uganda is known worldwide for its natural splendour, its abundance of fauna and flora and its established eco-tourism market. It is marketed as ‘the Pearl of Africa’. However, the country has also earned a strong reputation for its strength and stature within the global ICT and telecommunications space.Uganda is positioned amongst Africa’s top Internet countries with 4,2 million users within a population of 27, 6 million.
  • The Ugandan Government, through the information and communication technology (ICT) ministry, has launched a plan to implement e-government to improve efficiency and delivery of public services. This is in collaboration with South Korea, which will offer technical assistance to develop a comprehensive ICT master plan for Uganda, covering and integrating the economy and a feasibility study on ICT priority areas. I hope more local companies will be involved in the implementation of this plan and the actuals jobs won’t be farmed out to SK.
  • MasterCard has held a series of training workshops for Kenyan banks, helping them to optimise their systems in accepting electronic cashless transactions. It has also been preparing them for the coming implementation of the National Payments Systems (NPS) Act, which allows the Central Bank of Kenya to supervise and regulate payment systems within financial institutions.
  • Apple’s iTunes Store activated in 32 new countries, majority in Africa, including amongst others Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

See you all next week for more tidbits, oh and don’t forget to tune in for the show! Sunday July 1st 2012 at 1:00PM Eastern 17:00GMT.