Zuo Bruno’s “Zoomed” App Wins Best Innovation of the Year Award

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Zoomed app wins best innovation of the year award for Zuoix

After days of intense exhibitions, Silicon Mountain’s hacker, Zuo Bruno wins an exceptional prize for Zoomed, a Car Tracking Application that works purely on SMS. Zuo Bruno received this prize – the Lion D’or and cash worth FCFA 10 Million – during the 6th edition of the Days of Scientific Excellence and Innovation (JERSIC), organized by Cameroon’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (MINRESI).

Zuo Bruno Pitches Zoomed to Madeleine Tchuinte , Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation

Zuo Bruno Pitching to Madeleine Tchuinte, Minister of Scientific Research and Innovation

Zoomed is a car tracking application that uses cheap and affordable SMS technology to locate any Zoomed-equipped vehicle in real-time without the need for Internet connectivity. Zuo Bruno is the founder of Zuoix – the company that pioneered the development of Zoomed.

How Zuo Bruno's Zoomed App Works

Zoomed app in action

Zuoix, a Limbe-based startup, is Cameroon’s first Offensive Information Security firm that provides SMS-based security solutions and applications to businesses, corporate bodies and governments in Africa.

With the aim of encouraging and advancing developments in research and innovation, the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation launched the Week of Excellence to recognize and reward Cameroon’s most prolific researchers and innovators. The event that ran from February 21 to 23, 2018 launched under the theme, “Scientific research and innovation: strategic tools for business and socio-economic transformations.”

Thanks to the country’s burgeoning tech community, Silicon Mountain, the Cameroonian government is now recognizing the otherwise, growing importance of tech innovation in the economic development of its choking economy.

Zuo Bruno: Zoomed-Silicon Mountaineers Celebrating the Lion D'or

Silicon Mountaineers Celebrating the Lion D’or

Zuo Bruno was however challenged by the sudden shutdown of the internet in Cameroon’s Anglophone’s regions in 2017, that he began to think out of the box to build tech products that function without the internet. Zoomed subsequently happened to be a product of the internet shutdown in Cameroon’s English-speaking communities.

A sheep in wolf clothing?

Though Zuo Bruno’s initial idea was to build a car-tracking application that will use GPS via the internet, his intentions changed after the government initiated an internet shutdown in late 2016.

Bruno felt the death touch of this blackout as his once-promising project came to a sudden pause. At first, he was devastated and frustrated – that the entire energy and resources he had put into this project had just circled down the drain. He, however, did not stop believing in his dream. It had also sparked an idea, one that would eventually materialize into an award-winning application a year later.

Zuo Bruno: Founder of Zuoix, the brain behind Zoomed

Zuo Bruno: Founder of Zuoix, the brain behind Zoomed

“What if instead of building an app that needs the internet to function like the many car tracking applications already in available, I build one that functions without the internet?” Bruno pondered. And as this question lingered in his mind, he buried himself in a never-ending research.

It occurred to him that SMS technology was actually what he needed. Besides being an internet-void technology, it was also cheap and affordable especially for emerging economies like Cameroon. However, the only problem was how to integrate this technology into the system.

After consulting with fellow coders both online and offline, Bruno gained some insights and eventually found the hidden door. He had just created the first SMS-based car tracking application that works without the internet. He called it, “Zoomed.”

Internet blackouts around the world have however created other prolific innovations. One of such innovations is Share Via SMS, used to share text and audio messages using basic SMS technology. This application proved particularly useful in internet-blind regions of Cameroon.

How Zoomed Works

The application works after an MT3336 GPS Chip is programmed with a sensitivity of -159dBm and installed in a car. This chip will allow the user to receive GPS signals even in the remotest parts of the planet.

To locate the car, the user simply has to place a call to that car and it will drop the call after two rings and reply with an SMS showing the current location, speed, and direction of the car.

 

The app comes preconfigured with other features like:

  • Voice Surveillance & two-way calling functionality
  • Geo-fencing technology with SMS
  • Overspeed recognition and alarm
  • Ignition alert
  • SOS alarm
  • Immobilization
  • Power failure alert

Since 2011, car theft has been on a steady increase in Cameroon. This application now prides itself as an ultimate solution for car owners and the automobile industry. Innovation is at the heart of economic development in Africa’s slow emerging economies. In fact, Africa’s most powerful economies owe their success to solid developments in science, technology, and innovation.

Zoomed is only the start of a new trend in technology Zuoix is creating which has been termed, the “SMS-Of-Things.”

 

 

The Hustler’s Digest – Black Panther forces America to celebrate Africa

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Black Panther forces America to celebrate Africa

Today’s Quote

“In Tanganyika we believe that only evil, Godless men would make the color of a man’s skin the criteria for granting him civil rights”.

Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, addressing British Governor, General Richard Gordon Turnbull, prior to taking up the premiership in 1960.

Africa

Teleology Holdings won the bid on 9mobile acquisition

Last month, Teleology Holdings and Smile Communications were the only two telcos that had placed substantial bids to acquire 9mobile. Each of them bade $500 million and $300 million, respectively.

Fresh reports now confirm that Teleology Holdings was announced the preferred bidder in the sale of the struggling telco. In this light, Teleology Holdings will make a non-refundable cash deposit of $50 million within 21 days or lose the bid to Smile Holdings. For what it took Teleology to win this bid, it won’t take long for the company to deposit that cash.

Going by the official statement released last month by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) amidst speculations that Globacom had won the bid, Teleology Holdings will have to apply in order to commence the processes for securing the regulatory approvals from the Boards of the NCC necessary to give full effect to the transfer.

Expresso ventures into Africa’s mobile money market

After several years, the telecoms operator Expresso, a subsidiary of Sudanese telecoms group Sudatel, announced the launch of its mobile money service, E-Money. This launch will allow the firm to expand its range of products, and enter the daily life of Senegalese, via the very lucrative service of money transfer and purchase of services via mobile money.

According to Abdalla Saeed, General Manager of Expresso Senegal, “this new service will benefit all our customers and all segments of Senegalese society. Expresso intends to increase financial inclusion by providing end-to-end and affordable financial services. The vision of our Group is to be at the forefront of companies with the ambition to enable our African continent to transform and develop in the digital economy.”

Besides providing standard banking services for money transfers, bill payments and telecom products, E-Money will also allow Expresso customers to access a wide range of financial and services.

South Sudan and Somalia take global stage on corruption

The anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International has published its 2017 Corruption Perception Index report, relating to the most corrupt countries in the world and the fight against this social ill in the world.

Transparency international, in its report says there’s been a surge in the corruption burden in more than two-thirds of countries, with crackdowns on NGOs and media exacerbating levels of corruption. War-torn countries like South Sudan and Somalia are identified by the report as two countries where the global corruption burden is worst.

According to the report, several countries significantly improved their Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score over the last six years, including Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and the United Kingdom.The Majority of countries, according to the agency are making little or no progress in ending corruption, while journalists and activists in corrupt countries are risking their lives every day in an effort to speak out.

Cameroon

Two ads firms merge to become the leader of classified ads in Francophone Africa

Cameroonian classified ads website kerawa.com recently announced the conclusion of a merger agreement with Afrimalin. The website that bought Leportail.ci earlier in 2017 made this known in a statement published on February 12, 2018. The statement reveals that the new entity formed by Leportail.ci, Kerawa.com and Afrimalin.com will become the leader of classified ads in Francophone Africa.

“For us, it seemed natural to merge to progress quickly. We have decided to merge with kerawa.com and leportail.ci which are leaders in Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire, respectively. With this, we can exceed the million visitors monthly and increase the countries we cover from 8 to 10”, Thibault Launay, co-founder of Afrimalin explained.

This merger has led to the presence of Afrimalin in 10 countries namely; Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea, DR Congo, Senegal, Congo Brazzaville and Gabon.

Cameroon officially concludes privatization of water production and distribution

President Paul Biya, on February 20, 2018, officially terminated the privatization of water production and distribution in the country. This was through a presidential decree signed to reorganize the Cameroon Water Utilities (CAMWATER) which was until then in charge of managing potable water. The company is now in charge of the production and distribution of water in urban and semi-urban areas.

For over ten years now, Camerounaise des eaux (CDE), a private consortium made up of ONEP, MEDZ, DELTA holding and INGEMA, has been in charge of the production and distribution of water in the country. During these years of privatization, the services have not been the best (with the water shortage constantly being experienced in Yaoundé in the past few months). The government has decided to end the privatization and return the water sector to a public company as had been the case for decades.

Before the privatization to CDE, Société Nationale des eaux du Cameroun (SNEC) handled water production and distribution service in Cameroon.

Cameroon’s main opposition leader in a running battle with Anglophone separatists

The Chairman of the main opposition party in Cameroon, Ni John Fru Ndi, defied threats from Anglophone separatists to organize an elective convention of his Social Democratic Front (SDF) party. Despite the total shutdown of economic activities witnessed in the Anglophone town of Bamenda, in protest against the convention, the event still went on as planned under very tied security.

The party’s convention to elect its presidential candidate in the upcoming election and a new party chair had previously been postponed on three occasions due to the ongoing Anglophone crisis. In his opening speech, the chairman John Fru Ndi castigated the Biya’s regime for mismanagement of the Anglophone crisis and announced his non participation in the presidential race.

The SDF, whose strongest base are the two Anglophone regions has come under heavy criticisms from Anglophone Cameroonians for insisting on holding the convention at a time the region is politically unstable. Pressure from the people had led the Catholic and Presbyterian churches to refuse offering their premises as venues for the convention.

World

Walmart watched as $30 billion in market capital circled down the drain

Shares plunged more than 10% on February 20, 2018 after the world’s largest retailer missed fourth-quarter earnings expectations. Walmart reported a drop in profit and online sales growth during the 2017 holiday season. It was Walmart’s worst single-day stock performance in more than 30 years.

The stock rout slashed about $30 billion off Walmart’s market cap, which finished the day at around $280 billion, down from $310 billion on February 16, 2018. Walmart’s poor quarterly results are the latest evidence of how even the giants of retail are under siege from Amazon. On its earnings call, Walmart executives said the company would double down on its investments in e-commerce and online grocery sales, a consumer sector that’s thought to increase both shopper numbers and loyalty.

While Walmart’s shares have fallen about 5% this year, Amazon’s are up 25%. The company gained a modest 1.4% on February 20, closing at $1.468.35. Walmart isn’t the only retailer feeling the pinch as Amazon has begun wreaking havoc on other grocers like Albertsons.

Travel platform KKDay raises $10.5 million

KKDay, a startup from Taiwan that operates a platform that helps travelers find local activities, raised $10.5 million recently. With participation from existing backers like Hong Kong-based VC MindWorks, Japanese travel operator H.I.S, led the funding round.

KKDay caters to Asia’s burgeoning regional tourism market. The idea is to allow travelers find experiences, tours and travel in their destination city. The target is to digitize and then take a slice of the travel tour and activities market that is predicted to grow by to reach $183 billion by 2020. To get there, KKDay has turned to a traditional player for help.

H.I.S which recorded more than $5.5 billion in annual sales, is an old school, bricks and mortar travel firm, whereas three-year-old KKDay is a new, digital entrant that’s predominantly Asia-focused. Hence, there is plenty of potential to work together. KitSplit, which operates an online rental marketplace for creative equipment, also announced that it raised $2.1 million in seed funding.

Black Panther resets Africa’s image

Racist teachings about Africa influenced American perceptions for centuries. In mid February this year, the high-profile superhero comic, Black Panther hit the air. And then social media took the “Panther” craze to another level with people of every color and ethnicity posting selfies in multicolored warrior helmets, neck beads, spears and gold-plated everything.

That excitement, credited to a high-profile superhero film made by a mostly black cast and crew, running a $200 million budget in white Hollywood, made many Wakanda-ready. Who would have ever thought that many Americans would get excited about celebrating a story about Africa and Africans?

Silicon Times

Events

  • On February 28, 2018, take part in the Angel Investor Masterclass Abuja event and understand how to mobilize early-stage investment.
  • You can’t afford to miss the Disruptive Entrepreneurship seminar on March 3, 2018 from 8 AM to 1 PM at Rhema Restaurant Buea, Cameroon.
  • Connect with top customer experience firms in Cameroon as they share their stories at the Cameroon Customer Experience Summit 2018 on May 12, 2018 from 9 AM to 5 PM at Place St. David, Douala Cameroon.
  • Attend the maiden edition of Moments in Space organized by ActivSpaces on February 24, 2018, 10 AM at ActivSpaces Buea and expose your startup to influencers.
  • Secure your place at the Leadership Round-table Summit and learn how to be a good leader on February 24, 2018, from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Theater, Creative Art Department, University of Lagos.
  • Get your ticket and attend the Wearable Technology Show 2018 from March 13, 2018 at 9 AM to March 14, 2018 at 5 PM, London, United Kingdom.
  • If you’re a first-time buyer looking for help to get on the property ladder, join the London Home Show Spring 2018 on March 3, 2018 from 11 AM to 5 PM at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center, London.

Jobs

  • Program officer at RainForest Alliance needed to work in Yaounde. Applications are currently going on.
  • Guinness Cameroon S.A. Douala, needs the services of a Sales Manager for Beer Partner Markets. Apply before March 8, 2018.
  • Get a job as an International Accountant at Amnesty International in London. Follow this link to apply before March 7, 2018.
  • Get a job at Save the Children in Spain as a Director of Social Intervention Programs before March 12, 2018.
  • Become the Chief of Child Protection at the UN Children’s Fund in Windhoek, Namibia. Apply before March 15, 2018.
  • Beetle Heritage Holding SA / CA is currently looking for a Community Manager in its marketing department in Douala. Deadline for application is February 26, 2018.
  • Send in your application now and get a chance to become an Administrative Assistant at Citibank Cameroon.

Opportunities

  • Are you an African Entrepreneur with a business in Africa? Would you like to receive training, funding and mentoring to help your business grow? Here’s your chance to apply for the #TEF2018.
  • The UNFCCC–UNU Early Career Climate Fellowship Program is a fully-funded fellowship that offers young people from a unique opportunity to build great careers. Apply here. Deadline is 28th February, 2018.
  • Do you run a church, Mosque or any religious organization? Then participate in the upcoming training on Web Development for Evangelism organized by Makonjo Media, Buea. Training will run from April 18 to 21, 2018. Visit; www.makonjo.com for more information.
  •  Time is running out. Apply for the Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) Scholarship Program 2018. It all ends on March 9, 2018.
  • The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalist is now accepting applications from Professional Journalists for its 2018 Fellowship Program. Latest date is March 12, 2018
  • Are you a start-up into Blockchain, Drones, Virtual and Augmented reality, Data Science then Apply for the UNICEF Innovation Fund. The fund invests in frontier technologies existing at the intersection of $100 billion business markets and 1 billion person needs. Application deadline is  February 28, 2018 at 23:59 GMT
  • Are you an aspiring scholar from any of the Southern African countries or do you know anyone from there? Then apply for the Ruth First Education Trust Scholarship Program.  Deadline for applications is 15th March 2018.

Featured Articles

The Hustler’s Digest – Fundraising Or Fund Leveling?

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The Hustler's Digest - Fundraising or Fund Leveling?

Today’s Quote

“The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.”

Donald Calne

Africa

Airtel Nigeria chooses Ibadan to launch its first 4G LTE service

After 18 months of its announcement, Airtel Nigeria finally launched its first 4G LTE mobile network service. Following the popular trend, you would have expected the usual areas – Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt for this launch. Interestingly, the telco chose Ibadan. Among mobile network, this seems to be the new trend and it has been around for a while now. Ibadan was the city of choice for Smile to launch its pioneering 4G service.

Before Glo spread its 4G LTE service nationwide, it did a test-run in six less populated cities. Even 9mobile (then Etisalat), which appears to be the only one to have launched in Lagos first, did so with a tightly controlled approach. MTN launched 4G LTE nationwide at once, but not before trying it out in Rwanda and Ghana.

Speaking on February 14, 2018, at an event in Ibadan, Airtel CEO, Segun Ogunsanya confirmed that the telco will, however, be rolling out to other cities across the country “in the coming months” as well.

A new South African fintech startup has emerged to curb fraud

As online fraud in South Africa steps up, buying and selling goods online puts both buyers and sellers at risk. TradeSafe, a fintech company that safeguards a buyer’s funds in trust until the seller delivers what was promised was launched to address this problem. Only once the buyer is happy with the goods or services received, does TradeSafe release the funds.

Inspired by the personal experience of its co-founder and CEO Jethro O’Brien, “there is a pressing need for our services due to the high levels of fraud and criminality in these environments, more particularly in South Africa’s oil and gas sector especially with the trading of diesel.

With this platform, buyer and seller must sync before any transaction can take place. So scammers, beware. TradeSafe is here to hold your product or money hostage until you deliver and proof you’re legit. Online dealers now ask, “could this be the end?”

South Africa celebrates, while Zimbabwe mourns

Parliament on February 14, 2018, elected Cyril Ramaphosa, former Deputy President and acting President of South Africa as the country’s new president. This marked a turning point in the history of the country, following a slow-motion collapse of the once-legendary ruling party under Jacob Zuma, the former president.

Jacob Zuma had on Wednesday night resigned as President, under mounting pressure from his African National Congress (ANC). He left both the leadership of the party and the continent’s second-biggest economy in the hands of Ramaphosa. Zuma, of recent, came under heavy criticisms from members of the opposition, on his handling of the economy, coupled with mounting allegations of corruption, fraud, and racketeering

While South Africans were celebrating the resignation of Zuma and the election of Ramaphosa at the helm of the nation, there was rather a mourning atmosphere in neighboring Zimbabwe, following the passing away of the main opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, at the age of 65. He had been suffering from colon cancer for at least two years, but his condition deteriorated rapidly in recent days despite treatment in neighboring South Africa.

Cameroon

Financial Crisis shutting down African forest Exploitation Company in Cameroon

The Rougier Group, an African company specialized in the exploitation of forests in Africa is putting up its subsidiary assets in Cameroon for sale, due to what it calls financial difficulties. The firm disclosed this information on February 13, 2018, during a board meeting of the company.

The Rougier group, during the board meeting also appointed a new managing director in the person of Francis Rougier. His primary mission is to implement measures to cope with the difficult situation in which the French firm currently finds itself. The newly appointed executive will also have to continue talks regarding the sale of the group’s Cameroonian subsidiary’s assets. The present financial situation of the firm indicates its employees are already “technically unemployed”.

The Rougier group, in 2017 saw its turnover slump by 7.5 percent. According to the company, it difficulties encountered in Cameroon are mainly linked to unpaid VAT loan arrears. Furthermore,“ the severe choking of Douala port greatly impairs operations of Cameroonian, Congolese and Central African subsidiaries”, the group added.

MTN & ORANGE Cameroon get new Managing Directors

The two major telecom multinationals in Cameroon, MTN and ORANGE now have new Chief Executive Officers. South African, Saim Yaksan, and French citizen, Frédéric Debord were in separate statements from their companies appointed; acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN and Managing Director of Orange Cameroon respectively.  

Saim Yaksan will be responsible for keeping MTN Cameroon on the path of growth and strengthening its leading position in an increasingly competitive telecommunications market” the MTN statement noted. Frédéric Debord, as the new Managing Director of Orange Cameroon, replaces Elisabeth Medou Badang, who has been “promoted to the Executive Committee of Orange Middle East and Africa as Zone Director and Spokesperson.

Prior to their appointments, Saim Yaksan, an experienced administrator with MTN was Director of Transformation within the group, while previously served as Director of Ooredoo Kuwait Operations. The former CEOs Philisiwe Sibiya of MTN and Elisabeth Medou Badang of Orange Cameroon have been called up for other duties.

Cameroon youths call on aging Paul Biya to run again for President

Some young Cameroonians under the name of Cameroonian youths last Wednesday, February 13, 2018 in Yaoundé, called on the President of the Republic to run again for another mandate in the upcoming Presidential elections. This was during the celebration of the President’s 85th birth anniversary at the Congress Hall in Yaoundé.

In the ceremony in which the Secretary General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh represented the President, young leaders such as Amandine Abomo for buyam-sellam, Christian Bako Bassagock, on behalf of University students, Jean-Marc Afesi Mbafor of the National Youth Council and Ornela Tamasoh of the “Friends of Popul,” all pledged their support to the President.

The youth leaders all called on the president to once again present himself for re-election in the upcoming presidential elections. The Secretary-General at the Presidency promised to take the message to the head of state. Some other Cameroonian youths have however questioned the capacity of the president to withstand another mandate. They called on him to retire and allow the younger generation to take over control.

World

UJET raises $25 million for its expansion drive

UJET, the U.S-based startup producing software to improve customer service announced that it has raised a $25 million Series B funding led by GV (formally known as Google Ventures). This round brings UJET’s total funding raised to more than $45 million. This San Francisco-based startup intends to use the capital to scale its business and open a New York office next month and its European Union headquarters in the second quarter of this year.

UJET’s software lets customers reach support agents directly in a smartphone app, on the web or by phone. According to Anand Janefalkar, founder and CEO of UJET, his firm’s tools can help other companies significantly reduce the amount of money they spend on customer support.

Other startups have recently raised large rounds of funding to make customer support less painful for everyone including Intercom, which has received $115.8 million from investors; and Helpshift, which successfully raised $38.5 million from Nexus Venture Partners and a host of others. The most recent is Lumi, a Los Angeles startup that just raised $9 million for a packaging business.

A major Indian bank just lost $1.8 billion in fraud

While some startups were busy fundraising, other financial institutions were “fund leveling.” One of India’s biggest state-controlled lenders, Punjab National Bank (PNB), announced that it had uncovered $1.77 billion worth of fraudulent transactions at one of its Mumbai branches.

That’s about 1/3 of the bank’s entire market value and 50 times its net profit from last quarter.

Unfortunately, Punjab remained relatively mum about the cause, but the problem has likely been ongoing for 7 years. The bank only offered that it “detected some fraudulent and unauthorized transactions,” which caused other banks to advance money to customers abroad. With 1m people entering India’s labor force each month, this fraud could severely impact the flow of small business loans given out by the bank, and some analysts predict it could cause a “ripple effect” on other Indian banks.

China and Russia catching up with the military power of the West   

“The West no longer has a monopoly on world-leading defense innovation,” a leading defense expert has remarked. China and Russia are challenging the military supremacy of America and its allies and the West can no longer rely on the strategic advantage it has enjoyed until now.

According to the UK’s Independent, the Military Balance 2018 report, produced by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) warns that while war between the great powers is not inevitable. Washington, Moscow and Beijing are now systematically preparing for the possibility of conflict.

The report details China’s drive in acquiring and expanding its formidable arsenal in the air, to include the Chengdu J-20 combat aircraft entering service in 2020. This means the US is losing its monopoly on stealth aircraft. Meanwhile, its PL-15 extended-range air-to-air missile system will be equipped with electronically scanned radars – technology few other nations possess.

Silicon Times

Events

  • If you’re a Buea-based artist in Cameroon, don’t miss Beta Night’s seminar to educate artists on the role bloggers play in their music careers on February 24, 2018 from 7 PM to 10 PM.
  • Don’t miss your chance of building an intelligent company during the Innovation Summit 2018 America event on March 22, 2018 in Chicago.
  • Get your ticket now for Armand Morin’s Marketing University Momentum from May 26, 2018 to May 27, 2018 to take place at the Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London.

Jobs

  • The Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalist is now accepting applications from Professional Journalists for its 2018 Fellowship Program. The latest date is March 12, 2018.
  • Are you a start-up into Blockchain, Drones, Virtual and Augmented reality, Data Science then Apply for the UNICEF Innovation Fund. The fund invests in frontier technologies existing at the intersection of $100 billion business markets and 1 billion person needs. Application deadline is  February 28, 2018, at 23:59 GMT.
  • Are you an aspiring scholar from any of the Southern African countries or do you know anyone from there? Then apply for the Ruth First Education Trust Scholarship Program.  Deadline for applications is 15th March 2018.
  •  Are you interested in becoming an Entrepreneurship Mentor? Then, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is requesting your application for the 2018 Entrepreneurship mentoring program. Latest date for application is March 2018. Apply here.

Featured Article

 

Cameroon’s Telecommunication Giants Get New Management Officers

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Telecommunication Giants Get New Management Officers

The two major telecommunications giants in Cameroon, MTN and ORANGE now have new Chief Executive Officers. The new appointees replace Philisiwe Sibiya and Elisabeth Medou Badang, respectively.

In a statement signed on February 12, 2018, the South African telecommunications group announced Mr. Saim Yaksan, as acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Cameroonian subsidiary of the company. This came after the resignation South African Philisiwe Sibiya.

NEW CEO, MTN Cameroon

Saim Yaksan will be responsible for keeping MTN Cameroon on the path of growth and strengthening its leading position in an increasingly competitive telecommunications market,” statement noted.

Prior to his appointment, Saim Yaksan was Director of Transformation within the group. He has been in the top management of MTN since 2011. He has also worked at Vodafone where he spent seven years, and held several international management positions.

New CEO, Orange Cameroon

At Orange Cameroon, the Board of Directors on February 14, 2018, announced French citizen, Frédéric Debord as the new CEO. He replaces Elisabeth Medou Badang, who has been “promoted to the Executive Committee of Orange Middle East and Africa as Zone Director and Spokesperson” the Statement noted.

The new Managing Director has more than 20 years of experience. He has previously served as Director of Ooredoo Kuwait Operations. Mr Debord has also been CEO of Inwi until September 2015. He resigned from Inwi after successfully launching the 4G network.

Legacies of the two telecommunications ladies

The lady CEOs, Philisiwe Sibiya and Elisabeth Medou Badang have excelled in their careers in the country. They are leaving their companies after making tangible contributions in the expansion of the companies’ services to customers. One of such services is the burgeoning mobile banking/money services offered by both companies.

The incoming CEOs have a wealth of experience in the telecommunications industry. They are expected to continue from where the two ladies have ended in their various offices.

 

Remote-Tracking Technology Could Cripple Cattle Rustling in Africa

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Chipsafer is tackling cattle rustling in Kenya with a remote chip tracking technology

Cattle rustling in Africa has, in recent years, usurped the economies of some African communities, thereby retarding their growth potential. Livestock owners in Kenya for instance, lose up to $30 million yearly owing to an upsurge in cattle theft among the country’s pastoral communities. But the emergence of a new tracking technology, Chipsafer will try to tackle this problem, starting with Kenya.

The four-year-old Uruguayan startup Chipsafer, makes use of a remote chip-tracking system to identify and geolocate individual livestock. The startup uses this technology to offer security against theft and disease. Chipsafer is, therefore, demonstrating a growing trend in the use of Internet of Things (IoT) in Africa’s agricultural system.

Over the years, many Kenyan grazers have used the pastoral system where open-ranges expose cattle to the risk of rustling. In a bid to curb theft, researchers in the region have long experimented with a variety of livestock farmers that allow them to monitor and track their herds. However, most of these devices use radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants that can only relay information at close range. As such, this system has recorded very little success.

Chipsafer, however, works at a longer range, automatically updating users on their livestock’ locations in real-time. The company has also begun developing new algorithms capable of analyzing anomalies in livestock behavior, often signs of disease or theft. With bigger datasets, the algorithms may learn to determine the exact cause of these anomalies.

“Different diseases cause animals to behave differently. We’re working on algorithms to tell us exactly what that anomaly is, based on the behavior of the animal.” Says Victoria Alonsoperez, Chipsafer founder, and CEO.

Cattle rustling in Africa

Victoria Alonsoperez, Founder, and CEO of Chipsafer

According to Bernard Bett, a senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute, Chipsafer is destined to face a series of challenges as it ventures into Kenya’s market. He acknowledges that livestock farmers and traders in Kenya can be hesitant to adopt tracking devices.

More than just tracking

Using tracking technology, this startup aims to monitor and assess the impact of climate change. Climate change has withered the traditional ranges of herdsmen both in Kenya and other parts of Africa. This has made droughts more severe and pastureland more constrained.  

Agriculture as Africa’s backbone

In agricultural economies of Africa, the livestock sub-sector supports livelihoods of a large proportion of households. The performance of the agricultural sector is the main determinant of the year-to-year changes in poverty levels and food security. Within the agricultural sector, a large contribution, on average 57%, comes from livestock. Livestock’s contribution to Africa’s overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ranges between 10 to 20 percent.

Chipsafer tackles cattle rustling in Africa

Agriculture remains Africa’s backbone

In 2014, research indicated that Kenya had a beef deficit of 4,500 tons due to high local consumption and export demands. This just goes a long way to demonstrate the economic strength of livestock farming in Africa’s Eastern nation. However, this promising sector remains one of the most attractive to attackers in the country.

East Africa has a long history of cattle rustling. However, West and Central Africa are increasingly reporting cattle rustling, particularly in countries like Nigeria and Cameroon.

In Nigeria, for instance, the practice was traditionally less pronounced than in East Africa and the Horn. Recently, cattle theft has taken on a new worrisome scale in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s tussle with cattle rustling

Between 2013 and 2014, approximately 7,000 cattle were rustled from commercial livestock farms and traditional herders in Northern Nigeria, promoting military intervention and political contestation.

At the moment, the Zamfara State in Northwestern Nigeria remains a major hotspot for cattle rustling activities.

Chipsafer tackles cattle rustling in Africa

Herder looking after his cattle

Cattle rustling can also be traced to activities of the extremist Boko Haram group in this part of Nigeria and other parts of the Lake Chad Basin. The situation is no better in South Sudan, where the number of illegal small arms held by civilians is estimated to have increased to over 3.2 million since the violence started in December 2013.

The ongoing violence has seen cattle raiding occurring in tandem with the trade in illegal small arms.

Loboyi Monoo became a beggar in Lokichoggio town in Turkana after his legs were amputated during a raid by cattle rustling

Loboyi Monoo became a beggar in Turkana and lost his legs during a raid by cattle rustlers.

In more serious cases, guns and bullets trade for cattle. At least, 50 people lost their lives in 2017 after a tribal militia launched raids in eastern South Sudan. As a result, armed men from rival ethnic groups burned down civilian homes and stole a good amount of livestock.

In early 2017, in Laikipia, Kenya, about 10,000 pastoralists armed with automatic rifles raided farms, wildlife reserves, and conservancies, driving out 135,000 head of cattle. A few months later, security forces in Kenya intervened, killing hundreds of cattle in a gunfight with pastoralists.

Cameroon bleeds into debt

In 2017, one of the sectors most affected by violent attacks is the breeding activity, through cattle thefts.

This practice, which has always existed in Cameroon’s main beef production area, has worsened with the war against Boko Haram.

Statistics indicate that these thefts have resulted in losses of FCFA 8 billion over the past three years. In 2016, the Cameroonian government shut down the biggest cattle market in the Far North region of the country when Boko Haram militants began trading stolen livestock to purchase weapons and food.

A 2014 study revealed that cattle rustling cost the government approximately FCFA 1.3 billion of direct value of stolen animals in terms of meat equivalent and an extra FCFA 100 million cost in the search of stolen cattle between 2008 to 2012.

The solution

Chipsafer’s innovation could be Africa’s best chance of bringing cattle theft to its ultimate end on the continent. More importantly, it could prove a formidable force for African governments to revitalize and revamp this once promising sector.

The impact of cattle rustling has become devastating. East Africa now has the chance to effectively counter this scourge before it spreads to other parts of Africa. But until African governments put in place stringent laws around cattle rustling and implement livestock identification systems, East Africa in particular, and the Horn will struggle futilely to combat this plague.

 

The Hustler’s Digest – Bitcoin Dies, But Keeps Coming Back to Life

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The Hustler's Digest - Bitcoin dies, but keeps coming back to life

Today’s Quote

“It doesn’t die and it comes back stronger”

Africa

Naspers physically shuts down OLX offices across Africa

The latest internet company backed by Naspers to run into troubled waters in Africa is OLX, a popular classified platform operational in 10 African countries. That number is set to drop to eight as the company will shut down offices in Nigeria and Kenya next month and operate the platform remotely.

The news comes days after Zinox, a Nigerian technology firm bought over Naspers’ stake in Konga, a 6-year-old Nigerian e-commerce company.

This move is a possible indicator that Naspers is slowly moving its investments away from Africa. The South African multi-conglomerate just led a $100 million investment round in food delivery firm, Swiggy, along with China’s online-to-offline service platform Meituan-Dianping. The round draws the curtains on months of negotiations which also saw SoftBank and Flipkart trying to woo the Bengaluru-based online food-delivery platform.

Pangea plans to connect Kenyan startups to investors

In 2017, 201 African startups received a $167.7 million investment, a 28% growth increase from 153 startups in 2016. South African startups were the most funded, followed by Kenya, then Nigeria.

Seeing that there is so much potential for startup growth in Africa, Norwegian accelerator Pangea, has set up base in Kenya with the aim of connecting African startups with the expertise, networks, and capital they need to grow. Sprouting from the ashes of the little investment in Africa’s startup ecosystem, Pangea’s plan is to create a pipeline that ensures access to investment for African startups.

The 2017-born company has been through an accelerator before leaving the nest to start operations in Africa. Pangea was founded by a group of Africans from different countries such as Togo, Ghana, Nigeria, and Eritrea, living abroad.

Nigerian Senate passes motion to check trespass of Cameroonian soldiers at border towns

In a bid to protect Nigerian citizens and Cameroonian refugees in border towns of Cross River State, the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, February, 7th 2018, passed a resolution urging the Nigerian military authorities to check complaints of harassment by Cameroon military. The Senate in its resolution admonished the military hierarchy to increase security presence and intensify border patrol within the area to prevent further acts of trespass by the Cameroon soldiers.

The sponsor of the motion,  Senator John Enoh, noted that the current agitation for the independence of Southern Cameroons has caused an influx of refugees into border communities in Cross River State with over six thousand of the refugees currently ‘squatting’ at Obanliku, Boki, Etung and Ikom Local Government Areas of the state.

The Nigerian senate also went further to summoned the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, to appear before it and explain the reason behind the invasion by large numbers of refugees from the Republic of Cameroon to some border communities in Cross River State and its attendant security fallout.

Cameroon

MTN Cameroon launches Facebook Flex free browsing

MTN Cameroon on February 5, 2018 launched its new digital offer known as Facebook Flex, in partnership with the giant American social Media network. This offer according to MTN allows prepaid and postpaid subscribers to follow the news and chat with their loved ones for free.

Facebook Flex, specifically permits the subscriber to chat with his friends, read, comment, share, send messages to family members, without consuming his internet package. Subscribers can access Facebook Flex through 2 options; Download the Android Facebook app or, log on to www.facebook.com;  enter the free service access code: *222#. Then use Facebook Flex completely free.

However, MTN notes that the user can, at his discretion, use his internet volume to view photos and videos. As for the difference between Facebook Flex and Facebook, MTN explains that with the full Facebook mode, navigation is counted on your internet package, and you have access to photos and videos.

Cameroon’s Tech Engineer unveils locally made drones

A young Cameroonian startup Will and Brother, has fulfilled its dream of producing a Cameroonian made drone. The startup’s CEO William Elong on February 2, 2018, officially presented the drone was officially presented to the public at the Yaounde City Council Hall.

“Thanks to the great team of young people who chose to join this adventure full of uncertainties, but especially of determination,” said Elong during the Yaounde event. He noted that the they have three flagship drones: a fixed-wing UAV, with a range of 20 km and a range of more than 45 minutes, called Algo; a hexacopter drone dubbed Logarithm and a land-based drone named Sanaga.

William Elong revealed that the drone is “25 times cheaper” than market prices. But, the Will & Brothers did not want to reveal in public the prices of the drones, preferring to communicate them discreetly to the participants of the meetings.

Cameroon government creates Constitutional Council amidst an uncertain electoral atmosphere

President Paul Biya on February 07, 2018, finally established an 11-member Constitutional Council for the Country, 22 years after the Constitution spelled it out. A 77 year old magistrate, Clement Atangana Ndi was also appointed President of the said body.

The Constitutional Council, also known as the Council of the wise, has a responsibility to regulate “the functioning of the institutions [Executive, legislative, judicial and local authorities]” as spelled out in the Constitution. Some opinion leaders have however questioned the President’s decision to appoint members of this body which is supposed to be, according to the Constitution, ‘the regulating body of the institutions’.

They believe that this move is proof of the ulterior intentions of the presidential camp to hold ultimate political alternation cards. With general elections coming up this year, there is still uncertainty in the Anglophone regions relating to the holding of elections as tensions remain high between government forces and separatists.

World

Bitcoin comes crashing down again. Is this the end?

Last month, bitcoin’s value plunged amid fears that South Korea was about to ban trading in the cryptocurrency. Then it stabilized briefly before plummeting again. The volatile cryptocurrency hit a record high when it passed $19.850 in mid-December but then tumbled rapidly, falling to below $12,000 within days.

Its value has shifted unpredictably ever since, with frequent wild drops and recoveries. The speedy drops are partly the result of continuing fears about regulation. Earlier this week, its value dropped spectacularly, falling from $10,000 to $6,000 in four days. Die-hard bitcoin believers are digging in amid the crypto bloodbath as many investors wonder whether this is true cryptocurrency carnage, or if bitcoin has the ability to bounce back.

But the important thing is, each time Bitcoin crashes like this, it only comes back stronger. However, it now appears to be recovering. It was worth $8.325 as of Thursday morning, according to the Coinbase exchange, has seen its value increase by more than 5% over the past 24 hours.

Some have even taken to Twitter and Reddit to exchange stories of lost potential, and what it means to see thousands of dollars in investments vaporize within days.

Twitter finally makes profit

After 12 years of existence, Twitter finally posted its first-ever profit. Although a clampdown on fake accounts meant it lost users in the US and overall growth stalled, a $732 million revenue ensured a $91 million profit.

More interestingly, the bluebird company seems to have made more profit than Snapchat, a feat that was unimaginable last year. Now, Twitter has a market cap of around $25 billion, while Snap has a market cap of $24 billion. It’s a pretty narrow gap, but still a semi-big deal.

The two companies about matched each other at the end of 2017, as Snap was one of the more robustly weird and semi-disappointing IPOs of 2017. Snap’s stock was down more than 7% Friday morning, giving Twitter an opportunity to slide past the company. Twitter’s stock, meanwhile, was up more than 20% (and at one point was up more than 25%).

As of yesterday, these two companies were still jockeying for position as to who is more valuable, though Twitter still has an edge.

Walmart acquires virtual reality startup as part of its tech makeover

Walmart is stepping up its virtual reality drive as it acquires a small virtual reality startup, called Spatialand. The multinational retail giant hopes to someday transform the shopping experience across the company’s different websites and stores. Spatialand makes software tools that let creators transform existing content into immersive, virtual reality experiences.

The startup worked with Walmart’s technology incubator, Store No. 8, on a project last year, and has now been acquired by that group. This move comes as augmented reality, not virtual reality, gains popularity.

Donald Trump signs budget bill to avert government shutdown

U.S President Donal Trump just signed a sweeping budget bill to re-open the government after Congress briefly shut it down overnight. Federal funding for government services expired at midnight after the Senate missed a voting deadline.The 650-page budget document proposes an increase in defense spending and domestic services of about $300bn (£215bn).

A 240-186 House vote approved the budget plan. In his usual tweets after the signing, President Donald Trump said “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”

The shutdown, which lasted five hours, was the second under Donald Trump and Republican-controlled Congress this year.

Silicon Times

Events

  • Are you interested in entrepreneurship? Grab your ticket to network with young entrepreneurs and business gurus in Cameroon at the Round Table Pool Business Talk 2018 on February 17, 2018 from 1 PM to 6 PM at the Parliamentary Flat Hotel, Federal Quarters, Buea.
  • Take part in the DevFest Douala 17 all-day developer conference that offers speaker sessions across multiple product areas, codelabs and hackathons. Be there on February 17, 2018 from 9 AM to 11 AM.
  • If you’re a Buea-based artist in Cameroon, don’t miss Beta Night’s seminar to educate artists on the role bloggers play in their music careers on February 24, 2018 from 7 PM to 10 PM.
  • Do all you can to make it to the Africa Tech Summit Kigali 2018 and explore the latest tech trends and connect with 250+ major stakeholders from across the continent from February 14 to 15, 2018, 12 PM daily at the Marriott Hotel Kigali, Rwanda.
  • Join the Harmony Innovation Hub on February 10, 2018 from 9 AM to 4 PM and learn how to tap into Oracle and Thunkable, with the opportunity to meet and network with industry leaders, young entrepreneurs and innovators.
  • Don’t miss your chance of building an intelligent company during the Innovation Summit 2018 America event on March 22, 2018 in Chicago.
  • Get your ticket now for Armand Morin’s Marketing University Momentum from May 26, 2018 to May 27, 2018 to take place at the Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London.

Jobs

  • Get a full-time job as a Web Developer at Africacodes Concepts Limited in Lagos, Nigeria. Applications are open up until February 28, 2018.
  • Become a Network Management Engineer at ipNX in Ikeja, Lagos before April 30, 2018.
  • Get a job placement at Plan International Cameroon in Kousseri as a Coordinator. Deadline for submission of applications is February 14,  2018.
  • Are you a holder of a B.Sc in Telecom Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electronic/Electrical Engineering? Send your application to Vodacom Business Cameroon SA before February 18, 2018 and get a job as a Design/Transmission Engineer.
  • Your chance to work with Google is finally here. Send your application now and become an Associate Product Marketing Manager, Google Play and Android in Lagos.
  • Grab a job at Image Boosters Limited in Lekki, Lagos as a Social Media Manager. Send an email to contactus@imageboosters.com.ng before February 12, 2018.
  • If you’ve ever dreamed of using your graphic design skills to make an impact in the world, here’s your chance. Before February 13, 2018, apply on Jobberman and work as a Graphic Artist for the World Health Organization.
  • Work remotely as a Software Engineer (site reliability and infrastructure) at Sticker Mule.
  • How would you like a job as Marketing Manager at Coyuchi in San Francisco, United States?

Opportunities

Featured Articles

President Buhari’s New Local Content Order: What Lessons for Africa?

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Buhari signs Executive Order promoting local content in Nigeria


Six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa.Yet, much of Africa still relies on foreign aid, despite economic growth in parts of the continent significantly outpacing the global average. Worst still, Africa still under-exploits its local content development as foreigners believed to possess the required expertise, still take up a majority of these public contracts.

However, Muhammadu Buhari will change all that in Nigeria. Are other African countries willing to do same?

On February 5, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari signed Executive Order 5 to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components. With this order, expatriates looking to work in Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria, might be out of luck.

Buhari intends to promote the application of sci-tech and innovation towards achieving Nigeria’s development goals across all sectors of the economy. Over the years, the big question has changed from, “how can Africa get more aid?” to “how Africa can sway from dependency?

An age-old tradition

The 75-year-old former military ruler has often spoken about ending the OPEC member’s dependence on oil exports while boosting local food production. His decision is, therefore, least surprising. Buhari came to power in May 2015. Then, the central bank restricted access to foreign currency to import certain goods in a bid to stimulate local manufacturing.

“I have repeatedly emphasized my vision for a Nigeria that produces what it consumes. To attain that vision, it is vital that local companies get preference in planning, designing and executing Sci, Tech & Eng. projects,” Buhari said on his official Twitter feed late on Monday.

This order also prohibits the Ministry of Interior from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are readily available in Nigeria.

Unemployment in Nigeria

About 4 out of every 10 people in Nigeria’s workforce were unemployed or underemployed by the end of September last year. 

Buhari signs Executive Order promoting local content in Nigeria

Outraged Nigerians blast government amidst high unemployment rates

With Africa’s largest population and biggest economy, Nigeria slipped into recession in 2016 largely caused by low oil prices and militant attacks on energy facilities in the Niger Delta. Crude oil sales account for 70% of government income. However, the price of oil fell from highs of about $112 per barrel in 2014 to below $50 in 2016. It emerged from recession in the second quarter of 2017, largely on higher oil prices.

When recession hit

Amid Nigeria’s first recession in two decades, government officials backed a Twitter campaign tagged “buy Naija to grow the naira.” The rationale was simple. If Nigerians bought local products rather than foreign goods, the economy and the troubled currency would benefit more.

However, the restriction on hiring foreigners could conflict with the government’s recent move to more open visa policies. Amid business reforms last year, the government relaxed visa rules and opened additional immigration offices. This was supposed to make it easier for foreigners to obtain residence permits.

Even with this law, the number of unemployed Nigerians that can take up mainly “specialist roles” for which expatriates are typically recruited will only be a tiny fraction of the millions of job-seeking Nigerians.

Buhari signs Executive Order promoting local content in Nigeria

Nigeria’s unemployment rate has been spiraling since 2015

Nevertheless, this will go a long way to promote the country’s local talent, and subsequently slash unemployment rate. It’s not a blanket ban, though. This order, however, states that foreigners will be considered for jobs “where it is confirmed that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.”

How’s its tech scene doing?

For decades, Nigeria has trained some of Africa’s most talented entrepreneurs and bred some of the continent’s most vibrant startups.

Buhari signs Executive Order promoting local content in Nigeria

Its techsphere has grown by leaps and bounds but has suffered from foreign intervention for long

But when running actual state projects, the government outsources them to foreign firms which they believe have more expertise. The effect of this decision has always killed local talent.

The question now is, will other African governments follow in Nigeria’s footsteps?

Will Africa do same?

This question seems to tilt towards Cameroon which, over several decades, outsourced more than 90% of public contracts to foreigners.

Although Cameroon has many opportunities for economic investment in the agricultural, mining, forestry, and oil & gas sectors and recently technology sectors, the country is known to kill local talent, most especially in the tech sector.

Historically, Europe has dominated the Cameroonian business environment. Recent years have witnessed the emergence of new players like China, and other African nations like Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, South Africa, and Nigeria.

The case of Cameroon

The $4billion 1070 km Chad-Cameroon crude oil pipeline in 2003, is Cameroon’s largest foreign investment deals to date. But how many Cameroonian experts were recruited for the job? Instead, the American multinational oil and gas corporation ExxonMobil got the contract.

In 2015, the government embarked on the construction of low-income houses in Yaounde at the cost of FCFA 765 million. This could be a great employment opportunity for the millions of unemployed citizens in Cameroon. But the Chinese firm, China Road and Bridge Corporation received the contractThis same company received two similar deals valued at FCFA 1.7 billion the same year.

Last year, engineering students from the University of Maroua developed the country’s first eco-friendly vehicle. These promising engineers hoped they would serve in the new car assembly plant that was underway. However, the government outsourced this contract to the Indian Subsidiary, Cameroon Automobile Industry Company.

Cameroon’s most vibrant tech community, Silicon Mountain is home to some of the country’s best engineers, developers, and entrepreneurs. This community has produced top-notch technologists ever since it took over the country’s techsphere. Yet, many of these promising engineers and entrepreneurs hardly receive any public project from the government.

This has retarded the growth of this community which has over the years, survived on its own wits. For instance, the project for the production of 500.000 laptops the Head of State promised for higher education students in the country, was outsourced to the Chinese firm, Sichuan Telecom.

Rwanda’s case

In an effort to prioritize local production, Rwandan’s Paul Kagame launched a fight against used clothes entering the country. He decided to grow the country’s local textile industry at the expense of being a member of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). 

Buhari signs Executive Order promoting local content in Nigeria

Rwanda’s Kagame sticks to used closed ban despite US threats

Kagame’s strong support for local content development is one of those things that has helped Rwanda bloom today.

Remember that Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, while acting president signed an executive order in relation to local content. It is, however, not clear to what extent the government has implemented this order. But the execution of another is in the process.

It is a welcome development if only the government is ready to implement it.

All these projects, if awarded to local firms and startups, will help in the growth of these startups. But it will also aid in developing the regions in which they operate while curbing the country’s unemployment rate.

Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

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Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

BITCOIN, the most popular global cryptocurrency has recently suffered a dramatic fall in value, from $20,000 to $5,995.58. In 2017, the price of the cryptocurrency witnessed a 20-folds rise, outshining virtually every conventional investment. Its strong value and profitable market generated a lot of euphoria among dealers, thus increasing it acceptability worldwide. The recent crash in value has ignited an online frenzy and fears that the digital currency could be going obsolete. This has put to question the future of Bitcoin in the digital financial market.

Bitcoin had a loss of more than $50 billion from its market capitalization in January this year, which is one of its worst-performing months. Recently, the value further fell 11 percent to its lowest price since November 2017. This is an influence of the Facebook ban on cryptocurrency adverts and a crackdown on it investors by some governments.

The clampdown on bitcoin

The US regulatory agency – the Commodity Futures Trading Commission subpoenaed cryptocurrency exchange, Bitfinex last month. However, news of the subpoena didn’t reach the public until last Tuesday 30, January 2018. The summons by the regulatory agency shows that investigators cannot publicly discuss an ongoing investigation, as it could possibly lead to a sell-off of all cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

Bitcoin has lost more than $50 billion from its Market Capitalization

Still on the clampdown on Bitcoin, the Indian minister of finance, Arun Jaitley, in his annual budget speech disparaged cryptocurrencies. He emphasized government’s commitment to discontinue such transactions and other virtual currencies in the country. He noted, “the government does not recognize cryptocurrency as legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these cryptoassets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payments system.”

Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

Indian minister of finance, Arun Jaitley, in his annual budget speech disparaged cryptocurrencies. He pledged his government’s commitment to clampdown on it.

The future of bitcoin amidst a fall in value

Despite the dwindling value of the Bitcoin, it would appear the Bitcoin Blockchain doesn’t know this. This is explained by its quiet and consistent disposition in the collection, compilation and verification of transactions in its ledger. By so doing, it continuously creates new blocks every ten minutes or so.  It has an uptime of 99.992044937 % since its inception in January 2009.

Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

Nicholas Gregory, founder and CEO of Commerce Block, argues that Bitcoin has got a lot more to offer and no matter the present challenges, investors shall weather the storm

Nicholas Gregory, is founder and CEO of Commerce Block, a company which focuses on the promotion of decentralization in financial infrastructure on public Blockchains. He argues that Bitcoin has got a lot more to offer and no matter the present challenges, investors shall weather the storm.  According to Gregory, “… Bitcoin is not dead. We saw a bigger crash in 2014. For long term bit coiners this is part of the journey. For people who bought recently during the bubble, it will hurt…this is just the beginning in its long journey. It’s still the first truly global decentralized currency.”

The bitcoin bet

Bitcoin dealers therefore remain confident despite the present free fall in the value of the cryptocurrency. Traders have placed a million dollar bet on it surpassing $50,000 (£37,400) in value by the end of 2018. Trading records from e-market start-up LedgerX, highlight that the massive money bid is an initiative of one or more unidentified traders. The terms of the agreement between LedgerX and the betters are that, if the value of Bitcoin is worth more than $50,000 on December 28, 2018, the owners of the bid will be given the right to buy 275 Bitcoins for $50,000 each.

Bitcoin Crashes Amidst Clampdown; What the Future Holds.

Traders have placed a million dollar bet on Bitcoin surpassing $50,000 (£37,400) in value by the end of 2018

Based on the above, attempts to clampdown on Bitcoin and get it out of the financial market may be counterproductive. This is explained by its virtual nature and it inextricability to the Blockchain technology. In addition to this are contrasting opinions about cryptocurrency from politicians, policy makers and financial regulators. It is therefore not surprising that though the value of Bitcoin is plummeting, it means nothing to the Bitcoin Blockchain.

The Bitcoin buzz is making conservative leaders and financiers worried, and that is why they are appearing resistant to change. It’s normal that such a change must face resistance from some members of society before acceptance. Even the coming of the internet as a global innovative necessity for information sharing was resisted by bureaucrats who never accepted it then. Consequently, clamping down on Bitcoin, leading to a sharp fall in its value may just be a joke.

 

 

 

 

Agric-corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa and the E-wallet System

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E-wallet in Africa and its fight fight against agric-corruption

Agriculture is a source of livelihood in Africa and equally a significant driver of economic growth. For instance, in 2013, Nigeria witnessed an approximately 6 percent growth in its agricultural sector. African governments’ intervention in agriculture has mostly been through the supply of financial subsidies and farm inputs to farmers. 90% of these subsidies get lost to middle men through what is described as “agric-corruption”. However, governments’ adoption of the electronic-wallet (e-wallet) system has proven to be a game changer for Africa and beyond.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Some African governments are beginning to handle investments in the agricultural sector with some seriousness

Economic value of agriculture in Africa

African governments understand the critical position the agricultural sector occupies in the socio-economic development of the continent. The World Bank and Rockefeller Foundation Africa posit that agriculture remains the continent’s largest economic sector. It contributes 15% to Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), almost more than $100 billion annually.

In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, the sector contributes 22.9% to the continent’s GDP. It recently declined to 17.1 percent due to ineptitude and high profile corruption in the  sector.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Economic development typically involves a process of rising productivity in agriculture, along with a shift to producing not just commodity products, but products with higher value-added

On these bases, some African governments are beginning to handle investments in the agricultural sector with some seriousness. Through their ministries of agriculture, these governments have supported individuals and local farming associations to revitalize the sector. This support is provided in the form of training, financial subsidies, farm inputs like fertilizer and planting seeds, among others.

Governments’ aspirations through these actions are to modernize the sector and boost food production to reduce hunger and increase GDP. Some African governments are already transforming agriculture from a profession to a business, thereby generating gainful employment opportunities and lowering the rate of rural-urban migration.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Large Scale tomato farming; Farming in Africa is gradually transforming into a business thereby preventing rural-urban migration

Agric-Curruption in Africa

Nevertheless, the mischief of corruption (agric-corruption) appears to be hampering governments’ drive to augment the agric-sector GDP in Africa. The World Bank projects that agriculture in Africa has the potential to make up a $1 trillion industry by 2030. However, this will only happen if African governments address the massive corruption in this sector.

Agric-corruption is common among the intermediaries contracted by governments to deliver agricultural subsidies to farmers and small farming groups. These intermediaries are largely responsible for the embezzlement of financial and material support to individual and small groups of farmers.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Agric-corruption adversly affects agricultural productivity

Intermediaries’ withhold larger percentages of yearly aid to farmers and sell the non-financial aid in open markets. Others collect the aid from government and re-sell at higher prices. Consequently, governments have not been able to achieve their objectives of investing in, and boosting this sector.

For instance, the Nigerian government in four decades spent $5bn dollars on farm input subsidies.  Unfortunately, the middle men embezzled the money and only 11 percent of farmers received subsidies.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Kenya is one of the African Countries to have adopted the e-wallet system to fight agric-corruption

The outcome of this corruption in the agricultural sector is absolutely low production and of course low profits and overall low agricultural GDP. However, governments’ desire to tackle agric-corruption has led to the adoption of the e-wallet system. This system is now functional in a number of African countries, including Nigeria, Zambia, Kenya and Ghana, etc.

What is an e-wallet?

Tech revolutionists describe e-wallet as a type of password-protected electronic card which is used for online transactions. The transactions are carried out on a computer or a smartphone; that’s why it’s also called the digital wallet. The functionality of this digital wallet can be equated to that of a credit or debit card.

An e-wallet needs to be connected to an individual’s bank account before payments could be effected. It is therefore, a type of prepaid account whereby users can deposit money for any future online transactions.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

M-PESA is Kenya’s Digital Wallet system, one of the most successful in Africa

The Case of Nigeria

The Nigerian government like most African governments, supports its agricultural sector through financial subsidies, fertilizer and other inputs. The Federal government spent billions of dollars for decades, in vain, as middle-men siphoned the resources.

However, the result was not surprising, as agricultural productivity nose-dived even as government spending increased. Dwindling harvests and incomes from the agricultural sector triggered rural-urban migration. Consequently, there was an effectively transfer poverty from otherwise fertile farmlands to overcrowded urban areas.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

The success of the e-wallet system in Nigeria is thanks to the agricultural transformation agender of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The agender was implemented by the then Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina (Current President of the African Development Bank)

Goodluck’s goodluck Scheme

In 2012, the federal government was in full quest for an anti-corruption innovation in the distribution of subsidies to farmers. This led to the introduction of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES), under the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The e-wallet system uses mobile phones to conduct basic transactions. Thus, the government is effectively delivering subsidies to farmers. These include making payments to farmers and having them access fertilizer subsidies directly from companies through their mobile phones.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

The country’s present administration has sustained this technological innovation for a while now and it has successfully eliminated the corrupt middlemen from the system. Research findings show that there are over ten million Nigerian farmers with access to the e-wallet system.

Also, a billion-dollar industry has expanded ten-fold  to include seed companies, provision of inputs, and fertilizers. For example, in 2014, the e-wallet system beneficially impacted 40 million Nigerians. Seed and fertilizer companies could sell and market directly to farmers, bypassing government and middlemen.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Government’s incentive to farmers, through the e-wallet system, other wise known as the Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) has drastically transform the agriculture.

Impact in terms of GDP

This has also significantly led to increase in fertilizer usage with the e-wallet system, thereby eliminating obstacles that currently limit yields and output. Between 2012 and 2014, the e-wallet system added an estimated $30 – 40 billion to Nigeria’s GDP. This indicates a drastic drop in the food import bill from $16 billion in 2011 to $4 billion in 2014. The federal government has successfully moved out of the supply chain. The Nigerian government has created new private-sector agribusinesses to ensure that farmers get the fertilizers they need.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

The Impact of the e-wallet system on Agricultural productivity

The e-wallet is a Federal, State, and private sector partnership. It’s an innovative business in mobile and digital services in Africa. The creation of farming groups is very important. The groups use a mechanism such as cross guarantee to borrow. Young farmers are ready to adopt digital financial services like the e-wallet to help them transform agriculture into a business.

Conclusion

The World Bank has appreciated the success of the e-wallet system as an antidote to agric-corruption. This innovation inspired other African countries like Zambia, Tanzania and Ghana, who have adopted the innovation. Non-African countries like India, Brazil, Afghanistan and China are now attracted to this innovation.

Thus, tackling corruption in the agric-sector using innovative technologies is critical for GDP improvement in Africa. In the recent AU summit, African leaders committed themselves to tackling corruption in every sector of national life.

Agric-corruption in Africa and the E-wallet System.

Ghana has adopted the e-wallet system in her fight against agric-corruption in the country and to help farmers receive subsidies

This decision is part of the Agenda 2063, which is part of the guiding vision of the African Union. The AU has the responsibility to set the agenda and uphold shared values in anti-corruption. It has powerful instruments, including the Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, ratified by 38 countries.

The AU has hopes of weeding out corruption in the agricultural sector with more digital initiatives. This will go a long way to improve the lives of the African farmer and by extension the economy.   

Zinox Group Acquires Nigerian E-commerce Platform, Konga

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Zinox acquires Konga

In a bid to revolutionize e-commerce in Africa, one of Africa’s biggest technology groups, Zinox has acquired the Nigerian e-commerce platform, Konga which remains one of the biggest players in Africa’s online retail industry. The acquisition encompasses all of Konga including its e-commerce domain, Konga.com, KOS Express which is its logistics arm, and  KongaPay, the integrated mobile money payment channel.

This latest move will certainly unlock Nigeria’s e-commerce revenue potential. It will also help Zinox make a bold return to an industry it pioneered in Nigeria with the launch of BuyRight Africa.com. The absence of credit cards and e-payment infrastructures challenged this BuyRight when it was launched in 2006.

Despite failed attempts to reach the Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh, the company’s Head of Corporate Communications Gideon Ayogu, however, acknowledged the African IT giant’s interest in Konga stems from the multilateral nature of Konga’s online retail services.

“We have always had an interest in Konga and another big one but our priority was Konga. First because of her integrated nature of four quality companies in one.

“Konga is a world-class, professionally-run company whose landmark strides in the sector has gone a long way in ushering millions of Nigerians into the ease and convenience of online shopping and boosting the conduct of e-commerce in the country.”

Leo-Stan-Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Group

Leo-Stan-Ekeh, Chairman of Zinox Group

He added that Zinox’s long-term goal will focus around giving Konga a strong footing in other parts of Africa.

“We will be unveiling a lot of new initiatives soon and we advise shoppers and merchants alike to look out for these innovations which will radically reshape the average customer experience of e-commerce in Nigeria and on the continent.”

Global retail e-commerce sales totaled $2.829 trillion in 2017 while e-retail revenues are projected to grow to $4.48 trillion in 2021. Zinox’s interest in the e-commerce business, therefore, comes as no surprise.

Global e-commerce sales stats - Zinox acquires Konga

Global e-commerce sales stats

What this means for Konga

Konga recently announced its intention to shift to a prepay-only model, essentially putting a stop to Pay on Delivery (PoD). It was a decision that formed part of an internal restructuring aimed at putting the business ahead of the market.

With this new investment, Konga will witness an increase in revenue.  This will also allow the firm to assume a more significant share of the e-commerce market.

Also, this acquisition will create employment opportunities for over 750 Nigerians, both at home and abroad. Last year, the company laid off more than 60% of its employees in a restructuring process. But this acquisition may recall many of these employees.

There is also a high possibility that Konga will merge with Yudala, an e-commerce firm under the Zinox Group. With Yudala’s strong online presence, this merger will birth a more powerful brand.

Led by serial digital entrepreneur, Leo Stan Ekeh, the Zinox Group has grown beyond limits to become one of the biggest names on the African technology scene.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria addition to hubs in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the Zinox Group boasts a 360-degree spectrum orientation as an integrated ICT solutions group with advanced competencies in manufacturing, distribution, retail and after-sales support, among others.

From a humble beginning to a proud end

Konga has grown since its humble beginnings in 2012 as a Lagos-only e-commerce site, specializing in baby and beauty care. The online platform has morphed into a major online retailer, often dubbed “The Amazon of Africa.”

In 2015, Konga collaborated with leading Nigerian banks to launch KongaPay, a safe and convenient online payment method. KongaPay tackled the issue of trust in Africa when it came to online payments.

The online marketplace was one of the first in Africa to create a payment system that integrated into banks worldwide. It was an innovation that used a click system that eliminated the sharing of sensitive information during payments.

With a backing from the South African media giant, Naspers, Konga is now a major player in the e-commerce space. In 2014, Naspers, which has a 50% stake in Konga, invested $50 million in the online store.

The acquisition of this e-commerce giant is only the first step to the radical transformation of Africa’s online retail industry. Major e-commerce players may now step up their game, aiming for the better part of the market in future.