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Today’s Quote

“Opportunities for interoperability arise where interconnections with external parties can create greater value for customers and service providers than a single mobile money service provider can create alone. Once an opportunity for interoperability has been identified, it needs to be strategically or financially compelling for all parties involved to jointly pursue it.”

Mahindra Comviva

Africa

Startupbootcamp Africa has  partnered with Google to support startups

The Google Cloud Startup Programme intends to help startups build and scale using the Google Cloud Platform. This partnership will offer selected startups for the Cape Town-based accelerator more than US$20,000 worth of tech support.

The partnership with Google also aims to offer additional support to selected startups. These startups will be eligible for membership in the tech giant’s Cloud Startup Programme. According to Naama Yanko, membership of the programme includes US$20,000 in Cloud and Firebase credit. They equally have access to Google engineers for office hours, and in-depth one-on-one architecture reviews. Plus invitations to exclusive local events.

Applications remain open for the Startupbootcamp Africa programme, which took place for the first time last year and has been holding FastTrack events across the continent in advance of this year’s edition, which runs from August until November.

70 million Nigerians are to receive e-ID cards to boost financial inclusion

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has revealed plans to issue electronic identity cards (e-ID) to 70 million Nigerians. This is in a bid to further boost financial inclusion drive.

According to Aliyu Aziz, NIMC Director-General, there are plans to expand the collaboration by including other payments companies, with the ultimate target of covering all citizens.

Note that working with payment companies on the e-ID card can, however, have a great effect on Nigeria’s Central Bank financial inclusion drive. 

According to the Nigeria Communications Week, the issuance of the 70 million new cards is thus, expected to be completed by December 2019.

Panic in Nigerian airports as Ebola virus shows its ugly head in DR Congo

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has stepped up Ebola prevention measures at various ports of entry into the country. These screening measures have been ignited by a recent outbreak of the Ebola disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“We are using all the facilities available to detect the virus. That means the extra use of thermometers…we must take extra measures to make sure people are screened at all the entry points into the country” said NIS spokesman Sunday James, speaking to Africanews.

Africa can, therefore, no longer afford to have the Ebola nightmare. The previous experience was enough. Besides, African leaders must take all precautionary measures to avoid another Ebola scenario.  

Cameroon’s firearms shops are going digital

The increasing rate of firearms circulation in Cameroon is alarming. Cameroon’s government is, therefore, not happy about it. In this wake, firearms dealers have decided to digitize their shops any moment from now.

According to the President of the Firearms Association, Belibi Edza, these dealers will set an efficient monitoring system. Each shop owner will, therefore, make use of commercial and management software.

This new improvement, in essence, might enable the association to verify the identities and authorizations of buyers. Besides, it’ll help to reduce the rate of firearms circulation in the country.  

How ready is Cameroon opposition to face President Biya?

Cameroon is on fire. But the government is bent on organizing elections in a heavily fractured country and the opposition is not ready to take power from Mr. Biya. Many would have thought that the Cameroon opposition would use the present political crisis to close ranks and present a single credible challenger to Biya.

Unfortunately, each opposition candidate appears to be interested only in the share of the campaign funds. That’s why they have all refused to present a unified front and challenge Mr. Biya’s CPDM party. Presidential candidate for the main opposition party Joshua Osih cautions that;

“If we do not register on the electoral list, we will have seven years of additional suffering; we will have seven more years of false promises; we will have seven more years of laying of foundation stones of structures that will never be inaugurated. Massive registration will be the fatal weapon of the CPDM,”

Ghanaian government launches interoperability of mobile money payment systems

Ghana’s Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has launched the first mobile money payments interoperability system in Ghana. This phase of interoperability will, thus, allow mobile customers to move money from their mobile money accounts to bank accounts and vice versa.

The launching ceremony for the first phase of the interoperability project in Accra took place on Thursday 10, May 2018. The  elated Vice President Bawumia praised the “hardworking Ghanaians and Ghanaian institutions” whose efforts had resulted in a platform that provides “a financial transactions engine that is versatile, efficient, robust, and enhances patronage.”

This interoperability is expected to largely eliminate the difficulties associated with traditional banking services, such as the difficulty in opening bank accounts. Interoperability will also eliminate other inconveniences like the high costs associated with maintaining a bank account relative to customers’ income levels.

Algeria Nascent launches a programme to support early-stage startups

Algeria is the biggest country in Africa, with a lot of business opportunities. Sadly, the country has a big lack in business knowledge. In order to feed entrepreneurs with the skills needed to build their companies, Algeria’s Nascent Startup ecosystem has launched a programme called IncubMe.

“IncubMe is providing day-day support and individual coaching in different skills and knowledge relating to startups. We are providing all the necessary support to the entrepreneur to let them concentrate on their business,” said Kamel Oumnia, the General Manager of IncubMe. 

However, the programme will not only improve the skills of entrepreneurs in Algeria, but it will also help to improve the country’s economy. Also, Africa’s economy will not be left out, as these entrepreneurs are going to spread their businesses across Africa.

Internet penetration rate reaches 62% in Senegal

Recent research shows that out of the 15.7 million inhabitants in Senegal, more than  9.6 million are Internet users. This has led to an increase in the internet penetration rate of the country to 62.9%.

The Prime Minister Mahmoud Boun Abdallah Dionne highlighted the fact that “ICT in Senegal contributes 2% to GDP, but with the Digital Senegal Strategy 2016-2025 the Senegalese government wants to bring that share of the digital to GDP at 10%.

He further cited the government’s goal: “digital inclusion and digitization of the economy.”  A goal that he believes cannot be achieved if access to the Internet does not become popular, especially among the poorest. Prime Minister Mahmoud Boun Abdallah Dionne also invites the three Internet access providers who have recently been licensed to register in a dynamic of decreasing costs of access to the Internet.

Zimbabwe’s Vice President cries out to the press

Vice President of Zimbabwe, Constantino Chiwenga, on Thursday, debunked allegations by the public that he has been bleaching to attain a lighter skin complexion. The former chief of defense forces has increasingly been mocked by Zimbabweans on social media, as ‘Bleachy Chiwenga’ and ‘General Ambi’, following sudden changes in the color of his skin.

“It was during (the military operation) that I fell ill. I had this skin disease that affected my whole body from beneath my feet to my back and the journalists started saying I was using skin lightening creams but that was not the case. I was sick”. He explained in a family ceremony.

Public service, especially political leadership in Africa comes with its own problems. A leader has no private life of his own. Whatever he does in secret can at any time surface in public space.

World

When a giant acquires a giant

U.S. retail giant Walmart just picked up a 77% stake in India’s largest online retailer Flipkart for $16 billion. This appears to be the country’s largest acquisition and the world’s biggest purchase of an e-commerce company. Walmart plans to use Flipkart’s expertise to expand globally and assure employees that it intends to nurture and strengthen its ethos. 

Walmart might want to portray its $16 billion purchase of Flipkart as a brilliant strategic move, long-planned in secret, that would allow the U.S. retail giant to manage the transition away from big-box stores globally. Yet, the truth is that the deal represents a second-best outcome.

In its 11 years of operating in India, Walmart has failed to build up its own business, though it’s not entirely the company’s fault. It’s, however, just a reminder that India remains, in some ways, as unfriendly to foreign businesses as China.

For over a decade, successive Indian governments have denied permission to Walmart to open up its own stores. It’s, therefore, no coincidence that Walmart closed its deal with Flipkart now. Its joint venture with Bharti went bad a few years ago.

Is the US Senate bringing back net-neutrality?

A group of US Democratic senators has called for the reinstatement of the net neutrality protection and moved to force a vote on the proposal. The senators, led by Democratic leader Chuck Schummer and Edward Markey filed a discharge motion on Wednesday, which could trigger a vote to overrule the repeal of the net-neutrality Act.

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) had taken a decision to revoke internet protections put in place during the presidency of Barack Obama. But there are indications that the vote to bring back net neutrality may go through. This is seen from the fact that the motion presently has the support of 47 senators.

Political pundits had described the repeal of net neutrality, as a dangerous move, which could have far-reaching political effects beyond the shores of America. This is particularly true as most African politicians have resorted to using internet restrictions as a way of limiting free speech among opposing voices.

iZettle plans IPO to raise $227 million, valuing it at $1.1 billion

The strong climate for tech IPOs at the moment is leading more mature startups to set up plans to list. And the latest development in that direction is from Sweden. iZettle, the payments and small business financial services startup that is often referred to as the “Square of Europe,” this week confirmed plans to list on Nasdaq in Stockholm. The company plans to raise 2 billion Swedish kronor ($227 million), giving it a valuation of SEK10 billion ($1.1 billion). iZettle notes that the listing would happen sometime in 2018 but has not yet specified an exact date.

Now, the company is currently operating at a loss, but it’s growing quickly with that loss narrowing. Along with the IPO announcement, iZettle has published its most up-to-date financials. These financials confirm that iZettle is still operating at a loss, though its revenues continue to grow.

iZettle’s announcement puts to rest IPO speculation that has been swirling around the company for a while now, which reached a crescendo pitch last week. It also comes less than five months after the company raised its last funding — $47 million at a $950 million valuation. A number of strong tech IPOs so far this year point to a sympathetic climate for more to list, rather than stay private and raise more growth funds that way.

Religious Headscarves are not welcomed in the German public service

A Berlin court has upheld a decision by authorities in the city to bar Muslims women with hijab from teaching in schools. A Muslim teacher, who wears a hijab (headscarf), had approached the court after she was barred from taking classes in a primary school.

In rejecting her discrimination complaint, Justice Arne Boyer said on Wednesday that the city state’s neutrality law, which bars the wearing of overt religious symbols and clothing for state employees on duty, weighed stronger than the right to free religious expression.

“Primary school children should be free of the influence that can be exerted by religious symbols,” said Martin Dressler, a court spokesman.

ZTE opts out of life support with a pause

One of China’s largest tech companies, ZTE is ending its major operations as its conditions worsen under a U.S. ban on exports to the Chinese phone maker. In a filing, ZTE said that it has enough cash to stay afloat while pausing operations for the time being. While the news doesn’t mean ZTE is completely dead, things aren’t looking good for the phone maker either.

Last year, it pleaded guilty to illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea. ZTE agreed to a truce with the U.S., but apparently never held up its end of the bargain. So, the US responded by banning American companies like Dolby and Qualcomm from selling products to ZTE until 2025. Many saw this as a move to show China how much damage the U.S. could do. As a result, ZTE’s shares have been halted from trading for weeks.

This is definitely too much for the firm to swallow. It is, therefore, least surprising that the firm is now pausing its main operations. However, ZTE is having a little chat with the U.S. about how to reverse or modify the terms of the ban. But that will only happen, at least, seven years from now as previously agreed.

Australian startup Unlockd has had a win in its fight against Google

The English High Court on May 10, granted an interim injunction to stop Google from disabling AdMob-generated ads and removing Unlockd apps from the Google Play Store in the UK. The Australian startup applied for the injunction in April after Google threatened to withdraw Unlockd’s access to Google Play and AdMob services.

According to Google, Unlockd, which rewards users opting to view targeted ads, content and offers when they unlock their smartphone, breached a number of its policies. But Unlockd claims Google approved its app for use with AdMob on two separate occasions in 2017. On both occasions, according to Unlockd, Google acknowledged the app was “consistent with their policies.” But Unlockd has not made any changes to its app that would change that view since.

Despite this injunction, however, Unlockd says it will continue to explore its legal options to fully protect its interests both in the U.K. and globally. But it’s too early for Google to accept defeat.

Malaysian youth & middle age group appear politically docile

Malaysia now has the oldest leader in the world. 92-year-old opposition politician Mahathir Mohamad, defeated his onetime protege and incumbent prime minister, Najib Razak to win elections as new Prime Minister.

The incumbent Prime Minister Razak had, however, been engulfed in a million-dollar corruption scandal. His political defeat can, therefore, be situated within the context of the corruption scandal that dominated his second term.

The position of the oldest elected leader in the world has thus moved from Africa to Asia, after the overthrow of 94-year-old President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Age has not been very much a problem in the election of political leaders across the borders of Africa if we go by typical example around the world.

 

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