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“Today’s Quote”

“Since the world has existed, there has been injustice. But it is one world, the more so as it becomes smaller, more accessible. There is just no question that there is more obligation that those who have should give to those who have nothing.”

Audrey Hepburn, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador

Africa

Airbnb is writing a $100.000 check to Trump’s ‘shithole’ countries

In a comment last week, US President Donald Trump reportedly referred to some African countries as ‘shithole’ countries. Responding to Trump’s comments, vacation-rental platform Airbnb said it will spend at least $100,000 on digital ads promoting listings in Haiti, El Salvador and Africa – the ‘shitholes’.

However, Trump has since denied he made the derogatory remarks. Nonetheless, an Airbnb spokesperson confirmed the launch of “a six-figure digital ad buy” promoting listings in Central America and Africa. According to the rental firm, Haiti, El Salvador, and Africa are home to more than 116,000 Airbnb listings, earning a total of US$170 million in 2017 alone.

Airbnb is no stranger to voicing its support when it comes to immigration and travel. Amid word of Trump’s travel ban in January last year, the accommodations platform pledged to provide free housing to refugees and anyone recently barred from entering the US.

Itanna will stop African startups from seeking Silicon Valley Funding

When two giants combine efforts, the result is usually enormous. Such is the case for the African Economic Revolution Fund (AERF) and renowned Nigerian conglomerate, Honeywell Group. Both have partnered to invest in African startups through the creation of Itanna.

Itanna intends to ignite Africa through their equity-based investments, starting with Nigeria. Both firms have always had a particular interest in tech innovations in Africa. Knowing the group’s objectives, Honeywell reached out to AERF last year to signal that the time for action was ripe.

For this partnership to work, Itanna will provide capital for African startups while mentorship and expertise will come from both sides. According to the partnership, Honeywell Group will bring in-depth knowledge of the Nigerian startup market. Meanwhile, AERF will bring in knowledge around raising capital.

Did African migrants learn any lesson from the Libyan slave trade story?

Italian coastguards on Tuesday rescued some 1,400 migrants from overcrowded boats off the coast of Libya. However, two dead bodies were also recovered in the exercise. The eleven rescue operation was carried out with the support of the finance police, the European Union anti-smuggling operation, among others.

This exercise is coming just two months after the unveiling of a 21st-century slave trade web in Libya. Young African migrants who illegally entered Europe through the Sahara Desert and the sea had ended up in slave markets and camps in Libya.

Some African governments like Nigeria are making efforts to rescue some of their citizens held in these illegal migrant and slave camps in Libya. Regrettably, more youths are still making efforts to embark on this deadly mission. Haven’t they learned any lesson?

Cameroon

Business model of state-run SME bank will be modified

IMF envisages to restructure the public SME Bank which has been operating in the country for 3yrs only. IMF explains that access to finance remains difficult to achieve for SMEs particularly. Also, the Bretton Woods institution added that Cameroon will also support the reinforcement of credit risk assessments by further implementing a regional financial information database.

The government plans to recapitalize SME Bank at CFA 27.5billion. In June 2017, the bank indicated it has granted CFA 11,5 billion of loans and nearly CFA 40 billion flexible guarantee bonds to 1,600 individuals. However, the loans were not as profitable as expected.

Mobile operator services in Cameroon is still an ultimate problem

Using mobile networks in Cameroon is a real mess. The main operators singled out by subscribers are MTN Cameroon and Orange Cameroon. Recently, disgruntled users have pointed fingers at Nexttel and Camtel. The biggest annoyance is that the customer service of the operators is not responsive to solving the problems.

Complaints from users have reached the regulator who has also carried out tests and the result confirm the various claims of subscribers. The DG of ART (Telecommunication Regulatory Agency) Philemon Zo’o Zame holds the measurements made on the platforms show a high rate of call failures, frequent communications cuts, as well as a deterioration of the hearing quality.

Will Cameroun still be Host for the 2019 African Cup of Nations?

A 10-man team from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) shall provide an answer at the end of their 12-day inspection visit to Cameroun. The inspection team officially began work on January 12, 2018, and will culminate on January 23, 2018.

The main assignment of the CAF delegation is to assess the country’s progress as it prepares to host the 2019 African Cup of Nations. At the end of the inspection exercise, they will then submit a report to CAF, on the level of preparedness of the country and a way forward.

The delegation is inspecting facilities such as stadiums and hotels in host cities, towards the successful organization of the 32nd edition of the biennial tournament scheduled for June and July 2019.

World

UNICEF suddenly wants to fund early-stage Blockchain startups

The international organization in charge of advocating for children’s rights – UNICEF, seems to have taken a keen interest in cryptocurrency technology. In an announcement on Wednesday, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), said it will offer equity-free investments of $50,000 – 90,000 to seed-stage startups developing solutions on open blockchains in areas including smart contracts, tokens, mining and data analysis.

According to UNICEF, “We are interested in companies that use distributed ledger tech in new, groundbreaking ways that are scalable, and globally applicable.” The initiative, led by the UNICEF Innovation Fund, is the latest move by the non-profit’s venture arm in supporting the application of blockchain technology for humanitarian causes.

Though UNICEF previously invested in a South African Blockchain startup in 2016, the recent buzz in Bitcoin might have been a secondary propeller for this sudden interest. On a second thought, this may just be another way for the “inter-non-profit” to help children across the globe.

Apple – 22 attorneys general revisit Net Neutrality with contrasting views

In 2015, the Obama administration had put forth net neutrality rules to prevent big telecom companies from messing with our connections. But last month, the FCC gave these telcos the right to control our internet traffic — all of it. According to the FCC, consumer outrage will prevent companies from violating net neutrality.The repeal meant the end of internet freedom as we know it. It went down well with only a few.

Until recently, attorneys of 22 U.S states decided to fight back by filing a lawsuit against the agency in charge of regulating interstate communications in the U.S. But Apple thinks this lawsuit is absurd.

Among those disgruntled with the FCC’s decision, was a University Professor. So, he set out to change things by creating an app that will detect net neutrality violations. But Apple banned the app from the App Store, preventing users from accessing the info they need to at least, know when they’re getting screwed over. And no one is quite sure why.

India test-fires nuclear-capable inter-continental ballistic missiles

India successfully test-fired a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the country’s Defense Ministry reported. The nuclear-capable Agni-V is said to be the country’s most modernized ICBM. According to government tweet, India fired the ICBM, Thursday morning from Abdul Kalam Island.

The test has been described as a “major boost” to India’s defense capabilities. The Federation of American Scientists believes the country now has around 120 to 130 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.

India’s ICBM test is incremental from a technological perspective. But it could have serious geopolitical corollaries, especially in her relations with China. Recently, relations between Beijing and New Delhi have been strained following a protracted border dispute in late 2017 over the Himalayan region of Doklam.

Silicon Times

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Opportunities

  • Are you a Masters student? Send in an application before February 1, 2018, for the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at the Michigan State University.
  • Apply for Anita Hopper Institute Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Scholarship 2018. Deadline is set for March 7, 2018.
  • Be part of the UNESCO Mandajeet-Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Nonviolence by applying before April 30, 2018.
  • Participate in the Geneva Challenge 2018 – Advancing Development Goals Contest for Graduate Students (20500 CHF in monetary prizes & a funded trip to Geneva, Switzerland). Deadline is April 16, 2018.
  • Time is running out. Apply now for the Education for Sustainable Energy Development (ESED) Scholarship Program 2018. It all ends on March 9, 2018.
  • Participate in the Misk Grand Challenge 2018 for innovation worldwide and stand a chance to win a $100, 000 grant. Apply now before the May 2, 2018, deadline catches up with you.

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