Today’s Quote

“We’re swimming in a sea of stories, trying to find our way in a universe and commercial marketplace of infinite choices.”

Michael Margolis

Africa

Cogebank launches Coge mBank to venture into mobile banking

Africa is embracing the mobile banking revolution, and Rwandan bank Cogebank, certainly doesn’t want to be left out. The bank announced on February 28, 2018, the launch of a new service, Coge mBank – its mobile banking arm. According to company officials, Coge mBank will facilitate access to banking services and customer transactions, including the payment of goods and services from their phones.

“The implementation of this application is in line with digital aspirations and is a manifestation of our commitment to bringing financial services closer to our customers,” said Cherno Gaye, CEO of Cogebank. In the process, Yvon Gilbert Nishimwe, head of e-banking at Cogebank believes that the mobile wallet application is also a time-saving opportunity that allows customers to carry out banking services and other transactions anywhere and at any time.

After months of flying, Truecaller finally perches in Kenya

Last year, Truecaller revealed that it was scouting for an ideal location to set up an office and launch a developer’s program in Africa. Part of that plan became fruitful a month after Truecaller launched the Truecaller Software Development Kit (SDK) program in Nigeria. And now, the other half, with the launch of its Nairobi regional office.

According to Zakaria Abdulkadir Hersi, Truecaller’s Director of Business Development and Partnerships, Africa — Kenya is an ideal choice because it is Truecaller’s largest market in Africa and one of the top five globally. The Truecaller app has 6 million active users in Kenya, and blocks 4.4 million calls per month.

It now begins to make sense as the Swedish Caller ID company revealed that Kenya was one of the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2017 with scam calls making up 91% of the reported spam calls. Meanwhile, Truecaller will use the headquarters in Nairobi to run operations in Nigeria, South Africa, and other key markets in Africa.

Equatorial Guinea’s main opposition party dissolved

The main opposition political party in Equatorial Guinea, Citizens for Innovation (CI) has been dissolved by the country’s legal authorities.  The country’s Deputy Attorney General Anatalio Nzang argues that the opposition party has been undermining state security. He added that the law on political parties demands the automatic dissolution of any party that undermines state security.

According to the country’s legal authorities, the decision to dissolve the CI party dates back to November 2017 in Aconibe south-east of Equatorial Guinea, during a parliamentary election campaign, that saw clashes between the party’s supporters and police officers. In the wake of this dissolution, the prosecutor also announced the conviction of 21 CI party supporters to 26 years in prison for sedition and ten years for breach of authority. They were also fined alongside their party some 210,000 euros.

The CI party leader Gabriel Nze Obiang Obono in a reaction to the dissolution of the party said: “This is a false story from the government. The CI party which has no weapons was campaigning at the time, when the ruling party blocked our campaigns all over the country, which was done in collaboration with the police. It cannot be said that the supporters attacked a military camp. At each stage of the campaigns, our unarmed supporters met armed men. What can unarm people really do against armed people?”

It is worth noting that the Citizens for Innovation party won only one seat in Parliament, with the ruling party winning 99 out of 100 seats. Since the vote, restrictions on freedoms and arrests, particularly of political opponents, continue unabated. This has led to the European Eunion (EU) expressing concern on the clamp down on the opposition in the country.

Cameroon

Cameroon Government begins taking austerity measures as economic crisis looms

The Cameroon Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, recently signed a circular redefining the official travel missions of high-ranking officials. According to the Prime Ministerial circular, officials and directors of state owned companies and Corporations will now fly economic class in their official travel missions abroad.

The list of officials under this category include; board presidents, managing directors and deputy managing directors of all public companies.  The Prime Minister also asked the officials to choose direct and cheaper itineraries for their flights during each official trip. This decision according to the Prime Minister has been instructed by the President whose attention was continually being drawn to the excesses of these officials during their official trips.

“Apart from being organized without prior authorization from the competent supervisory authorities, the plus-value of these trips for the company is not always perceived”, he noted.

The Prime Ministers circular is coming at a time when the economic atmosphere of the country is looking gloomy, but these officials seem not to be aware of it as they still engage in a spending spree and wastage of state resources during such mission travels.

Will & Brothers Consulting plans to launch a one billion FCFA fundraising campaign for global expansion

One month after officially presenting his made in Cameroon drones to the Cameroonian government, William Elong, founder of the Will & Brothers startup, and developer of the drone, intends to expand his business to France and United States. Based on this, the startup plans to launch a fundraising operation to raise FCFA 124 million.

“We want to enter the European and American markets. Locally, the first fundraising (124 million FCFA, emphasis added), allowed us to obtain the results that you have all seen: take office space, recruit Cameroonian engineers, buy equipment to mount our UAVs in Douala, etc. Now we think we need to go quickly to the international level. Honestly, I am convinced that we can become the best in the world, ” William Elong, the founder noted.

According to Elong, what gives Western drone companies advantage over them, is simply their exposure to better sources of finance, which facilitate research and development. After his successful launching his 100 percent made in Cameroon drone with various professional applications, William Elong, was ranked among the top 10 young entrepreneurs in Africa, by Forbes Africa.

The Social Democratic Front Party elects Joshua Osih as it Presidential candidate, sparking a nationality debate about him

Last Saturday’s elective convention of the Social Democratic Front (SDF) party did not only witness the exit of Chairman Ni John Fru Ndi, from his long time quest to be President of Cameroon, but also saw the election of the party’s deputy leader Joshua Osih, as its presidential candidate. Mr. Osih, a member of parliament of the SDF, will possibly confront President Paul Biya in the upcoming presidential challenge.

Osih’s election is good news especially to the younger generation of Cameroonians who believe in a change of the present political status quo in the country. Osih, who doubles as a businessman, hails from the troubled Anglophone South West Region of the country. “Etoudi is within our reach,” he said, referring to the Cameroon’s presidential palace.

However, shortly after his emergence as the SDF presidential candidate, Mr. Osih’s political detractors are already  working, by raising issues about his eligibility for the presidential race. They base their arguments on the fact that one of his parents (mother) is not a Cameroonian. The French media has been hitting hard on the SDF candidate, describing him as a foreigner.  They have even predict a possibility of his candidature being thrown out by the recently created Constitutional Council.

World

Amazon acquires smart doorbell maker, Ring, for $1 billion

Last month, the doorbell wars began heating up in the startup-verse. Now, the big players are taking over as Amazon intends to buy smart doorbell maker, Ring, for more than a billion dollars. The e-commerce titan will let Ring operate as an independent business – much like they did with Zappos and Twitch, while reaping the benefits of the company’s home-security hardware.

A few weeks ago, the Alphabet-owned home security company, Nest Hello, announced a March ship date for their new “smart” doorbell. Since then, Amazon has been snatching up the competition: over the past year, they acquired Blink and a laundry list of other smart security gadgets.

The financial details of the acquisition appear to be vague. But if the sale price goes above $1.2 billion (the price they paid for Zappos), then Ring will be Amazon’s second-largest acquisition after Whole Foods. And of course, this move just fuelled the fiery fight among companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple to turn “dumb” homes into “smart” homes.

China now has control of all Chinese iCloud data

Apple is moving iCloud accounts registered in mainland China to state-run Chinese servers, along with the digital keys needed to unlock them. This has human rights groups and privacy advocates worried because Chinese authorities now have all the tools they need to access users’ data. Apple made the move to comply with China’s regulations on cloud services, and it highlights the trade-offs global companies make to do business in China.

The move was  expected since last year, as Apple announced its partnership with Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD). That is, a Chinese firm supervised by a board of government-owned businesses, with close ties to the government. However, the tech giant has said it will not transfer accounts over to the new data center unless users first agree to the updated terms of service.

It is the latest development in a pattern of Apple acquiescing to Beijing’s demands. Last July, Apple deleted VPN apps from the App Store that let Chinese internet users to evade censorship. Meantime, both Apple and GCBD may still have access to all user data. From what it may seem, this move could very much force Apple to obey various government requests to access Chinese iCloud data.

Meanwhile, Apple has confirmed that it uses Google’s public cloud for data storage for iCloud services. This is BIG because, although it is an unexpected partnership, this fact had earlier been reported in 2016. However, Apple never confirmed it, until now.

Spotify just filed to go IPO

Earlier this year, Spotify filed paperwork to go public. Now, it’s official. Spotify has filed to list publicly, and its plans include bypassing the typical fundraising event and will instead just list shares directly. It’s an unconventional approach, but one that makes sense for the music streaming firm.

The documents state that it is targeting a $1 billion IPO, but this is just a placeholder. This has been a long time coming for many observers. Spotify is hoping it can go public and convince investors of its ability to stay ahead of the competition in key areas like music recommendations.

Spotify, previously raised about $2.7 billion in both debt and equity. Before now, the company has been relatively vague about its financial status. However, according to the filing, the company posted almost $5 billion in revenue last year. As of last December, Spotify recorded 159 million monthly active users, bringing in 46% more than the year prior.

Though with a good as their 2017, they also recorded losses of $1.5 billion. Turning a profit has been a sore subject with the company in the past. Most of their revenue goes in the payment of licensing fees and ever-fluctuating royalty rates to music labels, publishers, and songwriters.

They have reportedly paid more than $9.7 billion in such royalties since their launch in 2006.

US teachers kick against Donald Trump’s proposal to arm them with guns

Teachers across the United States are opposing Donald Trump’s suggestion that some school staff should be armed with guns. The teachers went wild on social media with a series of emotional tweets using the hashtag, #ArmMeWith. Many teachers are against the idea of guns in schools for self-defense during attacks. They prefer better school supplies and mental health resources over guns.

“Pencils, paper, technology, books, art supplies, counsellors… Not Guns,” was the wish list of one teacher on instagram. The trend emerged a days after Mr Trump spoke with survivors of the tragic shooting which claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on, February 14, 2018.

Trump, took to his twitter platform to argue his ideas. He says that has not asked for teachers to be given guns, but that, arming 20 percent of “adept teachers” with military training would mean they can “fire back if a savage sicko comes to a school with bad intentions.”

Silicon Times

Events

  • In honor of this year’s Women’s Day celebrations, Makonjo Media invites women to its Smart Instagram Marketing for Girls. The event will take place at the Makonjo Media office, on March 7, 2018. Time is from 2PM to 5pm. Makonjo office is at Baird Memorial street, Bonduma, Buea.
  • Interested in becoming a consultant, grab a ticket to attend the Management Consulting Training organized by Skyhigh University Center, Douala. Event runs from April 2 to 7, 2018, 10AM to 2PM daily.
  • You can’t afford to miss the Disruptive Entrepreneurship seminar on March 3, 2018 from 8AM to 1PM. Venue is 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. The event holds on May 12, 2018 from 9AM to 5PM at Place St. David, Douala Cameroon.
  • Meet individuals like yourself who are ready to take action for a digital awakening in Cameroon. Attend the Cameroon Digital Thought Leaders Luncheon event on April 16, 2018, from 1 AM to 5PM in Douala, Cameroon.
  • Apply for the 2018 Young Enterprise Scale-up (YES) Bootcamp. Deadline is March 30, 2018.
  • Grab an invitation to attend the Afrikonnect 2018. Event holds from March 22, 2018, at 12AM to March 23, 2018, at 12AM in Casablanca, Morocco.

Jobs

Opportunities

  • Are you from Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Laos, Cambodia, Philippines and Indonesia, using innovative tools to influence society?  Apply for the Tanzania Sudden Opportunity Grant (€5,000 to €500,000). Deadline for submission of ideas is 31st December 2018.
  • The Africa’s women Development Fund is a grant making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organizations. That’s women working towards the empowerment of African women. Apply for Africa’s women Development Fund ($50,000) today by sending your application to the email awdf@awdf.org. Deadline is March 7, 2018.
  • Global change maker will be bringing 60 Changemakers to the 2018 Global Youth Summit. It is a fully funded, and life-changing youth opportunity. This is usually a week of training sessions, networking and workshops. To apply, follow this link. The application deadline is Sunday 4th March 2018 6 p.m.
  • Having made its debut investment in Nigeria’s FarmCrowdy, Techstars Atlanta is receiving applications for this year’s Accelerator program in Atlanta. Applicants stand a chance to get $120,000 in funding and follow-up funding. The three-month program will help startups gain traction through deep mentorship engagement, rapid iteration cycles, and fundraising preparation. Apply here. Deadline is March 13, 2018.
  • CcHub has supports the growth of startups using technology to solve local and social problems through its incubation program. Access an $25,000 investment and more follow-on funding of up to $250,000 today by applying CcHub Incubation Program 2018.
  • Want to grow your wealth? You have the chance to buy shares and become a member of the Jongo Investment Cooperative. Contact +237 677-517-951.
  • Apply to join Venture Finance in Africa Research and participate in its annual benchmark study on African venture performance. Deadline is December 31, 2018

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