Wednesday, October 5

Africa

With its massive subsea Internet cable, Google says it’s playing the long game in Africa
Africa, Telecommunications

With its massive subsea Internet cable, Google says it’s playing the long game in Africa

At the first Google for Africa event held today, October 6, 2021, global Internet giant, Google, has announced significant initiatives for the African continent. They include a $50 million venture fund for black-led African startups, small business loans, grants for non-profits, and most importantly, the launch of Equiano, a subsea Internet cable to increase Africa’s Internet capacity In partnership with Safaricom, Google will also be kick-starting a device financing plan to ensure people actually have smartphones and other Internet-enabled devices to access the Internet. A little over a year ago, Google announced similar initiatives and affirmed plans to deepen Internet access in Africa and contribute to the continent’s digital transformation. While we could open discussions about ...
YC-backed Amenli raises $2.3M to provide insurance to Egyptian consumers
Africa, Start-ups

YC-backed Amenli raises $2.3M to provide insurance to Egyptian consumers

The average penetration rate for insurance in Africa is between 3% to 5%. South Africa makes up a large bulk of it; without it, the continent is on a 1% to 2% rate even with other developed technology and financial markets like Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt. The insurance market is still one of the industries least disrupted by technology on the continent. The reasons vary, from bad experiences and poor satisfaction on the part of consumers to high distribution costs for providers. Recently, some startups such as Lami, Ctrl and Naked have sought to take on each regional market by storm, armed with the necessary capital to scale. Y Combinator Summer 2021 graduate Amenli is taking its operations up north and is announcing a $2.3 million seed round to provide insurance services for Egyptian...
South Africans Can Now Get Their Digital Vaccine Passes via This Website
Africa, Health Tech

South Africans Can Now Get Their Digital Vaccine Passes via This Website

A few days after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Department of Health would begin rolling out digital vaccination certificates and a few weeks after Health Minister Joe Phaahla claimed that the vaccine passes would be made available “soon” the South African government has launched a website were vaccinated individuals can receive their digital vaccine certificates. “The Department of Health should be rolling out a vaccination certificate which will provide a secure and a verifiable proof of vaccination certificate which can be used to facilitate travel to access establishments and gatherings and other forms of activity that require proof of vaccination,” the president said at the time. “This will also go a long way towards getting a number of international...
Why Digitisation is Key to Rescue SA’s Water Infrastructure
Africa

Why Digitisation is Key to Rescue SA’s Water Infrastructure

South Africa’s water system is in trouble. In the 2020/21 financial year alone, there were over 55,800 pipe bursts, over a third of reservoirs have supply problems, and years of underfunding of infrastructure replacement and maintenance have drastically reduced the lifespan of around a quarter of the country’s asset base. If there’s one lesson we can take from South Africa’s electricity crisis, it’s that we can’t wait until it’s too late before we act. And yet, it nearly is too late. By 2025, South Africa is expected to experience water scarcity. By 2030, a water deficit. With the rapid increase in urbanisation and the rising demand for our water infrastructure, we don’t have the luxury of time. There’s a sense of urgency that we must jump on now, starting with what we do&...
VertoFX picks up $10M for cross-border payments play in emerging markets
Africa, Start-ups

VertoFX picks up $10M for cross-border payments play in emerging markets

VertoFX, a global B2B payments platform that allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to make payments to their suppliers, today announced that it has closed $10 million in Series A funding. Quona Capital, an emerging fintech-focused venture capital firm, led the round. Other firms also participated, including The Treasury, founded by Betterment’s Eli Broverman and Acorns’ Jeff Cruttenden; Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP); U.K.-based TMT Investments; Unicorn Growth Capital; Zrosk Investments; and P1 Ventures.  The lack of interoperability between African currencies is primarily behind why a Kenyan business owner who wants to pay an invoice to another business owner in South Africa with either shillings or rands ends up using the dollar — the currency that powers almo...
Meet Abake Adenle, who developed a unique speech recognition software for African languages
Africa

Meet Abake Adenle, who developed a unique speech recognition software for African languages

In July 2021, a Nigerian-American was recognised for her innovative work advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in voice.  The attraction came from building a voice recognition and speech synthesis software for five African languages, which was innovative. As of the time she founded the startup, the market was pretty undefined and unrefined, with no known player in the space focused on native African languages. To get an idea of how it feels to get the attention of an organisation like Women in Voice (WiV) — an international non-profit based in Seattle — and her plans for it, we had a chat, albeit briefly. I did get an idea, but I only scratched the surface. I would come to realise that what seemed like a big deal was only a bit of the life of a hard-working woman with a...
Liquid Intelligent Technologies launches OneVoice for Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams, introducing seamless Voice calls
Africa, Telecommunications

Liquid Intelligent Technologies launches OneVoice for Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams, introducing seamless Voice calls

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 28, 2021/APO Group/ -- Liquid Intelligent Technologies (www.Liquid.Tech), a leading pan-African technology group, is excited to have been announced as a launch partner for Microsoft’s new Operator Connect for Microsoft Teams. Through its OneVoice platform, Liquid enables Microsoft customers worldwide to seamlessly integrate regulatory-compliant calling plans in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda – initiated from the Microsoft Teams Admin Centre. Operator Connect enables seamless PSTN phone services in Teams. With OneVoice for Operator Connect, businesses will benefit from the seamless integration of voice telephony directly into their existing Teams install base. In addition, Liquid’s flat-rate calling plans save mone...
China plans to deploy digital satellite TVs in 200 Togolese villages
Africa, Telecommunications

China plans to deploy digital satellite TVs in 200 Togolese villages

The Chinese government plans to distribute digital satellite television and hardware in 200 villages across Togo, speeding up the West African country’s plans to switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasting.  DTT, which will replace analog television, is a technology that improves image quality and reduces operating costs inherent in broadcasting. In October 2019, the Togolese parliament passed a law authorising the DTT migration, a process that began a few years before the regulation was approved.  The project was expected to kick off with the construction of nine digital television signal transmission sites. However, it has stalled as DTT coverage in the French-speaking country remains low, and non-existent in rural areas. On paper, the Chinese interventio...
MTN Announces 5G Roll Out Date in Ghana
5G, Africa, Mobile

MTN Announces 5G Roll Out Date in Ghana

The Ghanaian arm of the largest telecom company in Africa has announced its intentions to launch and make operational 5G services in the West African country by 2023. This comes as MTN has yet to fully cover Ghana with its 4G spectrum, but projects to gain 98% 4G coverage by the end of 2022. Currently, MTN’s 4G coverage has reached 73% of the country. ModernGhana reports that the company revealed that it is modernizing its infrastructure and working with regulators towards 5G and that it will seek to have 5G mobile connectivity operating in Ghana by 2023. According to the CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh, who made the announcement, MTN is taking steps towards 5G in order to be in a better position to take advantage of the digital space. “Almost every 10 years, there is a new ...
Absa Launches Facial Recognition Tech in South Africa
Africa

Absa Launches Facial Recognition Tech in South Africa

Absa, one of South Africa’s largest banks and a pan-African lender, has officially launched facial recognition technology in its Android and iOS apps, which some users will need to utilize to authenticate certain transactions through facial scans. “Technology is leaping ahead faster than ever, and it’s up to us to ensure that you stay right at the cutting edge. We are, therefore, proud to introduce the Absa ID Facial Biometrics to our Absa Banking App,” the bank writes in a statement on their website. The ID Facial Biometric is a new feature, Absa says, that allows users to link their unique facial characteristics with their mobile devices to “create even greater security.” Continue reading Image: MyBroadband