Tuesday, June 22

West Africa

Nigeria, West Africa

Nigeria ends 2018 with 172m subscribers, 31.5% broadband penetration

Nigeria’s telecommunications sector ended the year 2018 with 172 million subscribers, with teledensity rising to 123.4 per cent from 105 per cent in January 2018. Telephone density or teledensity is the number of telephone connections for every hundred individuals living within an area. It varies widely across the nations and also between urban and rural areas within a country. Subscribers’ statistics released yesterday by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) showed that service providers including MTN, Globacom, Airtel, 9Mobile, among others got 25.5 million new subscribers in the course of the year. In the same vein, broadband penetration in Nigeria rose from 30.9 per cent in November to 31.5 per cent as at December 31. Broadband is wide bandwidth data transmission, wh...
Central Africa, East Africa, Nigeria, Southern Africa, Tech Policy, West Africa

Zimbabwe’s internet blackout shows how powerless major telcos are against governments

Internet access was restored in Zimbabwe late on Wednesday, but on Thursday WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter remained inaccessible. More than 600 people were arrested this week as police armed with AK-47 rifles rounded up protestors, according to the Associated Press. At least six people were killed when the military was deployed to quell protests against high fuel prices on Monday. Amnesty International reported eight deaths, while the Association of Doctors for Human Rights reported treated 68 cases of gunshot wounds and more than 100 other cases of assaults. A tense calm returned on Thursday. Zimbabweans were protesting a fuel hike that would see the price of petrol and diesel rise by 150%in a country that already had fuel shortages. Amid the violent crackdown on pro...
Central Africa, East Africa, Nigeria, Southern Africa, Tech Policy, West Africa

Internet Switched Back On Again In Zimbabwe After A Total Blackout For The Second Time In A Week

The Zimbabwean story continues to be crazier at every turn. Around mid day on Tuesday the government ordered internet service providers to block all citizens from the internet. The nation was switched back on yesterday after 30 hours of darkness. When we thought that it was all done, the government issued another directive at Nicodemus time last night around 10 pm instructing total shut down again. Zimbabwe woke up to no internet today and Econet subscribers had the following message in their SMS inbox: At 22:05 17/01/19, we were served with another directive for total shutdown of the internet until further notice. Our lawyers advised we are required to comply with the directive pending the Courts decision on its legality. The earlier directives are already the subject of a pendin...
Nigeria’s tech startups have become a political talking point to sway young voters
Start-ups, West Africa

Nigeria’s tech startups have become a political talking point to sway young voters

Nigeria’s tech ecosystem has come in for praise over the past decade given the rise of startups solving problems and serving addressable market needs using technology. Investment—running into hundreds of millions of dollars—has flowed in and several startup and tech hubs have launched, ensuring a pipeline of innovative ideas. But tech startups are increasingly becoming political fodder too. With Nigeria’s general elections barely a month away, candidates looking to sway young voters—a majority of the electorate—are name-dropping tech companies in a bid to appear friendly to the ecosystem. In a recent debate for governorship candidates in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial nerve center, leading candidates made sure to tout their support to the local ecosystem—Africa’s mo...
How African tech startups can help you travel smarter in 2019
Start-ups, West Africa

How African tech startups can help you travel smarter in 2019

Alongside the likes of Travelstart and Jovago (now Jumia), Hotels.ng is a pioneer in the African travel tech space. Yet the sector is swiftly moving beyond simple booking platforms. Now, Hotels.ng is a well-established player, and one that is expanding across Africa. At the time of its launch, however, it was almost revolutionary. “A few years ago finding and making hotel reservations was an offline process. You would have to ask someone who already knew of a hotel, or drive around looking for hotel signs,” said the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Essien. “These days, consumers have moved their searches to the internet. What we have done is provide the means for these hotels, many of which have no digital savvy staff, to thrive in a space that is increasingly em...
AI, East Africa, North Africa, Southern Africa, West Africa

Drones driven by AI will track illegal fishing in African waters

Across the African continent, drones are finding innovative uses -- from monitoring displaced populations to delivering critical medical supplies. Moroccan technology startup ATLAN Space is developing artificial intelligence (AI) to guide autonomous drones so they can scan large areas for "environmental crimes" like illegal fishing, poaching or deforestation. In June, ATLAN Space won the National Geographic Society's $150,000 Marine Protection Prize to implement a pilot project to combat illegal fishing in Seychelles. Drones will be armed with information about illegal fishing hotspots, explains Badr Idrissi, CEO and co-founder of ATLAN Space. Once a drone detects a boat, AI will enable it to verify whether it is a cruising boat, tanker or fishing vessel. The drone will then est...
Space, West Africa

Why NASA chose Senegal to observe a frozen world beyond Pluto

On a night in August, an object called 2014 MU69 passed in front of a star and blocked its light. This phenomenon, called a stellar occultation, lasted just a second and was visible only in certain regions in Africa (more exactly in Senegal, Mali and Algeria) and in South America in Colombia.MU69 is an icy object of the Kuiper Belt, (informally named Ultima Thule) which was discovered in June 2014 with the Hubble Space Telescope.NASA is pursuing this object to learn more about the origins of our solar system. Senegal was chosen to observe this occultation, because of its political stability, and the existence of a community of amateur astronomers and scientists.The choice of Senegal was made despite the challenging climatic conditions in August (rainy season), which offered a proba...
Why Mali has its own homegrown version of Facebook
Social Networks, West Africa

Why Mali has its own homegrown version of Facebook

Lenali is a social media app created for non-literate, oral-based communities In 2017, it was reported that Facebook had 170 million users in Africa --  seven out of every 10 Africans on the internet log into Facebook.  Platforms like WhatsApp, Viber and Instagram have become vitals tools of communication: for news, elections and, of course, selfies. Social media companies are eyeing Africa as a big growth market, with Facebook set to launch its first community hub in Nigeria this year.  However, platforms like Facebook largely center on written posts and conversation, as well as video. For those in the continent from oral-based, spoken language (non-literate) communities with little formal education, these platforms can be inaccessible. This is the case ...