[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is the most valuable resources African businesses can have at their disposal

Cloud adoption in Africa is accelerating fast, driven by broadband connectivity and more affordable data. 

African businesses have been encouraged to adopt cloud-based services to not only respond to change but to thrive in an increasingly digital world. In fact, the Cloud Africa 2018 Report found that 98% of surveyed Kenyan business decision-makers agree on cloud computing’s innovation capacity and transformative impact.

Cloud computing offers African businesses many benefits. It allows them to set up what is essentially a virtual office to give you the flexibility of connecting to your business anywhere, any time. 

Francis Wainaina, Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa notes that Mass cloud adoption across Africa has the potential to not only improve customer service, business efficiency, operational flexibility, and agility but to also save costs.

‘’The benefits offered by cloud computing will differ within each individual business based on their unique needs. However, the underlying advantages boil down to the same three points: strategic value, flexibility, and efficiency,’’ he says.

Euphoria Telecom CEO John Woollam also agrees with this in a recent report published by Gadgets. John while talking about how cloud-based contact centres drive SA outsourcing notes that taking a cloud-based approach can be advantageous too. 

‘’To start with, it allows for a far simpler, and faster deployment of platform integration options. Integrating your on-premises contact centre software with other services is possible, but between licensing and installation, it can rapidly become a nightmare’’ he says

In countries like South Africa, the public sector is looking to move to cloud technology to enhance efficiency, whereas the private sector is seeking cloud computing to facilitate innovation within their space. This is according to a recent study by ITWeb and Amazon Web Services (AWS). Both sectors, the study notes, seek cost savings as their second most important consideration in moving to the cloud.

Remember as we mentioned in our previous cloud column, South Africa is one of the biggest cloud markets in Africa. The country is also Africa’s largest data center market, accounting for ~60% of the continent’s available MTDC power supply. 

DGB for example, which is one of South Africa’s largest independent wine and spirit producers and distributors, operating out of the Western Cape recently announced that it is tapping into cloud solutions to bolster sales.   SoftwareONE, an end-to-end cloud technology and software solutions company operating in over 90 countries also announced the appointment of Marilyn Moodley as country leader for South Africa.

Her new role comes at an exciting time for SoftwareONE as it rapidly expands its capabilities into areas like SAP migration services, application modernisation and hyperscale cloud services and solutions. 

As a unified online platform for communication and collaboration, the cloud is now widely considered to be one of the most valuable resources African businesses can have at their disposal.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa


Mastercard announces a fresh investment in Rwandan female-focused eCommerce platform Kasha

Mastercard has today announced a new investment in Rwandan female-focused eCommerce platform Kasha. The companies say they will continue their shared efforts to ensure women across emerging markets have essential access to health and personal care products along with the information required to support everyday hygiene needs.

Combining online and offline capabilities, Kasha’s platform allows women across rural and urban locations to make confidential personal care orders. By utilizing the full product catalogue available online, or by placing orders using basic mobile handsets, women can search, order and pay for hygiene products that are discretely delivered to them by local micro-entrepreneurs, thus also helping local store owners grow their business. 

Mastercard’s investment is the next step on a journey the organizations have been on since Kasha joined Mastercard StartPath in 2019. Since joining the award-winning start-up engagement program, Mastercard has worked with Kasha to integrate digital payment acceptance across its eCommerce platform, and most recently the partners joined forces to deliver virus, hygiene and protection products to families across Kenya in efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Kasha’s goal is to ensure women in emerging markets get the products, information, and services they need for their health, self-care, and well-being,” said, Joanna Bichsel, Kasha’s Founder and CEO “I am thrilled that we are continuing our collaboration with Mastercard and that we not only have a committed investor with shared values, but also an innovative partner as we continue to take Kasha’s development and growth to the next level.”

Mastercard’s activities with Kasha directly support the company’s pledge to bring 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025, with a direct focus on providing 25 million women entrepreneurs with solutions to help them grow their business. 

“Mastercard works with governments, businesses, and entrepreneurs to help them achieve their ambitions and is committed to applying its resources to drive sustainable and inclusive growth.” said, Raghav Prasad, Division President, Sub Saharan Africa, Mastercard. “Through our activities with Kasha we are leveraging Mastercard’s innovations, expertise, and partnerships to help drive the empowerment of women and small businesses. This partnership is a major step in our journey to support the fundamental needs of women and drive growth across African communities.”

Mastercard’s investment will help Kasha expand its current platform offering, reaching more women, communities, and small businesses than before and build’s on Mastercard’s efforts to bolster support for micro-entrepreneur and women-owned small business in Africa through the Mastercard Track Micro Credit Program, known in Kenya as “Jaza Duka” (fill up your store in Swahili).   By leveraging Mastercard and Kasha’s combined capabilities, in collaboration with global consumer goods and banking partners, the partners aim to positively impact historically underserved communities across Africa and beyond.


[Rwanda] Electric Mobility Startup Ampersand Raises $3.5m from EIF

Kigali based electric motorcycle startup Ampersand has raised $3.5 million in funding from the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) to rapidly scale its electric motorcycle and swap station network in Rwanda.

This investment is the largest ever e-mobility investment by a venture capital fund in Sub-Saharan Africa and marks a turning point in global electric transport.

“We’re thrilled to have EIF on board for this historic investment. We now have the momentum to scale our operations to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million taxi motorcycles by 2030. EIF’s support further dispels the myth that electric transport will happen in rich nations first and trickle down to developing countries later, second-hand,” says Josh Whale, Founder/CEO of Ampersand.

“This investment shows that E-mobility in 2021 is just as much about motorbike taxi drivers in east Africa as it is about the launch of the large electric SUVs, pickups, and sedans around the world,” he said. 

Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles (‘emotos’ or ‘e-bodas’) that are cheaper, cleaner and better performing than the 5 million petrol motorcycle taxis in use across East Africa. Ampersand’s vehicles produce at least 75% less carbon than petrol motorcycles and zero tailpipe emissions.

The company also builds and operates a network of battery swap stations—allowing drivers to change batteries faster than refilling a tank with petrol. 

EIF’s investment in the company will allow it to rapidly scale its electric motorcycle and swap station network in Rwanda. This includes hundreds more e-motos on the road, and dozens more battery swapping stations. The investment will also enable Ampersand’s expansion beyond Rwanda’s borders, and fuels the company’s research and development arm, putting Ampersand on track to electrify East Africa’s entire motorcycle taxi fleet by 2030.

 Since its commercial launch in May 2019, Ampersand’s fleet of 35 drivers and e-motos have covered over 1.3 million kilometers and over 7000 drivers are on their waiting list. 

“We have confidence in the Ampersand team, and we believe the time is right,” said James Everett, Managing Partner of EIF. 

“We are very excited to partner with Ampersand as the company scales in Rwanda and expands across East Africa. We believe that electrifying 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles in developing countries represents one of the low hanging fruits for climate change mitigation globally, and can have a profound positive impact on urban air quality.”