[Kenya] Payment option company Lipa Later selects Hotpoint as new retail partner

Lipa Later, a payment option that allows customers to purchase commodities through affordable monthly instalments has on-boarded Hotpoint as a new retail partner. Hotpoint appliances is Kenya’s premier supplier of Home Appliances and Electronics.
 
Hotpoint Appliances Ltd was established in 1984 with its first store located in the Sarit Centre shopping mall in Nairobi. Currently, they have 9 stores across Kenya and a fully-fledged online store selling a wide range of global brands including LG, Samsung, Bosch, Ariston, Kenwood, Delonghi, Nutribullet, Nutricook and their own Von offering consumers the global brands choice under one roof. Hotpoint Appliances have a range that includes TVs and Home Entertainment, Fridges and Freezers, Cookers and Ovens, Small Kitchen and Home Appliances, among others. Over the last year, they have introduced a range of customer aspirational experience products such as JBL, Apple, and Nikon in an endeavour to ensure that the consumer gets the very best of choice from them. 
 
According to Lipa Later’s CEO, Eric Muli “We are always listening to our consumers’ needs and requests and strive to make sure we have the right partners for the different products our customers are seeking. We are very happy to be onboarding Hotpoint Appliances and the range of different household and electronic products they bring to the table.”
 
According to Research & Markets, the Kenya home appliances Market attained a value of USD 184.48 Million in 2018 which is expected to increase to USD 363.92 Million by the end of 2027 growing at a CAGR of 7.88%. The demand for home appliances in Kenya is increasing on account of significant rise in per capita disposable income coupled with an influx of high-end appliances in the country. Additionally, demand has been growing due to the significant growth in the working women population, driving the demand for appliances such as Washing machines and Refrigerators that make life easier. 

www.lipalater.com

[Rwanda] SADA kicks off with launch of first National digital academy

Smart Africa’s capacity building arm, The Smart Africa Digital Academy (SADA) in partnership with Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT and Innovation have launched a national digital academy in the country, marking the official kick off of in-country implementation of the initiative. The agreement is contained within a MOU signed today between the Smart Africa Alliance and the Rwanda’s Ministry of ICT. This follows the continental launch of SADA that took place in the Republic of Congo last month.

A pan-African dynamic learning ecosystem, SADA aims to improve digital skills qualifications, employability, and meet the emerging talent needs of African citizens. The national digital academy will support the uniquely identified digital skills priority needs at the national level. Furthermore, such national digital academies will soon be rolled out in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia.

In 2021 ahead of this official launch, SADA implemented capacity building activities in Rwanda where more than 500 security forces were trained under SADA’s ICT Skills & Capacity Building Spectrum. 461 command students and staff in Gako as well as 71 Senior Officials in Nyakinama were enrolled and successfully completed a training in Digital Literacy which covered modules such as Computer and online essentials, online elaboration and cyber security.

As part of next steps, Smart Africa and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation will continue to engage with the key stakeholders to implement the identified initiatives under the SADA Rwanda framework.
Planned initiatives include training and certification of Government technicians in advanced computing, training of teachers and Agri entrepreneurs as well as regulators, with the support of partners such as GIZ, World Bank, Intel, HPE.

Commenting on the launch, Mr. Lacina Koné, the Director General and CEO of Smart Africa said: “Rwanda is one of the pioneers of digital adoption and has been doing an amazing job in improving digital skills for its citizens. We are pleased to contribute positively to the nation capacity building through the launch of SADA in Rwanda.”

“Digital skills are the cornerstone of the digital transformation that we seek to attain. Our partners recognize that as proven by their vital support to this important initiative,” he added.

Hon. Paula Ingabire, Minister of ICT and Innovation who graced the launch thanked Smart Africa and said “We welcome this transformative partnership with Smart Africa and we are delighted to be among the seven countries where this programme was piloted. Rwanda is keen to develop digital skills across the entire spectrum and we hope to leverage this programme to equip our citizens with digital skills in different sectors to increase their participation in the digital economy.”

Since its start of operation in August 2020, focusing on the Capacity Building for Decision Makers (CBDM) module, SADA has trained over 2,000 policy and decision-makers across 26 countries in trending digital transformation topics including Artificial Intelligence Use Cases, 5G Connectivity, Data Protection & Privacy, Rural Broadband Policies, Security Technologies, Regulatory and Innovative Sandboxing Environments, Data Centers and Cloud, Digital Identity for Underserved, ePayment, etc. The objective is to reach over 22,000 trained beneficiaries by 2023, supported by the SADA In-country implementation wave.

www.minict.gov.rw

Google and Tony Elumelu Foundation support 1 mln more African entrepreneurs

Google and the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) have announced an inaugural Google.org Fellowship to provide 1 million more people in Africa with access to TEFConnect, as part of TEF’s mission to support young entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries. Nine full-time Google employees, including software engineers, UI/UX researchers and policy experts, will work with the Foundation to upgrade the TEFConnect platform.

TEFConnect already provides over 1 million African entrepreneurs with tools, market partnerships, and access to coaches and investors for small businesses. The fellowship builds upon an initial USD 3 million grant by Google.org to support the 2021 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme to enable 500 African women to start or expand their businesses. The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a USD 100 million initiative that has supported over 15,000 African entrepreneurs.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is a philanthropy venture to support African entrepreneurs, catalyse economic growth, eradicate poverty and create jobs.

TEF has disbursed over USD 85 million in seed capital to date to support small business growth across Africa.

With African entrepreneurs raising more than $4 billion in funding in 2021, more than double the $1.5 billion raised in 2020, it’s clear investors around the globe are waking up to the continent’s potential. For some, like philanthropist Tony Elumelu, this growth is the validation of a long track record of backing African entrepreneurship.

Through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), he has helped empower African entrepreneurs from across the continent. To date, TEF has distributed more than $85 million in grants for seed capital, and supported more than 1.5 million entrepreneurs from all 54 African countries through its proprietary digital platform, TEFConnect.net. Google is similarly enthusiastic about African startups and has supported them with funding, mentorship and skills development, among other things. That’s what makes it so exciting that TEF and Google’s paths are once again converging in 2022.

Last year, Google.org committed $3 million to the TEF to support an additional 500 female entrepreneurs across the continent. To further support the effort, this year, nine Google employees from Africa and Europe will devote six months of their time and expertise to TEF as part of the first Google.org Fellowship in Sub-Saharan Africa. Composed of engineers, user experience (UX) specialists and business and marketing managers, these Googlers will work with TEF full-time, pro bono, to build a new TEFConnect platform, equipped with new tools to help entrepreneurs access the resources they need to succeed.

We hope to support TEF in reaching one million more African entrepreneurs through the new TEFConnect, expected to launch later this year. The improved, more mobile-friendly TEFConnect platform will give those entrepreneurs access to a catalog of more curated educational resources, and more avenues for funding.

Additionally, as the world kicks off a month of celebration for International Women’s Day, Google.org and The Tony Elumelu Foundation want to mark the occasion. As part of these collective celebrations, we will convene policymakers, private sector and entrepreneurs to engage in a discussion about entrepreneurship on the continent. We will hear from female entrepreneurs who have benefited from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s support, as well as from notable leaders.

As the year 2022 progresses, we want to play a larger role in supporting the world’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Africa’s citizenry is youthful, optimistic and enterprising. There is so much to be gained by leveling the digital playing field and creating possibilities that will raise the ceiling for the continent’s population.

By bringing together people from the private and public sector and supporting entrepreneurs in areas that will make the most difference, we can go a long way to helping Africa’s entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

www.tonyelumelufoundation.org

www.blog.google

Microsoft announces international digital camp for girls in science

As part of the events planned for this year’s International Women’s Day on March 8, Microsoft will host a three-day international digital camp targeting girls in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The initiative, which is entirely virtual, provides an opportunity to connect with girls from Africa and North America for two-hour workshops scheduled to take place between March 7th and 10th.

The Microsoft International DigiGirlz Camp is organized in collaboration with Fair Chance Learning and is designed to give middle and high school girls hands-on experience with technology, workshops to help them bring their ideas to life, and opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration and networking. The program targets girls aged between 11 and 17. 

Young women can learn about the various opportunities available in the high-tech industry, gain hands-on experience, and learn from peers and other women already in the field by participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz Day. The theme for this year’s camp, is lifelong learning.

“The youth who grasp today’s tech will change tomorrow’s world. Right now, women lack a clear pathway to technological experience and resources. At Microsoft DigiGirlz, we’re helping girls across the globe—and especially those in under-represented communities—learn the skills they need to realize their passions in a tech-filled future,” said Wanjira Kamwere, Microsoft Africa Technology Office’s Business Development Manager, when announcing the program. 

Student registrations are accepted for enrolment on a first come, first served basis. Event content and curriculum may be geared for specific age groups, so applicants are encouraged to check the target audience before enrolling a student in a DigiGirlz program. 

The DigiGirlz registration form must be completed by an adult aged 18 or older. The parent or legal guardian of attendees under the age of 18 may complete the registration form to register the student for a DigiGirlz program.

“The camp is open to girls of all skill levels. It provides hands-on workshops that are led by supportive instructors who can help you increase your abilities. For girls who may have already taken technology classes in school, the camp workshops will provide you with quick exposure to new technologies to help enhance your knowledge,” added Wanjira.

Wanjira Kamwere explained that DigiGirlz events are designed to provide a gender specific approach to introducing girls to career opportunities in technology in a safe setting that is attuned to addressing specific biases and challenges that might impact their experience. However, event participation is open to anyone, regardless of gender identity, who is aligned to our mission to provide an environment that encourages girls’ participation in technology.

Research has shown a sharp drop-off in women who initially study STEM subjects. Women leave STEM disciplines in disproportionate numbers during their studies, during the transition to the workplace and even during their careers. Mentorship programs such as the DigiGirlz can help encourage women to pursue these careers. 

www.microsoft.com

AfricaTech awards to spotlight the next generation of african innovators

Viva Technology and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced a call for applications for the first edition of the AfricaTech Awards, a pan-African initiative developed to recognize and support the most innovative and impactful tech start-ups across the continent.


Entrepreneurship has been a key driver of economic growth in Africa, promoting competitiveness and fostering job creation, particularly among young people. According to reports from Briter Bridges, investment in African tech start-ups reached $4.9 billion in 2021, marking a significant increase from the $2.4 billion invested in 2020. Despite growing interest from investors, this is still a fraction compared to the funding that start-ups received in other parts of the world – for instance, in 2021, over $100 billion was invested in European start-ups and about $330 billion in start-ups in North America. Moreover, a lack of infrastructure and inadequate regulations often present additional challenges to the scale-up of start-ups across Africa.
 
“Africa is buzzing with innovative tech solutions that can help address climate change, promote food security, and expand financial inclusion,” said Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director. “Yet over 80% of African start-ups report difficulties in accessing funding. Initiatives like the AfricaTech Awards, which bring together entrepreneurs, governments, and investors, are key to attracting the resources and support that tech start-ups need to scale their innovations across the continent and beyond.”
 
The AfricaTech Awards will recognize African start-ups that are driving innovation and development impact in three main sectors – climate tech, health tech, and fintech. Participating startups will have until March 25, 2022 to submit their applications. In May, with support from Viva Technology and IFC, a panel of industry experts from our knowledge partner Deloitte will pre-select the top 45 applicants. The final winners in each category will be announced during the 2022 edition of Viva Technology, taking place on June 15-18 in Paris and online.
 
Each of the three category winners will benefit from increased visibility and access to the networks provided by Viva Technology and IFC, including select one-on-one meetings with leaders and top executives in the tech industry.
 
For Viva Technology Co-Presidents Maurice Lévy and Pierre Louette and Managing Director Julie Ranty: “We have been impressed by the quality of African innovations during our various on-site roadshows and in our meetings with the 1000+ African startups that have already taken part in VivaTech. With the AfricaTech Awards, our objective is to boost visibility for African innovation ecosystems and to create opportunities for African entrepreneurs within global markets.”

www.ifc.org 

MTN Rwanda launches brand refresh in line with Ambition 2025 strategy

MTN Rwandacell Plc (MTN Rwanda), has rebranded to reflect its evolution from Rwanda’s most valuable telecommunications provider to the nation’s leading digital technology company.  It is only the second brand overhaul since the mobile operator’s entry in 1998, the previous refresh being in 2004.

The rebrand reflects MTN Group’s commitment to its Ambition 2025 strategy to build leading digital platforms that enable Africa’s progress across the telecom, fintech, infrastructure, API and content and messaging ecosystem.

Kicking off with a thought-provoking and simple question, “What are we doing today?”, the brand refresh promises to be a trigger reappraisal of MTN Rwanda as more than just a telco.  In developing and designing its brand refresh, MTN is responding to the reality that whilst it was born into the analog era, its customers today spend much of their time in the social and digital world.  The new brand identity and its expression is modern, simple, bold, and digitally dynamic.

Through its delivery of Ambition 2025 MTN Rwanda aims to accelerate growth and unlock the value of its infrastructure assets and platforms. A pioneer of progress from the beginning, the brand refresh reasserts MTN Rwanda’s role as a technology leader in Rwanda and its role in accelerating progress through the simple act of doing.

Mitwa Ng’ambi, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer said, “ICT and digital transformation are at the forefront of Rwanda’s development and its only right that we aren’t left behind as a mobile operator.  We’ve been growing with the country for the past 23 years and therefore, we too must make the shift from an analog based telco to a digitally based techo. This move has been in the works for quite some time now, for example with the digitalization of our distribution channel and we are pleased to unveil this fresh look and way of doing business to our valued customers and stakeholders as we steer towards leading digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress.”

MTN Rwanda has always been inspired by the belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. With a clear and concise brand strategy that ‘Opportunity + Energy = Progress’, the Company understands that to truly unlock the full benefits and potential of the digital world, it requires a combination of drive, progressive thinking, and the right tools that help doers make that step from can to done.

The Chief Consumer and Digital Officer, Yaw Ankoma Agyapong commented on the new look, stating “Our new positioning and refreshed brand identity is centred on the notion that Rwanda is never still. And now more than ever, true progress for this nation we call home, can only be realised by closing the gap between ‘can’ and ‘done’.

“It is off this insight that our new campaign, “What are you doing today?” will launch across our footprint by challenging, celebrating and providing tools for doers, because as we progress, as individuals and communities, Rwanda progresses too”, he concludes.

www.mtn.co.rw

Africa’s first AI research center inaugurated in Congo

The Republic of the Congo’s Prime Minister H.E. Anatole Collinet Makosso has inaugurated the African Center for Research in Artificial Intelligence (CARIA) in the nation’s capital of Brazzaville – the first of its kind on the continent.

Funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in partnership with the Jack Ma Foundation; the International Telecommunications Union; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization; the research center will provide a hub for the development of emerging technologies in the region.

The project aims to advance Agenda 2063 through a human-centered approach meeting social issues with technological solutions, according to Congolese Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Economy H.E. Minister Léon Juste Ibombo.

“This institution aims to undertake cutting-edge research on artificial intelligence by focusing on a human-centered approach to maximize benefits and counter development challenges,” said H.E. Ibombo at the inauguration on February 24.

CARIA is situated at Denis Sassou Nguesso University and has at least six initial research ventures defined for the coming year. The center will also offer an accredited Masters of Science Degree specializing in AI, along with certified online training for students and other interested parties into robotics and AI.

www.energycapitalpower.com

Telstra collaborates with Ericsson and Microsoft to begin 5G-enabled edge compute trials

The 5G SDWAN enabled Edge solutions focused on extending private connectivity (5G and fixed) and cloud services to the customer and network edge, bringing compute, storage, network and marketplace services closer to customers.  

With early adopter enterprises such as FKG Group, Telstra is co-developing the enterprise application solutions to be offered, and testing the resiliency and scaling in order to accommodate different enterprise footprints. 

Telstra is exploring the solution in its Telstra Retail store environment rolling out a smart video solution to simplify operations and enhance the overall customer experience. 

The Edge solution uses a mixture of technologies including Telstra’s advanced 5G network, fixed connectivity, Ericsson’s Service Orchestration Cradlepoint (5G connectivity device), Microsoft Azure Stack Edge for Edge compute and SD-WAN, all enabled by automation and service orchestration.   

Nikos Katinakis, Group Executive for Network & IT at Telstra said, “Our global collaboration now extends to our enterprise customers, and we are applying a real focus on the use of these advanced technologies to solve customer and industry operational problems.” 

“These ground-breaking results are being achieved as we develop a combined, automated solution framework for the future.  We are making our network smarter, more resilient and automated, while leveraging the benefits and scale of new and advanced 5G network and cloud architectures.” 

The end-to-end solution, offered as a managed service from Telstra Purple, will be able to deliver fast and resilient connectivity, with greater availability and throughput, which is ideal for enhanced application performance. These applications help customers implement their cloud-first, IoT enablement and advanced analytics strategies. 

Grant Statton, Head of Innovation and Growth for the FKG Group said, “Technology solutions such as Edge compute will change the construction industry and its value chain for the better. 

“Our collaboration with Telstra enables the FKG Group to use applications such as AI, Robotics and AR to unlock data-driven insights and transparency across our operation. The Edge solution gives our teams the opportunity to collaborate and make decisions in real-time across different worksites to deliver projects on time and within budget.” 

Jan Karlsson, Ericsson’s Global Head of Digital Services said: “Ericsson has a proud history of delivering innovation to offer businesses a whole new world of opportunities through enhanced connectivity. In this latest Australian-first milestone, Ericsson technology provides Telstra’s 5G network with greater resiliency, optionality, and adaptability. With a simple design, scalable delivery, and modular approach, Telstra can offer a wider range of services to meet the growing needs of their customers as 5G use-cases continue to emerge.” 

Shawn Hakl, Vice President, 5G Strategy, Azure for Operators at Microsoft, said, “Our collaboration with Telstra and Ericsson to develop 5G-enabled edge solutions will drive operational flexibility and optimization for enterprises by using Microsoft Azure and Azure-managed edge compute.”  

www.ericsson.com

Next Engineers programme launches in Johannesburg

General Electric (GE) in partnership with FHI360, PROTEC and the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) officially launched the Next Engineers programme in Johannesburg to increase the diversity of young people in engineering. The programme launch, which was officiated by the Gauteng MEC for education, Panyaza Lesufi, will provide more than 3500 students between the ages 13 to 18 over five years with hands on exposure to engineering concepts and careers, and ultimately award financial support to students pursuing engineering degrees.

Next Engineers, funded by the GE Foundation, has also been launched in Cincinnati, Ohio and Greenville, South Carolina in the United States of America, and Staffordshire in the U.K. Since announcing the selection of Johannesburg as one of the four launch cities to implement Next Engineers globally last year, PROTEC and the GDE ensured Next Engineers garnered significant interest in the programme from high schools across Johannesburg’s five educational districts. In fact, approximately 1100 students have applied to be among the first to participate in the programme’s exciting Engineering DiscoveryEngineering Camp and Engineering Academy pillars. Today over 550 high school learners have been selected as the first cohort of students to develop their engineering identities through programme’s Engineering Discovery and Engineering Academy pillars.

Nyimpini Mabunda, CEO of GE South Africa says, “As we slowly start recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is evident that we require more diverse solutions that will contribute to the growth of the economy. Through GE’s Next Engineers programme, we are not only exposing tomorrow’s engineers and changemakers who will solve society’s most pressing challenges to invaluable hands-on learning experiences but we are playing our part in increasing the representation of females in the engineering sector”.

“As the GDE, we welcome this initiative and are grateful that GE will be investing in transforming our engineering sector, especially through our learners. As we are aware, the engineering sector has a critical role to play in ensuring that Gauteng achieves its goals as articulated in the Growing Gauteng Together Vision 2030,” said Gauteng Education MEC, Mr. Panyaza Lesufi.

The total $2.5 million USD investment in Johannesburg will cover funding to PROTEC to implement and grow the programme, provide financial support for up to 150 Engineering Academy participants and funding for tuition for 800 youth to attend Engineering Camp.

“Working with the GE Foundation is a key step to uplifting the lives of many potential engineers in Johannesburg while also contributing to the acceleration of the engineering industry. Through this collaboration we look forward to mentoring and exposing students to endless possibilities brought by the engineering sector and giving them an opportunity to turn their passion into a career in engineering”, says PROTEC CEO, Mr. Balan Moodley.

Across South Africa, while education has made vast improvements, particularly in the past 15 years, there remains various challenges regarding access to varying levels of education. The Next Engineers programme starts with raising awareness as early as age 13 (grade eight), igniting interest throughout high school (ages 14 to 18), and alleviating financial barriers to higher education through financial support.

Students, educators and the community can obtain updates and more information at https://bit.ly/3HmEu10.  

www.GE.com

Rwanda’s largest bank completes core modernization with Temenos

Temenos, the banking software company, announces that Bank of Kigali Plc, Rwanda’s largest bank by assets and market share, has gone live on Temenos. Replacing its core banking system with Temenos open platform for composable banking allows the bank to break free from legacy constraints and accelerate its digital transformation.

“Congratulations to the team at Bank of Kigali. The go-live on Temenos is a major milestone for the bank and its customers. Rwanda has “bet big” on digitization to accelerate growth and reduce poverty with some of the highest rates of coverage for mobile broadband on the continent. Bank of Kigali has similarly bold ambitions for digital transformation to improve the financial lives of all Rwandans. A modern banking platform is vital to thrive in the world of instant, always-on digital banking and Temenos is proud to support the bank to realize its vision,” said Jean-Paul Mergeai, President EMEA – APAC, Temenos.

Bank of Kigali can now quickly expand its digital channels and engagement to deliver faster, smarter customer experiences. Powered by Temenos, Bank of Kigali aims to double its retail and SME customer base to over one million in the next year through increased automation and new digital services such as payroll loans and enhanced mobile offerings.

The Temenos platform, including Financial Crime Mitigation (FCM) solution, was implemented by Temenos partners Inlaks and MCB Consulting. With integrated core banking and data management capabilities, the bank can deliver a smooth customer experience with controlled risk.

Dr. Diane Karusisi, Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Kigali, commented: “We are delighted to be live on Temenos, the modern technology platform of choice for banks worldwide. Temenos is crucial to our vision of giving anyone, anywhere, the best customer experience through digital and retaining our position as the leader in the country. We also benefit from a wealth of insight and information on banks worldwide as part of the Temenos Value Benchmark that helps us understand, accelerate, and optimize the business value created by our technology investment. I commend our staff and the support of Temenos, Inlaks and MCBC for their hard work in ensuring this go-live went as planned despite all the constraints brought by COVID-19 in the past two years. We can now propel our product innovation and lead the way in digital financial services while benefiting from increased automation to achieve operational efficiency.”

www.temenos.com