BK’s IKOFI re-launched with delivery of phones to coffee farmers

Bank of Kigali Plc has re-launched its IKOFI digital product alongside a partnership with RWACOF, a Rwandan-based coffee exporter working with more than 86,000 farmers to raise their farming methods. 

The partnership will see 11,000 telephones distributed to small holder coffee farmers,  facilitating them to use IKOFI wallet and boost their financial access through technology. 

The financial digitalization access move is in line with the bank’s strategy and overall commitment to digitize agriculture while providing convenient services to farmers in their day to day operations. 

“Through our partnership with RWACOF, Bank of Kigali will enable coffee farmers to embrace cashless means of payment because we believe in digital transformation for everybody including farmers. We are confident that the 11,000 telephones given to coffee farmers today will significantly improve their daily activities hence allowing them to adopt a more digital lifestyle,” noted Dr. Diane Karusisi Bank of Kigali’s Chief Executive Officer during her remarks. 

Unlike other wallets, IKOFI opens up a pathway to the banking ecosystem, as the farmers get access to financial services digitally and in the near future, their credit application requirements will be processed. 

Max Veglio, the Managing Director of RWACOF, appreciated BK’s efforts for opening up the doors for small holder coffee farmers to access financial services.

“We have realized, lack of access to technology as a key barrier to our growth as farmers, but BK’s initiative marks an important step in the journey, having accepted to scrap off the transfer charges during payments and ease the loan application requirements,” he observed.

In a bid to support farmers, the Bank has an already existing partnership with Smart Nkunganire System (SNS), through which farmers are enabled to easily pay for agro-inputs through IKOFI.

In the journey to digitise the coffee value chain, Bank of Kigali through Smart Kungahara System (SKS), a digital platform developed by BK Techouse in partnership with NAEB equips its stakeholders with the most indispensable tool to link all stakeholders involved in the value chain in Rwanda, thus enabling proper standardized data reporting.

On his part, Angelo Munezero, a representative from the Ministry of ICT and innovation commended BK’s initiative which is in line with the government’s ambitious plan to provide full financial access through technology to Rwandan citizens. 

Bank of Kigali through IKOFI integration with Smart Kungahara System (SKS) is expected to serve more than 300 coffee washing stations, with a target market size of more than 400,000 coffee farmers, hence driving the use of cashless payment in the coffee sector, ultimately speeding up the financial inclusion journey in coffee value chain. 

Currently, 1,767 agro dealers and 263,691 farmers are active IKOFI wallet users benefiting from the service by digitally paying for their agro-inputs through mobile phones, conveniently paying for other services such as Irembo, RRA, WASAC, all done through *334*2#. 

www.bk.rw

ESOA and Smart Africa partner to advance digital transformation in Africa

ESOA, the EMEA Satellite Operators Association and the Smart Africa Alliance (Smart Africa) are pleased to announce their partnership with a view to advance Africa’s digital transformation.

ESOA and Smart Africa will collaborate on digital transformation and innovation initiatives across the continent. The aim of the partnership is to achieve the goals on coverage and connectivity with satellite solutions across Africa in education, healthcare, research and development and other essential fields within Smart Africa Member States. The organisations will collaborate on common activities supporting the development of the space and satellite industry in Africa through sharing best practices in satellite regulation and implementation, showcasing successful use cases within Africa and leveraging the knowledge base on satellite services deployment in Africa.

Smart Africa is an alliance of 32 African countries, international organisations and global private sector players tasked with Africa’s digital agenda. With a vision to create a single digital market in Africa by 2030, the Smart Africa Alliance brings together Heads of State who seek to accelerate the digitalization of the continent and create a common market. Launched in 2013 by 7 African Heads of State, the Alliance now has 32 member countries, representing over 815 million people and over 40 Private Sector members committed to the vision and the advancement of Africa.

ESOA represents 22 global and regional satellite operators and is recognised as the representative body for satellite operators by international, regional, and national bodies including regulators, policymakers, standards-setting organisations such as 3GPP, the International Telecommunication Union and the World Economic Forum. ESOA works to foster a better understanding of the benefits of satellite communications for economies the world over and how favourable political, regulatory, and industrial frameworks can help policymakers leverage their strengths. ESOA leads the sector’s response to global challenges and opportunities. It offers a unified voice for the world’s largest operators, important regional operators and other companies that engage in satellite-related activities.

Mr Lacina Koné, Director General and CEO of Smart Africa commented: “The partnership will be a key milestone in driving thought-leadership for the satellite industry. We look forward to seeing mutually beneficial results for Smart Africa Member States in satellite communication arising from this partnership.”

Ms Holla-Maini, ESOA Secretary General noted: “Smart Africa is recognised for its leadership in Africa. We are looking forward to working in this partnership to make a tangible difference to the lives of African citizens and in turn to African economies.”

www.smartafrica.org

MTN Group announces new mobile money partnership with Flutterwave across Africa

MTN is pleased to announce a mobile money partnership with Africa’s leading payments technology company, Flutterwave. This partnership will allow businesses integrating Flutterwave in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia to receive payments via MTN Mobile Money (MoMo). 

MTN MoMo is a fintech platform providing consumers and businesses with an electronic wallet, enabling electronic transfers and payments as well as access to digital and financial services. At the end of June 2021, MTN MoMo had 48.9 million active users and 581,514 merchants. MoMo enables businesses to accept and make payments within the mobile money ecosystem. This new partnership will enable Flutterwave to offer MTN Mobile Money as a payment method to its business customers.

In recent years, Africa has witnessed an explosion in mobile penetration as smartphone adoption has risen rapidly. According to the GSMA, this year Africa will hit the half a billion mark of unique mobile subscribers and the continent will reach 50% subscriber penetration by 2025. Sub-Saharan Africa alone is responsible for more than 45% of the world’s mobile money accounts with the number of account holders exceeding half a billion by 2020, as shared on Statista.

Through this partnership, MTN and Flutterwave will positively contribute to this trend by increasing mobile money usage and penetration in Africa to improve local economies and livelihoods as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent.

Commenting on the partnership, Serigne Dioum, MTN Group Chief Digital and Fintech Officer said: “As we progress on our journey to becoming the largest fintech platform in Africa, we will empower millions of businesses to embrace e-commerce in our markets to accept digital payments from MoMo consumers. We believe this is an enabler to accelerating digitized payments in Africa. Building strong ecosystems through partnerships is central to our platform strategy and we will continue to invest in expanding the reach of our platform to consumers and businesses in Africa.”   

Commenting on the collaboration, Olugbenga “GB” Agboola, Founder and CEO of Flutterwave, said: “Africa has one of the highest growth rates for mobile money adoption and e-commerce in the world. It makes sense that we help provide a seamless payment method to support and ensure African businesses reap the full benefits of the e-commerce boom in the region. Our goal has always been to grow a new wave of prosperity in Africa by creating more avenues for businesses in Africa to accept payments. With this partnership, we can achieve this while creating endless possibilities for our customers.” 

The new partnership will further expand on Flutterwave’s previous collaboration with MTN, beyond Uganda and Rwanda – with the potential of deepening adoption of digital payments and e-commerce in Africa, a sector expected to reach $29 billion by 2022, according to Statista. 

www.mtn.com

Rwanda Coding Academy received Frw 7.1 billion support from Koica

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) signed the Record of Discussion (R/D) with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the Ministry of Education for the implementation of the Rwanda Coding Academy (RCA) Capacity Development Project worth US$ 7.1 million (approximately Frw 7.1 billion). The Government of Rwanda will provide the counterpart funding of US$ 800,000 for the project, making the total value of project US$ 7.9 million or approximately Frw 7.9 billion.

The signing ceremony was virtually held in observance of the current health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the R/D was signed by Dr. Uzziel NDAGIJIMANA, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Valentine UWAMARIYA, Minister of Education and Mr. CHON Gyong Shik, Country Director of KOICA Rwanda Office. 

“We thank the Government of the Republic of Korea for partnering with us in this important project to enhance software skills development in Rwanda. This support comes to support our National Strategy for Transformation Pillar, with a focus on making Rwanda a Globally Competitive Knowledge –based Economy”, Minister NDAGIJIMANA said

Minister Uwamariya noted that: “This project will make Rwanda Coding Academy a center of excellence in Software Development which will be providing our students with high quality practical skills as required by the software industry at both national and international level, and this will hugely contribute to the national aspiration of making our country a regional ICT hub”.

“KOICA has three priority sectors in Rwanda, agriculture, education, and ICT, and this project cuts across the two important sectors, education and ICT,” said Mr. CHON Gyong Shik, Country Director of KOICA Rwanda Office. “As the main development agency of the Korean government, through this project, we will contribute to the GoR’s education and economic development plans as well as the achievement of SDG 4.” 

RCA opened in 2019, benchmarking the model of Korea’s Software Meister High School, with the goal of developing competent software developers who can promote industrial and economic development of Rwanda. Since its birth, the school has accepted two intakes of students totaling to 118. The third intake is slated for September this year. 

With KOICA’s intervention, RCA will be equipped with high quality infrastructure and equipment as well as capacity to provide specialized education programs to students. It will ultimately benefit the students who are at the heart of RCA’s mission and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goal 4; Education for All. 

Since 1991, KOICA has been implementing its grant aid programs in Rwanda, disbursing about USD 150 million through various projects and capacity building programs. KOICA Rwanda Office was officially opened in 2011. KOICA currently has over 10 on-going projects in Rwanda in education, agriculture and ICT sectors. With the outbreak of COVID-19, KOICA also supported Government in response to the pandemic by providing a mobile testing vehicle, walk-through testing booths and personal protective equipment (PPE) worth about USD 1 million.

www.minecofin.gov.rw

eLearning Africa returns to Kigali with the theme of ‘A New Purpose for Education’

The Convention Centre in Kigali will be the setting for the next edition of Africa’s leading conference and exhibition on technology-assisted learning, bringing political leaders, investors and some of the world’s leading experts on education and technology to the Rwandan capital for three days of talks, workshops and a ministerial roundtable.

eLearning Africa’s founder and CEO, Rebecca Stromeyer, said that she hoped the conference would help to establish “a new purpose for education” by facilitating in-depth discussions on “what the world will be like after Covid.”

“The pandemic has brought about many changes, some of which will be permanent,” she said. “Now we need a real focus on adaptability, resilience and sustainability in education. And we need an African agenda – not just for Africa itself, but because Africa has so much to teach the world.

“African experience and traditions, such as ‘ubuntu’, will enjoy a new relevance. Equally, African ideas of community and partnership with nature could soon mean that Africa is increasingly recognised as a resource of knowledge, experience and education for the whole world.”

The conference, which will have ‘A New Purpose for Education’ as its main theme will consider issues including:

  • the challenges facing African countries in the aftermath of the pandemic
  • the suitability of global models in the African context
  • how to redirect education to meet African countries’ future needs
  • using technology to enable African countries to respond to specific needs in context
  • the single African market and the opportunities and requirements of employers
  • Africa’s contribution to global learning and problem solving

Featuring plenary sessions, seminars, workshops, debates and discussions, eLearning Africa will be accompanied by a major exhibition, showcasing some of the latest EdTech technologies and solutions. The conference will take place from 11 – 13 May, 2022 at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda.

“I am delighted that eLearning Africa is back on the road and returning to the splendid, state-of-the-art conference centre in Kigali,” said Ms Stromeyer. “It has been a long wait but I hope this conference will show it has been well worth it. It will be wonderful to see the eLearning Africa family – our amazing network of experts, solutions providers, managers and investors – back together again for what will be the most important programme of discussions in our history.”

Founded in 2005, eLearning Africa is the leading pan-African conference and exhibition on ICT for Education, Training & Skills Development. The three day event offers participants the opportunity to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, as well as to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Over 14 consecutive years, eLearning Africa has hosted more than 18,000 participants from 100+ different countries around the world, with over 80% coming from the African continent. More than 3,830 speakers have addressed the conference about every aspect of technology supported learning, training and skills development.

The eLearning Africa 2022 Call for Papers is now open until October 01, 2021! Submit your proposal HERE.

www.elearning-africa.com

Rwanda among 39 African winners of the World Bank Africa Blog4Dev 2021 competition

On the occasion of the World Youth Skills Day, World Bank is pleased to announce the winners of the Blog4Dev 2021 competition.

Launched in 2014 by the World Bank Kenya office, the Blog4Dev competition is an annual writing contest, inviting young people to weigh in on a topic critical to their country’s economic development. In 2019, it became a regional event. This year, they have asked young Africans to share their ideas on how young people could work with their government and civil society leaders to respond to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and build a stronger post-pandemic economic and social system.

World Bank was eager to gain valuable insights and perspectives from African youth how they can contribute to a resilient recovery, in the context of COVID-19. The pandemic is exerting unprecedented social, economic and health pressures on Sub-Saharan African countries and is deepening social inequalities affecting the most vulnerable.

From the onset of the pandemic, the World Bank has responded with the fastest and largest crisis response in its history to support the countries in their crisis response. Up to $50 billion is gradually being allocated to support African governments in strengthening their health care systems, bolstering vaccine purchase and deployment; ensuring food security for local communities; scaling up social safety net programs for the most vulnerable and supporting the private sector in navigating the financial impact of the crisis.

With young Africans disproportionately at risk of reduced earnings, less disposable income, underemployment, and missed learning and job training opportunities, the stakes are high to ensure that future generations are positioned to succeed. As an institution, our efforts are focused on savings lives in Africa, protecting the poor, protecting, and creating jobs, and building back better.

This year, they received 1,266 entries, and the World Bank Country Offices were able to designate  winners from 39 countries. This number of entries is extremely heartening and demonstrates the energy that young Africans have to discuss the development challenges affecting them and their communities. This 2021 cohort will add their ideas and enthusiasm to the Youth Transforming Africa network that includes the winners of the 2019 and 2020 editions.

Among many proposed solutions, one recurrent idea is the creation of online platforms by governments to gather more quickly and efficiently the different proposals from youth and to frame a structured dialogue . Another suggestion is the request to support youth’s skills for innovation, both in social and technological areas, that can be contribute to the building of a stronger post-COVID-19 economy and society. Young people can play a role in creating health equipment and kits using local raw materials, or in developing mentoring programs or educational software. Blog4Dev 2021 participants also suggested governmental programs promoting volunteerism and solidarity actions driven by young people in order to reach the most disadvantaged.  

The winners will very soon embark on a set of online activities. The awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. will be organized when travel is once again safe and possible.

On behalf of the World Bank’s Africa Regions, World Bank heartily congratulate all of their Blog4Dev winners. They are the torchbearers to Africa’s development journey and serve as important voices in their respective countries. World Bank is looking forward to seeing and hearing about their incredible contributions to the advancement of the continent in the months and years to come.

Please join us in congratulating #Blog4Dev’s 2021 winners:

  • Angola: Evaristo Ucuahamba Manasés 
  • Benin: Zoumenou Olivier Max-Moreno Sedjro. 
  • Botswana: Michell Mositi Mompati 
  • Burkina Faso: Sango D. Edouard  
  • Burundi: Elsa Marina Syvine 
  • Cabo Verde: Bruno Miguel Rocha Fortes Pires  
  • Chad: Louange Madjiyam
  • Cameroon: Emmanuelle Laurence Okalia Mbia 
  • Cote d’Ivoire: Aboubacar Sakra 
  • DRC: Innocent Mwendo Tuyisenge 
  • Eswatini: Buyelani Msweli 
  • Ethiopia: Kidus Fikremariam 
  • Gabon: Ngognaté Samantha Sammuelle 
  • The Gambia: Francis Thomas Aubee  
  • Ghana: Timothy Dziedzom Amaglo-Mensah 
  • Guinea Bissau: Tchuda Na Blaga 
  • Guinea: Oummou Kaïry Balde  
  • Kenya: Kevin Lunzalu 
  • Lesotho: Paballo Sekoto.  
  • Madagascar: Lanja Miharintsoa Randrianarison 
  • Malawi: Mwayiwathu Mkwala  
  • Mali: Zamba Ousmane Doumbia 
  • Mauritania: Aiche Sy  
  • Mozambique: Melio Joao Tinga 
  • Namibia: Loise Ndinelago Shipepe  
  • Niger: Fadjimata Harouna Moussa 
  • Nigeria: Ogunbufunmi Ifeoluwa Bunmi 
  • Republic of Congo: Malongo Bouanga Mireille Oceanne Neschamah 
  • Rwanda: Heshima Olexa 
  • Senegal: Fatou Drame 
  • Somalia: Mohamed Ali Mire 
  • South Africa: Sindisa Mramba 
  • South Sudan: Emma Kwaje Martin 
  • Sudan: Aisha Mohammedlelhassan Hamid Hassan 
  • Tanzania: Raphael January Kambamwene  
  • Togo: Vava Kossivi Nicolas. 
  • Uganda: Muhanuuzi Dorah 
  • Zambia: Jade Nshimbi 
  • Zimbabwe: Julianna Makonise

www.worldbank.org

The Continental headquarters of the AeTrade group has been awarded to Rwanda

The African Electronic Trade Group (the A-eTrade Group) which also includes the African e-Commerce Development International, today announced that it has accepted the offer of the Government of Rwanda to host the continental headquarters.

This announcement is one of the significant events of the Second Africa Integration Day. This follows the last announcement exactly two years ago in Niger, Niamey when the Kingdom of Eswatini and the Republic of Guinea were awarded the regional headquarters for Southern Africa and West Africa respectively. This brings the total number of host governments to four, leaving the regional offices for North Africa and Central Africa vacant for now.

After an open and transparent process to invite all AU Member States to express interest which was launched in October 2019, the AeTrade Group has received fourteen written expressions of interest and three verbal expressions bringing the total to seventeen countries. After physical and virtual exploratory missions were held with all the interested countries, and a rigorous review of the offers submitted by candidate countries, the High-Level Panel recommended two countries be considered by the AeTrade Group Board of Directors on the 25th June 2021. The AeTrade Group Board met on the 29th June 2021 and pronounced itself on the outcome of the competitive bidding process.

“ On behalf of the AeTrade Group and we wish to extend our warmest congratulations to the Government and the people of Rwanda for winning the bid. We thank all seventeen countries for their confidence in us and  look forward working with all AU Member States in line with our partnership with the African Union to ensure an inclusive approach to building digital capacities at the grassroots to enable SMEs, Women and Youth to be key players in the emerging digital economy in Africa. “ said, Mr. Mulualem Syoum, CEO and Chairman of the AeTrade Group.

The AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining also congratulated the significant progress being made to establish public-private partnerships in support of the implementation of AU regional integration initiatives. “We also congratulate the Government of Rwanda for their significant achievement and look forward to working with all AU member states as they harness digital technologies and enabling policy measures including the African Continental Free Trade Area in order to create millions of jobs, especially for the youth across the continent.”

In response, Honorable Paula Ingabire thanked the AeTrade Group and the African Union Commission for their confidence in the vision of Rwanda to become the continental e-trade hub. “We are confident that the AeTrade Group initiatives fully align with the Government of Rwanda’s agenda to become an ICT and logistics hub. Therefore, the Republic of Rwanda commits to provide the required support to ensure the success of the initiative. We look forward to welcoming you to Rwanda and from here to facilitate the implementation of the AeTrade Group vision towards productive impact to continental sustainable economic development inspired by the African Union Agenda 2063.”

www.minict.gov.rw

ClimateLaunchpad Competition – Rwanda Edition

Dear fellow (aspiring) entrepreneur,

Impact Hub Kigali launched the Rwanda edition for the global ClimateLaunchpad competition. The program aims to support green business ideas and turn them into sustainable businesses. 

We are looking for innovations in the themes of Adaptation and Resilience, Circular Economies, Urban solutions, Clean Energy, and Food Systems. 

The selected participants will be trained online through a Mini-course and boot camp, followed by coaching sessions to prepare them for the National Finals. The top 3 teams will move on to the regional finals with a real chance to pitch at the Global Grand Final. 

Who they are looking for: 

  • Anyone with an idea and has not started a business yet, or a startup that has been operational for less than 12 months, and has no substantial revenue, and has not had grants or investments above EUR 200,000. (This includes all funding like research grants, government loans, angel or VC investments et cetera, but it excludes PhD salary for instance)
  • Have not yet sold products, solutions or prototypes on commercial terms; 

Applications deadline: July 18th 

Benefits: 

  • Turn your green idea into a sustainable business
  • New acquired entrepreneurial skills & Knowledge 
  • Networking with Stakeholders in the clean tech sector 
  • Compete at the National, Regional & Global level
  • Cash prizes at the global level 
  • Exposure of your idea/solution to the global stage 
  • Create a long lasting impact on climate change 

Where to apply: https://bit.ly/CLP21_application_form

For more information: https://climatelaunchpad.org/faq/

AKILIMO digital platform improves potato yields in Rwanda

Potato yields are highly-dependent on fertilizer use but pinpointing the amount of fertilizer to be used can be a challenge, especially for smallholder farmers. 

This challenge is important in Rwanda where average potato yields are currently 8-10 tonnes per hectare (t/ha), compared to the 25-35 t/ha they might expect with improved potato varieties, better pest and disease management, and enhanced extension services and fertilizer use. 

Potato is cultivated across Rwanda and growing in popularity. But the majority of the crop is produced in the northwestern region of the country in the districts of Burera, Musanze, Nyabihu, and Rubavu. For this reason, the International Potato Center (CIP) and Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) are focusing their efforts in this area to release varieties that are high-yielding, pest and disease resistant, and climate-resilient. 

But is this enough to overcome the low potato yields faced by Rwandan farmers? 

The short answer is, “not alone.”

Fertilizer use continues to be sub-optimal among potato farmers who often use mineral fertilizers that are subsidized by the government. Current fertilizer recommendations in Rwanda are crop-specific but are not tailored to different soil types, farm types, or field histories. Furthermore, the recommendations used by farmers are based on research and advice now more than 30 years old. This lack of specificity often leads to under- and overuse of fertilizers, which leads to lower yields and a loss of revenue to farmers. 

Better targeted and appropriate use of fertilizer based on field types could also produce environmental benefits by minimizing the loss of nutrients to the environment and add efficiency to the government’s fertilizer subsidy program.

To address this challenge, CIP, RAB, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the One Acre Fund have partnered to support and launch a digital platform called AKILIMO that helps farmers and extension workers develop tailored fertilizer recommendations. 

The ACAI agronomy advice tool, Akilimo, was built to provide optimized and economically beneficial recommendations tailored to the biophysical and socioeconomic situation of cassava growers. The tool considers planting and harvest dates, local soil data, weather conditions, prices of available fertilizers, cost of land preparation operations, prices of cassava root produce, cropping objectives, risk attitude, and the investment capacity of the farmer.

ACAI has been conducting trials in Nigeria and Tanzania in collaboration with national research and development partners to find out how agronomic technologies affect the performance of cassava under different growing conditions. Results showed large variations in response to the variables, indicating the need for tailored recommendations for fertilizer regime, tillage operations, weed management, and advice on overall investments in a cassava cropping system. 

Originally piloted by IITA with cassava in Nigeria and Tanzania, AKILIMO underwent than 5,000 validation trials and 75% of farmers reported yield increases having used the app. Following this successful launch, more than 2,000 extension agents have been trained to use AKILIMO and more than 150,000 farmers are registered for the service, which gives them access to tailored farming advice on fertilizer and other agronomic concerns. 

The AKILIMO project was brought to Rwanda in 2020 to serve cassava and potato farmers. To date, the digital platform operates in three counties where it has undergone nearly 200 trials to evaluate variations in fertilizer use among sites. These data will be used to calibrate AKILIMO for crop and spatial models. 

AKILIMO considers fertilizers that are commonly available to potato farmers and provides recommended use for those fertilizers to the individual farmers. Based on last year’s data, recommended fertilizer use rates exceed the government’s recommended rate 300 kilograms of NPK fertilizer per hectare but did have small differences across districts.  

A second season of multilocation trials has begun in the same districts along with a set of farmer-managed trials to compare blanket fertilizer recommendations with the tailored fertilizer recommendations provided by AKILIMO.

The AKILIMO-tailored fertilizer recommendations can be delivered to farmers using a variety of tools, such as smartphone apps, printable guides, and/or IVR-based messages directly to farmers. 

Enthusiasm for AKILIMO is high among researchers, extension agents, and farmers alike. Placide Rukundo, a senior principal researcher at RAB says, “AKILIMO will bring updated and more accurate fertilizer recommendations because the current recommendations were too low, out of date, and not site specific.” 

Jean Claude Nshimyimana, a senior agronomist at CIP sees a brighter future for Rwanda’s potato farmers.  “Compared to the blanket fertilizer recommendation, the site-specific, tailored recommendations will lead to more sustainable fertilizers use, high yields and profits for farmers, and long-term soil health benefits.” 

It is expected that AKILIMO will be extended to cassava in the near future and possibly to rice (in collaboration with the Africa Rice Center) over the next five years.  

www.akilimo.org

www.cipotato.org

SoftBank, Smart Africa collaborate to provide affordable broadband solutions, enhance digital transformation in Africa

Japan’s SoftBank and Smart Africa entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to collaborate on innovative solutions towards achieving the vision of providing affordable broadband. Through this partnership, SoftBank and Smart Africa will work to bridge the digital divide by providing accessible and affordable internet connectivity to Africa’s underserved regions.

Through various projects and activities, Smart Africa has an ambitious strategy to double broadband penetration to 51% in Africa by 2025. As part of achieving this vision, Smart Africa is working to implement the Bulk Capacity Purchase Project, an initiative that aims to deliver affordable internet connectivity for African citizens through the large-scale joint procurement efforts of Smart Africa member countries. To contribute to the Project, SoftBank will deploy its Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) Solutions to reduce internet costs and build affordable internet infrastructure. SoftBank also became a Smart Africa Gold Member in October 2020.

SoftBank’s NTN Solutions will utilize the connectivity services of OneWeb, Skylo, and HAPSMobile, among other solutions, that provide connectivity from space and the stratosphere. SoftBank aims to deploy NTN Solutions in African markets by collaborating with Smart Africa and working closely with its member countries.

SoftBank and Smart Africa will begin their collaboration by identifying demand for NTN solutions and conducting further feasibility studies in the five African countries that have already expressed interest in the Bulk Capacity Purchase Project (the Republic of Djibouti, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of Kenya, the Kingdom of Morocco, and the Republic of Rwanda). SoftBank and Smart Africa will also draw up implementation plans and consider potential market entries in the future.

The partnership, with a vision to expand the area of work from internet infrastructure into digital transformation (DX), will boost the transition and development of a knowledge-based social economy in Africa. The collaboration will also align with the fundamentals of Smart Africa’s goal, which is the realization of a single digital market on the continent through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). To bridge the digital divide, SoftBank and Smart Africa will also study ways to collaborate and engage with organizations such as the HAPS Alliance, which seeks to promote the commercial adoption of HAPS, among others. Further, through a series of engagements in the coming future, this partnership will also consequently work to contribute to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing digital solutions that address societal challenges.

“The vision of transforming Africa into a single digital market requires us to embrace partnerships. Therefore we are honoured to welcome SoftBank Corp. into the Smart Africa Alliance. Together, we will be able to inject further innovation into Africa’s digital innovation as we move towards creating a Single Digital Market by 2030,” said Lacina Koné, Smart Africa’s CEO.

Contributing to the SDGs is a top managerial priority for SoftBank, and the company has identified six key initiatives (materiality) to achieve them. “Building high-quality social communication networks” is one such initiative, and SoftBank is working to build sustainable communication infrastructure so people anywhere can connect to stable and trustworthy networks.

“We believe our NTN solutions will be extremely effective technologies to provide connectivity to African countries and regions that lack sufficient Internet access. With our NTN solutions powered by OneWeb, Skylo and HAPSMobile, we’ll work closely with Smart Africa to provide telecommunication networks,” said Hidebumi Kitahara, SoftBank Corp. Vice President and Head of the Technology Unit’s Global Business Strategy Division.

www.smartafrica.org

www.softbank.jp