MTN Rwanda introduces extended warranty and repair services for smartphones

MTN Rwandacell Plc (MTN Rwanda) has introduced extended warranty and repair services for all customers that purchase smartphones from any MTN Service Centre. This service is launching soon after MTN Rwanda’s announcement that it would be launching a device financing initiative in partnership with Bank of Kigali, offering customers the opportunity to buy brand new smartphones on credit.

MTN Rwanda’s extended warranty offers customers additional protection for any smartphone purchased at any MTN Service Centre or Connect Shop and also for any smartphone a customer has owned for less than three (3) years, upon the purchase of a screen protector and/or phone case for that existing phone. The warranty is for a period of twelve (12) months.

MTN Rwanda is also offering customers one free repair of their smartphones if any fault develops during the warranty period. For any additional repairs, customers will receive an eighty per cent (80%) discount on the repair costs.

“Smartphones are the gateway to unlimited information and an array of digital services, and we want to ease the process of owning and maintaining one. For a lot of our customers, smartphones are the first big-expense item they purchase for themselves, meaning screen protectors and phone cases are a must-have given the durability of smartphones. The idea of introducing an MTN extended warranty and repair service went without saying. This is part of our commitment to ensure that as we connect everyone to the digital world, we think of the entire customer journey and offer our customers peace of mind,” said Yaw Ankoma Agyapong, MTN Rwanda Chief Consumer & Digital Officer.

The extended warranty (beyond what is covered in the manufacturer warranty) insures against accidental damage, cracked screens, cracked casing, water and liquid damage as well as malfunction after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

MTN Rwanda’s repair service offers top-notch diagnoses at designated MTN Service Centres. Customers located in Kigali will have their phones repaired within 3 days and those located upcountry will have their phones repaired within 5 days.

“We look forward to our customers enjoying this service as we continue to pursue the delivery of digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress,” concluded Agyapong.

www.mtn.co.rw

MTN Rwanda launches a communication solution for businesses

MTN Rwandacell (MTN Rwanda)  announced the launch of MTN Unicall, a new product that is set to streamline the integration of enterprise communication services under the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) product umbrella. A first of its kind in the market, MTN Unicall provides a consistent unified user interface and user experience across multiple devices.

These products, SIP Trunk, Hosted PBX (Office lines) and Hosted Call Centre integrate all communication services easily and conveniently, allowing enterprises to increase flexibility and productivity.

“Ease and convenience play a vital role in the creation of our business solution products and services. We are pleased to announce the launch of MTN Unicall, that will enable customers to transition from their fixed lines into an internet-powered phone system, keeping their business lines connected 24/7. Additionally, MTN Rwanda offers enterprises the option of having hosted call centers & PABX, eliminating the hassle and cost of setting up the required infrastructure. Furthermore, the Hosted PBX accelerates workflow, saving upfront costs with automated attendants and automatic updates at no extra charge,” commented Didas Ndoli, MTN Rwanda General Manager, Enterprise Business Unit.

MTN Rwanda Hosted PBX offers a range of capabilities such as enabling code-based dial-in on conferences (conference bridge), Hunt Group (call transferring), Cloud IVR, and mobile applications.

This, coupled with SIP Trunking, allows the integration of the following communication services: instant messaging (chat), presence information, voice (including IP telephony), mobility features, audio, web & video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence (FMC), desktop sharing, data sharing, with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging.

These integrations provide the option for migrating businesses, those looking to move premises out of the local area but wish to keep their business-critical numbers, to do so without the cost of call forwarding.

“We are dedicated to offering digital solutions for the progress of Rwanda and with MTN Unicall, we would like to assure our enterprise customers that their business communication services will continue to operate seamlessly, while optimizing the business capabilities, everywhere they go,” concluded Ndoli.

www.mtn.co.rw

Call for Applications for Tech African Women program, by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in partnership with Betacube

ECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), in partnership with Betacube, has announced the launch of its first Tech African Women program, inviting female-led idea stage startups from Ethiopia, Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia to submit their applications.

TAW (Tech African Women) is a program that is launched with the objective of empowering female founders to leverage their skills in order to build strong tech startups from scratch, accelerate the transformation of project ideas into validated business models and to develop alliances between different African ecosystems.

The program will run from August to December 2022 and is composed of 3 main phases:

  1. Intensive 3-day training bootcamps & pitching competitions to be held in Tunisia, Senegal, Ethiopia&Tanzania in partnership with local ecosystem players. The winning team of each bootcamp will win a cash prize of 2000$.
  2. 2-months online incubation program for the best 2 startups from each country that will allow them to reach market&investment readiness.
  3.  A final Ceremony in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa at ECA Conference Center where 8 startups will be invited to pitch to win the final prize of the program (cash grant of 7000$ for the best startup) TAW targets female-led&idea-stage tech startups and offers teams an exclusive opportunity to acquire new entrepreneurial skills, establish partnership with their African peers, increase regional business visibility and access funds.It supports ideas addressing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by developing the capacity of female entrepreneurs who desire to understand how to play a role in the continent’s development and want to deep dive into building impact-driven startups.

Throughout the duration of the incubation program, teams will have access to a pool of tech developers and designers who will develop their MVPs free of charge and work closely with top experts in Marketing and Finance in addition to the participation in tailored webinars provided by international trainers.

How to apply?

Participants entering the program have to be nationals of Tunisia or Tanzania or Senegal or Ethiopia, have an idea of a tech startup that is addressing at least one of the SDGs, must be female aged between 18 and 35 years old and be able to communicate fluently in French or English.

Applications are now open for candidates from the four countries on the official website of the program (www.techafricanwomen.com) until the 10th of August 2022 for Tunisia, and until the 17th of August 2022 in Ethiopia, Senegal and Tanzania.

www.techafricanwomen.com

WFP and Impact Hub Kigali launch programme to support food system innovations in Rwanda

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are launching the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge in Rwanda to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food systems challenges. The initiative will offer technical support and a total of 300,000 USD in financial support. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge is a first-of-its-kind initiative to support Rwandan start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives to scale up their solutions, contributing to the economy while addressing different gaps in the food system. The call for applications opens on 05 January 2022 and will close on 04 February 2022. 

The programme seeks innovative solutions that contribute to food security in areas such as resilience to shocks and stress, access to safe and nutritious food, improved food supply chains, the empowerment of smallholder farmers, and the advancement of food security for all. Selected ventures will have the opportunity to receive grant funding of up to US$50,000 as well as 6 months acceleration support, including connections to experts, mentors and partners, and other tailored support to address business gaps. 

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge will be simultaneously running in Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, and is being made possible with the support of US$2 million from USAID. The initiative comes at a time of worsening food insecurity in the region due to the compounding effects of rising conflict, climate change, natural disasters like droughts, floods, locusts, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa is not only access to funding, but also technical support that furthers their concepts. Through this generous support by USAID, we are confident that we will be able to reach many bright and talented entrepreneurs in the region who might have been left behind,” says Mr Jeremie Pigé, the head of the WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa.

Piloting, implementing and scaling innovative ideas lies at the heart of WFP and Impact Hub Kigali’s work. This programme will have an impact on promoting innovation in the food systems and advancing efforts towards achieving zero hunger in the world.

“With the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge, we will provide tailored support for local entrepreneurs to scale their impact in the Rwandan food system. Ventures will undergo diagnostics at the start of the programme and will be able to co-design their own acceleration journey, indicating the support they require, from coaching to peer and expert support such as legal or accounting services, among others.” adds Mafer Betancourt, Managing Director of Impact Hub Kigali.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.

www.wfp.org

Facebook shutters facial recognition system

In the coming weeks, Meta will shut down the Face Recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products. As part of this change, people who have opted in to our Face Recognition setting will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos, and we will delete the facial recognition template used to identify them.  

This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history. More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted in to our Face Recognition setting and are able to be recognized, and its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates. 

Making this change required careful consideration, because we have seen a number of places where face recognition can be highly valued by people using platforms.  For example, our award-winning automatic alt text system, that uses advanced AI to generate descriptions of images for people who are blind and visually impaired, uses the Face Recognition system to tell them when they or one of their friends is in an image. 

For many years, Facebook has also given people the option to be automatically notified when they appear in photos or videos posted by others, and provided recommendations for who to tag in photos. These features are also powered by the Face Recognition system which we are shutting down. 

Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation. We believe facial recognition can help for products like these with privacy, transparency and control in place, so you decide if and how your face is used. We will continue working on these technologies and engaging outside experts. 

But the many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole. There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate. 

This includes services that help people gain access to a locked account, verify their identity in financial products or unlock a personal device. These are places where facial recognition is both broadly valuable to people and socially acceptable, when deployed with care. While we will continue working on use cases like these, we will ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized. 

But like most challenges involving complex social issues, we know the approach we’ve chosen involves some difficult tradeoffs. For example, the ability to tell a blind or visually impaired user that the person in a photo on their News Feed is their high school friend, or former colleague, is a valuable feature that makes our platforms more accessible. But it also depends on an underlying technology that attempts to evaluate the faces in a photo to match them with those kept in a database of people who opted-in. The changes we’re announcing today involve a company-wide move away from this kind of broad identification, and toward narrower forms of personal authentication. 

Facial recognition can be particularly valuable when the technology operates privately on a person’s own devices. This method of on-device facial recognition, requiring no communication of face data with an external server, is most commonly deployed today in the systems used to unlock smartphones. 

We believe this has the potential to enable positive use cases in the future that maintain privacy, control and transparency, and it’s an approach we’ll continue to explore as we consider how our future computing platforms and devices can best serve people’s needs. For potential future applications of technologies like this, we’ll continue to be public about intended use, how people can have control over these systems and their personal data, and how we’re living up to our responsible innovation framework. 

Ending the use of our existing Face Recognition system means the services it enables will be removed over the coming weeks, as will the setting allowing people to opt into the system. 

Every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find the right balance. In the case of facial recognition, its long-term role in society needs to be debated in the open, and among those who will be most impacted by it. We will continue engaging in that conversation and working with the civil society groups and regulators who are leading this discussion.

www.facebook.com

Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Africa Legal launch online courses on legal tech

Liquid Intelligent Technologies through its innovation and partnerships arm Liquid Labs, has partnered with Africa Legal, an organisation that connects legal professionals across the African continent to launch three online courses on legal technology. 

The courses are targeted at supporting career development amongst students, budding entrepreneurs, and lawyers.

Liquid Labs aspires to make relevant tech training programmes accessible to students and professionals to bridge the affordability and digital divide, the main deterrents to increased access. The courses will offer targeted training for lawyers and the business community to enable working people to upskill and embrace the opportunities of the digital world.

According to Ben Roberts, the Group Chief Technology, and Innovation Officer at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, “New technologies are challenging the way Africans do things in their everyday lives. For instance, innovations like blockchain deliver smart contracts using digital tech platforms. The advancement of such innovation means that the fourth industrial revolution will create challenges and opportunities at the intersection of law and tech. ‘’

‘’We’ve partnered with Africa Legal on these courses to better equip lawyers through technology, and support technologists to engage with the law. Our aim is to empower and encourage professionals and students in both sectors and to help them leverage these opportunities.” he says. 

The courses on offer are Leveraging off Legal Technology to Grow Your Firm that encourages students to conduct their business in a way that leverages the inherent benefits of legal technology, Change Management for Lawyers that provides the learner with critical change management perspectives relevant to any area of development within their business and Fundamentals of Business Law for Entrepreneurs. This course is designed for emerging entrepreneurs. It provides the platform of legal knowledge required to begin to grow a business from initial start-up to becoming investment ready and will share some insight into what to look for when partnering with a law firm that will be a valuable ally in growing your business.

Africa Legal’s Chief Executive, Scott Cowan, said he was delighted by the partnership which was in line with the platform’s vision of building networks, reinforcing pan-African relationships in the legal community, and building capacity.

“This is just the beginning of an exciting journey and we look forward to offering so much more to our Africa Legal community by way of news, job opportunities and education,” he said.

The courses have been formulated with the vision to augment digital transformation across the continent and provide the right know-how needed for budding entrepreneurs to successfully and efficiently operate in their businesses. These courses from Liquid Labs and Africa Legal will deliver practical knowledge and understanding that will focus on developing critical-thinking skills for students by presenting real-life scenarios, conflicts and solutions in order for them to master the lawyer-based thinking approach in life and their professional paths ahead.

The courses will launch on 4 November 2021. Interested students can now pre-register here.

www.liquid.tech

Andela Announces $200M Investment Led by SoftBank

Andela, the global network for remote engineering talent, has announced $200 million in Series E financing. The financing round which was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 now values the company at $1.5 billion.

Other participating investors include WhaleRock and existing investors including Generation Investment Management, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Spark Capital. Lydia Jett, Founding Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers and one of the most respected consumer technology investors in the world, will join Andela’s Board of Directors.

Andela helps companies build remote engineering teams by providing them with access to the best software engineers in the world. Launched in Africa in 2014, the Andela network today represents engineers from more than 80 countries and six continents. Through Andela, thousands of engineers have been placed with leading technology companies including Github, Cloudflare and ViacomCBS. 

“Andela has always been the high-quality option for those building remote engineering teams. Now that the world has come to embrace remote work, Andela has become the obvious choice for companies because we can find better talent, faster,” said Jeremy Johnson, CEO and co-founder of Andela. “If you are a talented engineer, Andela opens up a world of possibilities for you, no matter where you are based.”

With a successful placement rate of 96%, Andela has mastered the ability to evaluate the technical skills and soft skills of engineers to match them to the teams they’ll be most successful in. With the new capital, the company will invest in developing products to simplify global hiring and make engineers’ lives easier. In addition, Andela will continue to expand its talent offering beyond software development to include new verticals such as design and data after launching Salesforce development earlier this year.

“Hiring remote technical talent is one of the top challenges that companies face today. We believe Andela will become the preferred talent partner for the world’s best companies as remote and hybrid work arrangements become the norm,” said Lydia Jett, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “We are delighted to support Jeremy and the Andela team in their mission to connect these companies with brilliant engineers, and in the process, unlock human potential at scale.”

A fully remote organization with more than 300 employees around the world, Andela is hiring top talent across the board, particularly in product, engineering, and growth. 

andela.com

Nokia and ATU to speed up digital transformation and the knowledge economy in Africa

Nokia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) to drive digital transformation and the knowledge economy for socio-economic development across the continent.

The two parties will leverage the power of telecommunications, including 5G networks, to connect the unconnected and identify innovative use cases, as well as business models.

In addition, the MoU will lay ground for both organizations to better help governments shape telecom policy, develop talent and promote inclusion and diversity. This includes women, as well as the underprivileged in both rural and urban areas.
 
The MoU was signed in Nairobi, Kenya, by John OMO, Secretary General at ATU and Rajiv Aggarwal, Nokia Representative and Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia.
 
Announcing the partnership, Rajiv Aggarwal, Head of Central, East and West Africa Market Unit at Nokia, said: “We remain keen on supporting Africa’s digital transformation journey and by collaborating with the ATU, we strengthen this commitment. We will leverage our global technology expertise and insights on policy matters to positively impact the universal socio-economic development in the continent.”
 
Co-signing the MoU with Mr. Rajiv, John OMO, Secretary General of the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), said: “Our vision is to make Africa a full and active participant in the global information and knowledge society by enabling universal access to ICT systems and services across Africa. Collaboration with a global industry leader such as Nokia is therefore crucial in this regard and will help us accelerate towards a digital transformation and knowledge economy.”
The MoU framework is guided by six tenets designed to facilitate this acceleration. These are:
•    Sharing of best practices on telecom technology trends and developments
•    Identification of innovative industrial use cases toward the Fourth Industrial Revolution
•    Recommendation on implementation of emerging technologies and business models
•    Promotion of connecting the unconnected with broadband
•    Development of emerging talent for digital innovation
•    Promotion of inclusion and diversity

Nokia has a long history of collaboration with international organizations and bodies across the globe. Regionally in MEA, Nokia recently partnered with UN Women to promote inclusion and diversity in Middle East and Africa.

Nokia is also working with UNICEF as part of a shared-value partnership in Kenya to connect schools with broadband and empower children in rural as well as disadvantaged urban areas.

In November 2020, Nokia supported the Forge Academy in South-Africa with the launch of a fully inclusive artificial intelligence (AI) laboratory to help students to become entrepreneurs in the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the global digital economy.

www.nokia.com

www.atuuat.africa

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

Nokia makes scholarships pledge of underrepresented communities in technology

Nokia announced the launch of a scholarship program aimed at providing greater opportunities for underrepresented communities in the technology industry. Working together with online learning and talent transformation platform Udacity and Blacks In Technology (BIT) Foundation, Nokia will offer over 300 scholarships, with a focus on empowering students and career changers from underrepresented communities.

The fully funded scholarships cover a range of core tech competencies, from cloud computing and programming to artificial intelligence and data science, and are available from introductory to advanced levels. The successful candidates will be able to select courses on topics such as AI Programming with Python, Java Programming, Data Structures and Algorithms, Intermediate Python, and Cloud DevOps Engineering.

The courses will be provided by Udacity, whose Nanodegree® programs are fully online and designed to be completed alongside further studies or full-time work, making them accessible to anyone regardless of their position or profession. Scholarships are open to applicants based anywhere in the world, to both students and industry professionals who wish to further develop their technology skills.

Scholarship recipients will also have access to support and networking provided by the BIT Foundation, including mentorship, tutoring, and post-completion career support resources. Nokia will also work closely with its African-American employee resource group ABLE (Advancing Black Leadership and Excellence) to further promote the initiative.

“We are committed to creating technology that helps the world act together, but to do so, the technology industry must reflect the world around us,” said Karoliina Loikkanen, Global Head of Sustainability at Nokia. “This initiative further expands our activities to drive greater inclusion and diversity through concrete actions that provide opportunities to underrepresented communities and individuals, irrespective of background or ethnicity. Education forms a key part of this. Diverse businesses are shown to perform better, and we intend to encourage students who successfully complete one of the programs to apply for positions within Nokia.”

“Education is one of the most important ways for us to help remove the barriers to diversity in tech. By providing access to resources that are designed to nurture and develop people’s skills, we can help get more Black talent into the technology space,” said Dennis Schultz, Executive Director at the BIT Foundation. “We are pleased to see major industry players like Nokia stepping up to the plate with Udacity and addressing the issue head-on in order to drive forward digital transformation and improve much-needed Black representation in tech.”

“We have joined forces with Nokia and Blacks In Technology Foundation because we believe that it is vital to continue to create opportunities for underrepresented groups to build careers in the field of technology,” said Gabe Dalporto, CEO at Udacity. “Democratizing access to digital skills training will create life-changing opportunities for people, and these scholarships will ensure we continue to take measurable steps to increase the participation of Black people in the technology sector.”

Applications are now open. For more information about the scholarship program and how to enter, visit: https://www.nokia.com/about-us/sustainability/improving-lives/tech-and-underrepresented-communities/

www.nokia.com