July 23, 2017
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Latest News Archives | TechCity

Paul AdepojuMar 10, 2017
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2min

Last year, vacation marketplace Airbnb filed SEC forms raising $555.5 million, and yesterday the company filed a new form D that has closed off its Series F with an additional $447.8 million, bringing the total to more than $1 billion — or $1,003,312,065, to be exact. Yesterday, it was reported that the company is now valued at $31 billion.

Note: The $31 billion is $1 billion higher than the $30 billion valuation Airbnb said it had when it closed the first tranche of this Series F round. Airbnb became profitable in the second half of 2016 and anticipates that it will be profitable in 2017 on an EBITDA basis.

The company has been tipped as one of the outsized tech startups that would go public this year, although this latest round gives it a lot more runway as a private company however, it’s been revealed that Airbnb has “no plans to go public anytime soon.”

Airbnb started as a marketplace for people with spare beds to connect with travelers who needed a place to stay but didn’t want or couldn’t afford a hotel and has expanded massively with a huge global network not just of spare beds but whole homes covering all budgets, as well as a new line of “experiences.”

 


Paul AdepojuMar 10, 2017
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2min

Tech giant Google at the commencement of this year’s Google Cloud Next 2017 announced the introduction of what it described as powerful additions to Drive that can help organizations to Create, share and work confidently as a team with Team Drives; Stay in control of sensitive company data with Google Vault for Drive;  Migrate easily to the cloud with Google’s latest acquisition, AppBridge; Work seamlessly with the tools you’re already using with Drive File Stream; and access relevant files immediately with Quick Access, powered by Google machine intelligence.

Alex Vogenthaler, Group Product Manager, Google Drive, said: “Most file storage solutions weren’t built to handle the explosion of files that are now created and shared in the cloud — because they were initially designed for individuals, not teams. With this amount of shared data, admins need more controls to keep their data safe and teams need to feel confident working together. Team Drives deliver the security, structure and ease-of-use enterprises need.”

The company also introduced Google Vault for Drive which offers new, advanced admin controls for data compliance; and Drive File Stream to allow users to work without breaking business processes.

“After you migrate to the cloud, you should be able to easily access all your content using your existing tools and processes. While other cloud-based solutions use traditional, time- consuming (and hard drive-consuming) syncs, Drive File Stream, now available in the Early Adopter Program (EAP) allows teams to quickly stream files directly from the cloud to their computer. This means that all of your company data can be accessed directly from your laptop, even if you don’t have much space left on your hard drive.”


Paul AdepojuMar 8, 2017
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2min

A Ghanaian developer, Jonathan Amenyah, founder of RINJAcom, has developed MobTrack, an application to help people track and find their lost phones.

While this is not an entirely new concept, Amenyah claims MobTrack works differently.

“MobTrack is mainly an application built to track lost mobile phones and help find them. To use the application, install it on your phone and register. While registering, the application will notice your primary contact number or SIM card. You will be asked to provide an alternate number. The alternative number is another number other than your original phone number which will help you find your phone when you lose it,” Amenyah told ghanabusinessnews.

“After registering it, if someone picks your phone and inserts a new SIM card in it, the phone will automatically send you the coordinate of the person’s (new phone holder) location and the new phone number through the alternative number you initially provided while installing the application. Receiving the contact and location, you can know where exactly the person is and call the number to follow up to retrieve your phone,” he added.

“Challenges faced at the initial stage of developing the application had to do with Google Maps. Some parts of Ghana are not included in the map so I had to manually add up those locations to the Global Positioning System (GPS),” Amenyah said.

 


Paul AdepojuMar 8, 2017
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4min

Social media giant Twitter recently announced it is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that its platform is safer.

In a blog post, the company revealed that it has made a number of changes including updating how users can report abusive Tweets, stopping the creation of new abusive accounts, implementing safer search results, collapsing abusive or low-quality Tweets, and reducing notifications from conversations started by people users have blocked or muted.

The company also announced it is introducing additional updates that leverage their technology to reduce abusive content, give users more tools to control their experience, and communicate more clearly about actions Twitter take.

Leveraging Twitter technology to reduce abusive content

“We’re working to identify accounts as they’re engaging in abusive behavior, even if this behavior hasn’t been reported to us. Then, we’re taking action by limiting certain account functionality for a set amount of time, such as allowing only their followers to see their Tweets. For example, this change could come into effect if an account is repeatedly Tweeting without solicitation at non-followers or engaging in patterns of abusive behavior that is in violation of the Twitter Rules. Our platform supports the freedom to share any viewpoint, but if an account continues to repeatedly violate the Twitter Rules, we will consider taking further action,” Twitter stated.

The company said it is aiming to only act on accounts when they’re confident, based on Twitter algorithms, that their behavior is abusive.

“Since these tools are new we will sometimes make mistakes, but know that we are actively working to improve and iterate on them everyday,” Twitter said.

More control with additional tools

Twitter also announced the introduction of new filtering options for notifications to give users more control over what they see from certain types of accounts, like those without a profile photo, unverified email addresses or phone numbers.

“Many people requested more filter options for their notifications, and we’re excited to bring these to everyone on Twitter,” the social media giant said.

“We’re also expanding the mute feature to build on the work we did in November which lets you remove certain keywords, phrases, or entire conversations from your notifications. Now, you’ll be able to mute from your home timeline and you can decide how long this content is muted – one day, one week, one month, or indefinitely. This was another big request from you and we’re looking forward to rolling it out.”


Paul AdepojuMar 3, 2017
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3min

In Ghana, two of the country’s major telecoms companies, Tigo and Airtel, this afternoon announced a merger.

In a statement made available to TechCity, Millicom International Cellular S.A. (“Millicom”) and Bharti Airtel Limited (“Airtel”), today announced that they have, through their respective subsidiaries, entered into an agreement for Tigo Ghana Limited and Airtel Ghana Limited to combine their operations in Ghana. As per the agreement, Millicom and Airtel would have equal ownership and governance rights in the combined entity.

The combined business would serve nearly 10 million customers, of which 5.6 million are data customers. It would cover more than 80% of Ghana’s population with high speed data, providing the widest 3G coverage across the country, and would have revenues close to $300m, making it one of the largest communications companies in Ghana.

The transaction is subject to obtaining approvals from the relevant authorities in Ghana and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions.

By integrating the two networks, the combined business is expected to provide Ghanaian customers with a major boost in both rural and urban network coverage – in turn translating into better voice quality, high speed data services and reinforced network stability and resilience. With the combined fibre footprint and increased data centres, enterprise customers including both, large corporations and SMEs, would have access to a diverse portfolio of world class solutions. Mobile Financial Services is also expected to be greatly enhanced with combined agent networks and platforms.

Mohamed Dabbour, Executive Vice President, Millicom Africa, said: “In a highly fragmented telecom market, this deal represents a major milestone for our business

in Ghana. The combination of Tigo and Airtel will create an operator that will be able to offer Ghanaian consumers and businesses a state of the art network with high speed mobile data coverage. This transaction underlines confidence in the Ghanaian economy, and provides the opportunity to develop nationwide digital infrastructure and services in Ghana.”

Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO, Airtel Africa, said: “The agreement highlights our commitment to the Ghana market and our customers. The coming together of the two entities will benefit customers, who can now enjoy an extensive combined network and a wider range of affordable and innovative products and services. It will further strengthen our position in the market and offer huge benefits arising out of synergies in operations, resulting in better experience for the customers.”


Paul AdepojuMar 3, 2017
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2min

Google has announced that for the first time, it is now accepting applications from Nigerian startups for its Launchpad Accelerator. Google said Nigerian startups can now join its six-month porgramme that provides mentorship, training and equity-free support.

A component of the initiative is a two-week Google-sponsored training work that will be held at Google Headquarters in Silicon Valley. During the programme, successful applicants will be able to access Google engineers, mentors, as well as resources. The participants will also receive various marketing opportunities through Google and credits for Google products.

Nigeria is not the only African country whose startups are now eligible to apply, Google is also opening the programme to startups from Kenya and South Africa. Google said some startups will be asked to participate in a one-hour video conference with one of the Google team members. In some cases, face-to-face interviews will also be conducted.

“The programme is totally provided without charge for accepted startups. We will carry all expenses for all programme activities, including sending up to three of your startup’s team members to Silicon Valley,” mentioned Google in a blog post.

“We offer this programme without a requirement for financial consideration in return. Google or its affiliates participate in other efforts that involve investment in return for financial consideration (such as Google Ventures), but they are unrelated to Launchpad Accelerator,” the post continued.

The aim of the Launchpad Accelerator is to co-exist with accelerators and incubators, seeing that many Launchpad Accelerator Alumni have already gone through an accelerator programme before. Applications for Class 4 of the accelerator closes at 9am on 24 April 2017.


Paul AdepojuMar 2, 2017
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6min

Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, visited the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana today to meet with Ghanaian entrepreneurs and see how they are working to build sustainable technology businesses. Later in the day he witnessed the force of Ghana’s creative talent in an event at ANO Gallery, which was co-hosted by ANO Gallery and Bless the Mic.

Chris’s visit is part of a week-long trip to Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal where Chris is keen to understand how creatives, developers and entrepreneurs are using mobile technology to create services, content and businesses that address local needs.

Says Cox: “With Facebook and its family of apps, we aim to give people around the world the ability to connect with each other, grow their businesses and tell their own stories. I am excited to see how Ghana’s entrepreneurs are using mobile, video and other technologies to build products and services that empower the community and that address local needs or solve local problems in innovative ways.”

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and the MEST Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa. Each year top graduates from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are selected to receive comprehensive training across the spectrum of skills required to build successful tech businesses, including computer programming, software development and product management.

Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater and Founder of MEST, says: “We’re excited to host Facebook at MEST and to share how we can work together to drive innovation in Africa. Mobile technology is giving people in Africa new opportunities to become entrepreneurs and content creators – and we were proud to show the Facebook team how young companies and entrepreneurs on our programme are making a difference.”

Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh, CEO, Asoriba, says: “Churches are one of the oldest and most powerful forms of social networking. Platforms such as Asoriba and Facebook help them give their congregations access to more information and stay in touch with churches and congregation members worldwide, especially in the diaspora.”

Edwin Tsatsu Selormey, CEO, Devless, says: “Thanks to the cloud, African startups can get to market with solutions tailored to the needs of their own territories as well as target a global customer base. We are pleased that companies such as Facebook are investing in and supporting Africa’s growing technology industry.”

Cox later attended an event at the ANO Gallery where he was part of a panel discussion with art, music, food and fashion design entrepreneurs, discussing how they use the Facebook and Instagram to tell powerful and engaging stories to audiences in Ghana and beyond.

Director of ANO Institute of Contemporary Arts Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, says: “I was very happy to introduce some of Ghana’s talented artists to the team at Facebook. I am passionate about showcasing Ghana’s art and cultural narratives to the world and platforms like Facebook offer powerful new ways do that.”

The event brought together a host of local talent including Bless the Mic, a platform for local and international artists to showcase their talent in Ghana. Bless the Mic began in 2006 where they organised weekly small scale open-mic nights in bars and pubs across Accra for young poets and hip hop artists to rhyme and battle. In 2017 things are now on a larger scale, Bless The Mic has graduated to big concert events whilst helping to launch the careers of many of Ghana’s now leading musicians.

PY Addo-Boateng Creative Director of Bless The Mic said: “Facebook and Instagram have given music fans new ways to interact with their favourite artists and bands – from behind the scenes photos to LIVE videos from gigs. For Bless the Mic it’s been one of the ways we’ve been able to to take Ghanian music to people across the world. But more than that, it has enabled us to be part of a global community that is truly passionate about creativity and music.”

Ghanaian musician M.anifest appeared on the panel and said, “We have some really compelling stories to share in Ghana, not just with other Ghanaians but with audiences around the world. The remarkable thing about Facebook is that it gives us cutting-edge and exciting new ways to connect with people and to tell our stories ourselves and in our own way.”

Chris Cox said: “Stories matter, whether it’s the stories of our lives or the story of Africa’s growth and ascendance. We want Ghana’s storytellers — the musicians, the filmmakers, the bloggers — to take their stories to the rest of the world. I’ve been honoured to meet some of Ghana’s top talent today and hear how they are using technology to share their stories and perspectives within Ghana and around the globe.”


Paul AdepojuMar 2, 2017
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1min

As Snap Inc, the parent company of Snapchat goes public today Thursday, the company has been said to be worth USD24 billion.

The company has priced its shares at $17 ahead of Thursday’s listing on the US stock market. The flotation values the business at $24bn, although Snap has never made a profit. This IPO is expected to turn the company’s founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy into multi-billionaires.

Snapchat, which is especially popular with teenagers, allows users to send images and messages which then vanish. The shares, which were more than ten times oversubscribed, will list on the New York Stock Exchange.

It is worthy to note that investors at the flotation will not have voting rights.


Paul AdepojuMar 1, 2017
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5min

At the Mobile World Congress 2017, Visa announced that mVisa, its QR-based payment service, will be coming to Nigeria. Already it is live in India, Kenya and Rwanda. In addition to Nigeria, other places that it become available to merchants and consumers in Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Vietnam.

mVisa, a mobile solution, brings the benefits of easy and secure digital commerce to financial institutions, merchants and consumers in emerging markets – helping accelerate the global migration from cash to electronic payments.

Visa aids in overcoming merchant infrastructure issues as it allows consumers to use their mobile phones to make cashless purchases at merchant outlets, pay bills remotely and even send money to friends and family members by securely linking their Visa debit, credit or prepaid account to the mVisa application. It digitizes the underlying account and allows consumers to transfer funds from their account to the retailer’s account reliably and securely by scanning a QR code.

“Customers have told us they appreciate how fast and easy it is to use mVisa1,” said Uttam Nayak, senior vice president of digital for emerging markets, Visa Inc. “Small merchants using mVisa, for the first time, are most excited about how quickly and securely they receive electronic payments, without having to invest into expensive point of sale (POS) infrastructure. We are excited to continue to build momentum around mVisa to digitize payments with a scalable, interoperable and secure solution that benefits merchants, financial institutions and consumers.”

mVisa Merchant Benefits

mVisa is an agile solution that allows merchants around the world to immediately accept digital payments from their customers. The flexible nature of QR codes, and the fact that merchants do not need to invest in POS infrastructure, has allowed Visa and its partners to offer inventive solutions that eliminate friction for consumers who want and need to pay for goods and services around the world.

For example:

  • Visa worked with Tata Sky, India’s leading direct-to-home service provider, to allow Tata Sky subscribers to recharge their account by scanning the QR code through their mobile phones directly from the TV screen or online on mytatasky.com. Tata Sky customers can now order and pay for any monthly or one-time payment services exactly when they require the services, without having to go to a Tata Sky outlet to complete their transaction.
  • Mahanagar Gas Limited, a utility provider in Mumbai, issues customer bills printed with the mVisa QR code. Customers simply scan the QR code on the bill, as they would at a merchant outlet, and complete their transaction in the comfort of their own home.

The mVisa APIs and SDKs are available on the Visa Developer Platform to help simplify the integration process and allow both traditional and non-traditional players to launch new solutions more quickly.

Industry Standards

Interoperability is at the foundation of Visa and has been the driving force behind Visa’s global acceptance for more than 50 years. mVisa operates on the same foundation, as any bank’s mVisa customer – regardless of where they bank – can transact on any mVisa merchant.

The benefits of this low cost acceptance solution was also the reason behind why Visa worked with industry partners to launch BharatQR in February this year. BharatQR is India’s – and the world’s – first standardized QR code payment solution. The solution builds on mVisa’s product standards, and consumers do not need to scan different QR codes at the same merchant provided by the different payment networks. Merchants only need to display one QR code at the storefront or through the acquiring bank’s mobile application. The underlying specification for BharatQR can be implemented in other countries to deliver a globally interoperable solution.


Paul AdepojuFeb 28, 2017
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6min

AtMobile World Congress (MWC) 2017, Nokia announced significant updates to its software portfolio that bring new levels of intelligence, automation and innovation to service provider networks.

These new software solutions will help customers automate operations, make sense of massive amounts of data and monetize services. They include the Nokia evolved Service Operations Center (eSOC), Nokia NetAct Archive Cloud and Nokia SBC for Cloud. In addition, at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2017 Nokia will provide the first public demonstration of real-time, big data analytics from Deepfield, a company Nokia acquired last month.

Bhaskar Gorti, president of Applications & Analytics, said: “We continue to deliver innovations to strengthen our software portfolio. These new offerings will help our customers streamline operations, improve service offerings and differentiate themselves in a competitive industry.”

Nokia evolved Service Operations Center

Nokia’s eSOC solution provides the fundamentals for service providers to move from network-centric operations to automated customer-centric operations. Replacing dated and siloed systems, processes and measurement techniques, eSOC helps service providers transition from reactive to more proactive and predictive operations with advanced root cause analysis.

Now, with the integration of Nokia’s Automated Operations and Recovery (AOR) and Traffica real-time network analytics modules, eSOC is the first offering that automates the problem resolution phase of the SOC process, including a feedback loop that improves future results based on prior execution. Nokia eSOC allows service providers to quickly detect, diagnose and recover from service-impacting issues without human intervention. It also delivers almost instant input into the closed-loop process. This will allow service providers to detect and begin addressing up to 97 percent of network issues before customers contact support, and decrease the time to repair and recover from network issues by up to 50 percent. In addition, Nokia studies have shown it has the potential to reduce service-related complaints by up to 45 percent.

Nokia NetAct Archive Cloud

Nokia NetAct Archive Cloud is the first system that delivers intelligent real-time cloud backup and monitoring capabilities for service providers. It is designed to automatically identify and backup critical data from the entire network. Initially, the system will focus on backup/restore capabilities for core cloud data, with complete support for all network elements (radio cloud, the full Nokia product portfolio and third-party network elements) available in future releases.

The Nokia NetAct Archive Cloud system provides continuous, real-time monitoring capabilities, giving service providers greater visibility into network conditions at any point in time. In addition, it allows them to extract valuable insights from archived data to optimize future backup activities, save up to 80 percent of storage capacity, and better manage the exponential growth in network data and devices.

Nokia Session Border Controller for Cloud

Representing the next phase in the evolution of its product portfolio, Nokia released a cloud-ready version of its session border controller: Nokia SBC for Cloud. The Nokia SBC portfolio enables service providers to secure and control media and signaling streams that cross the edges of fixed, mobile, enterprise, Internet access and peering networks. The new release adds a variety of advanced technologies to maximize media plane performance and resilience from cyberattacks. Its interfaces to Network Functions Virtualization Management and Orchestration (NFV MANO) help service providers launch services faster and more efficiently by scaling services up and down and applying processing only where and when needed.

Nokia SBC for Cloud supports Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) sessions and provides WebRTC APIs, enabling developers to maximize the value of the network by seamlessly designing contextual services directly into web applications. Combined, these features make it the first SBC VNF that secures the complete range of IMS services in a single software package with high performance and improved operational efficiency.

Nokia Deepfield Big Data Analytics Demo

At MWC next week, Nokia will, for the first time, publicly demonstrate big data analytics solutions from Nokia Deepfield. The demo will showcase how enriching IP telemetry data with cloud and IT visibility in real time gives service providers insight to optimize cloud application performance over IP networks, and the ability to quickly respond to Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks originating from cloud and IoT sources. Nokia Deepfield solutions complement and strengthen Nokia’s existing real-time network analytics suite.

Availability

The Nokia eSOC and Nokia SBC for Cloud solutions are available today. Nokia NetAct Archive Cloud is expected to be available in 2Q 2017.


Paul AdepojuFeb 24, 2017
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2min

A partnership between MainData Nigeria (MDXi) and the Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN) have resulted in in a move to expand the peering of Internet Transit traffic within Nigeria.

In a statement made available to TechCity this morning, the partners said the partnership seeks to take advantage of the numerous networks and content providers already connected to MainOne to grow traffic in the Nigerian Internet Exchange. With its open access submarine cable system, Tier III data centre and IP transit network already connected to the Lagos, Accra, London and Amsterdam Internet Exchanges, MDXi will bring to the Exchange the capacity to connect directly with the greatest number of IP transit and Content Delivery networks in West Africa.

Speaking during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Chief Executive Officer of the IXPN, Muhammed Rudman highlighted efforts of the Exchange to deepen local content via partnerships focused on the creation and hosting of content in-country. “Our partnership with MDXi provides our members direct and more cost-effective interconnection with their partners, leveraging hosting in MDXi’s Tier III Data Center, and access via MainOne’s open-access submarine cable. This will enhance local internet performance, lower costs and minimize traffic bottlenecks for Internet traffic in Nigeria.”

In her comments, MainOne’s Chief Executive Officer, Funke Opeke reiterated the company’s vision for improved connectivity across West Africa: “MainOne is committed to the penetration of high quality and affordable broadband internet services in West Africa, and bringing the IXPN closer to our network plays an important role in helping us realize that vision not only for Nigeria, but for all of West Africa. Hosting the IXPN in our data center, MDXi will continue to impact positively on the digital transformation of Nigeria and the overall growth of the Nigerian economy by enabling Internet traffic originating and terminating on any network in Nigeria to remain in-country.”


Paul AdepojuFeb 23, 2017
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1min

Rumors of a potential partnership between Facebook and Etisalat today became public with the official launch of Free Basics on the Etisalat network.

Introduced by Facebook. Free Basics allows users to visit certain websites for free. Already live in several countries, the service was first rolled out in Nigeria on the Airtel network.

Users of the app and web can use Free Basics to chat on messenger for free, visit some popular website for free in Nigeria. However, there are restrictions to what could be done via Free Basics one of which is inability to stream videos and limited access to videos.

 


Paul AdepojuFeb 22, 2017
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3min

Jumia Travel today announced it is venturing into Flights Services for travelers, describing it as a major move to boost its service offerings. This service is part of the broader programme to create a one stop travel shop providing accommodation, packages, and flights all on the same platform, in a bid to streamline travel in Africa.

Jumia Travel said it is now offering both domestic and international flights by major airlines in the continent including Arik Air, Dana Air, Medview Airline, South African Airways, Kenya Airways, Rwandair Express, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, Fly Dubai, Turkish Airlines, Air Arabia, and Air Seychelles among others.

“It’s a new step for us as we aim to be the leading African Online Travel Agency, providing best customer experience for the travelers. It is also part of our broader program to create a one stop travel shop providing accommodation, packages, and flights all on the same platform, in a bid to streamline travel in Africa,” said Paul Midy – CEO of Jumia Travel.

As an Online Travel Agency, Jumia Travel will be working in partnership with different partners including Amadeus. The service (now available on travel.jumia.com/flights) enables the customers to find, compare, and book flights, as well as buy air tickets online with ease directly from various Airline companies across the world.

“We want to offer to our customers, all payment options, credit card but also payment in cash or through mobile phone as well as the support of a local customer service  available 24/24” adds Paul Midy.

“Jumia Travel aims at capitalizing on a market that is progressively driving hospitality demand in the continent. With the International Air Transport Association, ‘IATA’ predicting a strong growth of 4.8% in passenger numbers in Africa in the next 5 years, this confirms our strategic commitment to provide infinite travel solutions to travellers,“ added Paul Midy.


Paul AdepojuFeb 22, 2017
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4min

Sage, the market and technology leader for integrated accounting, payroll & HR, and payment systems, has today launched Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund. The new $1 million fund is open to non-profits in Africa with enterprising ideas to help improve the lives of military veterans, young people or women and girls.

Every day, across Africa inspiring non-profit leaders, volunteers and their supporters are working tirelessly to make their communities better places to live. Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund has been designed to support those organisations generate further income, create new initiatives or enhance existing and proven activity.

The $1 million will be split between two rounds of $500,000; with the second round ready for release in July 2017. Applications for the first round are open until April 5; grants between $5,000 and $35,000 will then be awarded to successful applicants.

All applications that fulfil the eligibility criteria will be considered. However, Sage Foundation is especially keen to support organisations that are currently small but have ambitions to expand, grow and deliver sustainable change. It is also hoped that the fund will support needs such as; capital projects, core running costs or new innovations.

“Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund is designed to help organisations generate further income, create new initiatives or enhance existing activity,” says Joanne van der Walt, Sage Foundation Manager, Africa at Sage. “There are some wonderful charities across Africa who has innovative yet practical ideas about how they can solve some of the socio-economic challenges their communities face each day. We want to help them turn these exceptional ideas into reality.”

Sage Foundation’s Enterprise Fund was originally announced at Sage Summit in Chicago in July 2016, part of a series of new initiatives to mobilise Sage colleagues, partners and customers around a common vision for change.  As part of 2017’s new Sage Summit Tour, Sage Foundation will be working with Sage’s brilliant network of business builders, to take action together.

Since January 2016, Sage Foundation has been taking action to build sustainable social, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities in Sage’s local communities around the world. By investing and supporting non-profit partners that are helping people reach their true potential, and committed to doing business the right way.

Sage Foundation is powered by the ‘2+2+2’ model. Through this, Sage Foundation donates: 2% of employee time each year (5 volunteer days), 2% of free cash flow in grants and 2 donated software licenses to eligible partners.

At the Sage Summit Tour in Johannesburg from 7-9 March this year, Sage will update delegates about how the Sage Foundation is making a difference for communities and non-profit organisations across Africa with its approach to social investment. It will also disclose how the Enterprise Fund will benefit the region’s charities.


Paul AdepojuFeb 21, 2017
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4min

Indications have emerged that telecoms companies operating in Nigeria may block access to Skype, Whatsapp and other OTT services. This step is being taken as a drastic measure to improve revenues.

PUNCH reported that telecoms companies in the country are hoping to address concerns over revenue loss from international calls and hit a revenue target of N20 trilion. It said that subscribers might also be prevented from performing certain functions like voice and video calls on WhatsApp and Facebook, among other OTT services.

“It is an aggressive approach to stop further revenue loss to OTT players on international calls, having already lost about N100tn between 2012 and 2017,” a manager at one of the major telecos in the country said.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the manager said, “If we fail to be pro-active by taking cogent steps now, then there are indications that we may lose between N20tn and N30tn, or so, by the end of 2018.”

The source added that the increasing rise of the OTT players, who provide voice and Short Message Services, or apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook, BlackBerry Messenger and Viber, was eating deep into the voice revenue of telecommunications companies in the country by more than 50 per cent.

A United Kingdom-based research and analytics company, Ovum, stated in a report recently that $386bn loss would accrue over a period of six years – between 2012 and 2018 – from Nigerian customers using the OTT voice applications.

“Generally, the main fear of the telecoms operators here will be that customers will increasingly use Skype as a substitute for conventional international calls,” the Principal Analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, Matthew Reed, said.

But reacting to the development, Mr. Tony Ojobo, Director, Public Affairs, NCC said, “We don’t have any evidence of that. We do not regulate the Internet.”

Mr. Kenneth Omeruo, Managing Director, TechTrends Nigeria said, “I am not aware of this development but globally, operators and network equipment makers don’t really embrace Skype.

“They liken Skype to an individual who takes undue advantage of other people’s generosity without giving anything in return. Globally, there is this apprehension among telecoms operators that Skype only steals their customers, while they invest billions of dollars to build, expand and upgrade networks.”

“It (WhatsApp) has also launched a free voice service,” the Public Relations and Protocol Manager, MTN Nigeria, Mr. Funso Aina, said, adding, “The point to note in this argument is that the OTTs allow users to send unlimited texts, images, video and audio messages free of charge, using their current data plans.”

According to him, the problem is that these services are provided using network infrastructure of the operators, but without commensurate compensation to operators.

Aina added, “At the same time, they are denying operators of revenue to grow their networks, thereby impacting on service delivery and long-term sustainability.

“For instance, to date, MTN has invested over $15bn in building its network in Nigeria. You can now imagine an OTT leveraging the network to deliver its content without investing a kobo locally. The impact on revenue is huge.

“Furthermore, because these entities are not licensed, and because they have not built any infrastructure locally, they do not have the same costs as the licensed operators.

“They do not pay taxes, they do not employ any people locally, and indeed, they have no local presence whatsoever, meaning they do not make any contribution to our economy and their services are denying those who make contributions of income.”

 


Paul AdepojuFeb 20, 2017
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2min

WhatsApp now has stories feature that will replace the app’s text-based status messages. The feature begins rolling out to WhatsApp’s billion-plus users today on Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone.

WhatsApp stories are posted from an in-app camera. Once you’ve taken a photo, you can adorn it with drawings, text, and emoji. Once you post your story, it appears in a new “status” tab, where your contacts can view it for the next 24 hours. You can reply to friends’ updates directly from the post.

This development makes WhatsApp to be the fourth Facebook product to clone Snapchat stories. Instagram was the first, in August. It was followed by Facebook Messenger and then Facebook itself, both of which are still testing the feature in a small number of countries. WhatsApp is Facebook’s second product to roll the feature out globally.

Verge reported that WhatsApp positioned the update as a gift to users on its 8th birthday, and a kind of symbolic return to its origins.

“When WhatsApp launched nearly 8 years ago (on Feb. 24th), it started as an app for sharing status updates, where people could type a short line of text to let their friends know what they were up to,” the company said in a blog post. “When we noticed people were using the feature to communicate in real time, we redesigned WhatsApp as a messaging app.”


Paul AdepojuFeb 20, 2017
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6min

Governments in most developing countries are failing to take the action needed to provide affordable internet access to their citizens. This is the sobering conclusion of the 2017 Affordability Report from the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), which warns that continued failure to prioritise needed policy reforms — including public access solutions vital to connecting women and the poor — risks further entrenching the digital divide and widening global inequality.

 

Based on original research across 58 low- and middle-income countries, the report finds that:

 

  • Internet access remains unaffordable in the vast majority of countries surveyed. Only 19 countries have internet that is affordable (i.e., 1GB of mobile data is priced at 2% or less of average monthly income) for the majority of their populations.

  • Countries are not prioritising public access solutions. Schemes to provide free or subsidised internet access in public places are critical to enabling connectivity for those that cannot afford to pay for data, yet effective and funded schemes exist in only half the countries surveyed.

  • Official plans to bridge the digital divide are often not fit for purpose or non-existent. National broadband plans have never been developed or are badly outdated in 41% of countries.

  • Policies have barely changed since 2014. A4AI’s experts have been tracking and rating policies in five key areas across developing and emerging countries since 2014. Overall, the average increase in policy scores across all areas was only 10%, indicating the slow pace of policy and regulatory progress.

  • Public funds to expand access are underutilised — where they exist. Universal Service and Access Funds — designed to extend connectivity to those who cannot afford access or who live in areas without needed infrastructure — either don’t exist or are dormant — in over a third of countries.

 

Commenting on the report’s findings, Omobola Johnson, Honorary Chair of A4AI, and immediate former communications minister of Nigeria, said:

 

“Though the global community committed to achieving affordable, universal internet access by the year 2020, policymakers worldwide are failing to turn their words into action. The billions still offline today — mostly women in developing countries — arguably stand the most to gain from an internet connection, yet inability to access an affordable connection risks contributing to their further marginalisation in society as the digital revolution steams ahead. Basic policy reforms have the power to reduce prices and unlock access for all. We urge policymakers to recognise the power of the internet to fuel development, and to prioritise, among other things, the creation of time-bound and targeted broadband plans, policies to promote healthy competition, and frameworks to encourage resource and infrastructure sharing among telecoms operators.”

 

The report does highlight some bright spots of progress that other countries can learn from: Latin American countries rank among the highest in the report’s Affordability Drivers Index, which assesses how likely countries are to be able to drive prices down based on an in-depth analysis of the affordability policy and regulatory environments they have in place.

 

Snapshot of the 2017 Affordability Drivers Index (ADI) rankings:

 

Overall ADI Rankings Top 5

Biggest Ranking Improvements  in 2017

Colombia (1)

Jordan (+13 spots)

Mexico (2)

Benin (+9)

Peru (3)

Ecuador (+9)

Malaysia (4)

Botswana (+8)

Costa Rica (5)

Vietnam (+8)

 

A4AI Executive Director Sonia Jorge added:

 

“While we are disappointed by the extremely slow policy progress we’ve seen over this past year, we are heartened by the emergence of new public access solutions to connectivity challenges. Public access — or the offering of free, lower-cost, or subsidised internet access in public places — offers an untapped opportunity to connect those that cannot pay for regular internet use, even once prices have dropped to a more affordable level. New programmes in a number of countries, including Colombia, Costa Rica and Botswana, offer promising approaches to connecting those at the base of the pyramid. Public access has the potential to make a big dent in internet access and use levels, and requires leadership and focus from policymakers as they seek to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”


Paul AdepojuFeb 15, 2017
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3min

It has been revealed that social media giant Facebook is developing a video app that’s coming soon to Apple TV and other streaming devices. Yesterday (Tuesday) at the Code Conference in Dana Point, California, Facebook announced that it’s developing a standalone video app for cable set top boxes.

According to Facebook, the app will be available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Samsung Smart TV, and it will roll out soon.

“Users will be able to watch videos, both live and otherwise, shared by friends and publisher pages, as well as videos recommended by Facebook. Last year, the company debuted a feature that would allow users to stream Facebook video to TV, but the new app will be native to televisions and streaming devices,” Buzzfeed reported.

As the social network runs out of space for ads in its news feed, longer videos and Facebook’s own premium content may be a way for it to compete for the $70 billion annually spent on television ads.

The news comes as Apple is also considering producing original shows and films. Both Apple and Facebook will be entering a competitive field ruled by Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which have the advantage of already being major players. Apple isn’t likely to become a direct competitor against Netflix or Amazon, but it’s unclear what Facebook’s ambitions are or how much it will spend on licensed video content.

Facebook currently serves users video ads on the web and in its mobile app, but the company said the TV app will not serve ads when it launches. Facebook declined to say whether it will license content or create proprietary shows for the app and what role ads will play in its programming.

Facebook bundled announcement of the TV app with the release of several new features in the news feed: videos on the social network will now automatically play with sound, vertical videos will now “look better on mobile” thanks to small tweaks, and users will be able to minimize videos to watch them as they scroll.



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