06 Nov

Spacecom’s Amos-17 Satellite Successfully Completes Critical Design Review (CDR)

AMOS-17 Multi-Band High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) To Service Africa from 17°E Orbital Position, Scheduled for Launch in 2019 via SpaceX Falcon-9

 

Tel Aviv/Cape Town – 7 November 2017: Spacecom (Tel Aviv Stock Exchange: SCC), operator of the AMOS satellite fleet, announced today that its AMOS-17 communication satellite has successfully completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) and entered full production. Specifically designed for the African continent and scheduled for launch in early 2019, AMOS-17 will operate from 17°E to expand and strengthen Spacecom’s coverage in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. It will offer extensive Ka-band, Ku-band and C-Band HTS services, combining broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency. The satellite’s in-orbit life is expected to be 19 years.

Boeing Satellite Systems International is building the satellite and SpaceX will send it into orbit on a Falcon-9 launch vehicle.

David Pollack, president and CEO of Spacecom said, “AMOS-17, equipped with latest generation digital payload, represents the most advanced satellite over Africa and further delivers on our long-term commitment to the African market. This satellite will bring multi-band high-throughput technologies to deliver unique service capabilities not possible on traditional satellites. We are introducing cutting edge satellite technology to Africa, that combined with our customer-centric approach, makes Spacecom the ideal choice for service providers. AMOS-17 will advance our support in creating a digital Sub-Sahara Africa society.”

 

About Spacecom:

Spacecom (Space-Communication Ltd.), operator of the AMOS-3 and AMOS-7 satellites co-located at 4°W, and AMOS-4 at 65°E, provides high-quality broadcast and communication services to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia via direct-to-home (DTH) and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) operators, Internet service providers (ISPs), telecom operators, network integrators and government agencies.

With the additions of AMOS-17 in 2019 and AMOS-8 to the 4°W orbital position in 2020, Spacecom will further expand its reach reinforcing its position as a leading multi-regional satellite operator.

For more information, please visit: http://www.amos-spacecom.com/

 

CONTACTS:                                                                                                             

Josh Shuman, S&A Communications

+972-54-498-5833

joshs@shumanpr.com

18 Oct

Andela: Africa’s Engineering Talent With Global Technology Companies

Andela, the company that builds high-performing engineering teams with Africa’s most talented software developers, announced on Tuesday that the company has secured $40M in Series C funding. The investment was led by pan-African venture firm CRE Venture Capital with participation from DBL Partners, Amplo, Salesforce Ventures, and Africa-focused TLcom Capital. Existing investors, including Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, GV, and Spark Capital, also participated. The round, which marks one of the largest investments ever led by an African venture firm into an Africa-based company, brings Andela’s total venture funding to just over $80M.

Andela was launched in 2014 to combat the global technical talent shortage by investing in Africa’s most talented software developers. With an estimated 1.3M software jobs unfilled in 2016 in the U.S. alone, it’s clear that the growth of today’s major technology ecosystems is inhibited by a severe lack of talent. To solve this, Andela invests in high potential pools of brainpower across the African continent to help more than 100 partner companies build distributed engineering teams. These partners range from industry leaders like Viacom and Mastercard Labs to high-growth technology companies such as Gusto and GitHub.

With offices in Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda; Andela has hired 500 developers to date — the top 0.7% of more than 70,000 applicants from across the continent. Selected developers spend six months in a rigorous on boarding program before being matched with one of Andela’s partner companies as full-time engineering team members. Beyond recruiting elite development talent, Andela is catalyzing the growth of tech ecosystems across the continent by open-sourcing its content and partnering with organizations including Google and Pluralsight to provide resources and mentorship to developers.

“Over the past three years, we’ve helped prove to the world that brilliance is evenly distributed. It’s now time to prove that our model of investing in extraordinary people isn’t just viable, but revolutionary,” says Jeremy Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO of Andela.

Read more: Andela Raises $40M To Connect Africa’s Engineering Talent With Global Technology Companies

08 Aug

Earthport partners with Access Bank in Africa

Cross-border payment network Earthport partners with Access Bank

Cross-border payment network Earthport announced on Monday that it partnered with Access Bank, one of Africa’s foremost financial institutions, to provide delivery of cross-border payment services into Nigeria.

The AIM-traded firm described Access Bank as one of Nigeria’s ‘leading financial institutions’, and had a strong focus on servicing the Nigerian diaspora.

“It is with great pleasure that Access Bank is partnering with Earthport, a reputable global payment network, to meet the needs of our customers who require a sound and reliable international payment platform,” said Access Bank Nigeria executive director Victor Etuokwu.

“As a top player in the remittance industry in Nigeria, our wide branch network and large customer base will be invaluable to this partnership and we are confident that this relationship will be a mutually beneficial one to both parties.

“This alliance also supports the bank’s vision of being ‘the world’s most respected African bank’ and our mantra of speed, service and services.”

Earthport said the new payment channel had been created in direct response to the need for more effective servicing of remittances and low-value payments sourced from outside the country, which now totalled an estimated $19bn per year, representing 4.7% of the country’s GDP.

The partnership was part of Earthport’s longer term strategy of expansion into the African continent.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Access Bank to extend our global payment network into Nigeria, which is undergoing a rapid transformation,” said Earthport CEO Hank Uberoi.

“With this comes a growing demand for efficient cross-border payment services, which Earthport will deliver to this important market, together with innovative solutions for financial inclusion.

“This is also a significant step in the expansion of Earthport’s global footprint.”

via digitallook

08 Aug

Senegal start-up trains young coders

Senegal starts training young coders
Senegal’s tech scene has been slow to get off the ground due to a lack of qualified coders. But a locally-run company is trying to change that, while also helping young people find jobs.
Local tech start-ups are tackling day-to-day conveniences in the capital, Dakar. Firefly, a digital advertising company, places TV screens in public buses, but has struggled to find qualified web and mobile app developers in Senegal.

“They are trained in technologies we do not work with,” explains Mafal Lo, the co-founder of Firefly. “For example, all engineering schools in Dakar work in Java. We work mostly with PHP and Python, with new front-end technologies like Bootstrap. These are not things they learn in school.”

Until recently, that is.

At Volkeno, students learn web development, digital marketing or graphic design. At the end of the one-month training programme, they will spend two months interning with a local company.

The classes are free. Volkeno is supported by companies like Firefly in exchange for hiring interns. At least 15 of those interns have landed full-time contracts.

CEO Abdoul Khadre Diallo initially set up Volkeno to provide tech services to local entrepreneurs. The training programme was launched later when he realised none of his interns were sufficiently qualified.

“Here, young people are not encouraged to be interested in these skills. Most schools remain too classical. The training is too classical. You see schools where in five years, there is no decent practical training, in my opinion,” says IT professor Babacar Fall who taught the workshop in St. Louis.

There are efforts to change that. At a coding workshop in the northern city of St. Louis, high school students are introduced to coding and web development.

The Next Einstein Forum’s Africa Science Week is held in 13 African countries to promote interest in STEM fields, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“For me, the problem lies in the content of university courses,” Fall says. “Because you can start by teaching HTML, but then you evolve and teach HTML5. For me, we must simply update everything.”

Volkeno has registered more than 40 functioning start-ups in Dakar, all of which operate through websites and mobile applications.

“If you are trained in technology, you can find work after you graduate,” explains Fatim Sarah Kaita, a digital marketing trainee at Volkeno. “Because it is very difficult to find internships and everything here, and your relations play a big role. But for example, if you learn programming you can set up your own project, create an application. If you know digital marketing, you can do all the promotion yourself, so it is important to get training.”

The founder of Senegal’s next big start-up may be sitting right here in this room. – VOA

Source from HowWeMadeItInAfrica

08 Aug

Safaricom Sees Amazon as Model for Kenya E-Commerce Platform

Safaricom Ltd. of Kenya plans to introduce an e-commerce platform

Safaricom Ltd. of Kenya plans to introduce an e-commerce platform within eight months targeting formal retail and informal online trading in East Africa’s biggest economy, directors at the company said.

Known as Masoko, Swahili for markets, it will offer products ranging from electronics to beverages and cosmetics, and provide a tool for people currently buying and selling goods on social-media platforms such as Facebook, Director of Enterprise Business Rita Okuthe said in an interview. The portal is currently undergoing in-house testing, Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said.

“This offering will not be holding inventory and neither will it be an anyone-can-sell arena,” Collymore said in an interview in the capital, Nairobi. “Safaricom is carefully screening all the merchants before giving them access to the platform.” Okuthe said the goal was to become “a little bit more” than an African equivalent of Amazon.com Inc.’sMarketplace.

Safaricom is looking for ways to build on the success of M-Pesa, its mobile-phone money transfer service that dominates the Kenyan economy and is used by subscribers to pay for everything from utility bills to groceries and gasoline. The company accounts for 75 percent of the country’s 40.6 million Internet users, while M-Pesa handled 432.5 billion shillings ($4.2 billion) of mobile commerce transactions in the first quarter, more than half the total 627.5 billion shillings ($6.04 billion), according to data published by the industry regulator.

Logistics Hurdles

Safaricom, based in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is mulling partnerships with logistics companies and could use global positioning systems to make deliveries in the absence of a national addressing system, Okuthe said. It’s aiming to cut delivery times from the current 72-96 hours, she said.

The platform could potentially be used by services including Africa Internet Group’s Jumia, Kilimall International and OLX, a unit of Johannesburg-listed Naspers Ltd. in the first phase of operations, according to Okuthe.

“If you look at Facebook and Instagram, there’s a lot of online/offline selling that happens and one of the reasons why they’re popular in Kenya is because small-scale, middle-scale merchants use it as a sales tool,” Okuthe said. “What we are going to be doing is formalizing that. At least five in 10 Kenyans have bought something they first saw online.”

The company will work with manufacturers and farmers looking for direct market access and reduce supply-chain inefficiencies including transportation costs and poor infrastructure, Okuthe said.

M-Pesa will be among a number of payment methods including other online wallet services and cards by Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. Safaricom plans to roll out Masoko by the end of March, and later expand the platform beyond Kenya, Okuthe said, without specifying what other markets the company is considering.

“We have some very big ambitions in terms of how big we want to scale and wherever we want to go,” Okuthe said.

Via Bloomberg

08 Aug

Innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive

technology is changing the landscape of financial services in rural Africa
It is clear that technology is changing the landscape of financial services in rural Africa, writes Howard Miller, an associate consultant at Nathan Associates, and Grace Njoroge, a financial inclusion advisor at KPMG.
From the largest banks to the smallest fintechs, financial service providers are gearing up for a world in which finance is digital first and in which anyone with access to a mobile phone can also derive benefits from formal financial services.

The rapid uptake of mobile money in many countries has sowed the seed for a thousand new innovations that could further extend inclusive financial services. An outcome of this success has been that everybody in digital finance is looking for “the new M-Pesa”, in the same way that elsewhere, entrepreneurs want to be “the Uber of…” An underlying assumption here is that change is generally linear until a special company comes along with an idea that creates non-linear change, which we often call disruption.

But when you map this idea onto the landscape of unbundling that financial services are currently going through, it is not so clear that disruption is what’s needed. It used to be that a bank, or a microfinance institution, or an insurance company, would aim to provide a vertically integrated service to the customer, from initial acquisition to all aspects of relationship management and back end services.

This is changing. Technology, and in particular the ability for different platforms to link with each other, opens up new opportunities for collaboration. Not everyone needs to develop the next big product or service – there may be much more value and impact for a fintech company to build a business-to-business solution that works at a specific pain point for a financial institution.

For example, the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity is supporting a partnership between Juhudi Kilimo, an asset financing company, and the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab to develop a psychometric credit scoring tool for smallholder farmer borrowers with no or limited verifiable credit information. This is a tech-enabled solution for a specific challenge – how to estimate likelihood of repayment in a data-light environment – that could reduce costs and improve efficiency of Juhudi Kilimo’s credit processes.

Innovation can be highly effective without being disruptive.

A similar partnership in the fund portfolio is between First Access, a fintech company, and Esoko, an agricultural information and communications company. The two will develop a rural agricultural credit-scoring platform for lending institutions from disparate data sets, from soil and weather data to mobile phone usage and farmer profiles. The solution has the potential to impact a large number of farmers who do not have traditionally accepted banking histories.

These are great innovations, that could have a real impact on micro and small business finance, but they probably won’t be putting other lenders out of business. And that’s fine. Innovation can be highly effective without being disruptive.

There’s nothing wrong with ambition, and there is certainly scope for massive changes in Africa’s rural finance markets. But if you focus too hard on the next disruption you can lose sight of the great ideas that represent an evolution, not necessarily a revolution. At the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, we love big ideas. But the most important aspect of the big idea is the impact it has on the livelihoods of rural communities in Africa, not necessarily on how it disrupts the structure of the financial system.

So if you want to apply for support from the fund, we’re not so fussed about if you’re the next big disruption to African financial markets. We want a credible plan that overcomes some of the many challenges of financing rural populations, and can have a real impact on the lives of people living in or close to poverty. We want ideas that work from the bottom up, which solve real problems. Maybe you’ll be disruptive. If you’re not, that’s fine too.

10 Jul

African consumer products industry rides out uncertainty

According to Deloitte’s inaugural  African Powers of Consumer Products report, despite a much-discussed slowdown in the African economic growth story, the continent’s consumer products industry is demonstrating a resilient and positive growth path when viewed in local reporting currencies.

The analysis by Deloitte shows that the top 50 African listed consumer product companies are concentrated in 15 countries, with South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Morocco accounting for 64% of the companies with just above 80% of their total revenues. This concentration reflects the size of their respective economies, their level of development and economic diversification, but also the low degree of capital market development in other African countries.

While the overall African growth story might have ‘stuttered’ recently (mostly due to the commodities decline), the prospects and opportunities for consumer goods companies still reflect a generally positive growth opportunity. For instance, sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP per capita in purchasing power doubled to US$3,831 between 2000 and 2016. While several oil-producing countries have seen faltering investment, East African economies that are less exposed to commodity markets, are growing at rates of 6% per annum or more.

On average, the year-on-year revenues of the top 50 declined by 7.5% in USD and grew by 4.7% in local reporting currencies. When measured over a five-year period from 2011 to 2015, the average of the top 50 compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in USD was 3.5% and 12.5% in local currencies.

“Although African economies have seen their currencies depreciate sharply against the USD, making imported goods more expensive, companies which produce goods locally and are able to ramp up facilities have an opportunity to grow their market share,” said Andre Dennis, Deloitte Africa consumer products leader.

The report considers the performance of Africa’s Top 50 listed consumer product companies in FY15 (year ending up to and including May 2016), as calculated according to revenue in US dollar terms. It focuses on African domiciled companies which are listed on African stock exchanges, with manufacturing as a core business.

Read More: How we made it in Africa