GES2015: US govt pledges support for Kenyan wireless internet provider

The US government’s development finance institution, Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC),and Microsoft have signed an agreement with Kenyan wireless internet provider Mawingu Networks Ltd that will pave the way for possible funding to the tune of $4million towards the company’s free Wi-Fi project.

The Project is aimed at helping people living off-grid and in rural communities across Africa access affordable Wi-Fi.

OPIC president and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield is currently in Nairobi for the 2015 Global Entrepreneur Summit, and signed the OPIC mandate alongside Antony Cook who is Microsoft’s head of legal and corporate affairs for the Middle East and Africa. Cook served as a witness to the mandate between OPIC and Mawingu.

“The development potential from creative private sector organisations like Mawingu captures the spirit and promise at the heart of this week’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit,” said Littlefield.

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Airtel unveils App challenge for African developers

Bharti Airtel has revealed a new application challenge for startup developers. According to the company, the drive behind the challenge is to attract the ‘next big app developers’ into the Airtel group of companies.

mobile phone  dungThe challenge – a partnership between Bharti Airtel, Singaporean Telecommunications Company, Singtel and smartphone company Samsung – seeks to attract developers in Africa and Asia who will partner with the companies to launch applications on the two continents.

Announcing the partnership, Airtel Africa Chief Executive Officer, Christian de Faria said that the challenge reiterates the company’s commitment to empowering the youth to realise their potential in various sectors including Information Communication and Technology.

“This initiative is a great opportunity for developers in Africa to come up with innovative mobile apps that directly touch individual consumer’s needs. We hope to partner with like-minded individuals who will come forward and work together with us to come up with apps that will help us deliver the best smartphone experience for customers,” said Mr. de Faria.

Under the partnership, Airtel Africa will provide all operational support by running the campaign promotions while Singtel and Samsung together will organize a two- day mentorship program for the regional winners and the finale in November 2015.

The five-month app challenge will see participants develop consumer-centric mobile applications that will leverage on mobile network services – mobile, data, carrier billing, location and SMS.

The deadline for applications submission is September 5th, 2015 after which two African winners will be selected to participate in a Startup Mentorship Program in October 2015 in Singapore. The overall winners will be announced in November 2015 and expected to commence assignment with Airtel/ Singtel group of companies in 2016.

According to a 2014 Flurry Analytics study, mobile applications command 86 percent of the time that the average mobile consumer spends on their smartphone while smartphone users spend an average of 2 hours 42 minutes on mobile devices with app usage accounting for 2 hours and 19 minutes of this time.

Darryl Linington

Africa Leads in Mobile Money Transfer Services

Africa is the leading market for mobile money transfer services, according to new data from Juniper Research.

The new research, “Mobile Money Transfer & Remittance: Domestic & International Markets 2015–2020,” pointed to Africa as the leading market.

Several African mobile operators such as Vodacom Tanzania and MTN Uganda are now generating more than 10 percent of their revenues from mobile money, according to the report. Meanwhile, Safaricom’s M-Pesa service, the trailblazer in the sector, recorded mobile money revenues of more than $330 million in the latest financial year, making it the most successful mobile or online money transfer service worldwide.

According to the research, recent surges in both transaction volumes and values were being driven by increased implementation of both cross-border and intranational remittance interoperability. The research cited the traffic uplifts engendered by recent agreements between Safaricom and MTN (for the Rwanda-Kenya corridor) and by national interoperability agreements in markets such as Tanzania and Pakistan, according to the press release.

The research also highlighted a shift in service provider requirements, with the majority now seeking to deploy smartphone applications in tandem with unstructured supplementary service data)/interactive voice response mobile money solutions, thereby futureproofing them in anticipation of greater medium-term smartphone adoption.

However, the research cautioned that while inadequate regulation still constrained growth in a number of markets, in many cases low adoption or activity rates could be attributed to poor decision-making by service providers. Read more

Africa the Internet progress frontier

Cybercafe in Mombasa, Kenya. (Photo: Flickr/ Ebel)

Cybercafe in Mombasa, Kenya. (Photo: Flickr/ Ebel)

David Meads President of Cisco Africa, explains that many African cities have been able to bypass fixed-line phone networks and go straight to mobile and wireless services. According to Meads, Africa boasts the fastest mobile subscriber growth in the world, with the average subscription rate at 72% and expected to reach 97% by 2017. This surge in mobility is one of the key factors affecting the growth of economic activity – and GDP.

He believes that increased foreign investment in Africa makes it likely that further major leaps forward will happen in key African technology centres. “Digitisation – forming new connections and connecting the unconnected via the internet – demands high-speed, high-quality and affordable broadband, both wired and wireless. The connection of cities, communities, businesses and even entire countries to what we refer to as the Internet of Everything (IoE) is the best way to expedite growth; it will drive job creation, open up education to more people, improve health, advance welfare and fuel innovation.” Read more