Issue No.122 / July 2017

TLcom wants to put its US$40 million fund into African start-ups with a big idea that can scale across countries

TLcom has just finalized the raising of US$40 million for its TIDE Africa fund. It’s looking for start-ups that can scale across several countries. Russell Southwood caught up with Ido Sum, Partner and Omobola Johnson, General Partner and former Nigerian Communications Minister in Lagos to talk about what they have planned.

The latest video clip interviews from Smart Monkey TV can be found at the bottom of this e-letter

TLcom Capital has recently raised US$40 million for its Technology and Innovation for Developing Economics (TIDE) Africa Fund. Investors include the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) committing US$10 million each, alongside other African, American and European corporate investors and family offices such as FBN Capital, and Silicon Valley based Bob King, founder of the Stanford SEED institute. Other investors are currently working with a view to joining the final close of the Fund scheduled in June 2018.

The fund wants to look at start-up companies from early to growth stage and invest anything between US$0.5-10 million. According to Ido Sum:”The sweet spot for us is US$2-5 million. We want to be the first institutional investor in the company”.

The fund is looking for companies that have demonstrated that they have growth potential:”We want to see a company with traction and this can be expressed as users for a B2C company or as (signed) commercial agreements for a B2B company”.

Sum talks of targeting people at the Bottom of the Pyramid but makes it clear that will not be the very bottom of the pyramid:”There are a lot of perceptions that the (African) middle class is not really middle class. There’s definitional issues. But with people on US$1 a day, there’s not much you can do. We’re starting from urban centres where the energy (in people terms) is different”.

It is targeting five sectors: fintech, education, health, energy and e-commerce:”We have a pipeline in place and a database of 1,000 companies. The usual ratio is talking to 100 companies to get a deal”.

It is looking to do 3-4 investments a year and the fund has a 10 year life with the option of a two year extension. It is hoping to hold its investments for an average of five to seven years.

In terms of geography it is firmly targeting the African start-up “heartlands”:”Two-thirds of our database is Nigeria and Kenya. South Africa is also interesting and we want a broad spread around the other countries. We want companies in Kenya that are targeting East Africa. We’re not that excited by South Africa”.

So what are you looking for in your start-ups?:”A strong team that can execute. We’re interested in teams over individuals. We want ideas that are big and scalable. For example, the e-commerce companies need to target a large need”.

Both Sum and Johnson are clear about what has and will generate good performing start-ups in Africa:”We don’t think the next Google will come out of Africa. There’s not a sufficient level of engineering skills. The opportunities will come out of a deep understanding of local problems. It’s no good just importing ideas and tweaking them”.

“There is no legacy so the question to ask is how is the need different, particularly in health and fintech? System solutions are unlikely to be those built in the US market. We’re interested in those companies that may not have been overly hyped. The less smart money has gone after the over-hyped opportunities. We’re interested in those ones that are outside the spotlight”. Although reluctant to be drawn on what’s over-hyped, Sum does let slip that he thinks Pay-As-You-Go energy is one of them.

So what are the biggest barriers for African start-ups?:”Access to capital. Also many have little business experience. They don’t have strong business networks. There’s not a lot of structural support from successful entrepreneurs and many are first-time entrepreneurs”.

“The start-up ecosystem) is young. It needs more time. It needs people moving between jobs so that they get experience and skills”.

And as Johnson observes:”It’s about filling a demand gap rather than creating a disruption. It’s creating a utility service level for the underserved or unserved. It’s about giving Africans what they can’t currently get from Government or the private sector, where there’s no access to services. Currently it is limited by internet access but that will change”.

Start-Ups and Investment+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

21 Next Generation African Leaders Announced as Winners of the Resolution Social Venture Challenge

Ten teams of 21 budding African social entrepreneurs have been selected as winners of the Resolution Social Venture Challenge at the Baobab Summit in Johannesburg. Winning teams earn a fellowship that includes seed funding, mentorship and access to a network of young global changemakers to pursue impactful projects in their communities. A collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project, the Resolution Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities.

"Giving back to your community is an important part of the Scholars Program, yet few young leaders have the opportunity to make an impact at a young age," explains Ashley Collier, Manager of the Scholars Community. "The Social Venture Challenge equips these young leaders with the tools, resources, mentorship and capital they need to ensure that their venture is successful, and to maximize their impact."

In 2016, the Mastercard Foundation first partnered with The Resolution Project, offering 16 Scholars on five competing teams the opportunity to pursue their aspirations and increase their appetite for leadership and impact. Winning projects address a wide range of challenges Scholars observed first-hand in their communities, including food security, access to sanitation, and young women's access to reproductive health education.

Impact evaluation data reported by The Resolution Project shows that, while type and reach of impact varies, an average of 3,200 community members benefit per fellowship awarded. With over 350 Resolution Fellows active in 65 countries, more than 1.2 million people worldwide have been positively impacted by their work. They are driving progress in their communities, making each Resolution Fellow a change agent and a force for good.

The 2017 cohort of Social Venture Challenge winners include projects based in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana Uganda, Rwanda, and the United States:

* AgriMatters - Clive Matsika - Arizona State University
With his AgriMatters initiative, Clive will partner with local fertilizer companies in Zimbabwe, harnessing nanotechnology to manufacture Greenfert, a rich, environmentally friendly fertilizer that can be sold to farmers at a reduced cost.

* Baringo Asali - Sylvia Mwangi - University of Toronto
By working closely with marginalized communities in Baringo, Kenya, Sylvia aims to increase local revenue generated from honey production. Through partnerships with local and international apiaries, Sylvia will roll out training in advanced beekeeping techniques and local community skills training.

* Dash for Girls - Frances Aanyu, Agatha Akello and Lisa Anenocan - Makerere University
Frances, Agatha and Lisa are working to empower the girl child in Karamoja, Uganda, by providing access to correct and accurate information about the dangers of teenage pregnancy so as to help them make informed decisions.

* ECO Sanitation Services - Kwabena Adu-Darkwa, Abraham Addy and Justice Nyamadi - Ashesi University College
Kwabena, Abraham and Justice are working together to tackle the problem of the 2.4 billion people world-wide who lack access to safe toilets. Eco Sanitation Services (ECOSaS) provides environmentally friendly and affordable micro-flush toilets to low-income earners, supporting them with a flexible payment system.

* Prawji-Mama Food Bank - Pauline Nalumansi and Ephrance Kalungi - Arizona State University
With Prawji-Mama Food Bank, Pauline and Ephrance are working to develop a sustainable food bank system supported by youth entrepreneurship and technology to overcome hunger in rural communities.

* Rwanda Youth Initiative for Agricultural Transformation - Annet Mukamurenzi, Gerard Ndayishimiye and Yvette Abizeyimana - EARTH University
By working with vulnerable farming communities across Rwanda, Annet, Gerard and Yvette are committed to improving food security. They will equip smallholder farmers with modern farming skills, strategies and technologies to grow sustainable food security solutions and protect the environment.

* Sparky Thermal Dehydrator - Kayiza Isma and Nsubuga Thomas - Makerere University
To address post-harvest losses, a leading cause of food insecurity in Uganda, Kayiza and Nsubuga will introduce the Sparky thermal dehydrator. Sparky, which operates using bio-fuels as a source of energy, is a low-cost, efficient device that dries farm produce 10 times faster than the conventional sun drying methods.

* Strong Women, Strong Love - Ritah Arishaba and Alpha Ngwenya - Arizona State University
From Uganda to America, Ritah and Alpha are providing health education and feminine hygiene products to homeless and economically disadvantaged women. In Uganda, the pair will be teaching young women and girls to make their own sanitary products.

* Ukulima Halisi - John Wanjiku - University of Pretoria
Most tea farmers in Kangema, Kenya, spend a lot of time waiting for their tea leaves to be collected. But, John believes, if farmers had access to tea leaves collection schedules, farmers would have more time to devote to other farming activities and improve their incomes.

* ZAZI Growers' Network - Thabu Mugala, Tanyaradzwa Chinyukwi and Martinho Tembo - EARTH University
Thabu, Tanyaradzwa and Martinho are committed to empowering and connecting women farmers in rural Zimuto, Zimbabwe. ZAZI Growers' Network will provide women farmers with technical agricultural training and mentorship to help them improve their crop yields and enhance the community's development.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Mastercard Foundation.

Silicon Valley-Style Sexual Harassment Undermining Silicon Savannah

A crisis of epic proportions has erupted in Silicon Valley, with many of the ecosystem’s most prominent individuals and companies caught up in sexual harassment scandals.

However, sexual harassment in the tech world is not unique to Silicon Valley. It is happening across the board. And this month it reared its head in the Silicon Savannah.

Ushahidi is probably the flagship company of Kenya’s tech revolution, with its crowdmapping software used across the world.

But, a company whose software was used in Egypt to protect women is apparently not immune to the issues seen elsewhere. It emerged this month that an individual within the senior leadership of the company had been accused of sexually harassing women in the company over a number of years.

That individual is now on gardening leave and an investigation is underway, but that has not stopped Ushahidi from being accused of a wholly substandard reaction to the claims.

Even Ory Okolloh, who co-founded the company but has since moved elsewhere, called it an “unacceptable response”.

She said the scandal raised serious issues about the tech community’s attitude towards women in the workplace, and said Kenya needed to up its game. “We as a tech community must examine the series of events that led us to a point where an organisation and community that is well placed to do better has failed,” she wrote.

“The startup ecosystem in Kenya is no longer nascent, it can and must handle the hard work and tough conversations that will happen in the coming weeks and months.”

It is clear that Ushahidi is not the only tech company in Kenya, or Africa, where this kind of thing has been going on unreported and uninhibited. Long-held chauvinist attitudes, particularly in a tech world long dominated by men, take time to change.

Naomi Wambui is co-founder and chief operating officer of Kenyan startup Campus Discounts. She said it is “sad and disheartening” that women still experience harassment in 2017.

“This shows that sexual harassment is deeply rooted in our human nature and thought, and much more needs to be addressed to raise awareness and stop the practice,” she said.

“I think each company’s management team is responsible for creating a safe environment for their employees. Where they can work freely without fear of victimisation, harassment or intimidation. Additionally, responsible offenders should face legal action regardless of the position they hold. The days of firms sending out press releases stating that they are investigating claims and then going mum should be put behind us.”

Wambui said she herself has been the victim of demeaning behaviour from men, on an online forum where she was referring to how hard it is to raise startup funding in Africa.

“One guest in particular took issue, stating that it could not be the case because we are not living in the 90s. He added that I would be better placed tending to my children. He later deleted this particular response but went on to disprove my input to the discussion,” she said.

“It was an unfortunate encounter because I was affirming my experience as a black female founder based in Kenya – where most startup resources, including funding, available in developed countries are lacking.”

She said not enough is being done to encourage women to enter entrepreneurship and thrive. From her experience in Y Combinator’s Startup School, female founders from all over the world face challenges in starting, running and financing their ventures.

“Removing barriers to entry and supporting female entrepreneurs will definitely get more women venturing into entrepreneurship,” Wambui said.

“I applaud initiatives like Y Combinator’s female founders’ conference and Kenya’s women enterprise fund that target thousands of female entrepreneurs. But globally, more governments and private sector stakeholders need to start and run programmes that support female entrepreneurs.”
Source; AFKInsider

Pokemon Go style game Safari Central crowdfunding US$80,000 on Kickstarter – Halfway there so far

Pokemon Go syle game Internet of Elephants has launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund Safari Central, the first ever game based on real wildlife data. Players track the movements of a real rhino, elephant, pangolin, lemur or grizzly in their own city and support the animal’s conservation through in-game purchases. Backers become part of a radical new movement to make conservation ferociously fun.

Jake Mannion, Safari Central told me:” It's been live now for 10 days, and we're currently at 54% of our $80,000 target, with 20 days to go. It looks optimistic when you see those figures, but we're learning that things are far from certain in the world of crowdfunding!”

We’ve lost 50% of our wildlife in the past 40 years and conventional fundraising approaches are not reaching enough people or raising enough funds to turn the tide. Internet of Elephants aims to connect millions of people currently not engaged in conservation with wildlife projects across the world.

Its first game, Safari Central, maps out the movement data of real wild animals in your own city, enabling you to track an animal and spot them on your mobile phone through augmented reality. In-app purchases enable you to learn more about the animal while your contribution goes towards their preservation. You will have a total blast exploring your city, discover fantastic animals and support conservation.

Safari Central is the world’s first game to be based entirely on real tracking data, which is gathered by Internet of Elephant’s conservation partners such as WWF Brazil, Chicago Zoological Society, Conservation International, Space for Giants, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Tswalu Foundation. Safari Central connects our partners to a new audience and revenue stream at no expense to their operations.

The campaign is live here:

Nigerian startup TradPeek has an ambitious goal – to be to Africa what Alibaba is to China.

An online marketplace for products made or manufactured by Africans, TradPeek aims to celebrate and promote Africans’ skills and  innovations, changing the trajectory of Africa being a consuming continent and instead promoting exports.

“The company seeks to establish a central platform that allows the global access to products and crafts out of Africa. You can mildly compare to what Alibaba is to entrepreneurs in China and across Asian market,” TradPeek co-founder Kehinde Oseni told Disrupt Africa.

Launched in September of last year, Oseni has been focused of late on establishing logistic partnerships, but already has over 40 vendors using the platform. It charges a 20 per cent commission on products sold via TradPeek, as well as a US$10 monthly service fee.

Oseni said Alibaba was definitely his inspiration. “I happened to visit China pretty often until last year and I have seen first hand the transformation and empowerment Alibaba has given to an average manufacturer and retailer,” he said. “They now have a platform to connect them to the world without leaving their small stores in Foshan, Guangzhou or Beijing.”

He said African ingenuity and creativity has not been given exposure they deserved, with so much being produced on the continent that would be appreciated by the outside world.

“We believe it is time to promote Africa and celebrate her entrepreneurs, especially those in the remote areas seeking a platform to showcase their skills and crafts to the world,” said Oseni.

“TradPeeks seek to provide that platform with the edge of a hassle-free delivery strategy. We have partnerships with EMS in two countries, and more to come,” he said.

The self-funded startup is currently seeking an investor that can offer both financial and strategic support to help TradPeek establish a presence in every African country. Already active in Nigeria, it will shortly be opening a drop-off centre in the Ghanaian capital of Accra.
Source: Disrupt Africa

HAVAÍC to undertake a R5m capital raise for SA company Digital Cabinet

Cape Town venture capital (VC) company HAVAÍC has announced it would undertake a R5-million capital raise for local paperless cloud solutions company Digital Cabinet. The raise includes the conversion of the convertible loan, extended in July last year, into equity.

In a press release HAVAÍC said the company had mandated the VC to undertake the capital raise, which is based on the company’s estimated valuation having doubled in the intervening period.

Speaking to Ventureburn, HAVAÍC executive director Grant Rock did not want to disclose Digital Cabinet’s current valuation. However he was able to say that the VC firm had a minority stake of “less than 20%” in the company.

Several of the convertible loan participants and all the HAVAÍC principals have committed to subscribe for additional equity. HAVAÍC is now engaging with its wider investment community to close the remaining investment opportunity.

Digital Cabinet offers companies cloud-based paperless document and workflow management solutions, and is on the brink of a period of rapid growth.

This, said HAVAÍC, was as a result of increased focus on sales and marketing as opposed to product development on which it has focused to date, distribution agreements with partners abroad, including US resellers Digital Workflow, and a joint venture partnership with Computershare, an Australian share registrar, for its digital post offering.

The Computershare agreement, the VC firm said, had driven the increase in the company’s estimated valuation as a result of the increased user base this joint venture will facilitate.
Source: Ventureburn

In Brief

Data from the newly published '2017 Venture Finance in Africa' research, conducted by VC4A, proves that a strong team of founders is the key driver of startup success in Africa. View the free summary:

In the last couple of months, Andrew Berkowitz of The Global Startup Movement has been on a mission to understand the fast-growing and evolving technology ecosystem in Africa – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and all other 50 African countries. He virtually stopped by the MEST HQ Campus to have conversations with the team behind the MEST program and incubator and to gain first-hand knowledge of the tech entrepreneurship space in Accra and Lagos by engaging with some of its incubated companies’ founders. To listen and join in the conversation, visit A new episode will be published everyday.

Facebook Africa‘s teams visited Zimbabwe to host a series of training events and workshops designed to help local tech entrepreneurs and small businesses to sharpen their digital skills and expertise.  From 13 to 15 July, Facebook and partner Digify Africa held their Boost Your Business training programme at Moto Republik and Impact Hub Harare.  Boost Your Business aims to help small business owners understand how to use digital platforms to grow their businesses. The programme is also running currently in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. 

Kenya and South Africa are leading the peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending market in Africa. However, 90% of online alternative finance originated from platforms headquartered outside of Africa, evidencing the potential for home-grown platforms.This is according to the recently published 'Africa and Middle East Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report', the first comprehensive study of the size and growth of crowdfunding and P2P lending markets in Africa and the Middle East. According to the report, the third-largest model in Africa was peer-to-peer business lending, which totalled $16m in volume over a two-year period between 2014 and 2015. This model experienced rapid growth, starting at a modest $2m in 2014, and reaching a sizable $14m in 2015. It states that Kenya and South Africa raised $16.7m and $15m respectively from online channels in 2015. They had a much lower average deal size of $41 000, with an average of 24 lenders per fundraise. Furthermore, the East Africa region has the largest market share of the African alternative finance market. In 2015, East Africa accounted for 41% of total African market share, while West Africa accounted for 24% and Southern Africa accounted for 19%.


Renewable-energy firm BBOXX to roll out 300,000 solar home systems in Togo

BBOXX, a fast growing renewable-energy business, met with H.E. President Faure Gnassingbé, President of the Republic of Togo to discuss the “CIZO” (“light up” in Guin local language) presidential initiative.

BBOXX will implement 300,000 BBOXX solar home systems in Togo over the next five years under Togolese government’s Vision 2030, which will provide the entire Togolese population with access to electricity via a sustainable energy mix. The current population of Togo stands at 7 million people, of which 700,000 households are living without access to the grid, although 66% of the population has access to a mobile phone.

According to Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Hamayun: “The President has a strong vision to provide access to electricity to 2 million Togolese people. The governmental authorities have created the right framework to facilitate and attract private capital to electrify Togolese rural households. BBOXX is proud to have been selected by the Government of Togo and we will work hard to deploy our systems across the country.”

The new, innovative partnership between BBOXX and the Government of Togo will seek to roll out the first 10,000 BBOXX systems across Togolese rural areas over the next 12 months.  The BBOXX Home – which has successfully been deployed in Kenya, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola and South Africa – enables the consumer to charge up to five lights, television, radio and torches on a 12V battery. The system’s remote monitoring capabilities allow the operator to view the status of the customer’s product – particularly the battery life and what the customer is using the energy for.

The BBOXX Home permits customers to pay for their energy usage via a mobile-money platform. In turn, BBOXX provides the customer with a full energy service, replacing or upgrading the battery, solar panel and much more.

The presidency press release stated that “in addition to increasing the rural electrification rate from 7% to 40%, the CIZO initiative aims at providing massive adoption of mobile payment solutions across rural areas thus facilitating financial inclusion of rural populations”. Entry to the Togolese market marks the third West African nation after Nigeria and Cameroon in which BBOXX has successfully launched its solar home system.
Source: Tech Moran
Watch Christopher Baker-Brian, BBOX on how start-up BBOXX is providing off-grid solutions to Africa:

Enel partnership unveils Africa Energy Track challenge

The Enel Group through its renewable energy subsidiary, Enel Green Power, has signed a cooperation agreement with Switzerland-based group Seedstars World SA for the establishment of the Africa Energy Track challenge.

The Group stated that the competition is aimed at identifying innovative start-ups in the field of electricity access in Africa within the framework of the Seedstars World start-up competition.

According to the Italian energy company, the project’s goal is to enhance technology and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan rural areas.

This will bring innovative energy solutions focused on electric mobility, storage, distributed generation and energy efficiency, thereby tackling UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG7 - ensuring affordable and clean energy for all.

Head of Enel Green Power, Antonio Cammisecra, commented: “Seedstars’ expertise and programs match Enel’s commitment to opening up to new, pioneering startups, seeking innovative solutions to energy and sustainability challenges.”

Through this partnership, Enel will gain exclusive access to Seedstars’ regional competitions in Africa, which will consist in over 20 different local events with the participation of start-ups from various sectors evaluated by juries in the energy field.

Winners from the local events will move on to the Regional Summits, with Enel selecting at least one start-up in the energy field. The selected winner will enter a three-month growth and acceleration programme, which includes a financial contribution, provided by the start-up competition group. Read more...

Enel explained that through its participation in this project, aims to identify companies that can help to foster socio-economic development in rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa through electrification.

The Africa Energy Track challenge will help identify innovative and disruptive business models focusing on electrifying remote rural regions and on the creation of related income-generating activities, the Group concluded.
Source: ESI-Africa

In Brief

Rwanda has received financial backing from the World Bank through a secured $50 million credit to ramp up off-grid renewable projects in the east African region.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has announced plans to double the size of its planned Inga 3 hydroelectric plant. Reuters reported that this move is to make it more economical “after the $14 billion project was hit by financing problems."
Inga 3 hydroelectric project. According to Bruno Kapandji, director of the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, the plant would be built to produce between 10,000 and 12,000 megawatts of power, more than double the originally planned capacity of 4,800 MW, Reuters reported. “Inga 3 is part of a $50 billion-$80 billion project to expand hydroelectric dams along the Congo River, but the project has repeatedly been delayed by red tape and disagreements between Congo and its partners on the project,” Reuters reported.

In Southern Africa, the 5MW Ombepo Wind Farm is expected to be connected to Namibia’s national electricity grid by the end of this month.

Speaking to The Namibian, project manager Jan-Barend Scheepers said: “We have erected the first four wind turbines, and work is in progress to lift another one.” He added: “Although it was very difficult to get the wind turbine components on site, it was an absolute pleasure working with Namport to get all parts on site.”
Ombepo Wind Farm The construction of the $13.6 million wind power project at Lüderitz is being built by Namibia-registered company, Innosun Energy Holdings, owned by Namibian and French investors. The Namibian reported that the Lüderitz Town Council holds a 5% stake, started in mid-2016.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) has announced that it will make available additional funding for solar energy projects in Zimbabwe. The AECF fund consultant, Oliver Bowler, told The Herald Business that funding will be made available to existing Zimbabwean solar energy projects aimed at solar businesses so that they can scale-up to profitable levels. The media reported that the organisation has already made a $10 million commitment towards solar energy projects in four African countries including Zimbabwe this year.

3D Printing and Makers+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

3D printed sonic devices could transform disposable blood tests

Disposable devices used to detect pregnancies, or harmful viruses like HIV, have developed to the point where results are almost 100% accurate. To push the capabilities of these devices even further, a body of research is looking into the use of sound waves to better understand the hormonal, and potentially harmful, activity of molecules in blood and urine.

Frieder Lucklum of the University of Bremen, Germany, is leading a project into the use of sound-controlling phononic crystals that have the potential to transform disposable devices.

In presentation to the the Acoustical Society of America, Lucklum and his colleague Ralf Lucklum at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg have also suggested 3D printing as a suitable technique for making phononic powered point-of-care devices.

Phononic crystals are an acoustic metamaterial. When the crystals come into contact with sound waves, they are designed to vibrate in a certain way.

In the case of Lucklum and Lucklum’s research, the crystals have been tuned to detect sound vibrations between molecules in the blood or urine. By collecting this information, the researchers can determine the way molecules in a mixture behave with one another. They are therefore able to detect any abnormalities such as the presence of a HIV, or the hCG hormone produced by a woman in pregnancy.

Other devices used to determine the content of liquids like the blood typically work using light or an electrical charge. In some cases this means that the devices are powered by an external source. One advantage of a phononic device is that it would work independently of battery or mains power.

Another significant advantage of phononic crystals is that they are sensitive to the size, shape and water content of molecules, giving a more detailed reading of microscopic activity.

By incorporating the crystals into a 3D printed device, Lucklum and Lucklum hope to be able make an inexpensive kit that can be used at home or in local and hospital medical screenings. So far, possible designs have been drafted by the collaborators using numerical models, and have been optimized for high-resolution 3D printing.

In a previous project from the University of California Irvine, postgraduate student Chris Lim used 3D printing to make a point-of-care device capable of diagnosing Malaria, Zika, and other infectious diseases. A number of devices have also been developed to work with smartphones and improve the health of patients at home.
Source; 3D Printing Industry


GSMA Announces New Developments in Mobile for Development Programme Initiatives

At Mobile 360 – Africa, the GSMA today announced several developments in its Mobile for Development programme, all of which support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Connected Woman initiative announced new commitments by five mobile network operators (MNOs) to reduce the gender gap in mobile internet or mobile money services, while Sudatel Group became the latest signatory to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter. Additionally, the GSMA’s Utilities programme launched the ‘Mobile for Energy Access’ initiative, the Connected Society Programme announced that Tanzanian MNOs have implemented the first tri-party rural roaming project in Africa, and the mAgri programme released a report outlining the significant impact of mAgri services on smallholder farmers.

“The rapidly growing adoption of mobile and digital technology in Africa has unlocked new opportunities across the continent, providing a platform for innovation, creating new companies and services, and providing employment opportunities,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “The GSMA Mobile For Development team work closely with innovative companies to deliver a connected region where mobile is positively impacting society and helping to meet the Sustainable Development Goals – this truly is the digital age for Africa.”

Connected Women Increases Industry Commitments to Reduce Gender Gap:The GSMA Connected Women programme has announced announced five new signatories to the Connected Women Commitment Initiative. EconetLeo, Orange Cote d’Ivoire, Safaricom Ltd. Kenya, Telenor Pakistan and Vodacom Tanzania join with other GSMA operator members in committing to connect millions more women in low- and middle-income countries by 2020. Through the Connected Women Initiative, mobile operator partners have delivered life-enhancing services to more than 17 million women in developing countries, supporting SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Information on the Connected Women programme can be found at:

New Humanitarian Connectivity Charter Signatory, Disaster Response Research: Sudatel Group, with operations in Guinea Conakry, Mauritania, Senegal and Sudan, has become the latest signatory to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter initiative. Contributing to SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), the Charter is designed to improve preparedness in disasters, reduce loss of life, and aid recovery through access to communication and information for those affected by crisis. With today’s addition of Sudatel, 112 mobile operators in 77 countries have committed to the Charter to date.

Additionally the Disaster Response programme, which manages the Charter, has produced a report that explores the socio-economic impact of connectivity for refugees in Nyarugusu, one of three large refugee camps in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. The report provides robust evidence of the current use, value and impact of connectivity, and addresses the barriers and challenges that refugees face in accessing and using mobile devices. The report can be found at

The GSMA Utilities programme launched the ‘Mobile for Energy Access’ initiative to support SDG 7 (Universal Energy Access). It is estimated that there are currently 772 million people that do not have access to energy but are covered by mobile networks. The new initiative will promote the crucial role of mobile in enabling clean and affordable energy solutions, and will help mobile operators to engage more effectively with the energy sector by providing feasibility studies and advisory services, sharing insights and toolkits, and facilitating partnerships. Further information can be found at

Tanzanian Operators Launch First Tri-Party Rural Roaming Project in Africa
Three major mobile operators in Tanzania – Airtel, Tigo and Vodacom – have successfully implemented the first three-way rural roaming project in Africa. This innovative partnership, supported by the Ministry of Works – Transport and Communications and the Universal Communications Service Access Fund, and facilitated by the GSMA, has so far extended mobile broadband internet coverage to over 70,000 rural users in Tanzania. The project was supported by Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, who built solar-powered, energy-efficient sites to enhance the customer experience in remote locations while at the same time optimizing cost. Further information can be found by visiting:

GSMA Publishes Findings on Scalable Mobile Solutions for Agriculture
The GSMA today issued a report outlining the results of work with mobile operators Airtel Malawi, Dialog Sri Lanka, Grameenphone Bangladesh, Ooredoo Myanmar, Telenor Pakistan and Vodafone Ghana to launch data-driven services for farmers. Since 2014, the mAgri programme, under the mNutrition Initiative funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), has worked with these MNOs to develop and launch services that now reach more than five million registered users worldwide. Globally, the mAgri programme supports services that have allowed smallholder farmers to improve crop yields and income contributing to SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) and SDG 1 (End Poverty). The report presents the social and commercial impact of these services and shares learnings from the six projects. Find out more at:
Mobile 360 – Africa

UNECA United Nations Economic Commission for Afr : Accra launch of The Africa Data Revolution Report

The inaugural edition of the Africa Data Revolution Report (ADRR 2016) will be launched on 19 July in Accra, Ghana, as part of activities marking the 2nd Africa Open Data Conference, which will take place from July 17 - 21, 2017.

Jointly published by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Wide Web Foundation and the Open Data for Development Network (OD4D), ADRR is a biennial report that maps the data ecosystem in Africa with reference to the production, distribution and use of data by public, private and civil society actors, as they relate to the 17 SDGs.
Commenting on the importance of the report, Oliver Chinganya, Director of the Africa Centre for Statistics at ECA said, 'there is need for us as Africa to boost the capacity of national data ecosystems fairly early in the implementation cycle of the sustainable development goals, that is why the ECA and its partners have produced this report and will continue to do so.'

ADRR is expected to enhance the success of Agendas 2030 and 2063 in Africa, as explained by Mansour Ndiaye, Team Leader for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development at UNDP's Regional Service Center for Africa.
'ADRR will enable us to strengthen open, inclusive and participatory national statistical systems with contributions from all stakeholders to improve the availability and use of data to help make the SDGs and Agenda 2063 a reality in African countries.'

For Fernand Perini, Coordinator of the OD4D, the report 'builds on our commitment to support and strengthen regional and global networks, developing global benchmarking tools for country performance, and supporting rigorous research on the impact of data in people's lives.'
A senior policy manager at the Web Foundation, Nnenna Nwakanma, said Africa is the first region to produce a Data Consensus and a Data Revolution Report, but that there's need for more.

'More than data, what people want are solutions to their problems and that means translating these reports into action. The Web Foundation is looking forward to helping make this data revolution an open data revolution.'
The launch will be marked by a panel discussion with focus on the report's findings and ways of translating them into actions; assess the status of data revolution in Africa; identify challenges; and how to leverage open data for Africa data revolution.
Source: UNECA

In Brief

The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development today issued a statement urging policymakers, the private sector and other partners to make deployment of broadband infrastructure a top priority in strategies to accelerate global development and progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The statement was presented to the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which is meeting in New York City 10-19 July 2017 to guide global efforts on the achievement of the SDGs. In the statement, the Commission – a high-powered community, including top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development – outlines the many ways that broadband can improve global sustainable development, and in so doing, better the lives of millions around the globe.

Interactive Group – a Pakistan based integrated IT solutions provider – signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Yahsat to combine connectivity and software solutions to extend the reach of jointly offered eHealth services across the global YahClick footprint. Under the agreement, the collaboration will leverage YahClick’s broadband connectivity and Interactive’s proprietary software and platform to facilitate the deployment of integrated eHealth solutions, through the provision of Telemedicine, Tele-education and Veterinary Telemedicine solutions.

Innovation in Africa+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Solar Street Lights Illuminate Bujumbura, Burundi

“By expanding our investments from commercial scale projects to include off-grid additionally, we are positively impacting the lives of millions of people in Burundi and throughout Africa” - Yosef I. Abramowitz, CEO, Gigawatt Global

Downtown Bujumbura just got a little brighter, thanks to an innovative partnership between Mayor Freddy MBONIMPA and Gigawatt Global (, a founding member of United States Power Africa's Beyond the Grid program.

This week solar-powered ‘light islands’ began appearing in the heavily-trafficked central bus station and nearby marketplace, extending commercial hours and personal safety. 

Gigawatt Global is now in discussions to scale the solar-powered ‘light islands’ program throughout the city and in other major Burundian towns. “We are grateful and pleased to work with the city of Bujumbura, and the Honorable Mayor Freddy MBONIMPA to realise this important first step of the solar street lighting project,” said Michael Fichtenberg, Managing Director of Gigawatt Global Burundi. “We intend to expand throughout the capital and to other locations as part of our larger program of green electrification in Burundi, with 40 'light islands' planned in the first phase of the program,” Fichtenberg continued. “Every country in which we develop commercial scale solar fields will receive additional benefits like these ‘light islands’ and rural electrification with mini-grids.”

Gigawatt Global, which provides 100% financing for its projects, pioneered commercial scale solar power plants in sub-Sahara Africa, launching the first one in Rwanda in 2014, which is currently supplying 6% of the country's generation capacity. Gigawatt Global will complete a 7.5 Mw solar field in the Gitega region of Burundi in the next six months, which will supply 15% of the East African country's generation capacity. Similar projects are currently being developed in 10 African countries, including Liberia and South Sudan, among many others. 

The ‘light islands’ project in Bujumbura is produced by a team that includes local members Patrick NZINTUNGA, Gigawatt Global Regional Coordinator, and Deo HUGERE, Gigawatt Global Engineer. The engineering, procurement, and construction components of this project are being carried out by Asantys System. The pilot program is supported by the Energy & Environmental Partnership (EEP), an initiative of the governments of the United Kingdom, Austria and Finland, and with an impact investment from entrepreneur Alex Goldberg.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Gigawatt Global.

Three outstanding African innovations walk away with Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) 2017 total cash prize of US$150 000

ACCRA, Ghana, July 19, 2017/ -- The sixth edition of the coveted Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) ( culminated with a bang as the African Innovation Foundation (AIF) ( awarded three more African innovators for their incredible innovations. Out of the total of over 2500 applications, 10 nominees were selected, and from these Aly El-Shafei of Egypt emerged as the Grand Prize winner, with Philippa Ngaju Makobore of Uganda landing the Second Prize, and Dougbeh-Chris Nyan of Liberia winning the Special Prize for Social Impact. Each one of the seven remaining nominees also went home with US$ 5 000 voucher to be used to further develop their innovations. Moreover, all nominees and winners will benefit from IPA post prize activities aiming at moving their innovations to the next level.

The main obstacle in increasing electricity generation capacity in Africa continues to be the high cost of producing electricity, which is forcing governments to subsidize consumption. Dr. El-Shafei’s innovation, Smart Electro-Mechanical Actuator Journal Integrated Bearing (SEMAJIB), is a world-class solution that supports energy generating turbines and can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs of generating energy in Africa.

Meanwhile, inadequate medical solutions to efficiently administer drugs or to diagnose diseases continue to affect the quality of healthcare delivery in many parts of the continent. Makobore’s invention, known as Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECGF) and Dr. Nyan’s multiple disease rapid detection test, both offer ingenious solutions aimed at raising the quality of healthcare provision in Africa.

AIF collaborated with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI), Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) and Ghana@60 Planning Committee to host IPA 2017, which was themed ‘African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity’. H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, presided over the prestigious awards ceremony, held at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra in Ghana.

The patented innovation, SEMAJIB), by Dr. El-Shafei who walked away with the Grand Prize of US$ 100 000, is a smart bearing that significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants as well as conventional generator technology. Patented in the US since 2010 with another patent pending, the device is designed to be used to support energy generating turbines more efficiently and cost effectively in Africa. SEMAJIB is an innovation that does not currently exist in the West, and already Siemens' has indicated interest in the device. A world class innovation originating from Africa, SEMAJIB reverse Africa's image as a technology consumer to technology producer. Production of these bearings in Africa will also generate jobs and increased revenue for Africa.

Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set (ECFG) by Philippa, who bagged the Second Prize of US$ 25 000, is designed to accurately administer intravenous (IV) fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor. It is easy to operate and has key safety features, which include alarms for rate of infusion (rapid or slow), total volume (over or under) and faulty sensors. A battery utilizing a hybrid (AC mains and solar) charging bed powers the device. IV infusions are critical for both adults and children in various situations. Over 10% of children admitted to East African hospitals need immediate infusion therapy. Findings from the FEAST trial indicates that over-infusion in children increased the absolute risk of death by 3.3 % at 48 hours. Erroneous delivery rates can result into serious adverse effects. The ECGF has the potential to save lives by providing accuracy and safety at 8% the cost of a brand new infusion pump.

Dr. Dougbeh, who was awarded the Special Prize for Social Impact of US$25 000, developed a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time. His diagnostic test is fast and easy to use in any setting and is able to detect and distinguish multiple infections which bear the same symptoms for instance, when a patient has yellow fever, malaria, and Ebola. Whereas most testing methods take three to seven days, this device gives test results in ten to forty minutes. Dougbeh is currently working on the second prototype of his innovation after obtaining positive results from his first prototype. The results have been validated with human clinical samples, peer-reviewed and published in several respected scientific journals such as ‘Nature-Scientific Reports’. His innovation has the potential of being a game changer in the continent in the detection and management of infectious diseases for quality patient-care.

The 2017 awards welcomed hundreds of entries from outstanding innovators. For the first time, IPA nominees include innovators from Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Zimbabwe, and featured a stronger presence of women that in any of the years past. The exceptional quality of entrants, finalists and winners delighted this year’s judges and made for a thrilling awards celebration night.

IPA has seen tremendous growth in applications and increasing interest from both innovators and innovation enablers over the years. To date, IPA has attracted more than 7 500 innovators from 52 African countries, making it a truly Pan African initiative. IPA 2017 edition witnessed a record number of entries from over 2 500 innovators across 48 African countries. The Foundation has supported past winners and nominees with approximately US$ 1 million to move their innovations forward. Due to exposure generated by IPA, past winners have gone on to secure over US$30 million in investments to grow and scale their businesses.
Distributed by APO on behalf of African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

Actis launches Honoris United Universities, the first pan-African private higher education network

Actis, a leading investor in growth markets, has announced a major pan-African higher education initiative - Honoris United Universities (

Honoris United Universities is the first African private higher education network bringing together the leading tertiary education institutions in North and Southern Africa for the first time. Honoris United Universities will harness the collaborative intelligence and the pioneering efforts of these institutions to educate Africa’s next generations of leaders and professionals.

Actis began with “beacon” markets in Francophone Africa. In December 2014, it made an investment in Université Centrale Group, the leading post-secondary education group in Tunisia. In 2016, the platform expanded to Morocco, creating a Northern Africa Hub through its investment in Université Mundiapolis. Mundiapolis is renowned for its international approach and focus on employability. 

Actis has announced a further commitment to Francophone Africa through an investment, subject to regulatory approvals, in EMSI, Ecole Marocaine des Sciences de l’Ingénieur the largest private institution in Morocco and the leading private engineering school.

Actis has also announced the expansion of Honoris United Universities to South Africa, an important Anglophone beacon market that will anchor the platform in Southern Africa. Subject to regulatory approvals, Honoris has entered into an investment agreement with Management College of Southern Africa, better known as “MANCOSA”, and the REGENT Business School. Together, MANCOSA and REGENT are South Africa’s leading private distance learning institutions, focused on providing accredited, accessible and affordable education.

These agreements in Morocco and South Africa mark the genesis of the pan-African education leadership position that Honoris United Universities seeks to cement. As a whole, Honoris United Universities will offer more than 100 degrees in fields including Health Sciences, Engineering, IT, Business, Law, Architecture, Arts and Design, Media, Education and Political Science. Delivery is focused on student success and accessibility and includes a blend of on-campus, learning centers and distance learning.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Honoris United Universities.

In Brief

On July 29th and 30th, PC and console gaming teams from Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya will compete for $1500 in cash prizes at Africa’s first international multiplayer video game tournament to be held at the 5th annual Nairobi Comic Convention (Naiccon). The event, sponsored by Liquid Telecom and Asus, will also serve as a powerful demonstration of East Africa’s rapidly developing regional
Internet ecosystem as the online gaming servers used for the tournament will be hosted in Uganda.

On the heels of a successful Africa Science Week, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) announces the NEF Global Gathering 2018 will be held 26-28 March 2018. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.

Ghanasat-1 was released from the International Space Station on Friday nearly a month after its launch from the Kennedy Space Centre on Elon Musk's SpaceX flight 11. Around 400 people burst into applause at the All Nations University in Koforidua,  when the satellite began its orbit. Weighing 1,000 grammes, the Cubesat satellite represents the culmination of a two year project which has cost £40,000. It is being used to monitor the country's coastline as well as helping Ghana enjoy the full benefits of satellite technology. The satellite, which was built by students at the college is equipped with low and high-resolution cameras.

If you would like to subscribe to Innovation in Africa, just send an email to with Innovation in Africa in the title line. If you’d like to see one of Africa’s innovators interviewed by Smart Monkey TV, just drop me a line on

Yours sincerely

Russell Southwood
Smart Monkey TV

PS Watch Chika Uwazie on Nigerian HR and payroll start-up TalentBase that is raising US$2 million to expand:

PPS To subscribe to our web TV channel Smart Monkey TV, click on the link below and press the red Subscribe button below panel of faces on the right hand side:

Christopher Baker-Brian, BBOX on how start-up BBOXX is providing off-grid solutions to Africa

Christopher Baker-Brian, CTO, BBOXX talks about: the idea for the company; how its off-grid service is supplied; the number of people using the service; controlling its off-grid boxes using mobile connections and its future expansion plans.

Izu Ojukwu on his current film 76 and his forthcoming film about warrior Queen Amina of Zazzau

Nigerian film-maker Izu Ojukwu talks about: the story in 76; Nigeria’s “decision-making” decade; the importance of understanding history; and his latest film that is in post production about Queen Amina of Zazzau.

Sara Gamay, Cairo Angels on its investments and the start-up sector in Egypt

Sara Gamay, Cairo Angels talks about: the founding of Cairo Angels and why it happened; some examples of the start-ups they have invested in; the scale of investment; how they assess start-ups; one of the key incubators in Cairo; the exits that have happened; and future opportunities.

Chika Uwazie on Nigerian HR and payroll start-up TalentBase that is raising US$2 million to expand

Co-founder and CEO Chika Uwazie, TalentBase talks about: how the idea for the company came about; why it’s timing was good; how it pays people without bank accounts; how it will get beyond orgaic growth; and its latest fundraising round.

Missy Mwendwa and Roselyn Awili on how edtech start-up Eneza reaches 1.8 million students

Missy Mwendwa, Chief Business Development Officer and Roselyn Awili, Content Manager, Eneza talk about: how the platform works; the number of students active monthly on the platform; how it gets its revenues; the countries it operates in and the ones it is expanding to; how its content is created; teacher feedback for students; and the kinds of phones the service can be used on.

Walt Banger on his Nollywood Noir film and his next film Area Dogs

Film director Walt Banger talks about: the story in; how it presents a different view of the Lagos police; when it will be released in Nigeria; why the film is very different; and the origins of Nollywood Noir.

Joshua Mwaniki and Mbithe Nzomo on how Andela will create 100,000 African developers

Joshua Mwaniki, Country Director, Andela and Mbithe Nzomo, Software Developer, Andela talk about: its ambitious target to close the developer talent gap in Africa; how it recruits and trains software developers; its Fellowships and the real-life projects they work on; its online distributed learning communities; its work with Google; and what it means to be a Fellow.

Arnaud Blanchet, Last Mile for BoP on an app to help informal shops get cheaper goods

Arnaud Blanchet, Founder, Last Mile for BoP talks about: the problem of the poverty premium and how it affects those living in the townships in South Africa; how the app helps Spaza (informal) shop owners; what savings they are able to make; the social products it wants to sell to these outlets; the changing ownership of Spaza shops; and investors in Last Mile for BoP.

Moses Babatope, Executive Producer, The Wedding Party on The Wedding Party Pt 2 Destination Dubai

Moses Babatope, Group Executive Director, Filmhouse Cinemas and Film One Distribution and Production and Executive Producer, The Wedding Party talks about: why The Wedding Party was the highest grossing film at the box office in Nigeria; the release on 15 December 2017 of The Wedding Party Pt 2: Destination Dubai; the success of The Wedding Party on Netflix; and the slate of five other films it has in production.

Veronica Ogeto-Tchoketch on how Safaricom is investing in the Kenyan start-up ecosystem

Veronica Ogeto-Tchoketch, Head of Innovation, Safaricom talks about: how Safaricom views innovation, internally and externally; the investments made by its Spark Fund; its opening of an innovation space in August/September 2017; and the attitude of the telco to things like revenue share.

Katlego on her collection of poems that question what’s normal in terms of gender

Katlego K Kolanyane-Kesupile talks about: his collection of poems On About the Same Old Things and the different topics they cover; why he never identified as either a girl or a boy; how he regards being normal; and his ambition to change the world.