Issue No.120 / June 2017

Togo start-up Dashmake develops SOS System to help geo-locate those in need of emergency medical attention

The Francophone start-up ecosystem in Africa has been much less visible than its Anglophone counterpart. Some countries – like Togo – have been almost invisible to the outside eye. Russell Southwood talks to Helton Agbewonou Yawovi about his start-up Dashmake and the start-up ecosystem in Togo.

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

Q: How did you get the idea of your start-up?

A: Dashmake started with four young Togolese (Helton Agbewonou Yawovi, Darwin Agbewonou Yowovi, Eddie Miche Atikleme and Kevin Auguste Edorh) who were respectively an application developer, a lawyer, a network and systems administrators. Initially, one of the co-founders got us together for a club made up of "geeks" in computing. It was in 2014, where we met for the first time in an amphitheater at the Catholic University of West Africa (UCAO-UUT), where we received our training. Later, the idea was mooted to develop the work of the club and it was through this idea that the startup took shape in 2015. We therefore wanted to work in a more structured space and delegated responsibilities to each co-founder. This gave life first to HSAD (High Startup of Applications' Development) and then to Dashmake after a change of name.

Q: What does it do and how does it do it?

A: Our startup is specialized in 3 areas: development of mobile applications, web and desktop (for companies and general public), design and hosting of websites (for companies and individuals), animations (films) and 2D & 3D video games. We work in a room equipped for this purpose. The team is made up of people with a variety of skills: 2 developers, 1 network and system administrator, 3 community managers, 1 graphic designer and 1 marketer and 1 accountant.

We work on projects gradually and each member is responsible for a part of each project. We currently use our own computers, and computer supports to develop our projects. In the work we’ve done so far, we have developed a dozen websites for companies, individuals and associations and two software programmes for accounting and restaurant management. Today we are promoting a new system of health information, management and claims geolocation called: SOS System (more info on It is a system that can be used in any country by public and private entities of emergency and rapid intervention in case of disasters, private security companies, insurance companies to facilitate geolocation, management and declaration Of claims. It is also a means for governments, international institutions, associations, businesses and any entity involved in health, safety and well-being to reach populations in terms of education and health information .

Q: With whom does it compete?

A: In the Togolese market on which we are presently present, there are several companies competing for the services of development of applications, design and hosting of websites. For the recently developed SOS System application system, direct competitors are telephone operators offering toll-free subscription services to first-aid entities and insurance companies. This system, which also allows digital marketing through sending mass messages and advertising offers, is competing with on-site communication agencies, sites and platforms with large audiences, and the media (televisions, radios, press).

Q: Have you raised capital for your start-up?

A: Yes. Initially in 2015, we invested approximately CFAF 2 million (approximately $ 3,420) in the company to cover the costs of salaries, rents, internet connection, furniture and logistics. A year later this amount really increased. In 2016, to design the SOS System application system, it was necessary to recruit other people part-time and to follow trainings for an upgrade of the whole team. So we reached the 10 million CFA franc mark (about $ 17,100). We had to get help from family members to get there.

Q: Are there many other start-ups in Togo?

A: Yes, there are more than 50 in all sectors. They are not all visible but they exist and work on innovative projects.

Q: What are the main obstacles faced by start-ups in Togo?

A: The first handicap is the complex access to credit from banking institutions. Under state pressure, banks provide small loans to agricultural enterprises but in the IT field this is almost non-existent. Then the second challenge is the still high cost of an unsteady, low speed internet connection, an element that is vital in the digital world. The third obstacle relates to access to investment opportunities in Togo: there are no Business Angels or venture capital companies, even though start-ups have innovative projects that only need a few million FCFA (or thousands of dollars) to really take off.

Q: How will these barriers be lowered?

A: At our level we believe that without access for the time being to the conventional financial system, the possibilities offered by the crowdfunding platforms offer one option. So we think it would be important for investors to look at the Togolese market because we are convinced that, like our application system, there are very cost-effective innovative solutions that only need a few million grow.

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

Egypt: Algebra Ventures backs elemnus’ Series A

Egyptian venture capital firm, Algebra Ventures, is backing Cairo-based elemnus with $1.5 million for the food discovery startup’s Series A round. As part of the deal, Ziad Mokhtar, Algebra’s Managing Partner, is taking a seat on elemnus’ board. Further terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The capital will be used by elemnus to develop additional features and functionality for its platform, thereby improving the experience of its users and making it easier for them to order food online more easily.  The platform aims to be the comprehensive source of information in restaurants in Egypt for diners, featuring genuinely user-generated images and reviews to help users make their dining decisions.

According to Disrupt Africa, an online venture capital news source, elemnus has only raised $60,000 of external capital until this round. The firm was started by its founder and CEO, Amr Allam, with $3,000, inspired by his difficulty in keeping up with Egypt’s rapidly expanding restaurant scene.
Source: Africa Capital Digest

Savanna Sunrise and HotelOga complete merger and will trade as HotelOnline

Savanna Sunrise Ltd. and Hotel Online Sp. z.o.o (which trades as HotelOga) have complete their merger. The company will operate under the name HotelOnline from now on.

The merger brings together extensive market presence with a unique technological and business solution tailored to the needs of hotels in African markets. The offer includes: a ridiculously simple reservations management tool enabling hotels to monetize on online channels; distribution to more than 100 local and global online channels; free hotel website, with booking engine, live chat and online payment solutions as well as 24/7 multilingual customer service.

Havar Bauck, Executive Chairman of HotelOnline said: “These are truly exciting times!  With the merger process behind us, we are a stronger and more vibrant company than ever, with an amazing team.  We are already making aggressive inroads into the Nigerian market, as we plan for continent-wide expansion over the next 24 months.  Our ambition is inherently global, though. Beyond Africa, there is South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Central Asia and South East Asia. Watch this space!"

The combination puts HotelOnline at the forefront of online hospitality solutions industry in Africa, active in DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

The company has put forward a plan of a rapid acquisition of new markets in Africa in the next couple of years. As part of an aggressive expansion strategy into West Africa, the company also announces the opening of a new Lagos office, with Alexandrial Allen, former Head of Sales in Jovago, joining as the Country Manager.

“With more than 500 hotels in Nigeria already using HotelOnline platform we have a head start as we enter the biggest market on the African continent.  Nigeria is an important market for us, as we aim to bring thousands of hotels into the era of online marketing, strengthening our partners in their competition with global hotel chains” – said Maciej Prostak, EVP Operations.
Source: Press Release
Watch Marek Zmyslowski, HotelOga on its merger with Savanna Sunrise and the lessons of scaling: Launches to be Africa’s Largest eCommerce Platform for Building

With an intention to take away the stress of shopping for plumbing materials in physical stores, was launched by Festus Nwagbo in October 2016 to allow users shop online at their convenience and get materials delivered to their homes or building sites.

The platform is an online building and home improvements with categories of products ranging from PVC to galvanized fittings, luxury sanitary wares to Jacuzzi and shower rooms of various shapes and sizes, assorted pipes, water tank and pumps.

Frakem also offers plumbing services, helping users install and maintain products purchased on the platform, as well as free plumbing advisory services.

With about 17 million housing units deficit and internet penetration in Nigeria, frakem is poised to revolutionize shopping experience of customers for building and home improvements products in Africa.”
Source: Tech Moran

In Brief

Microsoft and GrowthAfrica awarded 21 East African entrepreneurs in the second edition of the #Insiders4Good Fellowships to support their efforts at turning their extraordinary social business ideas into reality.

African Property Group has launched last January eight websites in emerging African countries that allow local people to find properties for sale or rent such as homes, villas, apartments, offices, shops and lands, using their computers or mobile phones. The group has just launched this month its android mobile app for an even easier access to its platforms.  Within three months of operations, the group has seen its community grow to more than 200,000 people in its 8 markets which are Lesotho, Somalia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Malawi, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe and the number of monthly users has more than doubled in the last month. The fast growing startup wants now to accelerate the move and has launched one mobile app per website to allow its users to access the classifieds platforms on the go.

Fanisi Capital, the Kenyan private equity fund manager, has held the first close for its second fund, garnering $30 million from a group of institutional investors, which, notably, numbers eight East African pension funds among its members. The fund, which is ultimately looking to raise a total of $75 million, will pursue a strategy similar to Fanisi's maiden fund, the $50 millions Fanisi Capital Fund I, which is now fully invested in four high-growth sectors-agribusiness, education, healthcare as well as retail and wholesale-in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

The African Development Bank is making a $15 million commitment to ShoreCap III, Equator Capital's planned $150 million fund which will back small and medium-size enterprise banks, microfinance institutions, micro-insurance and financial technology companies in equity and quasi-equity deals. The fund will make investments exclusively in sub-Saharan Africa and expects to make up to 15 deals averaging $8 million in size over the course of its 10 year life.

The developer training and recruitment service Andela announced its expansion into Uganda. The company―which recruits African software developers and places them at global companies―completed its first recruitment cycle in Kampala. Watch Joshua Mwaniki and Mbithe Nzomo on how Andela will create 100,000 African developers:

The third Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) conference and exhibition event will take place at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on 5-6 October 2017. It will feature international and local speakers covering the theme ‘Equity, Impact and Inclusive Growth towards Agenda 2030'.


DRC: Funders of Africa’s largest hydro project Inga 3 ask two remaining candidates to submit a common offer

KINSHASA, DR Congo--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Agency for the Development and Promotion of Grand Inga (ADPI-RDC) has announced a major decision relating to the development of the Grand Inga Project has been notified today to the two remaining consortiums of candidates in the selection process for the concession  for the Inga 3 Project, namely the consortium ProInga (led by ACS Servicios, Comunicaciones y Energia and Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios) and Chine d’Inga 3 (led by China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG)).

The two consortia involved have been invited, given their respective bids, the issues at stake and the relevant developments of the market and of the demand, to implement all useful measures in order to merge into a single consortium that allows them to submit a single optimized offer.

The Inga 3 Project, of an unprecedented scale itself, is part of an even larger project named the Grand Inga Project which implies the development of several phases of the whole Inga site with an energy potential estimated at 42,000 MW. The Inga 3 Project thus offers a unique opportunity to produce, at extremely competitive cost, energy that would satisfy the demand of the people and the industries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic and of South Africa, under the Treaty entered into between the States in 2013, as well as the African market demand.

Efacec strengthens Guinea-Bissau’s electrical capacity

LISBON, Portugal, June 14, 2017/ -- Efacec has won the international public tender, promoted by the public utility company Eletricidade e Águas da Guiné-Bissau (EAGB), for the construction of essential infrastructure to double the current installed electrical capacity of Bissau. The contract, worth 10 million euros, includes the construction of two substations and a 6.2 km long line to link the new thermal power station, which will be built in Bor, to the capital of Guinea-Bissau.

The infrastructure to be built by Efacec is a key step in the Bissau electrification architecture. In addition to doubling the current capacity of the capital, it will make it possible to provide electricity to broader group of population, raising living standards and making a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of this African country.

The two substations, with 30 by 10 kV capacity, to be built in Bor and Bra regions, and the energy evacuation system, with a 63 kV capacity, are a precondition for the execution of the second module from Bissau’s electrical project that includes the construction of a power plant with a 100 megawatts capacity at Bor.

Efacec is a Portuguese company with a strong international presence that produces products for power transmission and distribution (adapters, service, high and medium voltage switchgear and automation gear) for the Energy, Environmental, Industry and Railway sectors and develops solution for Electrical Mobility, namely an energy charging system.

Efacec develops its activity in strategic markets, such as Spain, Central Europe, United States, Latin America, Brazil, Maghreb, Southern Africa and India.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Efacec.

In Brief

South Africa’s first ever silo solar photovoltaic (PV) plant was launched this month by agricultural company Senwes Group.

Global energy company ENGIE has signed a joint development agreement with eleQtra for the development and construction of the 50MW Ada wind power project in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana.

In a private debt deal, the IFC and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) are behind a $55 million financing package for the development of a 40.5 MW solar photovoltaic plant near Mocuba in Northern Mozambique. Of the $55 million, $19 million is being provided from the IFC's own account, $19 million being provided by Climate Investment Funds and up to $17 million being provided by EAIF.

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

PrintLab and Free_D 3D printing courses up-skill disadvantaged women in India

PrintLab, a global distributor of 3D printed products for education, has teamed up with Free_D, a social enterprise supporting disadvantaged women in India with access to computer aided design (CAD) and fabrication skills. Working together they have delivered a successful range of courses to organizations in the country, including a number of shelters for women who are at risk or survivors of human trafficking.

A 3D printing curriculum was outlined for the initiative by UK based PrintLab, using its archive of classroom resources, and access to software such as Autodesk 123D, Tinkercad and Meshmixer. The distributor also provided MakerBot 3D printers used for the projects.

One of the workshops engaged in by the women was the Makerversity DIY “Make your own Cookie Cutter” project. In this class, the students are taught the processes necessary to CAD model a custom cookie shape and prepare the model for 3D printing.

In most cases, women who completed the class had never used a computer before. Katherine Prescott, CEO of Free_D explains, “The women we worked with at Kshamata, were initially fearful of engaging with computers: mostly they were computer illiterate and very scared of breaking the hardware or getting things wrong.”

She continues:”By the end of the first afternoon, they were laughing and comfortable creating and sharing their own designs. It was fantastic to watch the women form groups to help each other learn, create and experiment with different tools and techniques in the CAD software”.

Sia Mahdavi, founder of Free_D,  gives more insight into the feedback received from the women on the course, “They asked really pertinent questions that I would have been impressed with if they had come from someone with a formal education and some experience with design for 3D printing.”

The Free_D founder continues:”…we were having a conversation about build angles and support structures (which is already quite difficult to understand) and one of the girls asked about support structures within hollow objects. I didn’t think for a second I would be having a conversation at that level, even after 2 months of training. This was after just 3 days, what could they do in 6 months?”

Such positive remarks are incredibly encouraging for Free_D’s forthcoming project designed to build on the skills and knowledge introduced in the courses from PrintLab.

Set to take pilot orders at the beginning of 2018, Free_D and its partners at the Kshamata organization, are launching a program to create a group of artisanal jewelry makers. Trained in CAD, 3D printing and the lost-wax method of metal casting, as used to make 2017’s Oscar trophies, the program will be initially set up with 10 women, in the hope that the group will continue to grow and create a strong career potential for others in the area.

For all the latest 3D printing news subscribe to our free newsletter. If you want to join the conversation then follow the most popular social media accounts in the 3D printing industry.
Source: 3D Printing Industry

In Brief

Having previously focused its products on the entry-level consumer 3D printing market, M3D has now introduced their first-ever industrial 3D printer - the Promega. Based in Maryland, M3D will launch the Promega today on new crowdfunding site FitForLaunch. The 3D printer will be the first product to launch on the website created by M3D CEO and co-founder Michael Armani.


Facebook Launches Disaster Maps to Help Aid Workers Save Lives

London — Facebook has launched disaster maps - an initiative aimed at helping humanitarian organisations save lives in emergencies.

"When there's a flood, earthquake, fire or other natural disaster, response organisations need accurate information quickly about where people are in order to save lives," founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Facebook.

"When traditional communication channels like phone lines are down, it can take too much time to figure out where people need help."

The maps will reflect the movements and location of people before, during and after disasters to help aid agencies work out where they should deliver food, water and medical supplies.

Zuckerberg said the new maps would help build "safe communities, and we will keep doing more initiatives like this".

The company worked with the U.N. children's agency UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the World Food Programme, among others, to identify what data would be most useful. They would all have immediate access to the new maps, with other agencies to follow.

Facebook said it would provide three types of maps:

- Location density maps will show people's location before, during and after a disaster.

- Movement maps will illustrate flight between neighbourhoods or cities over several hours.

Safety check maps will show when users let their family and friends know they are out of harm's way.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Continent-wide digital skills development initiative aims to train half a million young Africans in one week

PORT LOUIS, Mauritius, 19 June 2017,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The 2017 edition of Africa Code Week officially kicked off yesterday in Flic-En-Flac, Mauritius. Now in its third year, Africa Code Week aims to spread coding literacy among African youth, with a key focus on female skills development and training.

Started in 2015 by SAP Corporate Social Responsibility EMEA and several public and private sector partners, the initiative has a long-term goal of empowering more than 200 000 teachers and positively impacting the lives of 5 million children and youth within the next 10 years. In 2016, more than 426 000 young Africans across 30 countries learnt computer coding basics as part of Africa Code Week, beating initial targets of 150 000 by miles. This year, SAP set a target of impacting the lives of 500 000 youth across 35 African countries from 18-25 October. "By learning the new language of coding in an open, supportive environment, young Africans are able to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by the digital revolution and become active players of the global economy," says Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and Global Project Lead for Africa Code Week.

By 2040, Africa is projected to have a working age population of more than 1 billion. "Considering the growing global shortage in technical skills, Africa has a unique opportunity to take a lead role in powering the global economy," says Clas Neumann, Senior VP, Lead of Fast Growth Market Strategy at SAP. "However, the lack of widely available education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) fields could undermine the continent's ability to equip this growing workforce with the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy. Africa Code Week is one way of reaching out to even remote corners of the continent and creating interest in the opportunities only the digital world can offer. We hope, that this will help inspiring young Africans to pursue careers that will drive the continent's digital transformation."

Since gaining independence in 1968, Mauritius has undergone a remarkable economic transformation from a low-income, mostly agriculture-based economy to a diversified, upper-middle income country with vibrant sugar, tourism, ICT, hospitality, and property development industries. Today, it is one of the leading African countries across a range of indexes, most notably scoring 1st place in Africa in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index and United Nations' Human Development Index. With the highest ICT Development Index of all African countries, the Republic of Mauritius also continues to lead the way in the integration of ICT as a socioeconomic growth accelerator.

According to the latest government statistics, nearly a third of current Mauritian students are enrolled in a STEM-related course. However, according to Mauritian President H.e. Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the sector's workforce impact remains low due to a lack of sufficient talent needed to take the sector to new heights. "There is only one way to transform Africa's 'youth bulge' into an unprecedented opportunity for growth and social peace: Education," says President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. "The Republic of Mauritius is keen to support and participate in Africa Code Week this year and I look forward to working with all stakeholders from the public and private sector to drive STEM skills development nationwide and across the African continent."

Prevailing stereotypes and cultural barriers typically mean women are 1.6 more likely to report a lack of digital skills as a barrier to their participation in the digital economy. "If Africa is to realise its potential and provide the workforce that will power the global economic engine in the long run, more must be done to empower girls and women by promoting digital skills development and improve their job prospects," said Gillissen-Duval.

The Mauritian government has taken several measures to promote gender equality, including repealing discriminatory laws, and the appointment of equal opportunity officers in principal ministries to deal with women's issues. The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare also recently launched the second annual Model Commission on the Status of Women, a country-wide initiative encouraging youth to promote and reflect on the social, economic, and political rights of women. Mauritius's efforts towards empowering the next generation of female leaders and entrepreneurs are very much in line with the #eSkills4Girls mission: a joint initiative by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), SAP, Africa Code Week and UNESCO to overcome the gender digital divide and improve digital skills and employment opportunities for girls and women in emerging and developing countries.

Africa Code Week is now actively supported by a fast-growing network of strategic partners - including UNESCO YouthMobile, BMZ, the Cape Town Science Centre, the Galway Education Centre, Google, ALink Telecom, Fondation Life Builders, DreamOval Foundation, Camara Education and 10 African governments. Among the latter public-sector partners, the Moroccan Ministry of Education and Vocational Training won the ACW friendly competition two years in a row with a record of 200,000 young Moroccans engaged in Africa Code Week since 2015.

The 2017 Africa Code Week initiative will take place across 35 countries from 18-25 October. For more information about Africa Code Week, please visit
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

Tablet-based education could prove revolutionary for young refugees in Africa

Fugia is only a teenager, but her sense of ambition is tangible. Just 15 years old, she has plans to be a doctor, and she understands education is the surest path to achieving her dream.

But getting an education isn't easy. Fugia, whose parents are Somalian, is a refugee growing up in Kakuma, the largest refugee camp in existence, located in Kenya. Both logistical and cultural obstacles have prevented her from learning.

"This community of ours was not supporting the girls' education," she says of the camp, explaining that girls who went to school were often called "prostitutes" who don't actually learn anything.

Fugia convinced her mother of the benefits of education by showing her a photo of a tablet, explaining how the devices could help them find advice on a wide range of challenges. She can even Google tips to help pass exams.

Now, a new initiative is using tablet technology to help Fugia and millions of refugee children like her gain a free education.

The Vodafone Foundation announced its Instant Schools for Africa program on Wednesday—an initiative providing free, unlimited access to online educational materials for young people and teachers. Developed with Learning Equality, a leading nonprofit provider of open-source educational technology, the program launched in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

To allow for widespread access, the primary and secondary school materials (both global and local in scope) are available without any mobile data charges. Videos and web pages are all optimized to work over low-bandwidth connections, and will also be available offline when internet access isn't possible.

The Vodafone Foundation already works to deliver tablets and teaching resources to refugee camps with its Instant Network Schools program, in partnership with the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR). That program helps 43,000 young refugees each month, and the goal is to reach 3 million refugees by the year 2025.

Now, Instant Schools for Africa will support children in refugee camps, too, as well as children across Africa — especially those in rural regions who don't go to school. The Vodafone Foundation hopes to reach 5 million children with these materials by 2025.

There are currently more than 6 million school-age refugees in the world, but 3.7 million still don't have access to education. The average period of time spent in a refugee camp is about 20 years. Meanwhile, sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest rate of primary school enrollment globally. A staggering 34 million of the 57 million out-of-school, primary age children in the world live in this region, caused in part by cultural norms and remote locations.

"From refugee camps to remote parts of Africa with few schools, connectivity gives children the opportunity for a better future," Andrew Dunnett, director of the Vodafone Foundation, said in a statement.

"Instant Schools for Africa has the potential to transform the lives of millions of children excluded from education, giving them free access to the same materials used by children in developed markets to help them achieve their ambitions," he said.

A similar initiative, Vodacom e-School, has proven successful for 215,000 children in South Africa.

Vodafone released a series of videos to show the impact of the overall Instant Network Schools program on young people's lives, including Fugia. The series also features 16-year-old Jediva, who was abducted by a man in South Sudan and escaped, and Sasha, 17, who escaped an arranged marriage in Burundi so she could attend school. There's also David, 21, from South Sudan, who's earning his university degree completely online.

"This opportunity is very rare for many people, especially for us here in the camp," Fugia says in the video detailing her story. "It's a right. It's like oxygen for us. A person can never live without oxygen."

Fugia's passion for learning about medicine and science goes deeper than education. She lives with a heart condition, and showed her mother something on her tablet about the circulatory system.

"Continue learning," her mother told her. "Maybe one day you'll be able to cure yourself and other people."
Source: Mashable
In Brief

The World Bank, through the International Development Association, has provided Malawi's government with a $72.4 million loan to help build the digital foundations needed to help the country connect to the global digital economy. The Malawi Digital Foundations Project is Phase I of the Digital Malawi Program which it is hoped will significantly expand access to the Internet in the Southern African country.

Water is our most precious resource. Especially in the desert. But what if water could be created in the desert using only solar power and smart physics. SunGlacier a science and art team responded to an invitation from the Dutch Defence Ministry to create water out of thin air. They did this by designing the Desert Twins - a twin machine solar powered contraption that produces water from condensation. This feat has been done before in more friendly climates, but never in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Mali. The test proves that their device could work anywhere, so the next steps will be very interesting. Read more:

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) have launched a campaign to train five million young people globally by 2030. The announcement was made at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2017 being held 12-16 June 2017, in Geneva. The “Digital Skills for Decent Jobs Campaign” is part of the “Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth”, the first-ever, comprehensive United Nations system-wide effort for the promotion of youth employment worldwide.

A collaborative initiative between Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Zeepay Ghana Limitd (Zeepay), a Digital Financial Services Company, has launched the Digital for Inclusion (D4I) program.  D4I was developed to improve the digital economy through interconnection. This partnership was developed with the goal of expanding Ghana’s digital economy, expanding financial inclusion and creating economic opportunities for historically underserved and financially excluded populations throughout the country. The initiative will focus on Smallholder Cocoa Communities and the Zongo Communities.

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

AIF announces the top 10 nominees for Innovation Prize for Africa 2017

Innovators from nine African countries shortlisted for their outstanding innovations across healthcare, engineering, energy and communications sectors

ACCRA, Ghana, June 15, 2017/ -- The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) ( today announced the top 10 nominees who will be contending for the 2017 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) (, to be awarded in Accra, Ghana on 18th July 2017. Innovators from nine African countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe have been shortlisted for the prestigious Prize.

This year’s innovators have demonstrated incredible proficiency through innovative solutions addressing challenges in agriculture value chain, health care, energy, communications, service industries as well as surveillance using drone technology.

This year’s cream of the crop underwent a rigorous selection process by a renowned panel of judges including corporates, academia, technology and scientific experts representing top African innovation influencers.

Now celebrating its sixth year under the theme “African Innovation: Investing in Prosperity”, IPA is the premier innovation initiative in the African continent, offering a grand share-prize of US$185 000 and incentives to spur growth and prosperity in Africa through home-grown solutions.

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 2 530 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.

AIF will host the IPA 2017 awards ceremony and its second Innovation Ecosystems Connector on 17 and 18 July in Accra, Ghana. The event will focus on how innovation enablers and businesses can leverage funding streams, investments and resources that are critical to unlock potential of African innovators. Participants at the IPA Awards will get an opportunity to attend the official opening of IPA 2017, experience the innovation marketplace, join high-level roundtable discussions, Zua Hub meet-ups, and networking activities, ending with a celebration of African ingenuity when the IPA 2017 winners will be announced. See key activities listed here (

To find out more about activities and partnership opportunities, visit

Find below the shortlisted top 10 IPA nominees and a summary of their innovations. These selected nominees will pitch their innovative projects to the esteemed IPA panel of jurors (see during the closed pitch sessions on July 15th and 16th in Accra). Following their pitch, three winners will be selected and announced during the Awards ceremony slated for 18 July 2017 at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel, Accra.

For more details on the 10 nominees, their innovations please see:  
Distributed by APO on behalf of African Innovation Foundation (AIF).

Facebook celebrates MENA winners of First Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge

The Bots for Messenger Challenge was launched on February 15th this year, in 64 countries across the wider Middle East and Africa to recognize and reward developers who were able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger

CAIRO, Egypt, June 20, 2017/ -- Facebook ( selected 3 winners from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) from 60 finalists as part of the first-ever Bots for Messenger Developer Challenge ( The Bots for Messenger Challenge was launched on February 15th this year, in 64 countries across the wider Middle East and Africa to recognize and reward developers who were able to create the most innovative new bots on Messenger.

The 3 winners won a prize of $20,000 USD and three months of Facebook mentorship. In addition from the Middle East and North Africa, three runner-up teams won $10,000 and three months of Facebook mentorship. 

MENA Runner-up/ Winning teams of these three categories are:

Gaming and Entertainment
Winner: Trivoxx from Morocco, winner of gaming and entertainment category, is a bot that allows one’s or a group of friends test their trivia on sports, science, and cities in three languages: Arabic, French, and English.

Runner-up: Mastermind Games Bot from Egypt is a collection of five interactive games to solve codes based on various combinations of logic and memory. Every time a user guesses the correct code, a cave safe will open to obtain a diamond. Users can share games with their friends as they vie for the top scores.

Productivity and Utility
Winner: If you like to read books, then you'll agree that Mr. Ink from Egypt is the winner in the Social Good category. Users can either type a book name, or snap a photo of the book cover, to obtain information about the book including its author, rating, and book description.

Runner-up: Evii from Jordan helps customers order and pick up food via its bot. Evii seize the opportunity to expand by building more end-to-end customers tools.

Social Good
Winner: MathHook from Egypt, is the winner in the Social Good category. It brings math into everyone’s life by helping users to solve complex math problems and search for math courses on YouTube across 3000 math videos. There's also a chat function to connect users with teachers or other students to solve math problems. MathHook is also a student submission to this Challenge.

Runner-up: Adam (9 months) from Egypt aims to create community for pregnant women via tools and guidance, and safe communication channels between community members. Adam utilizes additional features such as location services to let users search for nearby pregnancy care, baby or maternity places. It also has an analytics tool to log user actions in custom events with custom parameters to better understand community perspectives.

Says Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Head of Platform Partnerships for the Middle East and Africa: “It's been nearly five months since we first invited submissions for the 2017 Bots for Messenger Challenge and we're excited to share the winners. We were incredibly impressed with the bot submissions we received and the commitment to excellence that all the contestants have demonstrated, since the launch of the contest. We congratulate all the winners, wish them luck and thank all of the participants for making the Bots for Messenger Challenge a success! We look forward to seeing these bots continue to evolve into strong services for their communities.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of Facebook.

Agile Africa: Celebrating 5 years of Agile Excellence

Agile Africa, South Africa’s top Agile conference will take place from 21 – 22 August 2017, celebrating its fifth meeting of Agile minds. This year’s Agile Africa conference will bring a diversity of local and international speakers, offering delegates opportunities to interact with and learn from people in a variety of environments.

The Agile Africa 2017 conference will feature exciting, innovative Agile related tracks lead by experts and visionaries in the world of Agile. The keynote will include Kent Beck, a pioneer in the world of Agile development, incremental design, test-driven development, extreme programing and is one of the 17 original signatories of the Agile Manifesto in 2001.

Prof Barry Dwolatzky, director of the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) says that Agile Africa will once again be sponsored by Wits University and the JCSE: “We will be the title sponsor for the fifth year and very excited to host a conference that is a pivotal indicator of the undisputed importance of agile in the digital economy. To expect to thrive in such a connected and evolving world without an agile mindset and implementation is too risky to contemplate.”

“It is no secret that the customer of tomorrow is rapidly evolving and so too must businesses and the processes used.  Agile is key in this scenario, using technology to shift as and when customer expectations change,” says Dwolatzky. “We expect 2017 to be another successful conference, shaping, guiding and bringing awareness of the importance of Agile.”

The super early bird tickets for the Agile Africa 2017 conference are sold out. Don’t miss out on the early bird tickets for the conference! For registration and for sponsorship opportunities at this amazing event, please visit: or email the JCSE at

‘Project Last Mile’ Expands to Liberia and Swaziland, Strengthening Health Systems across Africa

BRUSSELS--(BUSINESS WIRE/ME NewsWire)-- At the European Development Days, The Coca-Cola Company and its Foundations, in partnership with The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, announced the latest expansion of “Project Last Mile” with innovative programs to strengthen local health systems in Liberia and Swaziland. Launched in 2010 to transform the delivery of medical supplies in Tanzania, Project Last Mile has since worked with Ministries of Health in Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa to improve the availability of essential medicines.

Project Last Mile is a public-private partnership that applies Coca-Cola’s supply-chain management and marketing expertise to support African governments in reaching the ‘last mile’ to deliver life-saving medicines and supplies to the hardest-to-reach communities. The new program in Swaziland will leverage Coca-Cola’s marketing expertise to increase awareness and demand for critical HIV prevention and treatment services in a country that has the highest prevalence of HIV in the world. Project Last Mile is joining with the Swaziland Ministry of Health and development partners to end the AIDS epidemic by providing innovative approaches to reducing HIV transmission in the country.

“With our strong commitment to reducing the HIV/AIDS burden in Swaziland, we are very pleased to be able to partner with Project Last Mile and tap into Coca-Cola’s vast experience to find ways to implement innovative marketing approaches to increase demand for HIV prevention services and treatment,” said Ms. Rejoice Nkambule, Deputy Director, Public Health, Ministry of Health of Swaziland.

Following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which dramatically strained health systems, Project Last Mile partners began working with the Liberian Ministry of Health to harness the experience of the local bottling partner, Liberia Coca-Cola Bottling Company Limited. The project in Liberia will apply Coca-Cola’s extensive route-to-market and logistics expertise to set-up a more efficient and sustainable distribution network for medicines and medical supplies. The first phase of the project began in May 2017 and is expected to run for one year.

“With its unique public-private partnership model, Project Last Mile develops simple answers to extremely complex problems, and supports African Ministries of Health in providing life-saving medicines to patients and communities who need it most,” said Dr. Susan Mboya, President, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. “What started with a single vision and vast ambition is now making a difference to millions of people across Africa, and we are delighted that we can now apply Coca-Cola’s operational experience to strengthening health systems in Liberia and Swaziland. Project Last Mile shows that great things can be achieved when like-minded organizations come together with a common goal, and we look forward to further expanding the initiative to meet our goal of working in 10 African countries by 2020.”

“The last decade has seen tremendous progress in science and investments in global health, and we’re working to overcome the final hurdles to reach the millions of people in Africa who still lack access to critical medicines and medical supplies,” said Marijke Wijnroks, the Global Fund’s Interim Executive Director. “The Coca-Cola Company is a global expert in overcoming the same kind of supply chain challenges that we at the Global Fund face every day. Project Last Mile is critically important.”
Following an initial commitment by program partners, the initiative began in Tanzania in 2010 and has since transformed medicine distribution in the country, allowing the government agency Medical Stores Department to better forecast needs and reorganize and expand its distribution system, improving the availability of medicine by up to 30%. Prior to the training and reorganization there were 150 warehouse drop-off points, a number which has now expanded to more than 5,500 health facilities directly supplied by Medical Stores Department.

The program was expanded in 2014 with more than US$21 million investment from partners, as well as the official addition of USAID to the coalition. Three additional Project Last Mile programs began in Mozambique, South Africa and Nigeria during 2016. For example in Mozambique, Project Last Mile partners with the Central de Medicamentos e Artigos Médicos (CMAM) to improve delivery of medicines to health facilities in hard-to-reach areas, with pilot projects currently taking place in three provinces. This is in support of the Mozambique Government’s Strategic Plan for improving Pharmaceutical Logistics.

During the European Development Days, hosted in Brussels by the European Commission, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will expand on learnings from Project Last Mile in a discussion called “Harnessing the Power of the Private Sector to Achieve the Health SDG” at 09:00 on June 8th.
Source: Press Release

In Brief

Outstanding initiatives that use the power of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to empower women and girls are invited to submit nominations for the prestigious “Equals in Tech” Awards. Nominations are being accepted through 15 September 2017, with submissions encouraged from around the globe.

The “Equals in Tech” Awards (formerly the GEM-TECH Awards) is an annual initiative designed to promote gender equality and mainstreaming in technology. The awards are now part of Equals, an ITU and UN Women global partnership to achieve gender equality in the digital age. In addition to supporting gender equality in the ICT field and advancing the role of women as ICT decision-makers, the awards also showcase how ICTs can be used to dramatically improve social, political and economic outcomes for women and girls. For full text see:

French newspaper Le Monde and French Bank BNP-Paribas have banded together to host the Smart Cities Le Monde - Innovation awards. This year’s global winners has just been announced at an event in Singapore, and the chosen project is the Nigerian Wecyclers startup. Watch Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola on how Wecyclers is creating a business model for recycling in Lagos:

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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.

Serge Noukoue on why Nollywood Week is in Paris and his future plans for the festival

Serge-Armand Kouami Noukoue, Founder and Executive Director, Nollywood Week, Paris talks about: why he decided to launch Nollywood Week in Paris; the changes since the festival started in 2013; highlights of this year’s festival; the competition with Netflix for premiers; and his future plans for Nollywood Week.

Kenya: Mbithi Masya on Kati Kati, a film about an amnesiac women who wakes up dead

Film-maker and Just a Band member Mbithi Masya talks about: his film Kati Kati; where the film was shot; where the film can be seen; his next project and what other members of Just a Band are doing.

Artist manager Sarah Jane Nicholson on Mi Casa, , digital platforms and working with brands

Sarah Jane Nicholson, SJN talks about: what SJN does; what the artist manager helps artists do; her work with Micasa and their creative collaborations with Sauti Sol and Eddie Kenzo; the ringback tones sales for Micasa’s last single; digital platforms and the success of Early Hours’ single on Sound Cloud; and which artist not on her label that she finds exciting.

Thomas Imboywa, NAICCON on Kenya’s comic culture and its Nairobi Comic Convention

Thomas Imboywa, Naiccon talks about: what Nairobi Comic Convention is and how many visitors it attracts; the kind of comics being produced locally; and an app to help comic makers distribute their work.