Issue No.121 / July 2017

Zimbabwe: Econet’s Muzinda Hub teaches coding, supports entrepreneurs and the company is investing in start-ups

Econet took over Muzinda Hub as a way of addressing youth unemployment, teaching significant numbers how to code. Out of this process has also come  start-ups, a small number of which it has made equity investments in. Russell Southwood spoke to Tendai Mashingaidze, who’s responsible for Econet’s education business, about what it’s up to.

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

Q: How did the idea for Econet taking on Muzinda Hub come about?

A: Econet Wireless has a foundation in Zimbabwe and it pays for kids to go to school, from primary to University. The challenge for the Foundation was that  unemployment was above 90%. If you don’t equip students with the skills to do entrepreneurship, that investment (in education) will go down the drain. So Econet saw the hub as a way of giving tech skills to take them towards entrepreneurship.

Q: So what does Muzinda Hub do?

A: It teaches 16-35 year olds to code across all languages. It also has an in-house consultancy platform to market developers to companies. Those being trained can either get freelance work or go into full-time jobs. Econet has 9 million subscribers so it is easy to market to our subscribers in business.

Q: How many students have gone through the programme?

A: 1500 so far. Of those, 1000 have graduated and 500 are still on the programme. Of those who’ve graduated, 700 are either in employment or are working freelance.

Q: So how does the Hub deal with start-ups?

A:  Muzinda Hub is focused on training but it is inevitable for it to deal with start-ups. At the end of training, we want someone who is proficient. They have to be able to create a working prototype. So 10% of trainees go on to launch start-ups. Danny Zembe’s Roundshopper was a Demo Africa winner. (It facilitates stock delivery to small-scale informal shops known as Tuckshops.) Roundshopper is very early stage and is supporting 300 Tuckshops across Harare. He crowd pools the buying of stock.

We give start-ups the support they need. Econet has also taken a small amount of equity in some of the start-ups.

Q: Can you give me some examples of start-ups supported?

A: We’ve worked with start-ups focusing on e-commerce. We want to focus on e-commerce as a group and Roundshopper is an e-commerce start-up and we've got a small amount of equity in it. There’s also one dealing with agriculture and three others we’re interested in. The value for us as Econet is that we have our own mobile money platform which is extensively used and we have a vested interest in supporting the micro sector.

Q: How does this link to what you’re doing in the broader education field?

A: We want to grow our education footprint through things like selling books online for students and give them access to international courses and jobs. It’s part of our broader education play in markets where Econet is operating. It’s truly pan-African.

The learning platform is for primary school kids and it would grow faster if the economy was in better shape. But now is the time for us to try it in other markets where it should work more easily.

It is an online platform which has taken the national curriculum across all languages used. It provides revision with tutorials. It’s extra work outside of school for students and parents. It’s focused on Government rather than private schools. There’s 350,000 students in one year. The service is zero-rated: there are no data charges. Although we might consider charging if we could get a bigger critical mass

Q: Do you have further expansion plans?

A: We want to use Zimbabwe as a test bed. We want to expand into other markets going into 2017. We want to replicate the Zimbabwe model and grow it. Econet has launched Kwese TV and some of the products we’re launching arounf courses and in the VoD context we will use them.

We’re looking to set up hubs in other countries we’re operating in.

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

Y Combinator Startup Tizeti Closes on Seed Funding of $2.1 Million 

26 June, 2017 Lagos, Nigeria. Tizeti and its consumer facing brand, which offers unlimited, uncapped internet service across Lagos, Nigeria, has announced that it has closed on seed funding of $2.1 million from international investors including Western Technology Investment, Social Capital, Vy Capital, Picus Capital, Ace & Company, Lynett Capital Partners, Zeno Ventures and a number of angel investors including Y Combinator’s Michael Seibel and Gabriel Hammond.

The company which operates widely as a "Comcast for Africa”, builds and operates solar-powered towers to provide reliable and affordable Wi-fi services to hundreds of residential areas and SME’s across Nigeria’s megacity. The capital injection, secured as part of this seed round, will see services extended across the city and the South-South region of Africa’s most populous country, by launching an Xfinity Wifi-like Hotspot service, as well as scaling up mobility with the inclusion of 3,000 new public hotspots across Lagos.

Founded by Y Combinator Alumni Kendall Ananyi and Ifeanyi Okonkwo, cohorts of the Winter 2017 batch, Tizeti was created to address poor internet connectivity on the continent by developing a cost-effective solution from inception to delivery, for reliable and uncapped internet access for potentially millions of Africans. Since launching, Tizeti has been building its own solar panel towers in key hubs in Lagos, therefore is not restrained by costly wholesale internet costs from large telcos who have, until now, dominated the data market. The use of solar energy also reduces overheads on generators and diesel, which are often used across the continent to run towers. Running its internet network from its own infrastructure allows to be hyper competitive in its pricing, offering an affordable and flexible payment structure, with subscriptions starting from N9,500 / $30 a month, which is approximately 30% cheaper than the large telcos.

Kendall Ananyi says, “Today’s seed announcement allows us to grow aggressively in the Nigerian market, and we will continue to invest in building out our own solar powered infrastructure, as well as refine and expand our consumer focused product that delivers reliable, cost-effective Wifi to potentially millions of Nigerians. We aim to ‘win Lagos’, with a view to expanding across the West African region over the next 18-24 months”.

Tizeti Co-Founder Kendall Ananyi adds, "Since graduating from Y Combinator, we've licensed Spectrum (fees and pricing) from the Nigerian Government and signed an IRU contract with a Submarine Cable provider to extend the coverage of our Unlimited Internet Service, which will put Tizeti in a stronger position to roll out additional services to more people such as our new Wifi Hotspot Service”.
Source: Press Release

Ghana’s Asoriba streamlines church administration across Africa

When it comes to finding niches, Ghanaian startup Asoriba has really hit the nail on the head. Especially as the gap its solution fills is actually a gaping hole. Typically, African churches have been some of the least digitally-enabled organisations in the world. Asoriba is looking to change that, however, and its innovative church administration solution is taking it on a journey across the continent.

The Asoriba web and mobile application enables effective church administration for leaders, and seamless engagement with members via mobile phones. It makes it easy for members to pay tithes and offerings using, and provides tailormade financial services to churches. Members can be reached via push notifications, SMS, email and via the app. Read the rest of the article here:

Startup Interview: Mike Bondo, CEO and Co founder, McShop, Democratic Republic of Congo

A high demand for South African products by people in his native country of DR Congo on perceived quality, was the spark that inspired Mike Bondo to start an online shop dubbed McShop connecting buyers to local and international brands while promoting the fledgling local fashion entrepreneurs. It is a business that has metamorphosed into an online behemoth with eyes now set on expansion to East and Central Africa even as African serial entrepeneurs like Tony Elumeli take note of his venture through the Tony Elumeli Foundation.

Africa Business Communities interviewed Mike Bondo about this startup McShop

Q: Tell us about your company

A: Mcshop is an online fashion shopping destination focusing on B2C (Business to customer) based in DR Congo and which allows businesses to sell various merchandise online. Our focus is at helping promote local products while also giving space to international brands at the best prices possible.

Q: Where are your offices located?

A: We are based in Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo but we also have representation in Johannesburg South Africa.

Q: When was the company founded?

A: Mcshop the platform was founded in February 2016 by me and my co founder Christian Kadiambiko to meet the growing demand for convenience and bringing customers and buyers together in the most plausible way. Technology offered us the best way to do it. 

Back in 2015 when I started my studies in Johannesburg, people were  asking me to buy things and send back home because they thought the South African quality was way better. After some time I saw the growing appetite for international brands back home. I invested $100 and bought shoes with Christian my friend and later the founder of our business being responsible for delivery back home. We did this for about four months. But tracking the sales, I saw a very huge growth and potential and told Christian that time was ripe for us to put structures, systems and processes in place. That is how McShop was born which means Mike& Christian. We opened a Facebook page so that we could easily manage orders.

In February 2016, we borrowed $ 3000 from friends and families in order to take the project to the next level. We set up a website and employed a team of five people. Moving on the journey was still challenging because people were used to an old system. It was quite an uphill task trying to convince people on the benefits of e- commerce. It has however been rewarding because today we receive on average 6500 visits per month and are recording organic growth as days go by.

Q: What are your company's Unique Selling Points?

A: At Mcshop we believe that when the customer buys online it is more than just buying; it is an experience. Our mission therefore has been to move beyond just selling items to becoming a provider of experience. One of the vital features we launched this year and which is giving us a competitive advantage is “commande special “meaning ‘Special order’ in English. This involves customers ensuring we use our networks to get customers what they want in case we happen not to have it in our stock. For example, if a customer can send a picture of the shoes they are interested in and if we don't have it in our platform we search for it in our network within 24h and get back to the customer with feedback. We see ourselves as the gateway for many people to digital commerce so we have to ensure convenience and build trust which so far we have comfortably done.

Q: How has the market responded to your products/services?

A: At first it was a tough sell considering majority of the people in DR Congo and elsewhere had not warmed up to the idea of e commerce. It is however heartwarming to note that we are enjoying an impressive uptake of our products via online purchases and people have come to actually tell us that it is more convenient and fast to do business online and they are happy of the platform we have created for them.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: We predominantly target young people in the 22 to 35 age bracket because this range we believe understand the technology and are passionate about the innovations  but as we grow we intend to grow our customer base and target.

Q: What are the ambitions of the company?

A: We are planning to add two more cities where we can deliver besides Kinshasa. With a population of over 80 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated Francophone country and the fourth most-populated nation in Africa. Unfortunately the country consists only of 3 people out 100 that are internet subscribers. The e-commerce landscape in Africa has many challenges particularly in DRC such as the mistrust, lack of good infrastructure and the issue of payment. Majority of customers are still keen on cash on delivery system. The potential is huge as well as the challenges  but despite that our goal in 5 years is to be one of the  major player of the ecommerce industry in the region of Central and East Africa  .
Source: Africa Business Communities

Meet South Africa’s most promising startup

EMGuidance, an app for the medical profession, has won the local leg of Seedstars World and will now compete for $500,000 (R6.5 million) in funding at the global final in Switzerland in 2018.

The startup, which aggregates medical content from regional experts in one app, will also get an opportunity to meet investors and take part in a training program abroad.

Zlto, a digital rewards platform that incentivizes its users for postitive behaviors, was placed second, while Empty Trips, an online smart transport marketplace connecting transporters, brokers and shippers, grabbed the last spot on the podium.

The Rise – and Challenges – of Ghana Real Estate Website MeQasa

Kelvin Nyame, one of three Ghanaian entrepreneurs, (including Rashad Seini and Kofi Amuasi), who founded MeQasa after receiving US$90,000 seed-funding from Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in 2013.

MeQasa went on to raise US$800,000 from Frontiers Digital Ventures, a global VC firm in 2015, and is rising to be the number one real estate platform in Ghana.

Q: How would you summarise what MeQasa does?

A: We help people find homes to rent or buy, within their budget. Basically, we use our website to connect property owners with property seekers.

Q: What’s the MeQasa story? What shaped your drive to solve this particular problem (of home ownership)?

A: After I left University, I had 200 cedis to find a home, what I had hoped for was a single room. It was my first time housing searching and it was really tough. I could not find anything within that budget and I had to pay agents to find leads. So, I persuaded a cousin to leave home with me so we could pool resources and have the freedom of living alone. Our combined budget was 400 cedis.

This experience became the basis for why our team at MEST ventured into real estate. Especially after we realised that we could build a model to fit Africa, our own environment. Eventually, we built the prototype, pitched to it to MEST and got seed funding.

Q: How has the journey been so far?

A: MeQasa will be four years into operations this August. We were a small startup and we are now becoming an established business. This has come with a lot of changes – in structure, expectations and market share. There have been problems too but I take these as opportunities for learning.

Q: How much funding have you raised and how has that helped your growth?

A: So far we have raised US$890,000 (seed funding $90,000 and series A $800,000). Funding is great for strategic planning and growth. With our series A fundraising, our goal was to obtain a larger market share in terms of quality content listing, traffic, and leads. We also needed to get revenue to break even.

After series A, our listings grew nearly 85 per cent, increasing our options in every locality. Our website traffic has gone up from about 5,000 to over 70,000 monthly hits and about 10,000 leads a month. We are constantly working hard to surpass our revenue targets by exploring different revenue streams to bring in more money.

Q: What are your plans to expand in the short and long term?

We have two main goals currently: to maintain our market leadership and find more strategic ways to make revenue. Part of our strategy involves extending our services offline. That is why we launched the Dream Homes Expo, a 2-day housing fair and exhibition that took place earlier this month at the Accra International Conference Centre.

Q: Tell us about your biggest entrepreneurial challenges.

A: Transitioning from startup to business has been tough. Managing a close-knit team of three co-founders with a shared vision is easier than a diverse team of 18 employees in various levels of management, not including investors and their expectations. Some of the finer challenges include finding the right skills/talent who understand the startup space and want to grow with you and help manage your vision over time.


In Brief

After conducting over 12 FastTrack events across the globe in search of startup talent, Startupbootcamp Cape Town is issuing a final call to startups in Africa to apply to participate in the first ever Africa-based programme. The deadline for online applications is 9 July 2017. With only four African FastTrack events left to go, startups can apply to attend a local FastTrack ahead of the final application deadline to present their ideas to mentors and sponsors for pre-application advice and feedback. The last leg of FastTracks will be taking place in Durban and Cairo (4 July 2017), and Cape Town (7 July 2017). Fast Track applications: Three month Cape Town accelerator programme:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship (MIT Legatum Center) has partnered with The MasterCard Foundation to launch a series of events in three cities across Africa to discover and support local entrepreneurs who are bringing their knowledge to bear on their continent’s greatest challenges. The 2017 Prize will also honor one African leader with a Legatum Leadership Award for his or her extraordinary contribution to African entrepreneurship. In total, the Zambezi Prize will award US$200,000 in cash prizes to entrepreneurs from the continent

Thomson Reuters – which also ran an African startup challenge last year – hopes to co-create new technologies and business models together with startups, customers, and local universities through the Labs initiative, fuelling economic growth in various ways.

Nigerian startups dominated the Ecobank Fintech Challenge final held at the global headquarters of the bank in Lome, Togo as three Nigerian Fintech startups IroFit,, and PayLater came first, second and third respectively. The startups beat 20 finalists from other Africa countries. The winner of the challenge IroFit, which provides a mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) that helps small retailers process in-store card payments in real-time and track their sales, even when there is no Internet connection, recently won the Innotribe Startup Challenge, and stand another chance of winning up to $500,000 in prize money.

Impact Amplifier is conducting an intensive, women’s only, 6-week accelerator for the African Women in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF). Applications for the accelerator are currently open.  The accelerator is for women entrepreneurs in South Africa and will focus on creating the business models and the growth strategies required to scale these enterprises. If you are interested in participating, click here to apply. Applications close on 16 July 2017. The event is run by Impact Amplifier, hosted by AWIEF and sponsored by Mazars.

TLcom Capital has held a $40 million first close for its TIDE Africa Fund, winning commitments from a combination of development finance institutions, Africa, European and American corporate investors and family offices. Two development finance institutions are responsible for 50% of the commitments made for the fund's first close - the African Development Bank and European Investment Bank are each investing $10 million in the 10-year fund, which is aiming to provide its investors with a net IRR of 16%. TLcom anticipates hitting the fund's target of $100 million in time for its final close in June 2018.

LEAP Africa in partnership with Union Bank has announced the call for applications to the 2017/ 2018 edition of the Social Innovators Programme (SIP), a one year fellowship for young Nigerian change makers under 35 years. The Fellowship seeks to attract young Nigerians aged 18 – 35 with innovative ideas capable of transforming local communities on different scales and in diverse focus areas such as health, environment, education and agriculture. The social initiatives must be creative and innovative with high socio-economic impact. Submit your application for SIPA Fellowship here:
Application portal is open till July 16, 2017.


Mobisol acquires Kenya’s Lumeter

Mobisol, the provider of off-grid solar home systems in Africa which was backed by Investec Asset Management in October last year, is making a deal of its own and acquiring Lumeter, the pay-as-you-go software company based in Nairobi. Mobisol also counts the IFC and FMO among its investors.

Mobisol sells its products under a three-year payment plan, with entry-level systems costing approximately the same as its typical customer would spend on kerosene, candles, batteries and mobile phone charging services. As well as making the systems affordable, in a significant number of cases, Mobisol’s customers can generate an income from their solar home system, selling electricity on to others.

To date, Mobisol has installed 10 megawatts of capacity in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. By linking up with Lumeter, the company estimates that its services now provide clean, reliable and affordable power to over 500,000 people. Mobisol sees the acquisition as being a key step in the firm’s plans to expand the pay-as-you-go market for its off-grid partners and other technologies

“While pay-as-you-go software pioneers like Lumeter and Angaza Design have very successfully paved the way to meet consumer needs, we will now be able to take this approach to a new level, offering opportunities to manufacturers and distributors on a larger scale” Stefan Zelazny, Mobisol’s Chief Innovation Officer said in the statement announcing the deal. “We are able to provide a hardware agnostic software suite that makes major consumer and commercial implementations possible.”
Source: Africa Capital Digest
Watch an interview with Mobisol competitior BBOXX:

Morocco - Green Energy: $ 25 million for the Midelt solar project

Morocco has just obtained the green light for a $ 25 million loan from the Clean Technology Fund under the Climate Investment Funds for a project to generate solar power through a hybrid solution Combining solar thermodynamic concentration.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank are jointly supporting Phase 1 of Midelt's concentrated solar energy project, with an additional $ 25 million, an ADB statement said.

"The project includes two separate CSP power plants (solar thermodynamics with concentration) each with a capacity of 150-190 MW CSP and a minimum of 5 hours of thermal storage," said the same source. The planned capacity of the PV component could reach about 150-210 MW, which makes the total capacity of each of the 300-400 MW plants and the total capacity of this first phase at 600-800 MW.

The innovative hybrid solar design of the project is also based on a unique public-private partnership between the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (Masen) and private sector developers, the same source said.

The selected bidders will form a company that will be responsible for the construction and operation of the power stations and the sale of electricity produced at Masen under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

Support from the Clean Technology Fund and AfDB under the Climate Investment Funds has helped to reduce the cost of the project and electricity, the source said.

"In 2015, the world experienced a significant shift in PUC investments around the world, particularly in Morocco," said Anthony Nyong, AfDB's director of climate change and green growth, quoted in the statement.

The new project, which will be based on Noor's operational and financial structure, will contribute to the development of solar energy, the diversification of the country's energy mix and the strengthening of its energy security. "We believe the project can serve as a model for other countries in the region," said the AfDB official.

The project will contribute to the achievement of the objectives set by the Moroccan government in accordance with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement, including the target of 52% of renewable energies (20% of solar energy) by 2030.

The solar plan of Morocco will also contribute to industrial development, competitiveness and could create about 30,000 jobs, reads the document.

"The combination of these two technologies will allow Morocco to optimize the transfer of energy generated during the day by ensuring that the use of the CSP component can be optimized overnight through the use of thermal storage, "Said Leandro Azevedo, coordinator of the ADB's climate investment program.

The estimated greenhouse gas savings for the Noor-Midelt Phase 1 project is approximately 1.2 million t CO2, equivalent to an annual equivalent of 36 million t CO2 over the life of 25 Years of the project.
Source: Press Release

Microsoft announces 10 off-grid seed grants

Microsoft has announced that it is awarding 10 new Affordable Access Initiative (AAI) seed grants and resources to innovative businesses, who are working to increase affordable internet access in communities around the world. Six of these grantees operate in Africa, and include 5 off-grid ventures:

Kukua is a social enterprise that aims to close Africa’s weather information gap, and in turn, help farmers improve their crops. The AAI Grant Fund will help Kukua conduct an impact study in Uganda, further develop its apps, products and delivery channels, and improve the scalability of its solution.
Kukua Weather Services – Uganda:

Solaris Offgrid uses a modular pay-as-you-go platform to offer affordable access to energy, products, and connectivity to more than 1 billion people currently. The AAI Grant Fund will help Solaris pilot the use of 1,000 tablets for approximately 7,000 users.
Solaris Offgrid – Tanzania:

Standard Microgrid aims to reinvent the African utility industry with containerized, micro-grid in-a-box solar packages together with IoT home sensors for use by off-grid and underserved communities. The AAI Grant Fund will help with a 150-village rollout in Zambia.
Standard Microgrid – Zambia:

SunCulture aims to help smallholder farmers improve their crop yields through solar-powered irrigation systems. The AAI Grant Fund will expand the current irrigation system with sensors, camera technology, and drones for pest-control and satellite imagery to increase crop health and overall yield, via leveraging Microsoft Research expertise in the FarmBeats project
SunCulture – Kenya:

VisionNet provides internet access to rural university students in the DRC, where only 3 million out of 79 million people have access to the Internet. The AAI Grant Fund will increase hotspot coverage and wireless internet services, training and capacity building with a focus on women in computer science and technical fields, and construction of a wireless tower.
VisionNet – Democratic Republic of the Congo:

WrightGrid provides connectivity by designing, manufacturing, and deploying solar-powered phone charging and wireless internet stations into public spaces. The AAI Grant Fund will be used to deploy 15 solar-powered phone charging stations.
WrightGrid – DRC:

Source: Press Release

The powerful Y’ello Box is bringing 24/7 electricity to Nigeria via your mobile phone

In a world first, Nigeria is pioneering a new solar electricity service and it is already transforming lives.

The Y’ello Box is a solar electricity system that officially launched earlier this year and allows families and business owners to harness the power of the sun cheaply and efficiently, in a way we’ve never seen before.

In homes, clinics, schools and businesses across Nigeria, people are running fans, charging phones, watching TVs and lighting rooms, all using affordable, reliable, clean electricity. The Y’ello Box is already powering the lives and businesses of more than one hundred thousand Nigerians.

Designed and operated by Lumos Mobile Electricity Service (, the Y’ello Box provides electricity to customers 24 hours a day, which people pay for using their MTN mobile phone.

It has proved itself to be the most reliable and affordable service on the market, with customers delighted at the switch from traditional fuel.

Yuri Tsitrinbaum, CEO of the Lumos Mobile Electricity Service said: “People don’t have access to the power they need. Fuel is very expensive and other services are unreliable. The Y’ello Box saves customers money all while providing better and more reliable electricity. As Nigeria modernizes, our demand for power increases. It’s time we did more to harness the power of the sun. That is why the Y’ello Box is changing so many lives. It is affordable, it is reliable and paying by mobile phone makes it easy.

“Lumos is growing rapidly across Nigeria, as we invest more money, create business opportunities for Nigerians and employ more and more people. Equally important is the fact that the service is improving the everyday operations of community centers like schools, health clinics and religious institutions,” added Tsitrinbaum.
Source: Mobile Money Africa

In Brief

The Dutch Development Bank (FMO) successfully achieved the first closing of $412 million Climate Investor One (CIO) fund. Launched by Climate Fund Managers (CFM), Climate Investor One (CIO) is the inaugural financing facility of an intended series of climate finance initiatives designed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Holding clean energy as its core focus, the fund will support solar, wind and run-of-river hydropower projects in the above-mentioned designated regions.

The government of Zambia has unveiled a pipeline of Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects worth $22 billion, covering multiple sectors including energy.

Africa Energy Corp has appointed Garrett Soden as President and Chief Executive Officer. He replaces James Phillips who is retiring.

Work has officially begun on a 30-40MW solar hybrid power plant in the Shangombo District of Western Province, Zambia. The managing director of Cleantech Invest portfolio company Nocart, Vesa Korhonen, confirmed this recently, Africa Business Communities reported. The firm secured a $200 million contract to develop this project earlier this year.

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

3D printed Third Thumb prosthesis gives superhuman abilities

Royal College of Art (RCA) graduate Dani Clode has 3D printed a mechanical third thumb prosthetic which aims to both extend a person’s abilities and challenge the perception of prostheses.

3D printing is becoming increasingly used for fabricating prosthetics and British group Open Bionics are set to launch the world’s first clinical trial of 3D printed bionic hands.

However, Clode cites the term ‘prosthesis’ traditionally means ‘to add’ and instead intends to explore “human augmentation” with an aim to “reframe prosthetics as extensions of the body.”

Speaking to Dani about her design and her future plans for the Third Thumb, she told me about plans to further develop the concept and expand the possible functions and aesthetics. She said:”It is a designed body part, so it would be great if it could be customised in ways to engage with a range of different people, and 3D printing is what would make this possible”.
Source: 3D Printing Industry


3 African startups win development prize

Uganda’s BarefootLaw, Ghana’s Farmerline and Kenya’s Kytabu have been named winners of the King Baudouin African Development Prize, taking home EUR75,000 (US$84,000) each in prize money and access to a wide network of stakeholders who will support them as they grow.

This is the first year the King Baudouin Foundation has awarded the prize, which aims to recognise the achievements of young, African tech-entrepreneurs driving social change across the continent.

The three winning startups share the underlying principle of using simple technology to connect people with essential knowledge.

BarefootLaw is the first online legal service in East Africa, offering free-of-charge services that help those who are in need, especially the most vulnerable, to understand and defend their basic rights. Farmerline, meanwhile, connects over 200,000 farmers with market information, peers and larger organisations.

Kytabu has developed an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students, making school-reading accessible to 11 million students in Kenya to break down the high rate of students currently without access to textbooks.

The chair of the King Baudouin Foundation, Thomas Leysen, said by enabling local, creative initiatives focused on social good to grow, the prize aims to promote a culture of self-sufficiency and empowerment, not dependency.
Source: Disrupt Africa

Malawi and Unicef launch drone air corridor

Malawi has launched Africa's first air corridor to test the use of drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, in humanitarian missions in partnership with the UN children's agency, Unicef.

Kasungu Aerodrome, in central Malawi, will be used as a test site for aerial scouting in crisis situations, delivering supplies and using drones to boost internet connectivity.

Universities and other partners will also have access to the site. The project will run until 2018.

Rwanda also launched a commercial drone delivery service last year to deliver medical supplies. The project, in partnership with US company Zipline, has cut delivery of medical supplies to minutes instead of hours.

Unicef says it is working globally with a number of governments and private sector partners to explore how drones can be used in humanitarian and development missions.

The UAVs will have a range of 40km (24 miles). Unicef says its projects adhere to a strict set of innovation principles and it is committed to sharing its knowledge with the fledging drone community. It says that the project was launched after a successful test flight last year to deliver dried blood for early infant diagnosis of HIV in hospitals in Malawi. The organisation also used camera-equipped drones to assess the needs of people cut off during a flood.

Unicef's Malawi Representative Johannes Wedenig said that poor infrastructure in the country made UAVs relevant and cost-effective: "With UAVs we can easily fly over the affected area and see clearly what the impact has been on the ground. This is cheaper and better resolution than satellite images."
About the air corridor:

Malawi's Department of Civil Aviation has given permission and specifications for operating delivery drones in the air corridor. They include: maximum distance of 80km (50 miles); altitude limit at 400 metres above ground; and the corridor will run for 1-2 years.

For drone enthusiasts and campaigners, this development is another important step in the right direction. After years of opposing the commercial and civilian use of drones, African governments are slowly allowing the integration of UAVs in the airspace.

The Malawi air corridor project is a close copy of an idea proposed to the Kenyan government by a Swiss polytechnic about four years ago to operate a drone delivery service called Flying Donkey.

The plan was to operate fixed-wing drones, carrying a payload of up to 20 kg (44lbs), in sparsely populated and infrastructure poor northern Kenya to supplement the postal services.

The project did not take off because the authorities saw it as a threat to security.

While there are legitimate concerns about privacy and safety, the absence of progressive drone laws to regulate the industry means African countries have been missing out on the multi-billion dollar industry.

Malawi now joins Rwanda, South Africa and Mauritius on the list of countries leading cutting-edge research on drone use to address real-life challenges.
Source: BBC News

World Bank and Nest announce Agritech challenge 2017

The World Bank and Nest announced a call for applications for the Agritech Challenge 2017. The initiative is the first open innovation program of its kind in Kenya. Its aim is to connect promising startups and innovators with one of the region’s leading agribusiness corporates.

The challenge, which is sponsored by the World Bank, aims to spur collaborative innovation in Kenya. It forms part of a program to test open innovation mechanisms in the country for a potential future scale up by the Government of Kenya.

Starting August 2017, high-calibre teams of innovators and entrepreneurs will work closely with agribusiness industry veterans to conceptualise and co-develop solutions around some of the most pressing challenges in the local value chains. The selected startups will have the opportunity to plug into a wealth of expertise and resources of the corporate partner, and subsequently explore piloting and commercializing the solutions developed. Nest will facilitate the program with oversight from the World Bank team.

Applications are open until July 25, 2017, and will be vetted on a rolling basis. Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interactions and exploratory site visits with the corporate partner ahead of a pitch day in end-July to select the final cohort for the programme. Applications can be submitted via the programme website:

Planet Earth Institute launches the PEI exChange, the first online matching platform for African development

The Planet Earth Institute), an international NGO and charity, will launch the PEI exchange ( during its #ScienceAfrica UnConference on 20th July, 2017. The PEI exChange is the first online matching platform for all individuals working and interested in Africa.

While Africa has long been the subject of fascination, there are few specialised websites for the sheer range of professionals working on the continent. The PEI exChange is a new website that aims to connect all people working in and passionate about Africa. Based on user-identified criteria, including countries and regions of focus, industries, skills and experience, the PEI exChange provides personalised matches to help users make their ‘Big Ideas for Africa’ happen. These could include charitable projects, a new technology, a business plan, an academic collaboration or more.

Users will be matched with like-minded people who have the skills, expertise, and experience to support their projects on and for the continent. Once connected, the PEI exChange real-time chat function facilitates collaboration, allowing users to share contacts and expertise, build  networks, and create interest-focused groups.

The PEI exChange also features a ‘Big Ideas Map’, which displays projects, initiatives, businesses, and collaborations happening in and for Africa. Users can post their own projects, follow and support others, and stay up-to-date with challenges and opportunities on the ground.
Distributed by APO on behalf of Planet Earth Institute.

In Brief

The 12th edition of eLearning Africa, the International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training, will take place on September 27 – 29, 2017 at the InterContinental Mauritius Resort in Balaclava Fort. This year, eLearning Africa will be hosted by the Government of the Republic of Mauritius under the Patronage of the Honourable Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, the Mauritian Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, and the Honourable Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research.

Safaricom has now launched Connected Farmer, a mobile and web based service that will help agricultural processing businesses in production planning by opening a communication line with farmers.

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

Proof of concept draws on mixed reality to leverage enterprise data from IFS Applications as a holographic overlay to drive productivity

IFS Labs has developed an integration between the enterprise applications suite IFS Applications and Microsoft HoloLens that enables service engineers to visualise holographic IFS software data on the HoloLens screen, which is plotted directly on the asset they are to service.

The data is displayed directly in front of the engineer’s eyes, enabling technicians to use both hands when servicing the asset. By displaying information as a real-time overlay, engineers get immediate access to relevant asset-specific data such as service history, performance analysis, and temperature levels. HoloLens will also make it possible to action the data in real time by clicking a ‘work guidelines’ button to access service instructions stored in IFS Applications.

By leveraging the integrated HoloLens camera, the solution also makes it easy to document the asset and the service performed, and store the information in IFS Applications for future reference.

IFS Labs is exploring making the concept available for other IFS software products in the future. Learn more about the projects currently researched by IFS Labs here:
Source: Press Release

3rd Batch of Nigerian Entrepreneurs Graduate from GE Lagos Garage Training Program

LAGOS, Nigeria, July 5, 2017/ -- GE, the world’s premiere Digital Industrial Company has announced the graduation of the third batch of 28 young Nigerian entrepreneurs from its Lagos Garage - a hub for advanced manufacturing-based innovation, strategy development, idea generation and collaboration.

The new graduates who joined the programme in the first week of June, following a rigorous selection process, received four weeks of training on advanced manufacturing technology and business development. Participants learnt how to design and create products which will help position them as vital players in the advanced manufacturing and innovation ecosystem.

The program provided participants the opportunity to directly interact with the latest manufacturing technologies, including 3D printers and laser cutters that enable innovation through rapid prototyping. Participants were also exposed to a variety of world-class instructors and technical experts who not only provided mentorship, but support on developing their business ideas.

Speaking during a media tour of the Garage in Lagos, the Director, Communications & Public Affairs, GE Africa, Patricia Obozuwa said that the GE Lagos Garage initiative was created to build Nigerian knowledge and capability which will ultimately lead to the creation of more businesses and jobs. Obozuwa expressed the belief that the GE Lagos Garage program will create new innovators who will lead and drive Nigeria’s manufacturing sector in the near future.

She re-emphasized GE’s commitment to skills development, saying - “We are very passionate about skills development in Nigeria and as such, are proud to have trained 95 young Nigerian entrepreneurs till date, since the launch of the Lagos Garage hub in November 2016. The Garage graduates have been empowered to transform their ideas into practical business models which in little time will have a positive impact on the Nigerian economy by empowering people to create jobs for themselves.” she said.

GE created the Garages experience in March 2012 to reinvigorate America’s interest in invention, innovation, and manufacturing. In 2014, Garages went global with its first international exhibition in Lagos, Nigeria. Given the success of the 2014 pilot program, in November 2016, GE launched the permanent installation of The Lagos Garage in alignment with the Federal Government’s focus on driving localization and job creation.
Distributed by APO on behalf of GE.
Watch an interview about the launch of The Garage - Oluwadar Johnson Treseder on GE's Garage in Lagos that's looking for power generation solutions:

Add Colour teaches design thinking to South Africa’s youth

A pilot project by Sk8 for Gr8 aims to uplift through creativity in some of South Africa’s historically disadvantaged areas.

The Add Colour campaign is Sk8 for Gr8’s latest effort to teach South African youth entrepreneurial skills through art.

Founded by South African art director Alison Harris, the mentoring initiative pairs up talented designers with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to design skateboard decks inspired by each child. After running a number of these workshops in Cape Town, the initiative is expanding their efforts by collaborating with the City of Cape Town and publishing company Imagnary House.

Their pilot project will kick off on 17 July in Atlantis, a historically disadvantaged area established by the Apartheid regime as part of the infamous Group Areas Act.

According to Harris’ crowdfunding page, the pilot project will start off with a collaborative mural created by Liebet Jooste of Liebetland: A Colouring Book.

Jooste will create a mural outline inspired by both the children in Atlantis and her imaginative world of Liebetland in an effort to uplift both the area and the youth’s knowledge of illustration and design. The children will add colour and make it come alive.

The Sk8 for Gr8 team plan to use this activity to teach design thinking and entrepreneurial skills.

The Add Colour campaign is Sk8 for Gr8’s latest effort to teach South African youth entrepreneurial skills through art. Founded by South African art director Alison Harris, the mentoring initiative pairs up talented designers with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds to design skateboard decks inspired by each child. After running a number of these workshops in Cape Town, the initiative is expanding their efforts by collaborating with the City of Cape Town and publishing company Imagnary House.

Their pilot project will kick off on 17 July in Atlantis, a historically disadvantaged area established by the Apartheid regime as part of the infamous Group Areas Act. According to Harris’ crowdfunding page, the pilot project will start off with a collaborative mural created by Liebet Jooste of Liebetland: A Colouring Book. Jooste will create a mural outline inspired by both the children in Atlantis and her imaginative world of Liebetland in an effort to uplift both the area and the youth’s knowledge of illustration and design. The children will add colour and make it come alive. The Sk8 for Gr8 team plan to use this activity to teach design thinking and entrepreneurial skills.
Source: Design Indaba

In Brief

Ideco Biometric Security Solutions director Francois Vermeulen has been appointed as the new head of the Technology Innovation Expert Group (TIEG) for the Biometric Institute. The Group focuses on the provision of accurate and unbiased technical information, training and education to the board and members of the Biometrics Institute. TIEG is developing a best practice guide to assist members in the implementation and selection of biometric systems. It aims to assist the market with the responsible use and implementation of biometrics. The Biometrics Institute is playing a key role with regards to responsible use and implementation of biometrics. I believe that we need to assist the market in harmonising biometric enrolment processes where possible, to stop the continual re-enrolment of the same biometric with numerous entities," says Vermeulen.

Each year a stellar architect is chosen to design the Serpentine Pavillion in London. It’s probably one of the most celebrated contemporary recognitions of architectural prowess with previous choices counting Zaha Hadid, Jean Nouvel, Bjarke Ingels, Daniel Liebeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and the list keeps on going.  And in recognition of his brilliant work, this year’s choice is Francis Kéré from Burkina Faso. In our issue two we profiled Kéré in Ogojiii. What we found really interesting about his work was his approach to mixing traditional building techniques and resources at hand with modern design thinking and construction techniques. I’ll make sure that our interview will go online soon and link to it in this newsletter.
The pavilion will be open for the public throughout the summer:

SA's number one mobile operator, Vodacom has opened a narrowband Internet of things (NB-IOT) laboratory at its Vodaworld campus to incubate and commercialise machine-to-machine and Internet of things (IOT) systems using narrowband networking. Vodacom announced late last year that it has commenced its NB-IOT network build, which it will launch commercially in major metropolitan areas across SA later this year. The operator says it continues to aggressively drive investment in the expansion of its IOT offering, which has been identified as one of the key strategic growth areas of the business. NB-IOT is a low power wide area (LPWA) network technology which enables new use cases for IOT solutions. LPWA networks can communicate with devices where radio penetration has not previously been possible. LPWA devices are also power efficient, resulting in devices being deployed in-field with multi-year batteries.

Founded by Adrian Raisbeck, South Africa’s mbora, is an IoT firm creating connected sales and distribution outlets with access to advanced performance management data to the over 500,000 booths in Africa and more in Asia. Raisbeck says mbora’s important markets largely reside outside of South Africa. “We’ve rolled out one proof of value pilot project and have recently been awarded two more.  So it’s early days for us, our technology readiness levels are finally at a point where we can roll out pilots.” Raibeck told TechMoran. “We intend to secure our seed capital and another 3 pilot projects. We’re currently chatting to a small handful of interested seed investors, all of whom are impressive. We’ve also started looking to Asia, having recently been selected to join’s Global Fintech Hackcelerator.”

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Yours sincerely

Russell Southwood
Smart Monkey TV

PS There’s much to be learned from watching Sara Gamay, Cairo Angels on its investments and the start-up sector in Egypt:

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.