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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Africa

CARDBOARD BOXES are not sexy. But they are useful: imagine trying to shift a lorryload of eggs from farm to shop without packaging. Because boxes make it easier to move things around, they allow shops to stock a wider variety of goods at lower prices. So to run a cardboard-box factory in Africa is to put more and better food on African plates.

The Riley Packaging plant in Uganda is quite a sight. From wall to wall and floor to ceiling, it is crammed with vast rolls of paper. A visitor feels like an ant gazing at stacks of toilet rolls. A management consultant might ask: why does Riley need to keep so much inventory—three months’ worth—heaped idly on the floor? Surely there are better uses for the firm’s capital?

Actually, no. The paper has to be imported. Uganda is landlocked. The nearest port, at Mombasa in Kenya, is more than 1,000km (620 miles) away on iffy roads. Containers passing through customs there face long and unpredictable delays. The factory keeps masses of inventory because it cannot rely on supplies to arrive just-in-time. And “we can’t ever let customers down,” says Ashish Thakkar, a part-owner of the firm.

Ignorant investors beware

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kLab adds to Rwanda’s tech drive

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Based in Rwandan capital Kigali, kLab is the landlocked country’s first dedicated innovation hub and a key figure in the march to becoming a force in the ICT sector.
 
Founded in June of 2012, kLab came about through a confluence of ideas and role-players.
 
“Individuals and key players in the private sector came together and felt it was needed to have this sort of space where people could come to work on their ideas and have an opportunity to commercialise them. They drafted a proposal and plan and then set about recruiting the relevant partners,” explains Claude Migisha K., general manager at kLab.
 
Private sector interest in the incubation space has also spurred on its development.
 

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Information technology (IT) research firm, Gartner, predicts that the Middle East and North Africa’s (MENA) cloud service market could grow its revenue by 24.5% to $462.3 million in 2013.
 
According to Gartner this is the result of that region’s public cloud services market, which grew by 13.4% in 2012 to $371.2 million, compared to $110 billion worldwide.
 
It was further reported that business process services, the largest segment in the cloud services market, accounted for 38% of the total Middle East and North African market last year.
 

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The eLearning Africa 2013 Survey

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The eLearning Africa 2013 Survey will monitor African opinion on how the Continent’s learning landscape is changing under the influence of new technologies. Please complete The eLearning Africa 2013 Survey and share your views on the impact of technology on Africa’s learning landscape. Under the overarching theme of ‘Mobility and the MDGs in Africa beyond 2015’, this major pan-African survey will form the foundation of The eLearning Africa 2013 Report, which will be launched at the eLearning Africa 2013 conference in Windhoek, Namibia, from May 29th – 31st 2013.

To complete the Survey, please visit http://survey.icwe.info or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Complete your Survey by 20th February 2013 to be entered into a prize draw and have the chance to win a tablet computer!

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February 2013 will mark the first time Social Media Week takes place on the continent of Africa! Social Media Week Lagos brings together thought leaders, creatives, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens from Nigeria -and throughout the continent and the diaspora- to explore how people and organizations are connecting to share new ideas and information.

Social Media Week is a worldwide event exploring the social, cultural and economic impact of social media. Our mission is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information.

“By programming keynotes and panels that look at how Africans – Nigerians in particular – are incorporating social media in their unique social, political, and creative landscapes, Social Media Week Lagos will explore just how important being connected to the world is for 21st century Africans,”  -Ngozi Odita, Executive Director of Social Media Week Lagos.

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MAMADOU NDIAYE grew up in Senegal. His parents were “not poor, but not rich”. He was fascinated by mathematics, which he studied at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and then taught for several years in Côte d’Ivoire, saving to pursue his dream of studying in America.

He went to New York, where he worked at Staples, an office-supplies chain, to finance his masters in statistics at Columbia University. A customer, impressed by Mr Ndiaye’s sales advice, suggested that the Senegalese apply for a job with his own employer, IBM. That was 15 years ago. Now Mr Ndiaye is back home, as manager of the office Big Blue opened in Dakar last May.

The office in Senegal is just one sign that IBM believes Africa will bring in billions. It is no newcomer: it sold its first gear there to South Africa’s railways in 1911 and a mainframe computer to Ghana’s central statistics bureau in 1964. Lately it has been paying special attention to the continent.

In July 2011 it won a ten-year, $1.5 billion contract to provide Bharti Airtel, an Indian mobile-phone company, with information-technology services in 16 African countries. Since mid-2011 it has set up shop in Angola, Mauritius and Tanzania, as well as Senegal. In all, it boasts a presence in more than 20 of Africa’s 54 countries. Last August it opened a research lab in Nairobi, one of only 12 in the world. And between February 5th and 7th Ginni Rometty, its chief executive, and all who report directly to her met dozens of African customers, actual and prospective, in Johannesburg and the Kenyan capital. It was, Mrs Rometty said, the first time the whole top brass had assembled outside New York since she became the boss just over a year ago.

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Africa’s leading ICT publication ITNewsAfrica has announced that Avanade and HP have thrown their weight behind the February 27 edition of the Innovation Dinner series. The theme chosen for this event is “BYOD – re-thinking your device strategies.”

The Innovation Dinner Series, an event that takes place every two months, provides a platform for networking amongst Africa’s ICT professionals, entrepreneurs and business people.
 
Sponsors recognise the value proposition of this critical industry event, one that includes building relationships, accelerating sales, networking with visionary leaders and interaction with top talent within the IT industry.
 
The next event, scheduled for 27 February at the Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg, will see ICT decision makers, senior government officials, experts and business leaders discuss the impact of BYOD on existing enterprise IT policies.
 

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In the last decade, Kenya has moved from a very backward position technology-wise to one to look out for. From dead slow internet speeds to plenty of bandwidth, low mobile network coverage to robust countrywide coverage and now eyeing Long Term Evolution technology like the rest of the world.
 
Most of these developments have been mostly pushed by the consumer demands and need to keep up with the global business environment.
 
In 2006, the government had a plan whose focus was on building infrastructure to connect Kenyans to the internet. Thus, one fibre optic cable was welcome. That was then, now there are four fibre optic cables live in the country, a fifth one is expected to land very soon and two more later.
 
With sufficient broadband now in place, Kenya is ready for take off to be the ICT hub of Africa.
 
The ministry of Information and Communication has developed a five-year master plan that will determine the priorities and key initiatives to be undertaken to achieve this.
 

Tagged in: Africa Hub ICT Kenya
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Dr. Nadia Zakhari, the Minister of Scientific Research confirmed on Saturday 16/2/2013 the importance of outlining a strategy for cooperation between African countries in the field of science and technology.
 
The remark was made during a workshop on indicators of Science, Technology and Innovation in the African countries. Up to 28 African countries and 65 scientists and researchers participated in the workshop.
 

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Despite socio-political challenges and  the serial upheavals in South Africa’s mining and agricultural industries, Africa’s largest economy remains the best place to do business in Africa in terms of business destination, a research compiled by business services company Grant Thornton has shown.

The report, titled ‘Emerging Markets Opportunity Index: High Growth Economies’, ranked South Africa 14th out of 27 largest emerging economies surveyed (in terms of their potential for business investment ); significantly showing SA as the highest rated economy on the African continent.

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MTN Uganda commissions fibre network

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MTN Uganda officially commissioned its fibre network at Katuna Border in Kabale district on Friday, 08 February 2013.

The event, held at the Katuna border post, was attended by the Minister of ICT, Honourable Ruhakana Rugunda, the Executive Director of UCC engineer Godfrey Mutabazi as well as the MTN Uganda Chairman, Mr Charles Mbire.
 
Speaking at the event, Minister Rugunda said, “We, at the Ministry, would like to commend MTN Uganda for this investment that further confirms its commitment to provide support for this crucial sector of Uganda’s economy and further positions Uganda as a leader in ICT. The extension of the MTN Uganda fibre will act as a catalyst for economic development and will support the Ugandan government to further leverage on the existent regional partnerships in the areas of trade and industry”.
 

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Chief Executive Officer of Signal Alliance, Mr. Collins Onuegbu, has predicted that Nigeria will be among the top 10 countries of the world in internet usage and penetration in few years' time.
 
Onuegbu, whose company specialises in software development and service delivery, gave the prediction in Lagos at a forum organised by Signal Alliance to appreciate its customers and to advise them on new business model that would help them stay relevant in a technology evolving world.
 
Onuegbu, who based his prediction on the 110 million telecoms subscribers in the country, said since the figure was an accumulation of mobile phone users in the country, there is the tendency that it will boost internet penetration and usage, because majority of Nigerians use smart phones with internet access for their daily browsing.
 
"As the number of mobile phone subscription increases, the volume of internet usage is likely going to increase, and this will move Nigeria to become among the top ten economies of the world in internet usage and penetration," Onuagbu said.
 

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Ghanaian ICT firm, Blue Cloud Ghana, has announced that beginning March 2013 it plans to unveil Wi-Fi hotspots stretching ‘across the length-and-breadth’ of the West African country.
 
According to reports, Blue Cloud Ghana chief executive officer, Kwasi Amoafo Yeboah, has said progress on installation of the first phase are at an advanced stage.
 
The company has also said it has acquired enough bandwidth from the Main One submarine fibre optic cable.
 

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The eLearning Africa Photo Competition is back this year in its fourth edition. Under the theme of “Tradition and ICT innovation: a couple with potential”, budding photographers are encouraged to send in their photos depicting how ICT is enhancing the way individuals and communities in Africa live, learn, cooperate and connect.
 
ICT can offer new learning possibilities and ways of communicating and connecting with the modern world. ICT is present in everyday life, enhancing the way we live, learn, cooperate and connect. Contributions from all sectors and walks of life are welcome. The photo should show how communication tools and information technologies can be part of and enrich a traditional lifestyle and be accompanied by a brief description outlining the inspiration behind their idea.
 

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Microsoft is set to introduce an affordable smartphone tailored specifically for Africa as the global software giant moves to kickstart its 4Afrika Initiative, a drive to boost the adoption of smart devices, empower small businesses and accelerate skills development on the continent.
 
Announcing the 4Afrika Initiative at launch events in Egypt, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa last week, the Washington-based company said that it planned to help place tens of millions of smart devices in the hands of young Africans by 2016.
 
At the same time, the initiative aimed to "bring 1-million African small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) online, upskill 100 000 members of Africa's existing workforce, and help an additional 100 000 recent graduates develop employability skills, 75 percent of whom Microsoft will help place in jobs".
 

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Kenya is edging closer to launching an online business directory and information pool that profiles all businesses operating in various sectors of the economy.
 
The move comes at a time when the country has performed dismally in global and regional cost of doing business indices, which have blamed bureaucratic and time consuming procedures of starting a company as responsible for discouraging prospective investors.
 
For example, a new firm spends about 40.4% of its annual income to set up operations in Kenya compared to just 4.3% in neighbouring Rwanda, according to the World Bank.
 

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Global enterprise software company, SAP, is targeting African startups to make use of its in-memory database and computing technology system, HANA, for future projects.


 “Africa is Disneyland for startup companies and entrepreneurs, and we want the new generation of startups and billionaires that could change the world to come from this continent,” said Derek Kudsee, chief operating officer, SAP Africa.

He added, “We in Africa have an enormous opportunity, the possibilities are endless and big ideas and data is the marriage that is going to create a new generation of companies.”


Through the launch of its first ever ‘SAP Start-ups Focus Forum’, the company has embarked on a programme that plans to support startups with using HANA as well as developing new software applications for the system.
 
HANA is an SAP software platform that brings together analytics and transactions into a single in-memory platform.
 

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We are approaching the half way point of the third National ICT Plan (NICI 3 ) that is supposed to run from 2011 to 2015 and we risk not beating the tape this time.
 
This third phase is supposed to focus on service development, but the private sector, which has an important role to play, is dragging its feet and not taking full advantage of the infrastructure.
 

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Rwanda: kLab Livens Tech Scene

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Rwanda's ICT innovation is quickly gaining momentum due to the fact that some young technology graduates are actively engaged in software applications thanks to kLab innovation centre.
 
The government, through Rwanda Development Board (RDB) plans to set up an ICT park that will host a collection of technological investments including training, industries, research and development, which is in line with supporting technology innovationkLab, an open technology hub for IT entrepreneurs located at Telecom House in Kacyiru, provides a platform for developers, IT enthusiasts and interested parties of a growing ICT community to collaborate and innovate.
 

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Business IT users in Africa are increasingly demanding that the online services and applications they consume be hosted on the continent, and preferably within the borders of the countries where they do business.
 
This is according to Albie Bester, general manager of wholesale broadband provider SEACOM's cloud services subsidiary, Pamoja. He says a growing proportion of African internet traffic is staying within the continent rather than moving outside its borders today.This marks a massive shift from five years ago when most traffic for even basic internet services, such as email, needed to be routed to Europe or the US.
 
Bester says that there are a number of reasons for this trend.
 

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