By Modupe Gbadeyanka
In a move to ensure its over 50 million customers continue to enjoy the best experience on voice call and mobile internet services, Airtel Nigeria has upgraded and overhauled its network infrastructure nationwide.
With this development, all the 2G and 3G sites of the leading telecommunications services provider have been upgraded to 4G, allowing customers to enjoy expansive mobile broadband and a flawless voice call experience.
The Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Airtel Nigeria, Mr Surendran Chemmenkotil, while commenting on the network upgrade, said Airtel was focused on ensuring that customers continue to enjoy the best experience on the network.
He also noted that the company was committed to taking mobile broadband everywhere, including the remotest rural location in the country.
“Our commitment is to our customers and we are focused on ensuring that they continue to get the right and the best experience on our network.
“This exercise is inspired by the fact that we want to serve our customers better and we also want to contribute significantly to deepening broadband expansion in Nigeria as this has a direct correlation to GDP and economic productivity of a country.
“Therefore, we will continue to support the Federal Government agenda of increasing and expanding the penetration of broadband in the country,” he said.
Tech Companies Making a Difference in Africa
Africa has long been touted as the continent with the most growth potential when it comes to tech and innovation. Many African countries are building their own equivalents of Silicon Valley and tech companies from all across the world have been setting up offices and launching themselves into markets across the continent. And in addition to growing their customer bases, these companies are also committing to making affecting change in Africa. Here’s how.
They are Investing in communities and equipping people to become entrepreneurs
Last year Airbnb announced a three-year commitment to South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy. The commitment focuses on infrastructure, training and investment and builds on Airbnb’s 2017 $1 million commitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects, and the Africa Academy, which has trained more than 300 Hosts.
As part of this commitment, Airbnb announced its partnership with the University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality to expand the Airbnb Academy programme to at least 1000 students over the next three years.
They are assisting in developing quality journalists and newsrooms
Over the years, Google, perhaps the biggest tech giant in the world, has been doing its fair share for small businesses, content creators and business owners across Africa. And just recently the company announced that five South African recipients have been selected as part of Google’s News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge.
The GNI Innovation Challenge is aimed at helping the journalism industry thrive in the digital era. Their projects are among 34 chosen from 17 countries, to receive a share of $3.2 million in funding.
The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their work in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI Innovation Challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.
Companies are nurturing talent from a young age
“At Huawei South Africa, we have long been committed to cultivating ICT talent and discovering new ways to harness technological innovation to advance sustainability,” says Vanashree Govender, Media and Communications Manager for Huawei South Africa. “Last year, we launched our Tech4Good Global Competition as part of our Seeds for the Future talent development programme, which exposes learners to courses on the latest technologies like 5G, Cloud, AI and IoT.
The Tech4Good competition gets students to think about how to use technology to address social and environmental issues. Through this programme, participants boost their creativity, hone their entrepreneurship skills, and develop a sense of social responsibility. This is a fun team effort, with coaching by Huawei experts and world-renowned social impact leaders”.
Huawei also runs a Tech4All program globally in which Huawei works with partners to create real change through connecting the unconnected, empowering underserved communities and protecting the planet. In South Africa, Huawei’s DigiSchool project in partnership with operator rain and educational non-profit organisation Click Foundation has connected over 100 urban and rural primary schools to the internet using 5G technology.
They are building the right skills through access to digital media education
Today, there are local entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as fashion, healthcare, and decor who have proven that with more equal access to the digital marketing ecosystem, it’s possible to expand regionally and internationally.
In order for that to happen at scale, they also need the requisite skills to market themselves online in the markets they want to reach. At the very least, those entrepreneurs should have easy access to people with those skills. It’s important to note here, that these aren’t just fundamental digital marketing skills, but ones that relate to the specifics of marketing on the world’s leading digital advertising platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify where people across the globe spend most of their time online. With the right types of messages, these platforms are the most effective places to reach new customers across a broad range of markets.
“This is something that we’re passionate about, and recently, Ad Dynamo by Aleph launched a free Digital Ad Expert programme for young people in Nigeria and Ghana, which aims to educate, certify and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitising economy. While it’s entirely possible that someone with the right degree of determination and curiosity could develop those skills on their own, it’s critical that more and more resources are accessible to build them up at scale,” says Elyse Estrada, Global Chief Marketing Office, Aleph Group.
This is crucial to ensuring that markets such as Ghana and Nigeria aren’t just growth targets for international companies, but incubators for a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of competing on a global level themselves.
They are creating access for everyone
MFS Africa, the continent’s largest omnichannel payment gateway, believes in a “borderless world” to which everyone has access. Their comprehensive digital networks link 320 million mobile wallets, enabling cross-border payments remittance firms, financial service providers, and worldwide merchants.
MFS Africa CEO and founder, Dare Okoudjo, believes that interoperability is crucial in allowing customers of different mobile financial services providers to interact with each other. This can be done by making direct payments from the mobile money account of one provider to the mobile money account of another provider.
To do this, MFS Africa acquired Global Technology Partners (GTP) recently, broadening its bank and fintech base and supplying tokenisation in the mobile money space by connecting with established card ecosystems like Visa and Mastercard. The ultimate objective is to give millions of mobile money users on the continent access to the global digital economy and new possibilities. For its partners, these new capabilities enable scalability, security, and new markets and consumers as technology innovation continue to penetrate and reshape societies.
Visa to Support African Women Fund Managers
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
African women fund managers have been promised financing support by Visa to help expand their businesses across the continent.
The fund, according to Visa, is earmarked for only 55 women who participated in a programme organised in 2020 by the African Women Impact Fund (AWIF).
The money is mainly for the working capital needs of women fund managers across South, East, and West Africa, a statement from the payments platform said.
AWIF is a collaboration between Standard Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the grant is an extension of the She’s Next program, a global advocacy program for women-owned businesses that have been expanded to Sub-Saharan Africa to further champion and strengthen African women business owners as they build, sustain, and advance their businesses.
Visa’s funding will be directed towards activities that will assist the business owners with improving their technical skillsets, becoming investible to larger institutional investors, and running profitable businesses that will in turn invest in others including small and medium businesses.
“The aim of She’s Next is to help women-owned businesses thrive and our ambition with this grant is to enable access in a space where women-owned firms are under-represented.
“Through this programme, we aim to ensure that women are not only recipients but become decision-makers where institutional funding for businesses is concerned,” said Aida Diarra, Senior Vice President & Head of Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa.
“The funding will ensure that these business owners are able to focus on growing their enterprises without the burden of managing short-term debt and other operational costs related to building a successful business” added Diarra.
Women fund managers in Africa continue to face numerous challenges in building sustainable businesses. Research shows slow-moving progress in the visibility and inclusion of women fund managers due to systematic barriers and investor bias.
With African women accounting for just 7.6 per cent of private equity and women-led businesses receiving only 7 per cent of Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capital (VC) in emerging markets, this highlights the opportunities that exist to reduce the current gender gaps, further reflecting in the less than 1.3 per cent of the $69.1 trillion global financial assets that are managed by women and people of colour.
WhatsApp Extends Delete Messages Feature to 60 Hours
By Adedapo Adesanya
WhatsApp has introduced a new feature that allows users to delete a message for up to two days and 12 hours (60 hours in total).
The Meta-owned service said this is being done so that users can remove an accidentally sent chat even after hours.
The development is changing the previous limit which was 1 hour, 8 minutes and 16 seconds.
WhatsApp first introduced the unsend feature back in 2017 with a time limit of just seven minutes but later increased it to one hour and eight minutes.
WhatsApp is also introducing new privacy features to its app including blocking screenshots for “view-once messages” and the ability to leave a group silently.
With the Leave Groups Silently features, WhatsApp users will be able to exit a group privately without having to notify everyone. Now, instead of notifying the full group when leaving, only the admins will be notified. This feature will start rolling out to all users this month.
In a statement, WhatsApp said, “Seeing when friends or family online help users feel connected to one another, but everyone has had times when they wanted to check their WhatsApp privately. For the times you want to keep your online presence private, WhatsApp is introducing the ability to select who can and can’t see when you’re online.”
Additionally, the instant messaging application will now block taking screenshots for “View Once Messages”.
It noted that “View Once” is already an incredibly popular way to share photos or media that don’t need to have a permanent digital record.
“Now WhatsApp is enabling screenshot blocking for View Once messages for an added layer of protection. This feature is being tested and will be rolled out to users soon,” it said.
The company added that the introduction of these new features are backed by a new WhatsApp privacy study which found that 72 per cent of people value being able to speak in an honest, unfiltered way, but more than 47 per cent are only comfortable doing this in a safe, private space.
“For the times when you need more privacy, 51 per cent prefer to stay hidden online to choose who they want to talk to. 91 per cent of people who are aware of blocking features believe they are important. That is why WhatsApp is introducing new layers of protection that enable users to speak freely and have private conversations,” it said.
To spread awareness about the new features, Whatsapp will also kick off a new campaign to educate people, starting with the UK and India.
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