Digital revolution is happening in Africa in exceptional scale affecting almost all facets of life. Innovators on the continent are using technology in a manner that is disrupting even established institutions. A case in point is the mobile money technology that provides financial services to those even without bank accounts. Despite this being a revolutionary technology, there are many that trace their “origin” to the African way of life. For this reason and in significant ways, digital revolution is repackaging traditional African practices to make them more effective today.
What practices were there in those pre-internet days? What made African life meaningful in those days? These are some of the questions that innovators are asking in order to come up with ingenious innovations. What does this mean? This means that traditions that held together and helped communities live a meaningful life are still important for innovators today. Technology is coming up with solutions that meet the needs of the older members of African society and the smartphone-generation in areas such as finance, entertainment, and communications.
Digital Revolution for Personal Finance
An example is the story of Wemimo who grew up in a financially-challenged family in Nigeria and lived through a challenging school life. His family was often unable to pay his fees. For this reason, his extended family started pooling their monies into an account with friends and making it possible for each member to draw from the pool in turns. This is how Wemimo was able to get an education in Nigeria and later pursue further studies in the US.
This problem brought about a digital revolution in the form of Esusu, a mobile app that Wemimo (and his colleague Goel) tout as a “digital platform that makes personal finance easier than ever”. The app digitally revolutionizes the traditional African practice of pooling resources together for mutual gain. It functions more or less in the same way as his parents used to do in the past. The process is simple; download the app and register, invite your friends and family to do the same, Save money as a group regularly and then allow each member to make withdrawals. For this one, you can save together for different reasons other than just pay school fees!
Digital Revolution on Stokvel and Bitcoin for Camels
Similarly, this revolution is happening to a savings model and practice called stokvel in South Africa. Stokvel has existed for many centuries in South Africa has been digitized. It appears in the form of the Stokfella app that makes collective pooling of resources possible. For this one too, you do not just pool resources, but also learn financial literacy.
From West Africa to South Africa and the digital revolution story is the same in Eastern Africa. Somalia grapples with and subdues the effects of instability and few banking institutions with digital revolution. People here are digitizing their hagbad (ayuuto) social lending and financial traditions leading to a cashless society. This social lending model allows them not only to pay schools fees and weddings but also medicine. What more? The camel commerce in Somalia has been digitized by a startup called Ari.Farm (that has been re-branded as Agrikaab). Is there anything else surprising? Yes, you can use bitcoin to buy a camel.
Do you have an African tradition that you would like to digitize? Tell us in the comments below!
Microsoft Wants To Promote Digital Transformation in Africa And Here Is How
South Africa is the home for Microsoft’s first data centers in Africa. The two data centers are located in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The new data centers are serving Azure, with Dynamics 365 and Office 365 scheduled to be added by end of 2019.
The company had, in 2017, announced that it plans to have data centers in South Africa. Overall, the multinational technology company has 54 cloud regions announced around the world.
Data Centers and Digital Transformation
The new data centers in South Africa make Microsoft the first global provider to offer cloud services from data centers in Africa. The company aims to help in promoting digital transformation in Africa.
The location of the data centers in Africa means regional users are guaranteed of resilient cloud services, enhanced security, compliance needs, and data residency. Furthermore, the new data centers will help promote global investment, improve access to the Internet and cloud services in Africa, and increase business opportunities in the region.
Projections from IDC–International Data Corporation–indicate that adoption of the cloud services will generate around 112,000 jobs in South Africa—by end of 2022. The data centers will facilitate improved environment for building digital businesses. Nedbank for instance, plans to utilize Microsoft Azure to increase its agility, customer focus, and competitiveness.
Furthermore, Azure provides companies with data privacy and security. This makes it a suitable service for banks like Nedbank. The Peace Parks Foundation and eThekwini Water have also signed up with Microsoft for computing services.
Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing service. It can be used for building, testing, managing, and deploying services and applications through Microsoft data centers. The service supports different tools, frameworks, and programming languages.
Users of Azure can enjoy instant computing resources on demand. In addition, businesses or individuals using the service do not have to build on-site data centers or have server cooling environments. Also Azure users do not endure maintenance costs, electricity costs, and use of floor space. As such, Azure brings down the costs of computing.
Microsoft’s Investment in Africa
Microsoft has a 30-year history of operations in Africa. With over 10,000 local partners on the continent, the new data centers in South Africa add to the company’s long list of investments in Africa. The expansive investments in Africa took a new direction with Microsoft’s launch of 4Africa Initiative in 2013.
The initiative seeks to facilitate the company’s engagement with startups, partners, and governments. The aim of these engagements is to help the youth develop locally relevant technology, 21st-century skills, and affordable access to the Internet.
Other global tech giants with plans to open data centers in Africa include Huawei and Amazon. Facebook announced it will set up a content review center in Nairobi, Kenya.
Standard Chartered Bank Launches Second Phase of Digital-Only Retail Banks In Africa
Standard Chartered Bank is starting its second phase of digital-only retail banking in Africa. This follows the successful launch of the bank’s first digital retail services in Cote d’Ivoire. The bank made the announcement for the second phase on January 31 2019.
The bank targets to launch the second phase in the first quarter of 2019. The key markets in this first quarter are Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania.
According to the bank, the launch was necessitated by increasing demand for innovative banking services. Standard Chartered, in meeting this demand, continues to make strategic and sustainable investments in technology. Furthermore, the launch of the second phase of digital-only retail banking compliments the bank’s innovation agenda.
The launch is an acknowledgment that Africa’s future is in innovation and technology. During the launch, the bank’s CEO for Africa and the Middle East stated that Standard Chartered has a focus on digitizing Africa and facilitating access to financial services.
Benefits to Standard Chartered Customers
Standard Chartered customers will enjoy enhanced services in the digital platforms. The services include P2P payment, QR code, instant fixed deposits, as well as loan and overdraft facilities. In addition, the bank’s customers will be able to enjoy banking services anywhere, anytime. The bank has made a commitment to guarantee its customers a consistent online experience.
In this second phase, Standard Chartered bank will apply a similar platform used in the first phase in Cote d’Ivoire. The CDI—Customer Data Integration–platform on boards clients in under 15 minutes. Furthermore, the platform provides 70 of the most common service requests.
For the bank, this new venture provides an opportunity to engage in strategic alliances with local players. These new partnerships further enhance the customer experience by providing services such as the ability to make online payments when shopping.
Marketing the New Services
Africa’s banking market is the second fastest-growing in the world. Also, it is the second-most profitable market across the globe. In order to create awareness of the new services, the bank announced that it will launch a marketing campaign that runs across traditional and social media platforms. In Uganda, Standard Chartered partnered with comedian Anne Kansime to drive awareness of the new services.
The first launch was made in Uganda during the announcement of the second phase of digital-only retail banking in Africa. Standard Charted unveiled the services in Tanzania and Ghana in February 2019. In March, 2019, the bank launched a mobile banking platform in Kenya, fulfilling its commitment to roll out the digital platforms within the first quarter of 2019 in the four African countries.
2019 Africa Owned Car Brands Manufactured In Africa
Africans are taking the plunge into the automobile industry, positioning themselves to compete against more established car brand. To succeed, they have to do a little more for their demographic and be a little better than their counterparts. Cars made in Africa, and by Africans, are changing the narrative about Africa’s ability to produce state-of-the-art machinery.
These cars produced in Africa. The end products is evidence of Africa’s automotive industry positioning itself to compete with seasoned and established foreign brands.
Africa Owned Car Brands Manufactured In Africa
Joel Jackson, a British entrepreneur, started Mobius Motors, a car factory in Kenya. Mobius motors released Mobius bus, a low cost designed for common African road terrains. Mobius bus is an eight-seater vehicle with large cargo space. The vehicle can reach a maximum speed of 160km/h on its manually transmitted gearbox.
The company later manufactured Mobius II which is an advanced version of the pioneer model—Mobius one. The new version has a better interior, higher ground clearance, power steering, and sealed side windows.
A shift in focus from agriculture to industry in Ghana has yielded great results. The Kantaka is a proudly made in Ghana car. The car is available in various models, shapes, and colors—the Kantaka pickup, the Kantaka SUV etc.
The Kantaka Group of Companies manufactures the Kantaka. Apostle Kwadwo Safo owns the company which is located in Gomoa Mpota. The Kantaka is probably one of the most promising cars made in Africa. This is a unique feature that distinguishes its style from Chinese and Japanese cars. Specifically, the Kantaka is designed for local conditions in Ghana.
The brain behind Innoson, a Nigerian car, is Chief Dr. Ifediaso Chukwuma. Dr. Chukwuma is the founder of The Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company.
The company manufactures luxury, trucks, and minibusses. Some of the advantages that set Innoson car apart include: its affordable price; three years warranty on gears, axle, and engine, and; the ability of the car to correspond with needs of an average car user in Nigeria. In addition, Innoson is a modern and comfortable car.
Bailey Edwards-South Africa
This is a replica sports car made in South Africa. Brothers Peter and Greg Bailey started the manufacturing company in 2003, creating the brand name of Bailey cars.
The company builds and customizes performance cars—such as the Ferrari P4 and the Porsche 917. In addition to its South African base, the company has a factory in New York. The New York factory caters for the North American market.
Birkin Cars Ltd
This is another South African car manufactured by Birkin Ltd. John Watson owns Birkin Ltd. The company specializes in making the S3 Roadster. the company has manufactured more than 8,000 S3s since 1988. The S3 bears resemblance to the original Lotus.
Wallyscar is a small but powerful car made in Tunisia. Brothers Zied Guiga and Omar Guiga founded the company in 2006. The car is designed for off-road driving with its largest market being in Africa and the Middle East. In addition, the car has a market in Europe. The manufacturer plans to make the car more colorful, sporty, and more environment-friendly.
The Kiira EV Smack—Uganda
The Kiira EV Smack is an invention by engineering students at Makerere University in Uganda. It is an electric hybrid car by Kiira Motors Corporation. Kiira EV Smack is an advancement of the original prototype by the students. The car is cost-effective. Both diesel and electricity can provide power to the car. The car is expected to become available to consumers before the end of 2022.
Several cars made in Africa show the creativity and ingenuity of the African motor industry. For example, some of these cars, when fully developed, can run on solar power. Others are electric hybrid cars.
Another car made in Ghana is the Turtle, which is designed to meet local needs. However, the Turtle is not as sophisticated as the Kantaka. the ingenuity in this car comes from the fact that it is a 100 percent recycled car.
The Wind and Solar Powered Car-Nigeria
Segun Oyeyiola produced this wind and solar powered car as a student at Obafemi Awolowo University. The car was Segun’s final year project at the institution. This car is a product of a Volkswagen Beetle and other materials.
The car was to function on both solar and wind power. During the day, the car uses solar energy. At night, the car uses a wind turbine. This car, however, is still a work in progress.
Cars that Never Survived to Mass Production
A product of Morocco, Laraki Epitome is manufactured by Laraki. Moroccan yatch designer Abdeslam Laraki owns the manufacturing company. In addition to Laraki Epitome, the company manufactured the Borac and the Fulgura—supercar and luxury car. Laraki Epitome is a perfect combination of luxury and speed.
Compared to large scale manufacturers, Laraki makes its cars based on a concept. As such, cars at Laraki are custom-made for each customer. In 2015, Laraki cars were ranked as some of the most expensive in the world—priced at over $2 million. This fete definitely makes Laraki the most expensive cars made in Africa.
The Saroukh el-Jamahiriya was originally designed for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. As you would expect, this is a luxury and safe car.
The car had an inbuilt electronic defense system. In addition, the interiors had airbags to increase safety of the vehicle. Furthermore, the car could run over hundreds of miles on flat tires. Definitely one of the best cars made in Africa.
Although the car competed with other luxury cars from Germany, it never went into full-time production.
The Perana Z-one is a product of the Perana Performance Group. Perana Performance Group is based in South Africa. produced as a limited edition car, the Z-One is a highly desirable sports car–there are only around 10 of them in the world.
Although African countries continue to produce cars, cars from Japan, China, Germany, and other foreign countries still dominate the African market.
A common concept is an assembling industry, where foreign companies such as Nissan, Volkswagen, and Toyota fully assemble their cars in Africa. In 2018, Volkswagen opened a car assembly plant in Kigali, Rwanda. In Kenya, Volkswagen has an assembly plant in Thika.
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