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Kenyan Developers Shine at Andela Hackathon to Fight Fake News

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Top Three Teams Present at BBC Beyond Fake News Conference, Offered Mentorship at Safaricom’s Innovation Hub

Andela, the global technology company that is building a network of technology leaders on the African continent, recently hosted the “Fighting Fake News” Hackathon. Supported by BBC News, the Andela Hackathon was one of many events being held as part of the broadcaster’s ‘Beyond Fake News’ series, a project aimed at tackling the problem posed by the spread of disinformation.

After a 24-hour sprint involving 52 software developers, 16 teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges comprising of Jackie Christie [BBC Head of Partnerships – Africa TV Co-Productions], Shikoh Gitau [Head of Products – Safaricom], Frank Tamre [Software Engineer, Instructor & Mentor] and James Smart [Journalist]. Three teams – Thibitisha (Kiswahili word meaning confirm), iCODEAI, and SeeTheLight – presented the strongest concepts according to the panel. Their winning prototypes utilized Artificial Intelligence (AI), image manipulation detection techniques, and crowd-sourcing to fact-check, verify and distinguish fake news from legitimate news on text, video, and photos. Each of the teams – comprising of 11 members combined – were invited to pitch their solutions at the BBC Beyond Fake News Conference held in Nairobi on November 12th. Most recently, the teams have also been offered a six-month mentorship opportunity with Safaricom at the firm’s Alpha Innovation Hub to receive mentorship.

“We began the Safaricom Alpha Innovation Hub to drive our purpose of transforming lives by exploring innovations and partnerships that create additional value for our customers. Our collaboration with Andela seeks to harness the power of technology for social good to empower people in making informed decisions,” said Joseph Ogutu, Chief Special Projects Officer, Safaricom.

Themed ‘Technology for the public good: countering fake news online’, the Hackathon was held to showcase how technology can be used for the public good, to counter fake news online. It opened with a diverse panel of experts including Brice Nkengsa [Co-Founder & Director of Engineering, Andela], Joshua Mwaniki [Country Director, Andela Kenya], Jackie Christie, Pinky Ghelani [Speaker, Presenter & Moderator] and moderator Rehema Kahurananga [Communications Manager, Andela] who provided further context as to why curbing the consumption and spread of fake news is vital and requires a multi-pronged approach including technology.

“There are many forms of misinformation but we define fake news as the deliberate spread of false information for political or commercial gain,” said Christie. “Trust underlines everything that we do. When trust is undermined we’re in trouble as a society. We’re using media literacy to educate both the young and old in fighting fake news.”

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Smart Africa’s New Boss Has Big Ambitions For The Continent’s ICT Agenda

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Lacina Kone

Smart Africa gets a new boss, taking over at a time when the continent is having high expectations for Information Communication Technology (ICT) and development. The secretariat must grow ICT investments and accelerate taking up of technology across Africa. Additionally, Africans have high expectations that the Smart Africa Alliance organization will also seek to increase its membership from the current 24 African countries to include even more. This is in order that the organization can have greater impact in Africa.

Smart Africa is an alliance and a commitment by heads of states and governments in Africa. The aim is to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development in Africa. It also seeks to propel Africa into a knowledge-based economy via affordable access to Broadband and usage of ICT.

Last week, Dr Hamadoun Toure handed over the mantle to Lacina Kone as the Executive Director of Smart Africa Alliance. This is an alliance organization that uses the power of ICT to drive the African development agenda. Among the huge task ahead for the new boss is to foster an environment that will entice all other members of the African Union. This is in order for them to join the Smart Africa entity.

Smart Africa Alliance under Lacina Kone

Kone is the new Alliance’s boss hailing from Ivory Coast. He joins the Alliance with many ambitions that include creating a single digital market in Africa, an agenda that was launched last year in the continent. This is a development agenda created in order to rip down all borders in Africa such that the final result will be a one-Africa market. Additionally, the agenda entails creating a single African digital identity and a blockchain technology for money transfers. These important development issues will also require participation of the private sector in Africa in areas of investments.

Starting off his career in 1991, Kone holds two Masters Degrees with more than 20 years experience in ICT development. He has served in various capacities including head of technology organizations such as Intelsat, CVT Global as well as Booz Allen Hamilton. Additionally, he has been the Digital Economy Advisor to the Prime Minister. He is also the advisor of Benin government in areas of ICT. This shows that the Alliance is getting a competent boss and therefore increased expectations and hopes for development in ICT.

The Big Tasks Ahead for Kone in Smart Africa

The Smart Africa Alliance has a unique approach to its operations. The model of operations involves each member country taking up one flagship program in order to spearhead. Additionally, each country then shares the approaches, blueprints, and practices it uses in the program with other countries in Africa. This sharing makes the member states to learn in return. The new boss will lead in this task to ensure that these blueprints are documented and the countries are adopting them.

“I will seek to continue implementing the roadmap of the organization,” Kone said. This is while acknowledging the urgency of creating unity and a one voice for Africa. Especially in issues relating to internet penetration and affordability for example.

“If you look at, say, the initial internet cost in Rwanda, it’s about $8 per megabyte and it’s about $60 for the same in Ivory Coast which has access to the ocean. Ghana, which neighbors Ivory Coast, has about half the cost. We need to have very serious conversations about such things with a unified voice,” he said.

Other Tasks in the Smart Africa Alliance

Other tasks that are hot in his to do list include facilitating one Africa network. The network will enable users enjoy free roaming services on the continent. Additionally, he will ensure that the continent has increased number of exchange points in order to reduce the expenses and foster better user experience.

The outgoing director Smart Africa Alliance, Toure has been in the office since 2015. During this time, he oversaw the founding of the alliance. Additionally, he saw the increase of member countries from the initial nine during inauguration to the present 24. It is also through under his leadership that the alliance got a total of 41 private sector partners in investment.

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Business and Development

This Pan African, Mentor-Driven And Corporate-Backed Accelerator Is Rewarding the 10 Most Promising Startups in Africa 2019

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The process of selecting 10 most promising startups in Africa 2019 is soon starting. A Pan African, mentor-driven and corporate-backed accelerator, aimed at empowering innovators is looking for the best startups in Africa to support so they can grow and realize their potential. Have you heard of Startupbootcamp Afritech 2019 Fasttrack Tour? This is a tour that will involve pitching events, mentoring and networking as well as hackathons in select cities in Africa.  These tour activities are lined up in order to ensure that the selected startups in Africa 2019 taste the goodies that the corporate giants can provide.

Startupbootcamp AfriTech Accelerator

Startupbootcamp AfriTech is the accelerator behind this exciting opportunity for startups. The team has assembled a powerful squad of sponsors in order to make sure that the selected startups reap maximum benefits. These sponsors include PWC, BNP, RCS, Nedbank, Paribas and Old Mutual. In this way, the accelerator empowers these innovative and promising startups in Africa in order to connect them with the best corporate players on the continent. Pan African, mentor-driven and corporate-backed accelerator, aimed at empowering innovators

Philip Kiracofe, Sebekedi Motlhabane Koloi and Zachariah George make the team behind this South African Startup accelerator. In order to make this opportunity best fitting to startups, the team will visit 15 countries in Africa. There will be 19 events in total so that each selected city gets the best attention. During these events, 10 most promising startups in Africa 2019 will be selected for rewards. In addition to startups, the accelerator is also inviting the corporate world, investors, mentors and other thought leaders to join in the events.

The program is already underway and will end on 22nd May. The 10 selected most promising startups in Africa will have various rewards lined up for grabs. Why should your startup apply and strive to be among the selected few? You should apply because the 10 selected most promising tech startups in Africa will get an opportunity to present their ideas to the accelerator team and fellow innovators. Additionally, you will also get an opportunity to get mentor feedback and network with the corporate world. You will also get to know more about this accelerator program.

What Awaits The 10 Most Promising Startups in Africa 2019?

The selected 10 most promising startups in Africa will receive the following:

  • Be invited to present their innovative ideas to the Startupbootcamp team and fellow entrepreneurs
  • Have the opportunity to receive mentor feedback, network with corporates and learn more about the Cape Town-based Startupbootcamp accelerator program
  • Get in the accelerator program watch list in order to get a better chance to get into the program or get opportunities to do pilots with corporate sponsors.
  • Get exposure to worldwide entrepreneurship and business opportunities in order to develop.
  • Meet with the industry best executives in order to learn even more.

Countries, Cities, and Dates for the Events

Select your nearest city and the best date for your startup in order to submit an application. Additionally, the earlier a startup applies,  the better the chances it will have to become one of the 10 most promising startups in Africa.

For a startup to be among the 10 most promising startups in Africa, it will need to be in at least one of the following sectors;

  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Transport and logistics
  • Retail and wholesale
  • Leisure and travel
  • Information Communication Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Financial services
  • Education
  • Creative, media and entertainment
  • Construction and manufacturing
  • Clean technology and energy
  • Business services
  • Agribusiness

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African Ingenuity

Video Games Are Emerging in Africa With Strong African themes

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Video games are becoming a booming industry in Africa thanks to a mushroom of innovators and developers on the continent. Startups are spiraling across the continent coming up with unprecedented games and content with African themes. The gaming industry in Africa is now worth millions of dollars due to relentless efforts of these developers, programmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and other tech gurus.

Madiba Guillaume Olivier had dreams like any other teenager when he was growing up in Cameroon. His most pressing dream was to move to America or even to Europe in order to pursue not “greener pastures” but his zeal for video games. He lived a life of video games because his father owned a video store. Olivier did not sit and wait; rather he went online in order to understand more about game design. However, it was not until when he was doing computer science at the University of Yaoundé that his dream (and that of the continent) started to bear fruit. He partnered with a group of friends to work on a project they dubbed Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan.

Video Games Project and the Prince of Planet Auriona

The project was a 2D flight of the imagination game that featured Enzo and Erine, a Prince and his fiancée. The two were embroiled in a quest to reclaim the lost power after a family member betrayed them in the planet Auriona. The team later improved the game design and used it to dive deeper into the industry. Olivier did not move to US or even Europe. The project led to a natural death of his dreams of moving but gave birth to even better dreams with continent-wide and later worldwide ramifications. Olivier and his team released the official version of the game in 2011 winning the hearts of fans, investors and everything else in between. That is how Africa got Kiro’o Games, the first video game studio to come up with an African-themed mythological video game.

“We started to think about the fact that we can make our own studio here [Africa] and sell games abroad,” Olivier remembers.

Olivier and his team are not the only innovators doing Africa proud in this emerging video game industry. In fact, over the last ten years, many video game developers and startups have sprung up across the continent. There are startups in South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tunisia and even in Egypt. Because of growth in funding opportunities and supporting accelerator tech hubs on the continent, Africa is moving beyond the confines that resulted from inadequate infrastructure in some countries. Traditional fintechs in Arica are now normal and nothing to write home about anymore. The continent is expanding beyond what has now become normal tech disruptions in education, health, insurance, agriculture into other areas. Now is the time for the gaming industry.

Other African Themed Video Games

The African narratives, myths, legends, traditions, stories, creativities, mysteries and other mystical societal characteristics are more frightening than Halloween. Or at least to those who understand why it is commemorated in the first place. Tapping into this social heritage and cultural material is a sure success path for the gaming industry. That is why a Moroccan Telcom has invested in a mobile game.

There are other notable gaming innovators doing exciting video games. This boom can be observed with The International Game Developers Association having seven chapters in Africa.

Some innovators in this space include:

  • Ananse: The Origin by Leti Arts in Kenya, is a game based on impressive folklore from Ghana.
  • Celestial Games and Thoopid are also doing Africa proud with magnificent games from the South of the continent.
  • Ebola Strike Force that touches on the story of researchers and scientists yearning to save humankind from the lethal virus is breathtaking.
  • Mzito by Weza Interactive Entertainment in Kenya is a game that takes users on a journey to save the continent. Here, you play as a lion and use ancient spirits to save Africa from ancient corruption. “We wanted to focus on the African theme on because we think it’s time for Africa,” George Ohere, the Weza Interactive CEO said recently.
  • Sambisa Assault is another one that gives game enthusiasts the chance to join the fight against terror movements.
  • The Okada Rider by ChopUp studio in Nigeria that simulates the notorious traffic congestion in the streets of Lagos.
  • Digitalmania has more than 87 magnificent games on Google Play, Facebook, and Apple Store. Sadly, these tech giants do not allow merchant payments in Tunisia. Because of this, the innovator cannot get revenue from their innovations.

The African Video Game Industry by Revenue

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