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👍🏾Tanzania App Emerges as Ecobank Fintech Challenge First Place Winner

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Winners of the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Challenge were announced at a ceremony held at Ecobank’s headquarters in Lome, Togo on 30th August 2018. Nala, from Tanzania, beat the ten other finalists to emerge as the overall winner of the competition. Virtual Identity from South Africa and Wallet.ng from Nigeria were the first and second runners-up. They won cash prizes worth US$10,0000, $7,000 and US$5,000 respectively.

Nala, based in Tanzania, is a mobile money application that works offline, without an internet connection. Nala provides a unified user experience in which multiple financial services can be connected through one application. It can host multiple SIMs, enabling users to manage their spending and take control of their finances.

Second-placed Virtual Identity is an innovative platform designed to disrupt traditional customer onboarding for banks. The process is fully digital, creating a virtual video conferencing link between the agent and the customer. Its easy to use web-based solution allows the client to complete tedious KYC processes from anywhere, making it both convenient and time-saving.

The third-placed prize winner, Wallet.ng, is a start-up providing an alternative bank for a growing generation of digital natives. Its core strength is building a banking platform that is as native to customers’ devices as Facebook and WhatsApp.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO praised the finalists for their innovative solutions and welcomed them to the Fellowship: “We are proud of the impressive start-ups that made it to our 2018 final. They are shining examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity that will propel our continent’s global competitiveness in the commercial services markets, and I sincerely expect some, if not all, of them to be the business titans of tomorrow. They have my congratulations and we look forward to working closely with all eleven Fellows over the next year to deliver innovative banking services at better price-points that will improve the lives of Africans.”

This year’s Fintech Challenge was keenly contested with applications from over 412 innovative fintech entrepreneurs from across Africa, Europe, North America, and Asia. All eleven (11) finalists were inducted into the Ecobank Fintech Fellowship, a one-year business program where they can explore opportunities for commercial partnerships with the Ecobank Group, to launch and scale products across Ecobank’s 33 country markets in the continent.

Launched in 2017, the second year of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge brought together fintech start-ups and innovators, policymakers, investors and development organizations from across the world to network, witness the 2018 finalists’ exhibitions, and celebrate the induction of the finalists into the 2018 Ecobank Fintech Fellowship. Also present at the finals was the Honourable Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, Minister of Business Development of Ghana, who commended Ecobank for this initiative and urged more support for young African entrepreneurs to improve job creation on the continent.

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge and Fellowship is designed and managed by the advisory firm Konfidants and supported by FMO, Microsoft4Afrika, Accion Venture Labs, Cellulant and FinConecta. More information on the fellows, their innovations and the Innovation Fellowship can be found on the programme website at www.ecobankfintech.com

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African Ingenuity

Ephraim Banadda is First African to Win Pius XI Medal

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Professor Banadda receiving the Pius XI Medal from Pope Francis.

Prof. Noble Banadda (R) receives his Pius XI Medal from His Holiness Pope Frances at the award ceremony on 12th November 2018 in the Vatican

Makerere Professor Ephraim Banadda has become the first African to win the Pius XI medal, scooping the 2018 award. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences gives the award to recognize outstanding scientific research.

Ephraim Banadda

Professor Banadda is a Ugandan scientist born in 1975. He was the first African to get a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium. The institution is one of the oldest universities in the world—established in 1425. Professor Banadda also holds MSc in Processing Engineering from the same institution.

The professor took his undergraduate studies at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania and holds BSc Food Science and Technology from the Tanzanian institution. At the age of 37, Noble Banadda was appointed a full professor at the University of Makerere.

The professor is the current Chair of the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In 2013, the Professor became the youngest fellow to join the Uganda National Academy of Sciences. In 2015, Professor Banadda was among the seven Africans who qualified for the Next Einstein Fellowship.

The Pius XI medal recognizes Professor Banadda’s contributions in scientific research. The professor’s research interests are in biological systems, mathematical modeling, and renewable energy. In addition, the professor has authored over 80 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has over 1,1395 citations on Google Scholar.

Some of Professor’s Banadda’s known works and innovations include making diesel from plastic materials. The Professor also developed a solar irrigation system. In 2015, Professor Banadda launched the first Makerere University MV Mulimi, a cost-effective farmers’ tractor. A year later in 2016, the professor unveiled organic pesticide made from agricultural waste. These achievements demonstrate that the Professor has been at the forefront of agricultural innovation in Uganda.

The Pius XI Medal

The Pius XI medal was launched in 1961, and the academy has awarded 28 winners since the inception. The academy itself, however, was found in 1936 by the Holy Father Pius XI. In 1961, Pope John XXIII established the Gold medal to recognize young scientists under the age of 45. The award recognizes scientists who work free of economic, ideological, or political interests. Professor Banadda received his medal on 12 November 2018 at the Papal Wing at the Vatican.

The selection process for the Pius XI medal is a well-kept secret. The Vatican is the venue for the award ceremony, and the Pope himself awards the medal to the winner. Professor Banadda received his medal on 12 November 2018 at the Papal Wing at the Vatican. The 2018 Pius XI Medal recognizes Professor Banadda’s outstanding scientific research and publication.

The professor aspires to one day join the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose alumni include Galileo Galileo and several Nobel Prize winners in the fields of Physics, Medicine, Space engineering, Stem Biology, and Mathematics.

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Business and Development

Microsoft Wants To Promote Digital Transformation in Africa And Here Is How

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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 location of the new data centers in Africa

Map showing the location of the new data centers in South Africa

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

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.

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Business and Development

Standard Chartered Bank Launches Second Phase of Digital-Only Retail Banks In Africa

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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.

Demand

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.

Update

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.

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