Twitter Lite, Twitter’s stripped down version of its service for Android has been rolled out to a dozen more countries, including 6 African countries (Algeria, Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia and Tanzania). According to Twitter, The Lite app is able to load faster on a slow connection and is more resilient on unreliable mobile networks. Twitter additionally reduced the size of the app to under 3MB, so that it doesn’t take up too much space on a phone.
The announcement was made by Jesar Shah, the product manager at Twitter, via the company’s blog.
This move should help expand its presence internationally. Twitter says its experiment in the Philippines earlier this year led to a greater than 50% increase in tweets. The company has 330 million monthly active users, 80% of whom are outside the U.S.
The full list of countries where Twitter Lite is being made available is Algeria, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Malaysia, Nigeria, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Serbia, El Salvador, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, Tanzania and Venezuela.
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.”
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
In recent times, drone delivery has become a global phenomenon. However, in countries like Rwanda, these drones not only deliver goods, they save lives. The drones owned by Zipline, serve as a lifeline for Rwandans who require blood in some of the most remote areas of the country; areas where bad roads hamper the on-time delivery of medical products during emergencies.
Even though Zipline launched its operations in Rwanda barely two years ago, its drone-delivery has recorded remarkable success and impacted thousands of lives. The drones have completed more than 1,400 deliveries across 12 regional hospitals in the countryside of Rwanda. In addition, the drones have also totted up more than 5,500 units of blood deliveries to patients in dire need of blood transfusion.
The California-based startup which was founded by a team of technology enthusiasts (Keenan Wyrobek, Keller Rinaudo, Peter Seid, Phu Nguyen, and William Hetzler) at the Silicon Valley in the US has its base in Muhanga. The town is located around the Southern province of Rwanda, approximately 45 km from Kigali the country’s capital. So far, Zipline’s success since it launched in Kenya could place East Africa at the forefront of an evolution.
“Some of the biggest, most powerful technology companies in the world are still trying to figure out how to do this. But East Africa is showing them all the way. “The work in Rwanda has shown the world what’s possible when you make a national commitment to expand healthcare access with drones and help save lives,” Keller Rinaudo, Zipline CEO and Co-founder explained in an interview in January 2018.