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Tanzanian Vodacom launches Smart Kitochi

Izunna Okpala

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The Smart Kitochi KaiOS-powered smart phone has been launched by Vodacom Tanzania. In a statement issued by the mobile network operator, the device is claimed to be the first mobile feature phone available on the Tanzanian market and retails at TZS 48,000 (US$20).

The Smart Kitochi can connect to the internet and social media. It also has features like Wi-Fi, GPS and 1400mAh battery, as well as a dual-SIM hybrid slot capable of supporting two 4GB+ 512 MB RAM SIM cards.

The company added that KaiOS supports 3 G + 4G / LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Hotspot, identifying the mobile operating system as the world’s third biggest, running on more than 100 million phones shipped across Africa, Europe, Asia, and America.

“We’re excited to introduce the first smart feature phone in the market alongside our partner KaiOS Technologies,” says George Lugata, Vodacom’s Executive Head of Sales. “Despite wide coverage of network in the country, we still face a challenge of digital divide caused by low smartphone penetration so by introducing the Smart Kitochi, we’ll bring valuable digital services and information to this market at a price that people can afford.”

Sebastien Codeville, chief executive officer of KaiOS Technologies, said, “The digital divide across Africa as a whole remains very large. We’re incredibly focused on establishing partnerships and delivering mobile technology that addresses this issue, which is why we’re so thrilled to be working with Vodacom. The Smart Kitochi is a key step in connecting those who remain disconnected from mobile internet and all of the valuable resources in Tanzania and beyond.”

The device is currently available exclusively in Tanzania, according to Vodacom, but will be available “soon” in other African countries.

KaiOS Technologies said it wanted to expand the reach of its operating system in Africa at the 2019 Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, in February 2019.

David Bang, KaiOS VP for business development for the Americas, has been quoted as saying that Africa makes sense as the next big market to be deployed after India in terms of the company’s expansion plans.

In July 2019, on 512 MB and 256 MB RAM devices, KaiOS Technologies and Facebook announced the availability of WhatsApp for download in the KaiStore.

Vodacom Tanzania has a market share of 32 percent, led by Tigo (29 percent) and Airtel Tanzania (25 percent), according to figures from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

General News

COVID-19: An update on the success of Coronavirus treatment

Izunna Okpala

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There is hope in the fight against Covid-19. New evidence now exist in the United States of America supporting this procedure. Physicians in the Kansas City area, including Joe Brewer, Dan Hinthorn and Dr. Jeff Colyer, continue to see a lot of patients and some have shown progress. Hydroxychloroquine has been applied to treatment options by major medical facilities including the University of Washington and Mass General.

In addition, before this, according to a study conducted by French researchers on 80 cases who recovered from the virus within six days of treatment, a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin has been found effective in treating patients with the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Hydroxychloroquine is an anti-malarial and anti-inflammatory medication used to treat autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, although it has been tested against symptoms of the novel coronavirus with some results.

Bahrain is one of the first countries to study hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 medication, having first used the drug on 26 February, two days after the first case of coronavirus was reported.

Countries around the world are increasing access to hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, similar compounds that are synthetic versions of quinine, which derive from cinchona trees and have been used to treat malaria for decades.

Considering the urgent therapeutic need to control this disease with efficient and safe medicines, and considering the negligible cost of both hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, we believe that this therapeutic approach should be tested urgently by medical practitioners both to prevent the spread of the disease and to treat patients until serious irreversible respiratory complications.

Even now, medical experts are still questioning the use of chloroquine as a drug. Usage of chloroquine for symptomatic treatment of coronavirus has not been licensed by the World Health Organisation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently researching a way to make the drug available for emergency use in the United States, but in a way that gives the government data about whether it is safe and effective.

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Health

The Impact of COVID-19 on African Tech Ecosystem

Izunna Okpala

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The Coronavirus (COVID-19) resulted in mass production shutdowns and supply chain disruptions due to port closures in China, creating global ripple effects in a unprecedented “twin supply-demand shock” across all the economic sectors.

More recently, it is stated that the number of cases in China is slowing down, raising hopes that it will eventually hit a peak and be regulated. Nevertheless, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported in early March that “annual global GDP growth is expected to decline to 2.4 per cent in 2020 as a whole, from an already sluggish 2.9 per cent in 2019, with growth likely even negative in the first quarter of 2020,” with financial markets plummeting in the days that follow.

There is a high degree of uncertainty about the spread of COVID-19 and its effects on Africa is expected to be significant, given the exposure of the continent to China. Cases in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo and Tunisia have been registered as yet. When there is a major COVID-19 outbreak in Africa it could already overwhelm the region’s poor health-care systems.

Coronavirus outbreak would have a downside risk for short-term growth for sub-Saharan African economies, according to ratings agency Fitch, particularly in Ghana, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, Gabon, and Nigeria – all countries that export large amounts of commodities to China.

Last year, Africa’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector was expected to draw high-value investments, with many telecommunications firms looking to develop infrastructure as well as the booming e-commerce market showing potential for regional M&A. The ambiguity surrounding COVID-19, however, means that anticipated investment could be delayed as tech investors anticipate volatility and recover from the short-term impacts.

Many major technology multinationals have said that the effects of lower demand for their goods in China and the effect of breaks in the supply chain of materials required to produce their goods have negatively impacted their companies. Some have been forced to shut down shops, warehouses, production facilities and offices and let workers work from home. Labor-intensive industries are the most affected by the virus and this has impacted planned ventures, production and releases of goods in this market. It is likely to have a ripple effect in Africa and also contribute to project delays.

It is expected that if people stop going to the cinemas for fear of picking up the virus, leave the way open for mainstream broadcasters and live streaming services to enjoy staying at home film and television watchers, the global theater industry will suffer. It would be important to see what improvements film studios are making to overcome this challenge. One alternative could be using on-demand transactional video platforms for new releases. Whatever methods are introduced, the effect is likely to disrupt the conventional dependence on theaters as the first release window and, eventually, the way the film distribution industry does business could be changed forever as a result.

Wuhan in China is the world’s largest manufacturer of optical fibers and cables, accounting for a quarter of the global market. A break in the supply chain for these goods could impact the African telecommunications industry and Africa’s search to introduce fourth industrial revolution technology infrastructure. Fiber optic cable is a critical component of high-speed broadband, which is important for and implementation of 4IR technology.

When more and more customers ignore public spaces, Nigeria is also expected to see an spike in online shopping. Nigeria banks are also likely to begin testing sites for disaster recovery to ensure continued trading and business continuity where operations are affected by COVID-19 office evacuations.

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Nigerian News

FlutterWave support for Paga sealed

Izunna Okpala

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All companies that make use of the FlutterWave payment portal now have the opportunity to accept payment from Nigeria’s nearly 15 million Paga users.

Established in 2009, Paga is the most popular mobile payment platform in Nigeria, and has some 15,000 agents across Nigeria. It provides a variety of financial services including free money transfers, bank accounts deposit, airtime purchase / sending, bill payments, remittances, bulk disbursements & collections that are accessible through online platforms (web / app) and any cell phone through the USSD code *242#.

FlutterWave is a payment gateway for merchants who enable e-commerce merchants across several African countries to accept payment through:

  • Debit and Credit Cards
  • Bank Account
  • Mobile Money
  • POS
  • M-Pesa
  • Visa QR
  • Bank Transfer
  • USSD

Flutterwave recently raised a $35 million Series B round for payments in Africa and confirmed a collaboration with Worldpay FIS.

In 2016 a team of ex-bankers, businessmen and engineers created the fintech startup.

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