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11 African Countries to Benefit from $16.2 Million Broadband Mapping Project

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11 African Countries to Benefit from $16.2 Million Broadband Mapping Project

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Eleven African nations are set to receive a share of a $16.2 million project aimed at establishing National Broadband Mapping Systems.

The announcement came during the recent Global Symposium for Regulators (GSR-24) hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Kampala, Uganda.

This initiative, funded by the European Commission, will focus on developing broadband mapping systems across participating countries.

This will help identify critical gaps in internet access, including coverage, quality, and affordability. The project targets Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The ITU says the collected data will be instrumental in “enabling data-driven decision-making for investments in digital infrastructure,” ultimately fostering Africa’s digital transformation.

Alongside the broadband mapping project announcement, African regulators endorsed a new set of guidelines designed to maximize the benefits of transformative information and communication technologies (ICTs).

These “GSR-24 Best Practice Guidelines” address the need to balance innovation with effective regulation.

The guidelines take into account emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and aim to create a positive impact on societies and economies.

ITU Secretary-General Doreen Bogdan-Martin emphasized the importance of innovation, trust, and inclusivity in policymaking.

The Global Symposium for Regulators, organized by the ITU, brought together over 600 participants, including government ministers, regulatory leaders, industry executives, and academics, to discuss pressing issues in the field of digital regulation.

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UNDP and METI Team Up to Empower Six African Startups for Investment Success

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UNDP and METI Team Up to Empower Six African Startups for Investment Success

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Six African tech startups have been chosen as finalists for the “Meet the Tôshikas” program, a joint initiative by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

This program aims to bridge the gap between African startups and Japanese investors.

It offers a deep dive into Africa’s vibrant startup scene for Japanese investors, while also equipping promising African startups with the tools they need to attract investment.

The first edition of “Meet the Tôshikas” focuses on Zambia, Angola, and South Africa.
 
Initially, 30 startups (10 from each country) participated in bootcamps.
 
Now, six finalists – two from each nation – have been selected for a more intensive three-month investment readiness program.

These finalists will receive a $20,000 grant and participate in a week-long investor roadshow in Tokyo, where they can connect with potential Japanese backers.

The six finalists include:

  • Angola: Anda (formalizing the moto-taxi market) and Mamboo (facilitating fast food and FMCG deliveries)
  • South Africa: Zoie Health (e-health) and Jobox (graduate job placement)
  • Zambia: Bosso (construction platform) and AfriOnline Group (integrated ordering platform)
“This program offers a unique opportunity for African startups to showcase their potential to Japanese investors,” said Tomas Sales, a UNDP advisor overseeing the project.  
 
 

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Innovate Africa Fund Launches with $2.5 Million to Empower Early-Stage African Startups

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Innovate Africa Fund Launches with $2.5 Million to Empower Early-Stage African Startups

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Innovate Africa, a newly established angel investment fund, has begun operations with an initial commitment of $2.5 million.

The fund aims to support up to 20 early-stage startups in its first year, focusing on ventures that use technology to tackle critical challenges like insecurity, unemployment, and poverty.

This launch comes amidst a complex funding landscape for African startups.

While total equity funding reached $2 billion in 2023, a 43% decline from the previous year, recent months have shown signs of recovery. As of May 2024, African startups raised $187 million, a 149% increase from April’s figures.

Innovate Africa Fund seeks to address the specific needs of early-stage founders by providing strategic capital to help startups navigate the crucial stages from ideation to market fit and secure further funding.

“Our goal is to empower founders to accelerate their growth trajectory,” said a spokesperson for Innovate Africa Fund. “We go beyond just financing; we offer comprehensive support across finance, governance, public relations, and strategy.”

The venture fund will offer an average investment of $50,000 per startup alongside tailored support in areas like product development, market fit achievement through the Product Leadership Accelerator program, and connections to skilled professionals through their partner network.

Co-founded by Kristin Wilson and Christian Idiodi, Innovate Africa Fund positions itself as a “founder-centric” catalyst fund within a broader ecosystem.

Through the Innovate Africa ecosystem, portfolio companies will gain access to experienced advisors and operators, both locally in Africa and internationally, to ensure they have the resources needed to thrive.

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UNDP Announces $1 Billion Initiative to Fuel African Startup Revolution

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UNDP Announces $1 Billion Initiative to Fuel African Startup Revolution

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with African governments and private sector leaders to launch a groundbreaking initiative aimed at supercharging innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

This ambitious plan will see the creation of a network of technology hubs and a $1 billion investment fund specifically dedicated to supporting young African startups.

The first of ten tech hubs will be unveiled in just a few days at the UNDP’s innovation center in Lagos, Nigeria.

This launch marks a significant milestone in the program, which is poised to become the world’s largest initiative supporting Africa’s burgeoning tech startup scene.

Following the Lagos hub, additional locations with specialized focuses are planned throughout 2024. These include hubs dedicated to agritech in Accra, Ghana, healthtech in Kigali, Rwanda, and minetech in Lusaka, Zambia.

The initiative extends beyond physical hubs, with the UNDP establishing University Innovation Pods in 13 African cities.

These pods will serve as centers for research and development, providing young innovators with the resources and guidance needed to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

“This initiative represents a major leap forward in our mission to ignite a startup revolution across Africa,” stated Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Africa Bureau, in a press release.

With a focus on empowering Africa’s young population, the program will leverage the $1 billion fund (raised through public-private partnerships) to support over 10,000 youth-led startups across various sectors.

This investment comes at a critical time. Africa boasts the world’s fastest-growing youth population, creating a fertile ground for innovation in finance, agriculture, and healthcare.

The continent has already seen the emergence of several “unicorn” companies – startups valued at over $1 billion – such as Interswitch, Flutterwave, and Jumia.

The $1 billion fund is expected to provide a much-needed boost to African tech startups, particularly given the recent decline in venture capital inflows.

Traditionally, a large portion (around 83%) of venture capital in Africa comes from outside the continent, concentrated in just a few countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt.

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NuRAN Wireless Secures $5 Million Loan Facility to Expand Network in Africa

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NuRAN Wireless Secures $5 Million Loan Facility to Expand Network in Africa

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NuRAN Wireless, a leading provider of mobile and broadband wireless infrastructure solutions, has secured a $5 million loan facility with Cygnum Capital’s Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI) to accelerate its network deployment in Africa.

The initial drawdown of $2.5 million will be received within the next week and will be used for two purposes.  $1.07 million will refinance existing renewable energy assets installed by NuRAN in Cameroon, and the remaining funds will be used for further network expansion.

“This financing is a significant step forward for NuRAN,” said Francis Letourneau, President and CEO of NuRAN Wireless. “It allows us to not only fulfill our existing commitments but also expand our reach and connect more people in underserved regions.”

NuRAN previously announced its intention to use the loan facility to build renewable energy infrastructure for mobile networks in Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
 
The initial funding will enable NuRAN to complete its existing contract for 122 sites in Cameroon and construct an additional 120 new sites.

Following the success in Cameroon, NuRAN anticipates a further drawdown from the facility for the DRC, subject to meeting specific requirements. This would allow the company to build over 100 new sites there.

NuRAN also plans to initiate operations in Ivory Coast and leverage existing inventory to construct sites in South Sudan before the end of 2024, subject to securing additional financing.

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Tanzanian Fintech NALA Secures $40 Million in Series A Funding to Expand Services

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Tanzanian Fintech NALA Secures $40 Million in Series A Funding to Expand Services

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Tanzanian fintech startup NALA has secured $40 million in a Series A funding round, one of the largest of its kind in Africa according to TechCrunch.

The funding will be used to fuel NALA’s growth plans, including the expansion of its B2B payments platform Rafiki launched earlier this year.

The round was led by San Francisco-based venture capital firm Acrew Capital, with participation from DST Global, Norrsken22, and HOF Capital.
 
Existing investors Amplo and NYCA Partners also joined the round, alongside angel investors including prominent fintech founders Ryan King of Chime and Vlad Tenev of Robinhood.

NALA started in 2017 focusing on local money transfers in Tanzania before expanding to international remittances in 2021.
 
Their consumer app currently allows users in the EU, US, and UK to send money to 249 banks and 26 mobile money services across 11 African countries. Integrations like M-Pesa in Kenya allow users to pay bills directly into local mobile wallets.

The company’s decision to add B2B payments stems from customer demand for greater financial control. Rafiki, launched in March 2024, aims to serve global businesses looking to make payments into and out of Africa.

“This investment is a pivotal moment for NALA,” said NALA founder and CEO Benjamin Fernandes.
 
“It will allow us to move beyond remittances, expand our reach beyond Africa, and build a robust payments ecosystem. We’re reinvesting this capital to improve our infrastructure and ensure reliable, low-cost payments for everyone.”

NALA claims to be already profitable, with its consumer business generating over 90% of current revenue and boasting a customer base on track to exceed 500,000.

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BFA Global, FSD Africa, and IUCN Select 10 African Startups for Blue and Green Economy Initiatives

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BFA Global, FSD Africa, and IUCN Select 10 African Startups for Blue and Green Economy Initiatives

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Ten African startups have been chosen to receive funding as part of the Africa Blue Wave and Regen Wave initiatives, a collaborative effort to unlock solutions for a sustainable future.

Recognizing the potential of young African innovators, the initiatives aim to support solutions for the continent’s blue (ocean) and green (land) economies. 
 
The programs were funded by FSD Africa and the Canadian Government and implemented by TECA, an initiative of BFA Global.

Through a fellowship program, the Waves fostered the development of solutions promoting sustainable use of resources, livelihoods, and landscape regeneration.
 
Startups from seven countries – Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania – were selected for their innovative approaches to challenges like waste management, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture.
 
Notably, half of the chosen startups are led by women.

“We are proud to support these visionary entrepreneurs tackling Africa’s environmental challenges,” said Rasima Swarup, TECA Director at BFA Global. 

The funded startups include:

1. ARK (Kenya): Facilitates entry into the international renewable energy certificate market, creating new revenue streams for renewable energy projects.
2. Eco Guardian (Rwanda): Develops a digital device and service for environmental pollution monitoring.
3. Khwezi Innovations (South Africa): Creates a biodegradable, two-in-one hand and glove sanitizer.
4. Mada Fia (Madagascar): Utilizes Japanese fish drying techniques (Himono) and establishes a marketplace for fish products.
5. Lima Aja (Rwanda): Specializes in organic fertilizer production using IoT sensors to create customized fertilizers for smallholder farmers.
6. PETsPoint (Nigeria): Provides a digital platform for efficient waste collection by both formal and informal collectors.
7. Plas Tech (Kenya): Converts plastic waste into safe cooking gas, offering a more sustainable cooking fuel source.
8. Samaking (Kenya): Establishes a chain of franchisable, tech-enabled fish retail shops with upstream capabilities to source produce from local farmers and fishers.
9. Sunwave (Tanzania): Designs and manufactures solar-powered ice makers for fish storage.
10. Xi Bassile (Mozambique): Provides sustainable drainage solutions using Bioswale and Planter Box technology to filter and retain stormwater, mitigating flooding and improving water quality.

“Africa’s talent is key to a successful green transition,” said Mary Kashangaki, Assistant Manager for Digital Innovation at FSD Africa.
 
“We are honored to support these innovators who are working towards solving critical climate challenges.”
 
 

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Luxembourg InsurTech Startup Ibisa Secures $3 Million for Climate Insurance Expansion in Africa

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Luxembourg InsurTech Startup Ibisa Secures $3 Million for Climate Insurance Expansion in Africa

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Luxembourg-based climate insurance innovator Ibisa has secured $3 million in funding to accelerate its expansion in Africa and Asia.

The funding round was led by Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (Araf) and Equator, with participation from Asian Development Bank Ventures (ADBV) and existing investors like Ankur Capital.

This investment will fuel Ibisa’s development of parametric insurance solutions – a technology-driven approach to offering climate risk protection.

The company currently offers various climate insurance products, including those tailored for agriculture, typhoons, and loan protection for financial institutions.

One of Ibisa’s pioneering solutions is heat stress insurance, initially developed for dairy farmers in India.

This product is being expanded to other vulnerable regions like Bangladesh.

These solutions are particularly relevant in Africa, where communities face the brunt of climate change through frequent droughts and devastating natural disasters like Cyclone Freddy, which ravaged Madagascar and Mozambique earlier this year.

“The need for affordable parametric insurance is crucial for African farmers to withstand climate shocks,” said Tamer El-Raghy, Director General of Araf.

The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that extreme weather events cost global agriculture a staggering $10-15 billion annually.

Ibisa’s innovative approach holds immense promise for building resilience against climate change in some of the world’s most vulnerable regions.

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Huawei Expands Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative to Upskill an Additional 150,000 in ICT

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Huawei Expands Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative to Upskill an Additional 150,000 in ICT

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Huawei announced a significant expansion of its digital skills training program in Sub-Saharan Africa.
 

The tech giant aims to equip an additional 150,000 people in the region with ICT (Information and Communication Technology) expertise over the next three years.

This ambitious plan builds upon Huawei’s prior success, having surpassed its initial goal of training 100,000 individuals by 2025, achieving a remarkable 120% completion rate ten months ahead of schedule.

The announcement took place at the LEAP Summit 2024: ICT Talent and Sustainable Development for Sub-Saharan Africa, held in Shanghai, China, on June 28th.

The summit, co-hosted by Huawei and the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), is an official partner program of Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2024.

The event brought together over 200 guests, including high-ranking government officials from various Sub-Saharan African nations. This gathering highlighted the critical need to equip the region’s workforce with digital skills.

Reports from the World Economic Forum indicate that over a billion people globally require upskilling or reskilling by 2030.

Furthermore, the International Financial Corporation estimates that more than 230 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa will necessitate digital expertise by 2030.

Jeff Wang, Senior Vice President and President of Public Affairs and Communications at Huawei, addressed the summit, outlining the company’s commitment to inclusive, systematic, and future-oriented talent development.

He expressed satisfaction with the LEAP program’s achievements, stating, “Since launching the LEAP Digital Talent Development Program in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, we’re delighted to see the positive impact it’s had on so many people.”

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