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China’s TCL out to revive BlackBerry smartphones

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Chinese electronics company TCL Corporation was at CES on Wednesday with a plan to revive BlackBerry handsets knocked from the mobile phone throne by Apple and Google.
TCL is putting its market clout behind the design, manufacture and marketing of a new portfolio of BlackBerry smartphones, trusting that its solid position in the market will renew faith in the brand.

“What sells a product is confidence in your underlying capabilities and that there is a future,” said Steve Cistulli, general manager for TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited of North America.

He noted the success TCL has had building its Alcatel brand and expressed optimism the company could put the brakes on BlackBerry’s downward slide this year.

BlackBerry in Canada will remain in control of software and security on smartphones, while TCL will handle creating handsets powered by Google Android software, according to company executives who provided a glimpse at the coming model.

“The final compilation of software is controlled by BlackBerry,” said TCL research and development head Alain Lejeune, who was credited as the architect of the deal with BlackBerry.

“We want to keep it that way on the security side. The fact that the last mile is coming from Canada, which is outside of China, is a strong value for us.”

Behind closed doors at a suite in a Las Vegas hotel, TCL provided a glimpse at a new BlackBerry smartphone that will be the first brought to market under the alliance.

Pricing and other details about the new BlackBerry will be revealed the coming Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, and it would be the first in a portfolio of smartphones, according to Cistulli.

TCL planned to focus on businesses, rekindling BlackBerry’s strong reputation for productivity and security.

TCL saw the BlackBerry deal as a way to take on smartphone heavyweights Apple and Samsung with a brand already known in the market, Cistulli said.

“We could see there was still a very strong core of people passionate about BlackBerry,” TCL chief executive Nicolas Zibell told AFP.

Market research also showed a pent-up demand by businesses for an option to smartphones from Apple or Samsung, which have been striving to gain ground in workplaces, according to TCL executives.

“Arresting the drop of a brand is incredibly challenging; like trying to catch a knife,” Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told AFP at a briefing by TCL in a suite on the Las Vegas strip.

“But, they are focusing on the best possible market by going after enterprises who may be interested in the BlackBerry reputation for security.”
Source: AFP

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COVA Insurtech Dissociates from COVA Wealthtech

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COVA Insurtech, a player in the InsurTech sector, has announced its formal dissociation from the activities of COVA WealthTech, effective immediately. This decision comes in the wake of COVA WealthTech’s announced cessation of operations on February 10, 2024.

These two (2) brands have historically been separate entities with distinct focuses within the tech landscape. While both companies share the COVA brand, they operated independently, each catering to specific market segments and addressing unique financial service needs.

The decision to shut down COVA WealthTech was taken in alignment with the evolving dynamics of the tech industry, and after a thorough strategic review by the leadership of COVA WealthTech. COVA Insutech was not involved in or influenced by the decision to cease operations of COVA WealthTech.

COVA Insutech wishes to reassure its clients, partners, and stakeholders that its operations remain unaffected by the closure of COVA WealthTech. The company remains committed to providing innovative and reliable InsurTech solutions, maintaining the high standards of service that its clients have come to expect.

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“We want to make it clear that COVA Insutech is a separate entity from COVA WealthTech, and our commitment to our clients and partners remains steadfast. We will continue to focus on delivering cutting-edge insurtech solutions and expanding our presence in the InsurTech sector”. says Bayo Adesanya, Founder & CEO, COVA Insurtech.

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aYo Holdings boosts executive team

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aYo Holdings Ivan Welch and Miles Bloemstein

African insurtech aYo Holdings has made two key C-suite appointments as it looks to accelerate its ambitious growth plans across the continent and into the South African market. The company has named Ivan Welch as its new Chief Customer Acquisition Officer and Miles Bloemstein as its Chief Operating Officer as part of its vision of becoming the largest insurance technology platform in Africa.

Welch, who has already been with aYo for four years, will be responsible for driving new customer acquisition through various distribution channels, with a specific focus on digital marketing and sales. His position will also include a commercial legal remit and administrative oversight, and support of the company’s subsidiary operations.

A 20-year veteran of the African insurance sector, Welch defines success as a world where every customer with a mobile phone has an aYo subscription, which would have been obtained through a simple few clicks or button presses on a mobile device. While approximately 46% of Africa’s population has access to and uses cell phone services, insurance penetration remains below 5% in most markets, except South Africa.

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“The industry has so much scope for development, as it is massively underserved in Africa. With aYo and our shareholders, MTN and Sanlam, I believe we have the right offering, platforms and ability to scale to serve this market,” he said.

Bloemstein joined aYo in July 2021.  He also has more than 20 years’ experience in the insurance industry, specifically in IT operations and related functions.  His new position will include him overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business, working closely with executive and product teams to grow the platform and its system and channel capabilities.

“We must constantly find ways to keep our clients engaged and be able to have access to insurance. Due to low disposable income levels, insurance adoption and trust in insurers, we are being challenged to produce ‘out of the box’ solutions to keep our clients engaged and active,” he said.

aYo Group CEO Marius Botha said Welch and Bloemstein’s expertise are key to the company’s drive to enable the distribution of affordable financial services products to people who have never had the opportunity to engage in financial services before. aYo launched in January 2017 in Uganda and has since expanded its operations across Ghana, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon, with plans to launch operations in Nigeria and South Africa imminent.

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Fearless Energy Drink Backs Fanfaro Autofest 2022

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Fearless energy drink from the stable of Rite Foods Limited has made full preparation to support this year’s Fanfaro Autofest event as the headline sponsor. This is in its bid to make the platform bigger and more thrilling for car drifters, super bikers, and fun seekers in the ancient city of Ibadan from Friday, 2nd to Sunday, 4th December 2022.

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Fanfaro Oil Nigeria, Mr. Adekunle Olanrewaju, stated that the support from the Fearless energy drink is enormous hence the event is credited to it and dubbed “Fanfaro Autofest, Fearless Edition,” as the contestants will be rejuvenated with the brand’s positive energy and courageous spirit to actively showcase their talent in car drifting.

“It takes a lot for someone to align with your dream; it takes like minds to be part of it. The previous events have been successful, but now having the marketing leading; Fearless brand behind it, is a success even before the start of the event.  The brand also resonates with what the sport stands for, we are fearless, tough, energetic, and want to make it more exhilarating,” Olanrewaju explained.

He pointed out that with the Fearless brand behind the largest motorsport in the country, Nigerians should expect more exciting and action-packed sporting activities, as the product has been with Fanfaro from the planning stage to the exercise which takes a year to put together, and also for a refreshing moment with the trailblazer in the energy drink segment.

According to him, a Fearless brand raffle draw will be organised before the main event in November, where participants would be told to make a creative design with five empty bottles of the product, with the winners going home with exciting gifts.

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Commenting on the sponsorship, Rite Foods Head of Marketing, Olumide Aruleba, affirmed that the Fearless brand is very proud to throw its weight behind the sport, as it will bring into it the positive energy associated with the brand as a means to create the desired impact and make it a ground-breaking event. “We also want everyone to look forward to it,” he stated.

On her part, the Assistant Brand Manager of Fearless Energy Drink, Kanyisola Sangowawa, said the support from the product signpost is its connection with consumers in keeping them refreshed by providing the vigour needed while attaining their dreams or showcasing useful talents. She avowed that it takes a fearless spirit to support an action like the auto fest, which requires boldness, daring force, and strength in making it a success.

In his remark, the Fearless Brand Ambassador and the Face of Fanfaro Autofest, the Fearless Edition, Tobi Bakre, actor and a lead cast in the movie, Brotherhood, extolled the partnership between the Fearless energy drink and the motorsport, stating that both connects with a Fearless and reinvigorating force.

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