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Rwanda is Building Africa’s Very Own Silicon Valley – Kigali Innovation City (KIC)

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A multi-billion dollar project inspired by America’s Silicon Valley for the production and development of technological advancement is being built in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali.

This is an innovative effort, the first of its kind on the continent. The aim is to build a critical mass of talent, research and innovative ideas that will transform the continent. The government of Rwanda plans to attract both domestic and foreign universities, technology companies, biotech firms, agriculture, healthcare and financial services; infrastructure including commercial and retail real estate.

According to Paula Ingabire, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation, the KIC project has set itself the objectives of creating more than 50,000 jobs, generating $150 million in ICT exports per year and attracting more than $300 million in foreign direct investment.

The project started in 2018 and its said to cost $2 Billion US Dollars. I believe this is the kind of initiative the rest of African leaders/governments should emulate instead of promising jobs that no longer exist to the masses as a means to secure more votes.

Times are changing, and so should the approach to solving economic/social ills. The new era being ushered in by Industry 4.0 demands that people be given the right resources/infrastructure, and in so doing, they’ll create their own employment/livelihoods. As mentioned in my new book Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, “You can do more today with your life having just an internet connection and that’s an opportunity our parents and grandparents never had.”

And so, Rwanda is committed to becoming the gateway to a technologically developed Africa and it is realizing this with a consistent development strategy that is a sight to behold. Rwanda is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and leads the African continent in technological advancement and infrastructural development.

Rwanda is yet again preparing to build a $5 billion US Dollar model green city in Kigali from January 2020. This will also be the first in Africa – to focus on green technologies and innovations for green and climate-resilient urbanisation.

Many African nations complain about the negative impact on their development resulting from the legacy of colonialism which positioned Africa to be perpetually at the mercy of the Western World however Rwanda has chosen the noble and daring act of rewriting the script of her future. Rwanda is consciously positioning herself for the Fourth Industrial Revolution(4IR) and genuinely giving the future generations tools to succeed in an era of exponential technologies.

In the 21 years since the1994 genocide, Rwanda has come a long way. Despite a near-total lack of natural resources, the country continues to rise, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. One key to this turnaround is technology. It seems that President Paul Kagame; also known as the “digital president” is positioning the country for an extraordinary leapfrog in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We want technology to sort of permeate all the professions, all the jobs,” says Jean PhilbertNsengimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Youth and Information Technology.

It’s really interesting to note that Rwanda has a Minister of Youth and Information Technolgy. This means the country is paying attention to its greatest asset – the youths!

Hopefully, the rest of the continent is watching and learning from Rwanda – a purposeful Government and leadership abreast with what is trending, positioning itself to be a reference point for economic advancement and innovation through cutting edge technology

In my new book, Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted, I mentioned that “Africa’s hopeful transformation lies in viewing entrepreneurship as a viable career path, not only as a last resort for joblessness. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes centre stage, Africa needs more entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, disruptors, inventors, pioneers and thought leaders and we cannot afford to be reckless about what will transform our continent.”

The time for disruption is now! The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Africa’s greatest opportunity to leapfrog and compete on a global scale.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is not about technology; It is about a new era, new ways of thinking and new ways of doing business” ~Nicky Verd

We have a continent to build! We are the heroes we’ve been waiting for. Wakanda is Real!

Get My New Book “Disrupt Yourself Or Be Disrupted” – A book born out of an authentic passion to ignite human potential in an era of Artificial Intelligence(AI). You cannot out-work, out-learn or out-efficient the machines but you can out-human them!

Available on Amazon

Article By: Nicky Verd

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Facebook hosts its first ‘Facebook iD8 Nairobi’ aimed at celebrating the tech ecosystem across Africa

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“Facebook iD8 Nairobi” created a space for developers and startups to showcase and celebrate talent from across the continent, while sharing their developer journey

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 22, 2019- Today, Facebook brought together over 400 developers, startups and businesses from across Sub-Saharan Africa in a first of its kind conference dubbed “Facebook iD8 Nairobi”. As part of its effort to create opportunities for innovation, community building and education throughout the continent, “Facebook iD8 Nairobi” created a space for developers and startups to showcase and celebrate talent from across the continent, while sharing their developer journey.

Highlights from the conference and activities included:

  • A keynote speech from Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Global Head of Developer Programmes – highlighted Facebook’s plan in partnership with Andela to train and equip thousands of developers from its Developer Circles across 10 countries in Africa with technical and non-technical skills in 2020. This follows Facebook’s successful three-month training programme with Andela across Nigeria and Kenya in 2019.
  • A career fair – aimed at connecting this year’s top developers from Facebook’s and Andela’s three-month training programme in Nigeria and Kenya with employment opportunities through meet ups with potential employers.
  • The 2019 Facebook SSA Developer Circle Leads Summit, bought together 60 Developer Circle leaders, who represented 45 circles in 17 countries across the continent in a two-day networking event.

Facebook iD8 Nairobi also highlighted the latest insights from Facebook, with new technologies and products for attendees to build and experiment with, and programmes to help them at any stage of their journey. There were hands-on demonstrations and discussions with Facebook product experts who provided guidance and help to unlock challenges developers face in their development process. The conference also provided an opportunity for developers and startups to learn how technology such as AR/VR, Messaging and Open Source can offer tangible solutions for businesses in Africa.



Speaking at the conference Emeka Afigbo, Facebook’s Global Head of Developer Programs said, “We look forward to reconnecting with the ecosystem to share the latest technology , product and program updates. Facebook iD8 is a two-way dialogue where we also have a chance to hear from our developer and startup community’ about their experiences and roadblocks as well as provide an opportunity for members of our community to connect with others who share their challenges and aspirations.”

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

Fatma Ali a Developer Lead for a Facebook Developer Circle in Eldoret stated, “This opportunity has enabled me to connect and get mentorship to build my career while equipping me with leadership skills to work with the developer community. Through my Facebook Developer Circle I have gotten exposure and recognition in the Developer ecosystem. The experience has been enlightening and I am confident that I will have a successful career in technology.”



Sewagodimo Matlapeng a Developer Lead for a Facebook Developer Circle in Cape town concluded, “My experience leading a Developer Circle in Cape town has enabled me to advocate for the inclusion of women in the developer community in Cape town with my circle having the highest female members in Africa. Through Facebook iD8, I gained insights on how we as developers, male and female can seize opportunities and curb challenges in the developer community.”

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South Africa’s first ever blockchain-based property register pilot

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The pilot study area consists of almost 1 000 properties located in four sites in Makhaza, Khayelitsha

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, November 6, 2019- The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF), research consultancy 71point4 and Seso Global have partnered to develop South Africa’s first blockchain-based property register. The pilot study area consists of almost 1 000 properties located in four sites in Makhaza, Khayelitsha. All the properties are Government subsidised properties that have not yet been registered on Deeds Registry.

According to Daniel Bloch, the CEO of Seso Global, a blockchain property registry company, this will be the first working example of a blockchain-based property registry in South Africa. Aside from creating an immutable record of who owns which house, the Seso platform facilitates and records transactions such as sales and transfers out of deceased estates and integrates with third parties who facilitate transactions, including mortgage lenders. “For the time being, property owners will record these transactions at the Transaction Support Centre, a walk-in housing advice office created by CAHF and 71point4 located in the area. But over time, we will record transactions through the Seso app” says Bloch.

The benefit of the blockchain solution is that it allows the data to be stored in a decentralised, secure database that can be updated without any loss of historic data. This means there is a secure, back-to-back record of all transactions that is completely tamper-poof. Eventually the vision would be to integrate this record into the Deeds Registry when other impediments to transfer have been removed.

South Africa has a serious titling problem. According to Kecia Rust, the CEO of CAHF, the government has built over three million RDP houses since democracy. But CAHF’s analysis of deeds office data indicates that only 1.9 million of these properties have been registered. The National Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (NDHSWS) estimates that the title deed backlog for RDP properties built prior to 2014 currently stands at 511 752. These properties were given to beneficiaries, but no title deeds were registered and handed over. At the same time, there is a backlog of 351 470 title deeds on newer properties.

Registering these properties so long after they were built and handed over to subsidy beneficiaries is an administratively complex task. In some cases, original subsidy beneficiaries are no longer living in the properties. Some beneficiaries might have passed away, some might have tenants in their properties while others have sold their houses informally.

“To create a register of property owners we first had to go door to door to find out who lives in each property and to establish how they came to be there” says Melzer, founder and lead consultant at 71point4. “We hired a team of 17 enumerators and trained them to collect information and capture supporting documents. Thankfully we can leverage smart phone to collect the data, but it still requires a significant effort. It took us two months to cover these areas.”

But the effort is well worth it. Properties in the area sell for over R200 000 informally – and would sell for more if they were listed on a trusted registry and were ‘bankable’. This would enable buyers to obtain mortgage finance and create affordability. Without access to mortgages, buyers have to pay cash for a house, or use an expensive unsecured loan. There are also significant benefits to the City of Cape Town of being able to access an accurate and up-to-date record of property ownership. Without it, the City cannot collect revenue from households in the area who are not indigent nor can City departments facilitate building plan approvals.

Next steps

In many cases in the pilot areas, the original beneficiary is still living in the property. “We hope that these properties can be registered in the deeds registry within a few months, and we are working closely with the City of Cape Town to facilitate that” says Melzer. “Where the beneficiary no longer lives in the property, we are in the process of tracing the beneficiary to confirm information we have gathered on who owns the property. We will also be working closely with the City on a resolution process where ownership is disputed.”



It will take some time before all the required information has been collected and validated. It will also take time for validated properties to be registered on the deeds registry.  In the meantime, we will enable property owners and occupants to keep those records up to date.

“We will also be using Seso’s platform to manage other client service requests that come to the Transaction Support Centre from all over Cape Town” says Rust. “These include helping clients to regularise informal sales and wind up deceased estates. Going forward, as the country moves towards an electronic deeds registry, we hope the lessons we have learned will provide valuable evidence to inform the development of accessible, secure, affordable and efficient mechanisms to facilitate property market transactions. This is important across the market, but particularly in entry level segments of the market where existing mechanisms are simply too costly”.

CAHF, Seso Global and 71point4 have a working agreement to extend this pilot into other areas and use cases. There are hundreds of thousands of RDP properties around the country where no primary transfer has taken place. In addition, in many areas where title deeds were issued, property owners have transacted informally, which means there is no longer an accurate record of ownership at the deeds registry. Blockchain-based solutions can help there too.

Also Read: Meet Mariatheresa S. Kadushi, Founder of M-afya, A Mobile App Providing Health Information In Native Languages In Africa

Blockchain can also enable households who live in informal settlements and rural areas to record and maintain land records and secure their rights. “We are very pleased with the pilot results. We think the solution we have developed is scalable, and replicable” says Bloch. That does not mean it is easy but, says Melzer “blockchain technology together the potential value we can unlock makes it worthwhile”.

Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF).

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Orange confirms its ambition to achieve digital inclusion for all, opens its second Orange Digital Center in Dakar

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Following on from Tunisia, Senegal will be home to the second Orange Digital Center in Africa and the Middle East

DAKAR, Senegal, October 24, 2019 – Today, in Dakar, Senegal, Orange is inaugurating its new concept of a place entirely dedicated to innovation, an “Orange Digital Center”. Several personalities attended the launch, including: Ms Ndèye Tické Ndiaye Diop, Minister for the Digital Economy and Telecommunications; Mr Dame Diop, Minister for Employment, Professional Training and Craftsmanship; Mr Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Africa and Middle-East; Ms Christine Albanel, Head of CSR, Diversity, Partnerships and Philanthropy for Orange, Deputy Chair of the Orange Foundation and former Minister; and Mr Sékou Dramé, CEO of Sonatel.

Following on from Tunisia, Senegal will be home to the second Orange Digital Center in Africa and the Middle East. With a surface area of 2,000 m² on six floors, the Orange Digital Center in Dakar will be the first of its kind in West Africa. Working as a network, these places allow experiences and expertise to be shared between countries and offer a simple and inclusive approach to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship and to support the local digital ecosystem.

The purpose of the Orange Digital Centers is to bring together several strategic programmes under the same roof: coding school, Solidarity FabLab, Orange Fab and Orange Digital Ventures Africa, the Group’s investment fund. All of the programmes provided are free-of-charge and include digital training for young people, startup acceleration, and guidance for project owners and investment in these projects.

Other centers are expected to open by the end of the year in Jordan,Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire, with yet more in 2020 in Morocco and Egypt. Ultimately, similar organisations will be deployed in all the countries within Orange’s footprint in Africa and the Middle-East as well as in Europe.

Also Read: The Africa Digital Entrepreneurship Event Live in Johannesburg

“I am very proud to open the second Orange Digital Center in Dakar, after the one in Tunis. As the main contributor to the digital ecosystem in Senegal, Sonatel supports the emergence of a creative and flourishing ecosystem that provides digital players with the opportunity to imagine ways to create and prosper. These new spaces are dedicated not only to students, young people with and without diplomas and young people changing career, but also to entrepreneurs reflecting the ambition to promote a strong and innovative digital economy for the country’s socio-economic development”, explains Sékou Dramé, CEO of Sonatel.

“We are working in close collaboration with all the stakeholders, including governments and academics, to strengthen the employability of young Africans and to encourage them to run businesses and to innovate in their countries. Our ambition is to deploy this initiative outside Africa, from the south to the north, by opening Orange Digital Centers in France and Europe. For the moment, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan and Cameroon will follow in the next few months and in 2020 Morocco and Egypt then all the countries in the Africa and Middle-East zone will have their own Orange Digital Center” adds Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Africa and the Middle East.

Christine Albanel meanwhile states: “The Orange Foundation’s mission, in the countries where it operates, is to provide everyone with a chance by leveraging digital technology. The Orange Digital Center in Dakar illustrates our ambition to make digital inclusion the key focus of our social commitment. The Solidarity FabLab and the coding school, which are part of the Foundation’s and CSR’s inclusion programmes will enable many young people to develop new digital skills and will set them on the course to employment.”

Orange is present in 19 countries in Africa and the Middle East where it had 123 million customers on 30 June 2019. With sales revenue of €5.2 billion in 2018, this area is a strategic priority for the Group. Orange Money, its mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer is available in 17 countries and has 45 million customers. Orange, a multi-service operator, benchmark partner of the digital transformation, provides its expertise to support the development of new digital services in Africa and the Middle East.

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