Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, South Africa’s Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies (Copyright: GCIS)
South Africa’s Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is set to deliver the opening keynote at AI Expo Africa 2020.
The expo, which will this year be held as an online event, will take place on 3 and 4 September. Now in its third year, AI Expo Africa is the continent’s largest trade-focused Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, and Data Science business conference.
Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams stated, “This event is taking place at a time when the whole world is grappling with new realities and a new normal brought about by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Advances in artificial intelligence technologies hold the promise of bringing us closer to finding lasting solutions to help us solve the challenges we are facing as humanity. The world is undergoing fundamental changes due to advances in technology and progress made in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). Similarly the continent and my country South Africa, are going through same profound changes”
This year’s speaker line-up features keynotes by Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning at the World Economic Forum; Neil Sahota, IBM Master Inventor, UN AI expert and lecturer at University of California, and Fred Werner, Head of Strategic Engagement at the International Telecommunication Union, and Bayo Adekanmbi, CTO MTN Nigeria and founder of Data Science Nigeria, as well as Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg and Deputy Head of the 4IR Commission of South Africa.
AI Expo Africa 2020 has drawn heavyweight vendors like SAP, Huawei Cloud, Blue Prism, UiPath, Intel, Dell, Microsoft and Genesys who will be exhibiting their solutions and products at the expo. They will be joined by a contingent of local startups that includes Ashanti AI, Botlhale AI Solutions, DotModus, Predictive Insights, FinChatBot, FIRtech, Learning Machines, Kenai, Heat Vision A.I, WizzPass, Zindi, Synthesis and Future Fragment.
The expo will also feature dedicated French, Dutch and Swiss pavilions where startups from the three respective countries will showcase their AI and Data Science innovations and solutions.
In addition, delegates can also look forward to an Intel Youth in AI ePavilion which aims to foster inclusion of youth-focused AI entities and initiatives.
Nick Bradshaw, co-founder of AI Media Group curators of AI Expo Africa stated, “This is the 3rd year of us running the AI Expo Africa event and with he impact of COVID we have taken the entire community online this year. It means we can reach more countries and include more people. Uniquely this platform not only allows us to run our 2 day business event, but it also serves as a 30 day learning platform after the main event end.
All the talks, vendor booths, posters and content are available for young people, students, entrepreneurs and learners from across South Africa and wider Africa to join us and learn about the latest technology driving the 4IR in Africa. Its a great opportunity for big business to find new buyers and suppliers, for start-ups to find more clients, and for young people to learn and even find a job. The reach of this online eConference will be bigger that our previous two shows – we cant wait to welcome everyone on 3rd September.”
Get your ticket here
World Food Day: Jumia Launches the Africa Food Index 2020
Ahead of World Food Day on 16th October, Jumia has published its 1st Africa Food Index showing the impact of COVID-19 on food trends in Africa. Online food delivery is changing habits in unexpected ways for businesses and consumers due to the pandemic. The growing popularity of fast food, coupled with the growing trends for convenience and value for money, have opened up opportunities for the food market in Africa.
According to the Africa Development Bank, the continent’s US$ 313 billion food and beverage market is projected to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2030. This projection offers the prospect of increased jobs, greater prosperity, reduced hunger and improved opportunities for African farmers and entrepreneurs to participate in the global economy.
Over the last three years, Africa’s growing online audience has seen an increase in international brands setting up shop to tap into the growing middle-income segment. Direct investment from players such as KFC, McDonalds, Burger King have been achieved. Online food delivery players such as Jumia have also played a key role in shaping supply chains and opening up the markets to new entrants. Local producers and restaurants have embraced this evolution and reached new consumers as well as grown their businesses in spite of these challenging times.
“This pandemic crisis has shown the world that online food delivery is not just a commodity, but a necessity. The food business adapted quickly to the new normal, by availing contactless and cashless deliveries » said Shreenal Ruparelia Chief Commercial Officer, Jumia Food. « We also started to provide support to local food vendors to keep their businesses running during this difficult time.” With our food partners, we will continue to deploy capabilities across the food value chain to ensure consumers buy food online safely and at the right price, in line with the theme of this year’s World Food Day celebration of Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together” added Shreenal.
The report highlighted two major drivers of the growth observed in 2020: demography and the Covid19 lockdowns. With a growing population averaging 18 years old, a new generation of African middle class consumers are spending more money online on food and grocery services, while the lockdowns induced by the Covid19 pandemic also contributed to this evolution in habits.
Overall, grocery retailing continues to expand, as consumers seek comfort and convenience when shopping for food. The report shows that while Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) are popular, Lagos and Nairobi lead as the largest cities with the volume of online food orders.
International institutions like the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), International Quick Service Restaurants such as KFC and local brands like Tunisian Al Jazeera Olive Oils have contributed to the Africa Food Index, based on Jumia data and external data from different institutions.
Please find the report here
Source: Jumia Food
Egyptian FinTech Startup NowPay Scores $2.1 million Seed Investment
NowPay Team (Image Source: NowPay)
Employee Empowerment To Fund Top Priority Financial Goals Augments Increased Productivity, Engagement and Loyalty
MENA: Cairo-based FinTech startup NowPay, a financial-wellness platform for employees in emerging markets, has announced today, 11 October 2020 that the company has raised US$ 2.1 million in seed investment. The new fund will be deployed to deepen the capabilities of the platform, expand its team and establish its footprint in the MENA region and beyond.
The round was led by Foundation Ventures and Endure Capital along with investors from the U.S., UAE, China, and Egypt. The cluster of investors include: BECO Capital, 500 Startups, Plug and Play, 4dx Ventures, MSA Capital, EFG-EV Fintech and Ebtikar. Prominent Angel investors such as Quirky Ventures, Gehan Fathi, and Rolaco also participated in the round.
“During the peak of COVID-19 lockdowns, we are proud to have well-known and eminent investors back us, signaling trust in our business concept and our team. Saving, spending, budgeting and borrowing, are our four pillars of financial wellness. Financial stress plays a major role as a top distraction for employees.
NowPay bridges that gap and provides several benefits for employers that choose to proactively address this area of employee wellness. Particularly in the recent months NowPay helped empower both the employees and employers alike. We want to improve every financial aspect for employees and make financial inclusion a reality,” said Mostafa Ashour, Cofounder and CEO of NowPay who previously led the innovation teams at Microsoft Research.
Founded in 2019, NowPay has a very enthusiastic and well-experienced team. Led by Mostafa Ashour, the team includes co-founder Ahmed Sabry, who worked for Amazon Lending, Gehan Fathi, previously worked as managing director at EFG, and Mahmoud ElHosseiny who managed Egypt sales for Fortune 500 Stanley-Black & Decker.
“There is an asymmetry between expenses and income, which puts a lot of stress on employee’s morale, and hampers productivity. We are thrilled to join NowPay’s incredible team on this journey of empowering employees with the happiness and wellness that financial stability provides,” said Ziyad Hamdy, Managing Partner at Foundation Ventures.
“Not every day you have both clear product market fit and founders market fit. This is the case in NowPay. Just attend any business meeting with the team and you will know it immediately!”, said Tarek Fahim, Managing Partner at Endure Capital.
“Within a very short period we are delighted to have managed salaries in excess of US$100 million with a 60% month-over-month growth rate. We have integrated our platorm with leading Egyptian and multinational names such as SODIC, Wadi Degla, Domty and AXA to name a few, a testament of our ability to help the financial wellness of employees for our clients. We have a very strong pipeline with many more big names waiting to onboard our platform and we look forward to forge ahead as pioneers in this space,” added Mr. Ashour.
SAVCA Appoints Natalie Kolbe And Sthembile NKabinde As Board Members
Sthembile Nkabinde and Natalie Kolbe
The Southern African Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (SAVCA) – the industry body for private equity and venture capital in Southern Africa –welcomes two new directors to its board, following the virtual SAVCA Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 7 October 2020.
SAVCA CEO, Tanya van Lill says that the new appointees – Natalie Kolbe, Partner at Actis and Sthembile Nkabinde, Founder and CEO of Khulasande Capital – are both leading industry professionals who have been elected by their peers to continue driving the association’s strategic objectives.
“Natalie and Sthembile each bring with them a unique skill set that will complement those of our existing board members, while bringing new perspectives and ideas to the table. Notably, the new board composition of seven women and six men are representative of the advances being made by the broader industry within the area of transformation and diversity.”
As noted by the recent SAVCA 2020 Private Equity Industry Survey, South African private equity exhibited a considerable increase in investment activity in 2019, with the private equity industry having R184.4 billion in funds under management (FUM) at 31 December 2019, up from R171 billion in 2018, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.2% since 1999 when the survey first began.
Similarly, the SAVCA 2020 Venture Capital Industry Survey reported robust industry growth in 2019, with venture capital investment showing the highest activity recorded to date, both by value and by number of deals. A total of 38 exits were also reported for 2019 – more than double the previous record for annual exit activity, and just over triple the nine exits reported in 2018.
“This industry growth bodes well for the future economic growth of the region, especially considering the long-term effect that COVID-19 is having on economic activity,” says van Lill, who notes the important role that the industry plays in Southern Africa’s broader economic environment. “A thriving private equity and venture capital industry is crucial for Southern Africa to accelerate its economic recovery.”
Returning to the outcomes of the recent AGM, van Lill says that the SAVCA board is sadly bidding farewell to three distinguished directors: Lungile Mdluli, who served as Treasurer and Chairperson of the Fiscal Committee from 2017 and was asked to stay on for another year to hand over the role of Treasurer; Vusi Thembekwayo, who joined the SAVCA Board in 2017 and served on the Venture Capital Committee; and Craig Dreyer, who has served SAVCA since its inception in 1998 and notably chaired the association over the past three years.
“Through their varied and distinguished roles, Lungile, Vusi and Craig contributed significantly to the success of our organisation by dedicating an invaluable amount of time and expertise to the board activities. While Craig’s longstanding commitment to the industry and relentless contribution as Chairperson and member of the Regulatory Committee will be missed, we are fortunate for the legacy he leaves behind and want to thank all three members for the roles they’ve played in shaping the future of the industry,” van Lill concludes.