Congolese Doctor Denis Mukwege Receives Sakharov Prize

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Nigerian ehealth startup wins Best Mobile Software Solution in Africa award

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eHealth-focused Nigerian tech startup Mobile Software Solutions has emerged winner of the the Best Mobile Software Solution in Africa 2014 at the World Summit Award (WSA). The startup was selected out of over 400 other solutions from across the continent.

The award was presented to its Chairman, Mobile Software Solutions Ltd, Mr. Chris Uwaje, at the just concluded 2nd Inter-Ministerial Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), held in Rabat Morocco.

The startup’s winning solution is its Malaria Destroyer Game which had earlier won the Best Mobile App (Game) of the year award at Mobile West Africa Conference held in Lagos Nigeria.

“With this type of solution, we can stop these massive Malaria deaths and sustain economic growth by ensuring the good health of our workforce,” Uwaje said.

Source: Human IPO

Nigerian Startup Going Up Against Paypal Is About To Raise Almost $10m

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Ever since SimplePay pitched on stage in Geneva at the $500,000 SeedStars World startup competition in February, the Nigerian internet payment startup has witnessed a rain of investment proposals from local and international moneybags.

SimplePay founder Simeon Ononobi while addressing a keen audience of tech entrepreneurs, investors, and media persons, explained he had planned to launch Africa’s ebay off proceeds from his last exit when he realised it costs merchants in Nigeria $3000 to be able to accept online payments from debit cards. And at the time, the free and easy to use third-party payment platform Paypal was unavailable to users in Nigeria, and most of Africa. By January 2013 SimplePay was born.

Simply, the startup is Paypal localised to the Nigerian market and it’s no wonder investors are scurrying to have a piece of the pie. According to Euromonitor, the 171 million people-strong country has a 62.4 million online population, the ninth-largest in the world, with mobile penetration being the major driver. Yet, a July Online Shopping Report by Phillips Consulting revealed Nigeria records a meager $2 million worth of transactions per week and close to N1.3 billion monthly. Factors such as hefty costs for payment gateways and the drudgery and unsafe exposure of personal debit card details on multiple sites have discouraged adoption of online transaction; consequently, leaving an enormous market yet to be conquered. SimplePay on the other hand, solves both problems; a dollar to sign up and users expose card details once to only SimplePay then use personal SimplePay accounts for transactions.

Italian investment and consultancy conglomerate CBO Group were the first to jump on SimplePay’s wagon after Simeon’s pitch in Switzerland.

“We got offers from the likes of CBO Group which we are happy about,” Ononobi tells me. The CBO Group offer was $2 million.

Just then he adds another interesting revelation. “Our biggest offer might be coming from Interswitch or the CEO (Mitchell Elegbe).”

It’s no surprise Nigeria’s leading digital payment giant is trying to get its hand on the future of payment in the market. It’s like Google acquiring Andriod Inc. It’s like Yahoo acquiring Summly. It’s the way of Corporate giants.

Another local financial powerhouse, UBA Group Chairman Tony Elumelu has made contact with Simeon’s quarters through a third-party though no definite public offer has been made yet. DSTV owner Naspers too doesn’t want to be left out of the party.

“Its what God has done. No man can take the glory,” Ononobi humbly says.

He adds: “We have told them to all hold on as we are getting ready for the Series A round in January. We hope to raise up to $10 million then.”

Simeon Ononobi was confident and not uncertain. The future seems bright for SimplePay with pan-African, Middle East and Europe expansion plans within the next two years. It’s been thought through. Ononobi would be leaving within two years to let “a more competent international CEO” run the company.

“I need to learn more to be able to take the company global,” he explains.

But first, the startup must capture the home market.

Its biggest competitor, the American new entrant, Paypal reportedly registered “thousands” of users on its launch date in June. Simeon is unfazed. He says SimplePay has 10,000 registered users, mostly merchants, and 30,000 unregistered users. Last month, Simeon’s partner Rich Tanksley, flew into Lagos from their Abuja office to hold meetings with Zenith Bank officials. The startup is planning to double down on users and reaching for a million subscribers by January through a partnership with the bank.

“They have 20 million account holders,” Tanksley quips.

“So when about 1,000,000 users keep N5000 in SimplePay account, that’s N5 billion. Whatever bank is nice to us gets to play with all that money.”

Nigerian financial institutions are definitely aware of the encroachment of web and mobile payment technology on their over-the-desk-based transaction business and are readily embracing the trend to survive the future. In not too far away Kenya, banks turned a blind eye to the emergence of mobile money and now pay dearly for it. Between a third and a half of Kenyan GDP now goes through M-Pesa!

Nigeria’s online payment market is still nascent and very much open. What happens if some company begins to crush competition and dominates too much? Rich says: “I’m sure that we and Paga would join forces.”

This post first appeared on Enterprise54.com.

Source: Ventures Africa

Virginia Tech’s Emmanuel A. Frimpong named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow

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Emmanuel Frimpong, associate professor of fisheries science in the College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, has been named a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow.

The scholar program, which supports 100 short-term faculty fellowships for African-born academics, is offered by the Institute of International Education and funded by a two-year grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Frimpong, who joined the faculty of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation in 2007, focuses on the ecology, life history, and distribution of freshwater fish with an emphasis on applications in aquaculture and the conservation of fish and fisheries.

He collaborates with the U.S. Agency for International Development’s AquaFish Innovation Lab on research and development projects in Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania. His research in the United States is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Aquatic Gap Analysis Program.

In outreach and service to his profession, Frimpong created a comprehensive database of more than 100 biological traits of 809 U.S. freshwater fish species and worked with University Libraries at Virginia Tech to make the database available online to scientists across the country.

The prestigious Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow program is limited to African-born individuals currently living in the United States or Canada and working in higher education. Fellows engage in educational projects proposed and hosted by faculty of higher education institutions in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The fellowship is “validation of what I have worked very hard to accomplish — to be a significant contributor to research and development in Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa,” Frimpong said.

It will give him the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in his home country of Ghana, collaborating with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to develop aquaculture, fisheries, and water resources management curricula and to conduct research on aquaculture development for food security and the conservation of fish and fisheries.

“With three months in Ghana, I hope to have more time to see problems up close and contribute my expertise substantively to the solutions,” he said. “Finding ways to solve immediate problems of humanity with the scientific knowledge and tools we have now motivates me. If the people of sub-Saharan Africa can be taught to manage their natural resources well, they will have the resources they need now and for future generations.”

Frimpong received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Science and Technology in Ghana, master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Virginia Tech, and a doctorate from Purdue University.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment at Virginia Tech, which consistently ranks among the top three programs of its kind in the nation, advances the science of sustainability. Programs prepare the future generation of leaders to address the complex natural resources issues facing the planet. World-class faculty lead transformational research that complements the student learning experience and impacts citizens and communities across the globe on sustainability issues, especially as they pertain to water, climate, fisheries, wildlife, forestry, sustainable biomaterials, ecosystems, and geography. Virginia Tech, the most comprehensive university in Virginia, is dedicated to quality, innovation, and results to the commonwealth, the nation, and the world.

Source: GhanaWeb.com

Malawi opens its first University of Science and Technology (MUST)

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On Friday October 24th 2014, Malawi President Peter Mutharika inaugurated the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), the southern African country’s first university devoted exclusively to science.

The university will offer five-year bachelor’s degree programs in biomedical studies, chemical engineering and metallurgical engineering, as well as a master’s of science innovation program, according to university council chairman Prof. John Saka.

The university, the brainchild of late President Bingu wa Mutharika, will also offer programs in traditional medicine.

It will have four schools: the Malawi Institute of Technology, the Ndata School of Climate and Earth Sciences, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the African School of Science and Culture, the latter of which is still under construction.

Mutharika described the university as a “milestone” in Malawi’s quest to promote education as a means of enhancing macroeconomic growth and development.

“The Malawi government realizes that there is a direct link between international competitiveness and invention on one hand and innovation and technology development on the other,” Mutharika said at the inauguration ceremony.

“In fact, globally, it is recognized that science and technology plays a critical role in transforming the lives of people in society… there is no country in the world that has developed or is rapidly developing without applying the principles and practices of science and technology,” he added.

He said the new university would put great responsibility on the staff and students to prove to the nation that investment in science and technology education can make a difference.

“The industry has a critical role to play if this university is to make a positive mark on the country,” the Malawi leader urged.

Education Minister Emmanuel Fabiano described the new university as an institution that would offer hope for the future and development of Malawi.

“It has taken Malawi 33 years to have a second university. But within a couple of years we have managed to establish another two universities,” said Fabiano.

The new university brings to four the number of the country’s public universities.

“Investment in youth education is the best thing this government can do to make their future bright,” Fabiano said.

China, which has fully funded construction of the university with a loan worth $89 million (roughly 31 billion Malawi kwacha), lauded the friendship between Malawi and China and the great results it had produced.

“Today we see the friendship between Malawi and China has produced results. On behalf of the People’s Republic of China, that people [with whom] our friendship started seven years ago, together we have achieved great things,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Qinqyang said.

“We expect [Chinese] teachers and scholars to be at the university soon to teach. It is the responsibility of all of us to protect the reputation of this great institution,” the ambassador said.

Source: World Bulletin

Yorubas Contribution to Civilization

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In this video, Prof. Brimmy Olaghere gives an account of African history and the contributions of the Yoruba people to Africa and the rest of the World.

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Among some of the most interesting information shared includes:

  • The pyramids were originally created in Sudan, not Egypt.
  • W. E. B. Du Bois was instrumental in the creation of the African Development Bank (ADB)
  • All languages used in Africa are derived from Yoruba
  • The Yorubas are the originators of the alphabet
  • The people of China originally migrated from Plateau state in Nigeria