Orange Digital ventures in African telecoms

 

Orange Digital Ventures Africa, the Orange investment fund’s new initiative for Africa launched last June, is proud to announce its first investment, helping Africa’s Talking to raise $8.6 million alongside the IFC World Bank and Social Capital.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Africa’s Talking is currently the leading company providing access to telecom operators’ communication and payment APIs (programming interfaces) for developers. It is now the favourite solution of many Kenyan startups and over 15,000 developers, many of which rely on these APIs including SMS, voice and USSD to design services that are revolutionising financial, energy, health and insurance services among others.

The transaction is subject to the usual conditions precedent, including the approval of Kenya’s competent authorities.

Upon completion, Africa’s Talking plans to accelerate its internationalisation to support its clients’ expansion strategies. Beyond Kenya, the company has started working in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

“We are delighted that the first beneficiary of our African initiative is a recognised player providing access to operators’ APIs. We believe that it is essential to support every initiative that aims to make these APIs more accessible to entrepreneurs in Africa. The expansion of these mobile services is one of the key ways to help generate new innovations that will have an impact on the continent. What is more, this investment strengthens Orange’s position as leader in the ongoing mobile revolution. We look forward to seeing Africa’s Talking accelerate its pan-African expansion,” said Marc Rennard, Chairman of Orange Digital Ventures.

“This new round of fundraising will enable us to grow our pan-African community of Software Developers building businesses that consume communication and payment services. In this context, the arrival of Orange Digital Ventures is excellent news for Africa’s Talking. We intend to leverage this relationship to accelerate our expansion in countries where Orange is present and launch new products that deepen the engagement of Orange with Software Developers,” said Samuel Gikandi, CEO and co-founder of Africa’s Talking

MTN confirms support of YES

MTN Group confirmed its support of the Youth Employment Service (YES) and has committed to the creation of 1000 jobs within the first year of the initiative.

In March, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched YES, a business-led collaboration with government and labour which aims to empower one million young South Africans by offering paid quality work opportunities over the next few years.

MTN will be creating the 1000 jobs across its South African business and Group head office, covering both operational and functional roles.

“YES is an innovative social partnership that has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth and development,” says MTN Group President and CEO, Rob Shuter.

“MTN loves fresh and bold solutions and that’s what YES is bringing to South Africa’s unemployment crisis. We’re proud to be a supporter of the YES programme and look forward to welcoming more companies to the YES Team so that together, we can drive sustainable change for the unemployed youth of our country,” Shuter says.

YES is supported by Government and the initiative is individually cited in the proposed amendments to the B-BBEE (Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment) Codes of Good Practice. Business and the public are encouraged to give inputs and comments on these amendments. Comments will be accepted until 29 May 2018.

Nokia launches cloud data solution for 5G era

Nokia has launched the industry’s first Edge Cloud data center solution to meet the stringent and diverse low-latency data processing demands of Cloud RAN and advanced applications for consumers and industries.

The Nokia AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure expands the Nokia AirFrame portfolio to deliver a layered network architecture that optimizes performance and operator costs as they evolve their networks and prepare for 5G.

The AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure has been developed for the 5G era, as the next generation wireless technology will create opportunities for operators to support advanced applications for consumers and industries, such as virtual and augmented reality video and real-time industry automation. Technologies such as Cloud RAN will be key to deliver on the 5G promise of ultra-low latency and massive data throughput, and will need to be supported by a highly efficient cloud infrastructure solution.

To balance costs and functionality, 5G will encourage operators to implement a layered cloud architecture. This will include centralized and regional data centers as well as high-processing capabilities deployed at the network edge – closer to where traffic is generated and where space is traditionally limited.

The Nokia AirFrame Open Edge server, which will begin shipping during the third quarter of 2018, extends the Nokia AirFrame data center solution portfolio to make these edge deployments a reality. Designed in an ultra-compact size for deployment even at base station sites, the Nokia AirFrame open edge server will meet the most stringent end-customer data demands. Nokia’s comprehensive portfolio of AirFrame data center solutions enables operators to optimize network resources and intelligently distribute workload across the network, based on the type of data traffic as well as latency and throughput needs.

The hardware solution is complemented with a real-time, Open Platform for NFV (OPNFV)-compatible, OpenStack-distribution built to run in small data centers while providing the performance and low latency required by the edge environment. In addition, Nokia cloud-wise services and Cloud Collaboration Hubs will help operators successfully plan and execute their edge cloud deployments.

Dimitris Mavrakis, Research Director at ABI Research said: “The requirement for edge computing in telecom networks is rapidly changing, as use case, application and 5G requirements continuously increase. Nokia’s AirFrame open edge cloud infrastructure distributes established AirFrame capabilities to the edge and offers a graceful introduction of edge computing. Its orchestration and feature compatibility with existing Nokia products will provide for a lower friction transition to a distributed environment.”

Dan Rodriguez, Vice President, Data Center Group; General Manager, Communications Infrastructure Division at Intel, said: “The edge cloud is an integral part of 5G network architecture, bringing more processing capabilities closer to where data is generated and consumed. Nokia’s new AirFrame open edge solution is built on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, which offer the needed balance of compute, I/O and memory capacity for the edge cloud to work seamlessly across the wide range of workloads deployed on the edge. With AirFrame, Nokia and Intel are bringing the performance and capabilities of Intel architecture-based cloud data centers to the edge to deliver the optimal end user experience for 5G deployments including virtual reality, augmented reality and industrial automation.”

Sqwidnet launches Universities Challenge in SouthAfrica

SqwidNet, the licensed SIGFOX IoT network operator in South Africa, has on Wednesday, 25 April 2018, announced the launch of its new technology competition for university students across South Africa. The challenge will kick-off on 25 April, with entries being accepted until 25 July 2018.

This nationwide competition has been designed to challenge students to develop and create innovative projects focused on building solutions that make use of SqwidNet / SIGFOX technology. The applications of IoT have been seen in a number of industries and SqwidNet would like to see young South African minds using this technology to address African socio-economic problems.

According to Phathizwe Malinga, Acting CEO of SqwidNet, “statistics show that the IoT market opportunity for the Middle East and Africa region is poised to grow by 10% CAGR from $85.1 billion in 2017 to $114.4 billion by 2020. Meaning – the market is ripe with opportunities and these young students and graduates from across the country are welcome to submit the ideas for their projects focusing on environmental and animal protection, energy, health, transportation, and any other areas of sustainable development.”

All qualifying entries will be afforded the opportunity to have their designs seen by SqwidNet partners, with the possibility of commercialising successful solutions. In addition, SqwidNet will offer participants access to their entrepreneurship programme, (IOT)E. The participants will also be given the opportunity to register as a SIGFOX University Partner, which will give them access to dedicated content.

Winners will be announced on 01 August 2018, with the winning entry standing to win cash prizes for their team and institution faculty. The winners will also get a chance to present their design in IoT Valley in Toulouse, France. All participants will be provided with hardware and software development kits, free access to SqwidNet’s IoT network and API access, and mentoring /support both from SqwidNet’s South African team, in relation with the Sigfox Adoption & Evangelisation team.

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