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Africa Code Week begins

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Africa Code Week (ACW) is under way after officially kicking off in Tanzania on Wednesday, with Government officials and hundreds of pupils from surrounding areas in attendance at live coding workshops.

UNESCO YouthMobile, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Galway Education Centre, and Google to declare the 2017 edition of Africa Code Week open across 35 countries. 500 000 children and youth aged 8-24 are participating in the thousands of free coding workshops that are being organised throughout the week. In the run-up to these events, thousands of teachers have been trained by skilled volunteers from SAP CSR EMEA and ACW Ambassadors across most participating countries.

With half a million young Africans engaged over the past two years, 15 Governments and over 100 partners on board already, Africa Code Week speaks volumes on the importance and impact of public-private partnerships in the digital age.

“Tanzania is a perfect example of how governments can leverage the Africa Code Week shared-value model and dynamic ecosystem to accelerate schools’ digital transformation and fast-track youth empowerment through ICT across entire nations,” said Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP and Global Project Lead for Africa Code Week.

Tanzania has grown faster than the average rate of growth in sub-Saharan Africa (6.9% compared to 4.9% growth rate since 2005) and key drivers for its path to transformation are centered around technology based innovation and improving skills.

“The use of ICT has increased considerably in recent years; it is a key foundation which will lift Africa out of poverty in a sustainable manner,” said Professor Joyce Ndalichako, Tanzanian Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, speaking at the event. “We are thankful to SAP and Africa Code Week partners for their support in our efforts to boost STEM skills development for our youth, and we look forward to empowering a new generation of digital innovators across Tanzania and Africa at large.”

Attending the first series of coding workshops organised for Tanzanian pupils ahead of the ceremony, the Irish Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon, commented: “For the young generation to take advantage of the immense opportunities presented by the digital revolution, coding must become part of their daily learning journey: coding is the 21st century language and as with any other language, the earlier children learn it, the faster they become fluent.”

Celebrating more than a continent-wide education revolution in the making, the launch also shed light on the African female leaders who dedicate their life to improving digital skills and employment perspectives for girls in the digital century.

As part of the Africa Code Week, the German Federal Ministry for Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provides micro grants to 20 female tech leaders who organize coding workshops in 17 African countries specifically for girls.

“250 million fewer women than men have access to the internet. We need to take action to close this gap and make sure women and girls can benefit from the potentials of the digital revolution”, said Roland Lindenthal, Head of Division Education and Digital World at BMZ.  The engagement of the BMZ is part of the #eSkills4Girls initiative launched under the German G20 presidency. At their meeting in July, the G20 leaders committed to support digital skills of women and girls worldwide. To underline the political message, the BMZ takes action and supports the coding workshops and other activities to promote the participation of women in the digital economy.

Africa News

Mastercard names 9 Africa projects for $9-million fund

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity (FRP) has announced that nine companies from seven countries will receive more than US$9 million to support projects that expand financial inclusion in rural Africa.

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The nine companies were selected from more than 300 firms competing in the first two phases of the Fund’s 2017/2018 rolling competition, which launched in June 2017 and closed in January 2018.

The 2017/2018 rolling competition was one of the Fund’s largest in its efforts to find and support providers of innovative and scalable financial products and services that improve the lives of poor people living in rural areas of Africa. Financing for another group of companies, assessed as part of the third and fourth phases of the competition, will be announced in 2019.

The latest round of financial support will extend innovative transactions, green energy, asset finance, mobile banking, agency banking, and distribution/logistics solutions to excluded rural populations in the seven countries.

Phase #1 selected companies are:

  • Equity Bank Congo SA
  • FutureLink Technologies Limited
  • Apollo Agriculture Limited
  • SolarNow Services Limited
  • Easy Solar Limited
  • Dodore Kenya Limited

Phase #2 selected companies are:

  • Farmerline Limited
  • Stewards Globe Limited
  • Microcred Limited

The nature and geographical diversity of the new projects saw the Fund expand its presence to four additional Sub-Saharan countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Zambia. The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity portfolio now includes 30 projects in 11 countries in Africa (Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia). The projects comprise a range of businesses from traditional banks and solar-energy leasing companies to agricultural off-taker firms.

“We are excited to add nine more companies to our growing portfolio that is having a positive impact on the lives of millions of people across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wambui Chege, Team Leader of the Fund for Rural Prosperity. “Today’s announcement reinforces our belief that there is a wide range of innovative, Africa-led projects that, with a little support, can drive financial inclusion across the continent.”

Lindsay Wallace, Director of Strategy and Learning at the Mastercard Foundation, said: “The aim of the FRP has always been to enable smallholder farmers and poor people living in rural Africa to reach their full potential by supporting new private sector initiatives that provide access to financial services. We’re very happy to see this latest round of selected firms, demonstrating the depth and breadth of ideas and action plans that will do just that.”

Continue reading about the companies on the next page.

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IoT’s answer for Africa

IoT and digitization enables us to efficiently, proactively and predictively address the sustainability challenges that are faced globally and on the African continent, RESHAAD SHA, CEO of Liquid Telecom.

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With Africa’s population set to increase from around 1.3-billion in 2018 to 1.7-billion in 2030, both challenges and opportunities are presented with regards managing issues including food production and security pose  as well the utilization of limited natural resources in a sustainable manner.

Water scarcity and quality for example are realities that negatively impact health, food production and security. Population growth rates and climatic changes place an exponential demand on this scarce and dwindling resource. These are just some of the sustainability challenges facing not just the African continent, but other developing nations and the world as a whole. In addition to this, the demand for the delivery of basic services as healthcare and sanitation also increases.

Against this background of African population growth lies the grim projection that Africa will account for more than 50% of child deaths (under 5) by 2030, while each day, nearly 1000 children die owing to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrheal diseases according to the UNICEF 2017 trends in child mortality report. It’s an alarming fact, given that while some 2.6-billion people have gained access to improved drinking water sources since 1990, 663-million people still do not have access.

The department of Water Affairs and Forestry estimate that the agricultural sector accounts for more than 50% of water use in South Africa and experience water losses of between 30 and 40 per cent. Further, the department states that around 35% of irrigation system losses, often nutrient enriched and containing herbicides, pesticides, and other pollutants, return to rivers. These are just some of the ways in which reactive, inefficient, and manually driven processes have limited us in responding in an impactful manner and timeously mitigating these risks

It is for these reasons and other socio economic and environmental concerns that the United Nations has established its Sustainable Development Goals strategy, addressing the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, and environmental degradation.

We need to look at smarter ways that leverage technology in order to addressing these challenges. The situation requires a radical response that delivers a proactive, predictive and data driven approach to addressing these issues with exponentially growing levels of speed and impact.

The IoT ecosystem, comprising of sensors, connectivity, data analytics and workflow automation platforms, and applications are at the core of acquiring, analyzing and harnessing the insights that can be integrated into agriculture, service delivery, health and resource management processer – IoT is at the core of a digitization

One such sector which has benefited immensely from technology is in agriculture pest control, with the implementation of AI and IoT by Spanish startup AgroPestAlert. The innovation makes use of “smart” traps that capture insects and analyse their wing beats to identify their species and even their sex. Placed throughout the fields, the traps communicate with the system to predict an imminent invasion. The system will send alerts to phones, tablets and computers and use an easy-to-understand visual tool to cue farmers instantly.

Around 200-million Africans use approximately 1-million manual pumps across the continent to manually access clean drinking water.  IoT applications have been utilised in assuring the delivery of water through manual these pumps, According to estimates, at least one-third of those pumps will break down at least once in its lifecycle, and up to 70% will break in the second year of operation. The impact of not having access to clean drinking water is dehydration or water borne pandemics.

In the Kenyan Region of Kyusoa, Oxford University began a proof of concept project in 2013, which made use of motion sensors) to capture the movements of the pumps’ handle which was transmitted and analysed in real time. A decision support system based on real data was  used to predict pump malfunctions, allowing for a better planning and shortening the time needed to repair broken pumps, or avoiding malfunctions altogether, directly improving the access to clean drinking water for the rural population.

Liquid Telecom realise that the future of sustainability lies in technology and innovations such as IoT. We provide high speed fiber connectivity to interconnect as well as access platforms to build IoT solutions, in addition to access to Microsoft Azure suite of platforms for analytics and algorithm driven based processing and execution. Our Pan African network enables collaboration and cross border innovation and learning, fast well as the capability to efficiently scale out these solutions on Africa’s Liquid Cloud.

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