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Women in Africa as tech-savvy as men

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Recent studies have found that women in African countries are as tech savvy as men when it comes to browsing the internet using their mobile phones.

Opera and digital reading non-profit Worldreader have joined forces to understand how women in Africa use mobile internet. Two studies undertaken by the organizations have found that women in Africa use mobile internet to empower and entertain themselves. Opera ran a survey of 1,500 women and men aged 14 to 44 in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa earlier this year to learn more about their web browsing habits on their mobile phones. The poll results were later combined with Worldreader insights on the mobile reading habits of 50,000 Worldreader app users in the three countries above.

Women in Africa are as tech-savvy as men

The combined study revealed that women in these three African countries are as tech savvy as men when it comes to browsing the internet using their mobile phones. Women are using their browsers as often as men, with the majority of female survey respondents in Kenya and Nigeria (60%) stating that they access their mobile browsers more than eight times a day to do various internet activities.

Moreover, women tend to purchase bigger data packages than men. Nearly half of female respondents in Kenya said that they spend over KSHS 1,000 (9.62 USD) to buy mobile data plan while only a third of the male respondents are doing so. Similarly, in Nigeria, around 70% of women who partook in the survey stated that they spend over NGN 1,000 (2.74 USD) to buy a mobile data plan in comparison to 60% of men paying the same amount. Women also lead when it comes to buying big data packages with five times more women buying data 10GB data bundles in Kenya than men.

Women use the internet for entertainment and self-development

Both, Opera Software surveys and Worldreader usage data show that women in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa engage with the wider variety of content available on the internet than men. Female respondents to the Opera survey on average showed a higher percentage of interest for nine out 15 topics. Similarly, Worldreader observes that women are on average accessing more e-books than men using their e-book reading platform. Not only that, Worldreader reports that their female users are reading three times as many pages on average as their male counterparts.

Women in three African countries are predominately browsing the internet to relax and entertain themselves. By browsing lifestyle, music and entertainment content on Opera and by reading romance, thrillers and other fiction e-books on Worldreader (in some cases up to 10 times as many as men), women in Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are embracing the Internet as a tool for entertainment.

Women are more engaged with online content

Empowerment is another major motivator for women using their mobile phones to access the internet. According to Opera, women are more engaged than men with content that can improve their lives, including content related to education, economy, property rights, public services, and health. In all three countries a higher percentage of women than emphasized the need for having access to news via their mobile browser.

Similarly, Worldreader reports that women between 26 and 44 years of age are particularly interested in reading e-books from the Inspiration, Career Development and Children’s sections of the Worldreader library.

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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