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Africa takes to surplus, online

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According to stock liquidators, Going.co.za, the demand in many Sub Saharan cities for cheap surplus products from Europe, the United States, South Africa and China is skyrocketing.

Going.co.za Chairman, Paul Greenberg says that the company is already trading strongly in several African countries where the demand for surplus goods is increasing. According to Deloitte, more than one-third of Africans are middle class.

“These middle class families tend to live in cities that are highly aspirational and show eagerness to own products that are not necessarily in high demand in developed economies,” says Greenberg. “”African traders and small businesses who are buying surplus inventory from us appear to be the perfect consumers – and to top it all off, the market isn’t saturated.‚”” Big retailers in developed countries must deal with a glut of competition, especially as online shopping gains traction. Africa, on the other hand presents a new frontier. A shiny new mall or superstore can count on immediate brand recognition in a town dominated by small markets that have the benefit of familiarity but tend not to be consistent in terms of pricing, inventory and quality control. Bright Simons, a tech entrepreneur and consumerism expert in Ghana, argues that much of Africa’s middle class consists of goods dealers and distributors. According to Simons, many African countries lack the necessary physical and legal infrastructure for Western retailers. Faulty power grids, hazy land ownership laws and a widespread lack of consumer data present unique challenges to companies used to operating on Western soil. It’s not uncommon for start-up costs to exceed expectations, and for long delays to put a damper on grand retail openings. That’s why Greenberg believes that platforms like Going.co.za are proving to be the perfect model for businesses to obtain cheap stock to resell into local markets. Greenberg’s business is based on an e-commerce platform and businesses can simply order online and have these goods shipped directly to them. ‚””Our business focuses on surplus goods, counter seasonal stock, refurbished products and returns. We are selling at heavily discounted prices which allows resellers to still make a profit while offering the end consumer bargain basement prices, especially while consumers are still feeling the economic pinch.‚””

Going.co.za sells in bulk with high minimum order quantity numbers. According to Greenberg, the company’s average value transaction was R18 450 in the first month of operation, and as it sets itself to sell larger bulk quantities, so the transactional values are anticipated to grow.

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Africa gets broadband boost

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ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.

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Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world

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Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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