And now for something completely different: a mobile network in Tanzania that gives profits back to customers. Tigo has already paid over $16.5-million.
Tanzania network operator Tigo has announced another quarterly payment of US$2.1million (Tshs 4.4 bilion) to its 4.6 million Tigo Pesa users, the seventh time in a row that the company is distributing profit to its mobile financial services users.
Speaking at a press conference in Dar es Salaam last week Tigo Tanzania Head of Finance and Risk for Mobile Financial Services Obedi Laiser said that, cumulatively, the company has paid its mobile financial services users a total of US$16. 5 million (Tshs 35.5 billion) in quarterly payments since September 2014.
The payment is generated from profit accruing in the Tigo Pesa Trust accounts held with major commercial banks in Tanzania, Laiser said.
Tigo Tanzania, which calls itself the country’s “leading digital lifestyle company”, became the first telecoms company in the world in 2014 to share profit in this way, generated from its mobile money Trust Account in the form of a quarterly distribution to its customers.
The revenue share model is in line with the Tanzanian central bank, Bank of Tanzania (BOT), which allows the country’s mobile operators to increase e-money deposits and mobile money transactions through new loyalty incentives.
“This profit share is payable to all Tigo Pesa users including individual customers, retail agents and our business partners each based on the e-value they have stored in their Tigo Pesa wallets,” Laiser said.
He added: “We are really excited to be announcing this profit share distribution for the seventh successive time. The payment underlines Tigo Tanzania’s commitment to provide financial access to our customers and to promote financial inclusion in the country through our Tigo Pesa services.”
According to the BOT, Tanzania is aiming at 50% national financial inclusion of its population by 2016. The East African country has an estimated population of 45-million people.
Tigo Tanzania offers a diverse product portfolio in voice, SMS, high-speed internet and mobile financial services, Tigo has pioneered innovations such as Facebook in Kiswahili, TigoPesa App for Android & iOS users, Tigo Music (Deezer), and East Africa’s first cross-border mobile money transfer with currency conversion. Tigo also has the country’s fastest and widest 4G network, launched across Tanzania’s main cities last year.
In the past three years, the company has launched over 500 new network sites, with plans to double this investment by 2017 in terms of coverage and additional capacity networks for deeper penetration in rural areas. With over 10-million registered subscribers, Tigo directly and indirectly employs over 300 000 Tanzanians, including an extended network of customer service representatives, mobile money merchants, sales agents and distributors.
Last year, the company announced an increased annual investment of US$120 million on infrastructure improvement and expansion, up 20% on annual spending over the previous three years.
Tigo is the biggest commercial brand of Millicom, an international company developing digital lifestyles in 12 countries, with commercial operations in Africa and Latin America and corporate offices in Europe and the USA.
Africa gets broadband boost
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.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
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.‚”