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RIM sets up shop in Nigeria

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Research In Motion has expanded its presence in Nigeria, and announced the first official BlackBerry-branded retail store in Lagos.

The move marks the expansion of RIM’s footprint in Africa from its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and underlines the company’s commitment to its partners and customers in one of the world’s fastest growing mobile markets.

Robert Bose, Regional Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa said, ‚”As the leading smartphone provider in Nigeria and in Africa overall, our customers are our number one priority, so we are very pleased to cement our physical presence with local staff, establish a new legal entity and work with local business partners to expand our retail and customer care across Nigeria.‚”

RIM, in association with mobile phone distributor Slot Nigeria, officially opened the BlackBerry by SLOT store in Nigeria at Computer Village in Ikeja, Lagos yesterday, designed especially to provide Nigerian customers with a first-class, authentic BlackBerry purchasing experience, including free software upgrades from the facility in the Computer Village store. BlackBerry smartphones that can be upgraded to OS 7.1 include the BlackBerry Bold 9900, BlackBerry Torch 9810, BlackBerry Torch 9860, BlackBerry Curve 9360 and the BlackBerry Curve 9380.

In the BlackBerry by SLOT store, customers can find:

· A full-range of live BlackBerry smartphones to try

· Free device set-up and free software upgrade facilities

· Fully-trained staff who provide expert advice and assistance

· A BlackBerry Expert Center that offers leading after-sales service (all products sold in the store come with a 12-month warranty)

All BlackBerry smartphones purchased at the BlackBerry by Slot Nigeria store will be set-up for free and consumers will be provided with quick and easy steps to ensure that their handset is authentic, such as the start-up splash screen logo and an authentic seal on the BlackBerry smartphone’s box.

As part of its expanded retail footprint and on-going commitment to enhanced customer service RIM will provide software upgrade stations in 60 more retail stores nationwide., RIM also plans to introduce in-warranty repair and after-sales support in retail stores located in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt to help customers get the most of their BlackBerry smartphone. in addition to providing software upgrades, the drop-in centres will provide the full end-to-end service in a thriving retail environment, including parts, repairs, and replacements.

Commenting on the store opening Robert Bose added, ‚”Today, BlackBerry is sold in about 300 retail stores nationwide. Our strategy is to continue working with local partners to help deliver a strong retail presence and after sales service that will provide our Nigerian customers with the optimal BlackBerry experience. With our new regional entity, we are looking forward to further cementing our relationship with the Nigerian market and working with our partners to support both our customer base and the transformation of the ICT industry in West Africa.‚”

The BlackBerry solution was first launched in Nigeria in 2006 with carrier partners and leads the Nigerian smartphone market today. BlackBerry products are now available in 40 countries across Africa from 90 carrier partners. According to market research from Canalys (Q2 2012), RIM is the overall number one smartphone vendor in Africa.

For more information on BlackBerry products in Nigeria visit http://worldwide.blackberry.com/ng/. Or you can like us on facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/BlackBerryNG.

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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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