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Time for Africa

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While foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa dipped somewhat over the past two years, it is forecast that it will increase by more than 10% in 2013, says GEORGE FERREIRA, Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Samsung Electronics Africa.

Investment into Angola, Mozambique and South Africa appears to be the most prominent, according to the African Economic Outlook 2013 report.

The report is produced annually by the African Development Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the United Nations Development Programme. It posits that the higher FDI will play a role in driving economic growth in Africa of 4.8% in 2013 and 5.3% in 2014.

In addition, Ernst & Young’s third Africa Attractiveness Survey, which combines an analysis of international investment into Africa over the past five years with a 2013 survey of over 500 global business leaders, said that business leaders with an established presence in Africa ranked the continent as ‚”the second most attractive regional investment destination in the world.‚”

Africa has indeed made great strides in terms of instilling democracy and increased business professionalism in many countries, allowing it to align itself with other continents. This makes it increasingly attractive to countries looking at FDI into Africa, which in turn contributes greatly to substantial improvements in the quality of human life on the continent.

Companies like Samsung Electronics Africa, who have established business operations in Africa, remain extremely positive about the ongoing developments within Africa. In spite of challenges that include transport/logistics and an inadequate electricity infrastructure, Samsung Electronics Africa understands the real rather than perceived operational risks, allowing us to develop products that are truly ‚’Built For Africa’.

According to the Ernst & Young Africa Attractiveness Survey, there has been noticeable growth in ICT (14%, up from 8% in 2012), financial services (13%, up from 6% in 2012), and education (which came from virtually nowhere to register 10% this year). Samsung Electronics Africa is actively involved in providing resources to the ICT sector and has also introduced a number of products that will result in an increasing adoption of higher levels of primary, secondary and tertiary education levels – including the likes of our Engineering Academies, Solar Powered Internet Schools and smart school solutions.

There is a huge demand in Africa for both improvements in infrastructure and embracing and reducing the dire skills shortage. By offering products that enhance communication for all citizens, by partnering with likeminded companies and by providing a foundation and transport mechanism for globally benchmarked education in even the most remote areas, Samsung Electronics Africa is showing its confidence in a prosperous Africa.

Africa is considered the best continent for solar/bio-fuel. However, in order to see the projects brought to fruition, energy investment is immediately needed in the form of FDI and this is exactly what we are doing with our R&D into Solar Powered solutions.

Samsung Electronics Africa will continue to identify and support projects that add to the economic and social growth of the continent by analysing the very specific needs promoted by the often remote and rugged environment. It’s time for Africa to shine.

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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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