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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.

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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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