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By Usama Jawad96
Twitter is opening an office in Ghana to establish its presence in Africa
by Usama Jawad
Twitter often champions itself as a platform for public conversation, and over time, it has made changes to its user experience to make discussions more transparent. These include labels to identify heads of state and state-affiliated media accounts, as well as a community-driven approach to curb the spread of misinformation. Now, the firm has announced that it is opening a new office in Ghana to establish its official presence in Africa.
Photo by Brett Jordan from Pexels The move is a part of Twitter's growth strategy to fuel public conversation. It believes that it needs to fully engage with African communities in order to drive constructive discussion related to the continent. As such, it is currently building a team in Ghana and is hiring for positions related to engineering, design, product, and marketing. As part of its work from home policies, new employees will be onboarded immediately and will work remotely, but the ultimate goal is to open a physical office in Ghana.
Twitter says that it chose Ghana as the location for its new office because of the country's support for free speech and online freedom. Twitter says that it won't just be hiring in Ghana but also be looking to strengthen and invest in local communities in various ways and initiatives, as it has done in the past.
If you're interested and eligible for job openings in Ghana, you can head over to the Twitter Careers page to find out more details.
KaiOS teams up with Justdiggit to connect rural communities
by Paul Hill
KaiOS Technologies, the firm behind KaiOS, has announced a new partnership with Justdiggit, a Dutch-based foundation concerned with restoring degraded ecosystems. The two firms will supply 300 rural farmers in Tanzania with KaiOS smart feature phones to get information to them that will improve their livelihoods and help them to regreen their farms to fight desertification.
Each of the devices come pre-loaded with a new Regreen App that has been developed by KaiOS. The content in the application is sourced from Justdiggit which advocates proven and scalable regreening techniques that have already been used on 60,000 hectares of farmland in Africa in three years.
According to KaiOS, the threat of desertification and droughts in Africa is huge. It said that 350 million smallholder farmers already deal with these problems or are expected to in the coming years and they can lead to a range of problems including failed harvests and poverty which subsequently creates climate refugees who move to different parts of the world looking for a new way to get by.
KaiOS phones are designed to be affordable and bridge the gap between feature phones and smartphones. While they typically use a feature phone design, they are equipped with apps such as WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube and Facebook. Bringing these devices to the 300 participants, not only helps them better manage their farms but also helps to close the digital divide.
As an additional benefit to recipients, KaiOS devices come equipped with the Life app which can help provide users with health advice, financial education, digital skills and more.
After using the devices for several weeks, KaiOS was keen to find out from participants whether they would pay for a device with 52% saying they would spend between $22-28. The firm said that devices with KaiOS already exist in the price range and that it’s a positive sign for the scalability and sustainability of this initiative.
KaiOS is going to work with other partners in the future to scale up this initiative so that it can get devices into the hands of farmers across the African continent.
HMD Global closes funding round with $230 million
by Paul Hill
HMD Global, the company behind Nokia-branded phones, has announced the closure of its current round of funding that saw it raise $230 million from its top global strategic partners. The company said that it will now use the funds to help make 5G phones more affordable, transition to a digital-first "post-COVID reality", expand into growth markets, and become a holistic mobile service provider, not just one that focuses on hardware.
Commenting on the news, Florian Seiche, CEO, HMD Global, said:
In terms of expanding into growth markets, HMD Global specifically mentioned Brazil, Africa, and India as areas that it was to grow in. It’s mention of becoming a “holistic mobile service provider” was a little vague, however, it could be a reference to its HMD Connect service which is in beta and offers a hassle-free data SIM for those on the move.
With the company offering a range of affordable devices, focusing on services could help the company keep its finances in a healthier state. If the firm manages to find a service that users come to rely on, it could also further develop a loyal following of people who would be more likely to buy its hardware in the future.
UK launches Tech for Growth to bring financial services to Africa
by Paul Hill
The UK government has launched its Tech for Growth programme which aims to use technology to bring more financial services to emerging economies, initially in Africa. The programme is spearheaded by the UK Department for International Trade (DIT) and will boost trading opportunities between the UK and the Global South.
For the first year, the programme will be piloted in Africa where access to financial services is still low. In the future, the UK is looking to expand the programme to South East Asia and Latin America. As a whole, financial tech is a fairly interesting sector with firms such as Starling Bank and Monzo revolutionizing how banking is done.
Commenting on the move, Gerry Grimstone, UK Minister for Investment, said:
During the first year, the programme with have three goals; firstly, it will establish a UK-Africa Tech for Growth community with events in Africa and the UK to promote partnerships between technology and financial services firms in both areas. Secondly, it will empower trade by highlighting opportunities and lifting barriers that inhibit the FinTech sector. Finally, it will work with African governments and regulators to grow their tech sectors and develop future trading partnerships.
Loon starts providing service to Telkom Kenya customers
by Paul Hill
Google’s sister project, Loon, has announced that its balloons will now begin providing internet service to customers of Telkom Kenya. The firm said that this is the first time Loon is being used in a non-emergency capacity to provide connectivity on a large-scale. Additionally, it is the first time balloons are providing internet in Africa and is just the first of many commercial deployments worldwide.
In order to provide connectivity, Loon has deployed a fleet of 35 or more balloons that are in constant motion in the stratosphere. The vehicles are currently providing service to 50,000 square kilometers in western and central parts of the country. Some of the areas that can connect to the balloons include Iten, Eldoret, Baringo, Nakuru, Kakamega, Kisumu, Kisii, Bomet, Kericho, and Narok.
In terms of the speeds users can expect, one test run by Loon and Telkom Kenya recorded an uplink speed of 4.74 Mbps, a downlink speed of 18.9 Mbps, and a latency of 19 milliseconds (ms). The two firms were able to use the connectivity to access WhatsApp and YouTube, browse the web, and make voice and video calls.
While the service is only just launching now, Loon has revealed that 35,000 subscribers have already connected to the balloons while they were being tested. According to the firm, some of the people who have already connected to the balloons in the testing phase were not even aware of the fact.
Loon re-iterated the fact that its balloons are not here to replace ground-based communications, instead, they are another layer. In countries with extreme weather or geographies, ground-based communications can frequently be knocked out of operation or be unfeasible. By floating a balloon in the stratosphere, telecom firms can bypass these hurdles and connect more people.