Facebook Partners with Africa Check as it Expands its Fact-Checking Coverage to Yoruba and Other Local African Languages

Yesterday, on August 14 2019, Facebook – the popular social media platform announced its partnership with Africa Check – an independent fact-checking organisation to add several local languages including Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Sotho, Afrikaans as part of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme.

In essence, the focus of this partnership is top combat the spread of fake news in local languages, and to ensure that Africans assess accurate news on Facebook.  The social media giant announced in January this year that it will be investing $300 million in local news globally, an investment with the aim of fighting against the spread of misinformation.

Speaking on this, the Facebook Head of Public Policy, Kojo Boakye said, “We continue to make significant investments in our efforts to fight the spread of false news on our platform, whilst building supportive, safe, informed and inclusive communities. Our third-party fact-checking programme is just one of many ways we are doing this, and with the expansion of local language coverage, this will help in further improving the quality of information people see on Facebook. We know there is still more to do, and we’re committed to this.”

Fake news will be tackled in Nigeria using major languages such as Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa; in South Africa, Afrikaans, isiZulu, Setswana, Sotho, Northern Sotho and Southern Ndebele; Swahili in Kenya and Wolof in Senegal.

The Executive Director of Africa Check, Noko Makgato commented saying, “We’re thrilled to be expanding the arsenal of the languages we cover in our work on Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme. In countries as linguistically diverse as Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Senegal, fact-checking in local languages is vital. Not only does it let us fact-check more content on Facebook, it also means we’ll be reaching more people across Africa with verified, credible information.”

The Facebook Fact-Checking Programme was first launched in Kenya in 2018. With this programme, stories that are identified as fake are moved down the news feed and tagged with warnings that prevent users from reposting or sharing to reduce the dissemination of false news.

OPay Expands to Eastern Nigeria: OPay Launches in Full Force in Aba with OTrike

Founded by the same guys who run the Opera browser and Okash, the OPay startup has established its footing in Eastern Nigeria with the recent launch of OTrike in Aba, southeast of Nigeria.

Over the past 18 months, bike hailing startups have become major players in the tech ecosystem in Nigeria, with each competing for market share and traction. Among these startups, OPay is one of the most recognised for its aggressive advancements and user-friendly discounts.

This disruptive startup first started in 2018 as a mobile payment platform focused on the massive unbanked population in Nigeria. Since then, it has diversified into the bike hailing service, ORide and the food delivery service, OFood.

ORide launched first in May 2019 in Lagos, but it has since expanded into other major cities like Ibadan. Nearly a year after its entry into the Nigerian market, this startup has come up with another strategic service involving commercial tricycles (popularly known as kekes).

This new tricycle hailing service, referred to as OTrike, is making its debut in Aba. Just like ORide, discounts apply for trips less than NGN400 within the first launch month (August). Users can take trips to anywhere in Aba for NGN20, while it costs NGN50 to hire a private charter.

Located in Abia state, Aba city is popular for its market and its numerous business men and women. The city, with an industry-driven population of 2,434,265, has a market of those that patronise “keke-napeps” for transporting themselves and their goods from one destination to another. We expect that this market is large enough to adequately accommodate OTrike without eliminating independent tricycle operators.

Similar to ORide, OTrike is accessible via the OPay app, residents of Aba can utilise it in transporting to and fro any destination in the city

The launch of OTrike follows from the $50 million funding which OPay raised early last month with Source Code Capital, IDG Capital and Sequoia China as lead investors.

 

Gokada Shuts Down, Really? Here are the Reasons for the Shutdown – the Gokada 2.0 Initiative

Yes, the news is true. From Wednesday, August 14th 2019, the motorbike hailing service, Gokada, has partially shut down its operations after the CEO faced “operational” hurdles during a ride. All Gokada pilots are currently off the road and the Gokada app has been shut down.

A check on the Gokada app shows that it is currently undergoing maintenance work. A message on the app reads that, “Gokada is currently undergoing a scheduled relaunch of our service. We will be back online better than ever, August 26th! Sorry for the inconvenience.”

That’s right, Gokada is not shutting down permanently. Also, Gokada is not shutting down according to the perceived reasons of too much competition, insufficient funds, and what have you. According to the CEO and Co-Founder, Fahim Saleh, it all started when he took a trip which was supposed to last 5 mins from the Mainland Bridge to Victoria Island, but turned out to be 15 mins.

While narrating this disappointing experience, he asked some pertinent rhetorical questions, “How could I be the CEO of Gokada, the company that pioneered motorcycle ride-haili9ng in Nigeria and be experiencing this?”

Speaking further, he said, “I was disappointed in Gokada but most of all, I was disappointed in myself. I told the pilot to pull over to the side of the road, I would hop over the median and wait for an Uber. ‘This is what it has come to,’ I thought

The problem Saleh faced is not uncommon among users of the various ride-hailing platforms in Nigeria. Even with the Google Maps for navigation, this problem is still prevalent. What’s more, some drivers are known for the uncouth act of taking longer routes to the destination in a bid to maximise profit.

As a way forward, Saleh, after his criticisms, have said that there will be a change in the perception of bike taxi in terms of convenience, safety and transparency, starting from Gokada. He further announced the Gokada 2.0 initiative which involve;

  • brand new bikes of much better quality
  • Drivers retrained on hygiene, customer service, navigation use and driving
  • New Bluetooth helmets, adhering to maximum speeds and all traffic laws
  • Happier Drivers

Apologising to users on the temporary shutdown, Saleh said, “Big problems require big solutions. We’re sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you in the short term. But in the long run, we firmly believe that when you want to get somewhere fast, safe, and hassle-free – there won’t be any other app you’d want to open than Gokada. Stay safe. Stay green

Read Full Story of Saleh Experience

In a medium post, Fahim Saleh narrated his full experience,

“Well, a little over a week ago I had taken a Gokada hoping to avoid traffic to get to the mainland bridge from VI. From there I planned to take a car. I opened the Gokada app, requested, got a pilot, and waited patiently for him to arrive. I called to confirm my location which the pilot said he knew. 5 minutes pass by.. and the pilot had not moved. Another 5 minutes pass and the pilot was going in the wrong direction. After 15 minutes and three phone calls, the pilot finally arrived at which point I’m thinking it might have been faster to take a car all the way through. Upon questioning the pilot, I learned that he didn’t use GPS on his phone because the earplugs he had were broken. Irritated, I motioned him to get started with the ride as I was in a hurry. It should be pretty obvious how to get to the mainland bridge from VI, so I didn’t concern myself with providing him directions but I knew from Google Maps using the best route, it should only take 10–15 minutes. After about 15 minutes, we were still on the road. I hastily took out my phone and did a quick input of the directions to the bridge and realized we were still 15 minutes away. This pilot had taken a long route to get to the bridge, one that would have been completely avoided had he used the map. I motioned that I would direct him based on the Google Maps navigation. Unfortunately, just as we were about to reach the bridge I directed the pilot to a wrong turn which would have required us to turn all the way around. At this point, it was obvious that a car would have been much faster even with all the traffic.”

 

ARNERGY SOLAR Searches for More Partnerships

Are you interested in seeing Nigeria with 24 hours of electricity, powered by clean solar energy? If yes, then you should listen to the Arnergy’s clarion call for partners.

Yesterday, August 8, Arnergy tweeted saying, “We are looking for partners. At Arnergy, we are keen on spreading the benefits of solar energy across the board.”

ARNERGY is a Nigerian cleantech company that designs, manufactures and commoditises rent to own solar energy solutions. Its goal is to provide affordable and reliable solar energy solutions to businesses and homes.

With over five years’ experience in business and over 2000 paying customers, Arnergy has been delivering energy solutions for productive use all over Nigeria. It does this by deploying services, products and systems that power the operations of various businesses and improve the economy status of clients.

The company has reduced pollution and carbon emission in specific regions, and it is now recognized as a distributed utility that reduces the pressure on the national grid and allows the local grid to serve industrial zones.

Arnergy recognises that reliable supply of electricity is a major challenge for hospitals across Nigeria. Consequently, it has designed systems to solve power supply reliability issues for quality healthcare delivery. If you’ll love to partner with Arnergy to achieve this and other of its electricity-related goals, then you can apply here. Based on the company statement, application suitability is for,

  • individuals with B2B sales skills
  • individuals passionate about energy for reliability for small businesses
  • Skilled installers and engineering technicians who would love to join the fast-growing network of a distributed utility company
  • individuals who believe in the future of renewable energy to power reliability for small businesses.

Arnergy is reducing the energy poverty in Nigeria, and it is making small and medium-sized enterprises to operate profitably with flexible payment for energy services.

 

MTN Group Reaches 240 Million Subscribers as it Records a 7.7 Million Subscriber Growth

Yesterday, on the 8th of August, MTN Group announced an impressive set of results for the first quarter of the year, which ended on June 30, 2019, with mobile data subscribers reaching 240 million across 20 African countries, while group revenue increased by 10.2%. This follows the addition of 7.7 million new subscribers in the first six months of the year.

The Nigeria and Ghana markets led this MTN Group earnings in the first half of 2019. MTN Nigeria led the market share with 12.2% growth, MTN Ghana contributed 18.7% to the overall service revenue at $4.48 billion.

On the other hand, the MTN South Africa market posts a meagre 3.3% growth, as impacted by a decline in consumer prepaid revenue as a result of new regulation.  The telecom operator witnessed a growth of 12% in adjusted headline earnings per share, and this is the first time that it has seen growth in this measure in recent years.

The number of active MTN data users grew by 3.5 million to 82 million, and its 30-day active Mobile Money users grew by 2.4 million to 30 million. The continued focus of MTN Group on providing excellent customer experience has seen it record brand NPS leadership across more than 50 percent of the portfolio, with twelve markets now leading.

MTN Group president and CEO, Rob Shuter, speaking on these results, said, “We had a good first half, reporting solid financial results, good commercial momentum and encouraging strategic progress. Our holding company leverage remains stable at 2.3x, well within our guidance range of 2 to 2.5x. And, as we grew revenue and carefully managed our investment programme, we saw capex intensity drop further, to 16.9 per cent.

“During the period we had some landmark events. We successfully completed the listing of MTN Nigeria on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and our e-commerce joint venture Jumia listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Within three months of announcing our asset realisation programme, which is targeting at least R15 billion over the next few years, we delivered R2.1 billion in proceeds.

Our advanced instant messaging platform, Ayoba, is now live in three of our West African markets and has more than 300, 000 active monthly users. We are very pleased with the formal approval of our super-agent licence in Nigeria, which clears the way for the launch of phase 1 of our Nigeria fintech business while we await a banking licence.

“In Nigeria, economic activity was economic activity was muted in the time of presidential elections and prior to the formation of the cabinet. Notwithstanding this environment, in constant currency terms, service revenue grew by 9.7 per cent to R67.9 billion and EBITDA expanded by 10.2 per cent to R31.2 billion.”

The holding company net debt to EBITDA ratio remained stable at 2.3x, which is well within the Group’s guidance range of 2.0 to 2.5x, and capex intensity dropped further to 16.9 per cent, indicating greater efficiency in deploying assets.

Looking ahead, Shuter said, “MTN is well positioned to grow by leveraging our scale and enhancing our competitive position. In Nigeria, we will focus on the further rollout of 4G coverage, the launch of Ayoba and Music Time! as well as accelerating our fintech ambitions by fully leveraging our extensive distribution network to offer a range of transfer and payment services to our GSM customer base.

Across the rest of the portfolio we have six focus areas. These are: the continued turnaround of our operations in the West and Central Africa region; the resolution of some of the more complicated regulatory situations; the rollout of MusicTime! and Ayoba across the group; the asset realisation programme; launch of our pan-African MTN 4 Good campaign and delivering on our medium-term targets.”

 

 

 

Lagos 2019 Tech Events – CYBERCHAIN 2019: Cyber Security and Blockchain Conference

The Cyber Security and Blockchain Conference is to be held on the 31st of August, at the RedCarpet Hall, Oniru VI, Lagos. The starting time is 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM West African Time.

Are you interested in a revealing, thought provoking and disruptive conference on the ecosystems of blockchain and cybersecurity? If Yes, then this is a must-attend tech event.

Organized by Vaultbridge, this conference this year has been upgraded to CyberChain, in order to accommodate enthusiasts and experts in both ecosystems from all over the world.

VaultBridge is a software security company in Lekki,Lagos with a focus on Fintech, as well as, advocacy, awareness and adoption drive for cybersecurity and blockchain solutions. The company has strategic industry partners from abroad and here in Nigeria, including KipYa Connect, BIT2BIG, and the EC-Council.

There will be 400 delegates, 6 panelists and twelve speakers at the conference. The speakers include;

  • Ade Atobatele – Digital Globalization Evangelist and Founder at Gboza Gbosa Technology Ltd – Nigeria
  • Adedayo Adebajo – Country Rep. (Nigeria), Jelurida (Switzerland)
  • Linus Kingdom – Country Rep. (Nigeria), Dominium – Netherlands
  • Chuta Chimezie – Founder at Blockchain Nigerian User Group, Regional Director Africa at Paxful Inc. – Nigeria
  • Ojuederie Doris – Coordinator at Blockchainladies.africa, CEO at DRICHWORLD COINPROS LTD Nigeria
  • Fabrice Alomo – Tech Applied Expert, Forbes 30 Under 30, Founder/CEO Hehfit Cameroon
  • Michael Kiberu – C|EH, OCA, OCP Terrada, CEO Kipya Group
  • Sam Liban – Energy and Blockchain Evangelist, Founder of The Sun Protocol Germany.

The blockchain technology and cyber security awareness and adoption is still low in Nigeria, and Africa as a whole. Vaultbridge is committed in bridging the gap with various training modules, workshops, seminars, conferences and exhibitions. According to the company, “Anybody that is serious about Cyber Security and Blockchain Technology must be at this Conference”

There will be free tokens (cryptocurrencies) and other valuable stuffs from some of Vaultbridge’s sponsors and partners.

Participants will have first-hand experience of various Cybersecurity concepts, applications and solutions as well as exposure to multiple Blockchain developments and use cases.  You will also learn about blockchain, smart contracts and cryptocurrencies. You can register now.

OPPO Launches Two New Smartphones after the F11 Pro

Oppo is seriously staking its claim in the Nigerian smartphone market as it launches two new smartphones four months after it entered the market official with the F11 Pro.

Global smartphone firm, OPPO Mobile officially announced its presence in Nigeria with the launch of its flagship devices, the OPPO F11 Pro and the OPPO F11 Pro Avengers limited edition. This event held at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos on Friday 26th April 2019. The F11 device, after being described as “that device that shoots portrait pictures just like a DSLR camera”, recorded a roaring success in Nigeria.”

Capitalising on the success of this flagship device, the Oppo brand recently released two new smartphones – the Oppo A55 and Oppo A1K in Nigeria. Globally, these two smartphones were released originally in April 2019 and May 2019 respectively.

Oppo claims that the two new smartphones are more budget-friendly that the popular F11 Pro. The Oppo A1k is said to feature a 4,000 mAh battery, a waterdrop screen, and is sold at NGN 44,900.On the other hand, the Oppo A5s is sold at NGN53,900 for a 3GB + 32GB variant, while its 4GB + 64GB counterpart is for NGN69,900. The Oppo A5s has a 4,230 mAh battery, and a waterdrop 6.2 inch screen.

Joseph Adeola, the Public Relations Manager for Oppo Nigeria, said these two devices have been optimised for functionality and price. Speaking on this, he said, “A lot of people want to use the Oppo brand, but we are not able to afford it. So, we did some market research and affordably packaged it in what we call practical technology

Just like other major brands such as Samsung, Infinix and Tecno, the OPPO brand has a ranking system which the release of these two A-series devices flouts. In the conventional system, the Reno and Find Series come first followed by the R-series, F-series, K-series, and then the A-series.

So, Nigerian users are left to wonder why Oppo skipped a line in the introduction of the A-series smartphones into the Nigerian market after the F-series.

To satisfy this curiosity, Akinola said, “Based on our global strategy, some devices perform well in new markets than others. Research went into this decision to serve products that meets the needs and expectations of Nigerians. With time, the others will come”.

As Oppo is a new player in the Nigerian smartphone market, users have expressed concern over the after-sales service. Regarding this, Akinola promised that the company is working towards establishing more outlets across Nigeria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cowrywise Travel Stole Its Idea from WeMove Rally. Is This True?

       

In a recent Twitter thread, WeMove Rally accused Cowrywise of getting the inspiration for the newly announced Cowrywise Travel from Wemove. Could this be true?

Cowrywise is a secure Nigerian savings and investment platform. Founded in 2017, it is a digital wealth platform for African millennials that helps users to plan, save and invest securely to meet financial goals. The platform allows Nigerians to access mutual funds that invest in companies like Dangote Cement, Total Nigeria, GTBank, Nestle and other high-quality fixed income securities with just NGN100.

Recently, Cowrywise announced the Cowrywise Travel platform which allows users to pay for trips within the Cowrywise app. Users are only required to save daily, monthly or weekly by joining the Cowrywise trip cycle.

The company partnered with high-flying experience creators to launch the “first of its kind” which ensures that users can have their dream vacation. According to a company statement on Twitter on the 5th of August, “the launch of cowrywise.com/travel is in line with a core commitment – to help you invest with a goal in mind. Don’t just invest for investing sake, invest for something beautiful.”

However, on the same day Cowrywise Travel was announced, WeMove Rally tweeted saying that that it inspired the development of Cowrywise Travel. “I’m glad we were able to give them inspiration, but we dey come, we dey pursue money. Make the money land”, said  Celestocalculus, a software craftsman at rally.wemove.co

WeMove Technologies is a transport technology development company with a focus on product design to ease transportation in Africa. It currently runs an online vehicle hire portal, www.wemove.co, where users can find and hire any vehicle they require in Nigeria.

The platform supports vehicle owners listing of their commercially viable vehicles to gain access to a wider niche of customers. The company services include truck hire, van hire, moving, removal, document translation, preview tour, orientation tour, car hire, bus hire and cab services.

In reply, a certain Black Jaguar, speaking for Cowrywise, explained how the plans for Cowrywise Travel has been in works since 2017.

I am quite impressed by the work you do. Given your past experiences, I can understand why you think you inspired this. Now, let me show how this idea evolved. 2017-Early 2018 We realized that a lot of people saved just for the purpose of saving. No solid goals. We decided to help them go further – save for goals. This was the reason we launched Life Goals. Vacation has always been a Life Goal plan on Cowrywise” he said.

He went on to explain the foundation of the travel page in 2017, attached a screenshot, and also explained how they got it to launch in 2019.

Speaking about WeMove Rally, he said that the operations are different from that of Cowrywise Travel.

He further proposed the possibility of a partnership with WeMove, saying, “Honestly, what we should be discussing is a partnership. We have a system that makes payment simpler at no cost to the operators. The more paying clients, the more bus operators need”.

Then, he refuted the claim of WeMove Rally as unsubstantial, and attached a link to a post that indicates that other people can also have a similar idea.

Yesterday, WeMove in reply, explained how it had initiated discussions with CowryWise and how a meeting was held early last year. “And we reached a gentleman’s agreement on what WeMove needed to do, to feed Cowrywise the tours which would be on the app”. He went on to say that he didn’t send an email because of his former relationships with the “bosses” at Cowrywise”.

He concluded by saying, “But I’ve told my people that we won’t make this mistake next time, no matter the relationship.”

A front-end developer, Ibukunoluwa Salau, in a comment on this Twitter thread, mentioned ontripp.com as performing the same operations as  WeMove Rally and Cowrywise Travel.

9-year old Nigerian Boy Builds Over 30 Mobile Games

Yes, you read that correctly. A 9-year old boy, Basil Okpara Jr., in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria, sits in his living room and taps his computer keys. He does this not to watch a cartoon or a movie, but to build mobile games. Basil has been utilising a free programming language called Scratch 2 to build games across different genres.

The language, Scratch 2, allows users to create games, animations, and stories offline or online, and it has allowed Basil to build more than 30 mobile games. In a feature by CNN, as he built a hide and seek game, Basil discloses how he learnt the skill, saying, “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored”

This might begin to sound possible to you when you consider that his father signed him up for a five-day boot camp for children aged 5 to 15. Organized by Codefest International, this camp was established to give children access to emerging technologies like robotics and virtual reality.

According to his father, Basil Okpara Sr., Basil used to play a lot of mobile games growing up. “I bought him a tablet when he was 4 years old because I saw that he was always grabbing phones to play games with. He played Candy Crush and Temple Run a lot,” the father told CNN. He further disclosed that his son’s interesting in developing his own games grew at the age of 7 after he got scolded for spending his time playing games always.

“There was this day he was on his tablet, as usual, he was so carried away with the game he was playing that I got upset with him,” his father said.

He added “Out of annoyance, I said to him, ‘you are always playing games, can’t you think about building your own games so that others can play yours too?’. I was so angry when I said it, and I did not know he took it seriously.”

After this outburst, Basil showed active interest in learning how to develop his own games, spurring his parents to buy him a laptop and register him to learn the basic steps of building games.

Basil titles the games based on what they are about, and currently, the games are still in their raw form and can only be accessed on computers that have Scratch 2 installed. However, his father claims that one of the games, titled Frog attack, will be available on Google play store this month.

 

 

 

FCMB Invites Nigerian Agritech Startups to Apply for the FCMB-Wennovation Agritech Incubation Program 2019

The FCMB Agri-Tech Incubation Programme run by Wenovation Hub now has its applications open to Nigerian early-stage agric-tech startups.

The Wennovation Hub Programme is, in partnership with the banking firm, FCMB, targeting innovators across Nigeria who are developing tech-based solutions that can ensure food security in the country. The goal is to help them test and validate their ideas, and also gather their first set of customers. This will be achieved through a combination of financial support, guidance and training.

The applications for this year’s program should focus on four problem areas, namely Production, Input, Processing and Storage, and Marketing and Sales. The Hub is looking for MVP-stage startups with some form of market validation.

The goal of this year’s program is to reveal the root of the pre-defined problem statement to ten teams across Nigeria, by merging an in-depth problem definition strategy with an immersion process.

The program will also support these teams with a demonstrable Minimum Viable Product to build a sustainable business model by taking them through a design thinking workshop, and a 3 weeks incubation program subsequently.

Even more, the program is to support at least two of the top selected Agri-tech startups with seed investments and grants, and offer access to experienced mentors and a cohort structure that encourages peer learning and support. Of course, the attending Agri-tech startups will have several opportunities to connect with potential investors and customers.

In fact, the programme commences with a one-week immersion component where the startups will have the opportunity to interact with community members through Wennovation Hub immersion partners. Startups who complete the immersion programme and other required reporting commitments successfully will be invited to a two-week bootcamp in Lagos.

The program will come to an end in September with a pitching competition at the demo day where two Agri-tech startups win a total sum of N3million in grants. All the successful startups are to be taken into a six-month post-bootcamp aftercare programme.

Click here to apply.