Sparkle joins the African digital finance race
in partnership with FLUTTERWAVE & RENSOURCE ENERGY 04.06.2020
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Lockdowns have restricted people's ability to travel for leisure and African countries that depend on tourism have felt the bite. Not to be discouraged, Kenya's tourism authorities have designed a six-week programme for promoting the allure of safaris in the East African country. Scenes from Kenya's parks and reserves will be streamed live by the Tourism Board as part of a 'Magic Kenya' campaign "to bring Kenya to Kenyans and to the world at large,” according to Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism. Kenya relies on tourism for foreign exchange and jobs, with 2.05 million tourists visiting in 2019. That resulted in $1.61 billion in revenue, a 3.9% growth over 2018. Months-long restrictions on movement and flight bans will almost certainly make these figures unattainable for the rest of the year but projecting safari digitally reminds travelers of what they are missing.
Kenya's National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) wants privately-owned minibuses involved in public transportation to start using cashless payments to collect fares. When in force, customers will be required to make payments with their phones while boarding 'matatus' as the minibuses are called in Kenya. To achieve this, the NTSA has reportedly called for bids from tech companies who will take up the task of installing necessary software on the matatus. While the immediate motive appears to be linked with limiting COVID-19 spread, the move ties into a noticeable wave in East Africa to digitize payments in the transport sector. In Uganda, the government wants informal motorcycle drivers to join e-hailing companies, while the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority recently directed all motorcycle taxi operators in Kigali to have meters and collect payments using only digital means.

Two African tech media houses have reached an agreement to share each other's content across their platforms, and to collaborate on events and reports. Nigeria-based Techpoint and Ventureburn, the South African publication announced on Wednesday that both outfits will partner to increase reach and visibility in two of the continent's most active tech ecosystems. Ventureburn was founded in 2012 while Techpoint began publishing in 2015. Both play important roles in covering events in African tech but neither has a physical outpost outside of its country of operations. The partnership is a shot at achieving scale without additional financial investment in content, cultivating an active audience beyond each other's shores and reaping the rewards that will potentially accrue from the extra eyeballs. Media houses globally have had a tough time with the pandemic. Digital-first and digital-conscious mainstream African publications have not been left out. Will collaborations such as this solve the business model conundrum?


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Sparkle, a digital finance and business advisory outfit based in Lagos, has officially launched. The startup has been mentioned in tech circles since 2019 thanks to the popularity of its founder Uzoma Dozie, the former CEO of Nigeria's Diamond bank (now subsumed into Access bank). Pledging to move Nigerian commerce in a new forward direction, Dozie says his latest venture will be involved in multiple aspects of digital finance including providing APIs, cloud computing, data science, machine learning, tax and financial advisory services. The company boasts a banking license from the Central Bank of Nigeria, and that all the services it promises to offer are licensed by the monetary authority.

For this week's edition of My Life in Tech, Kay Ugwuede caught up with Selman Kaldiroglu, the product lead at Pariti, the Nairobi-based startup helping companies and investors connect with freelance advisors. Kaldiroglu brings product development experience from Facebook and Instagram to Pariti and explains why some companies build seemingly appealing products but fail to answer user needs.
This Friday, June 5, TechCabal will host an engaging conversation with Bosun Tijani, co-founder and CEO of Co-creation Hub. We will discuss the role of ecosystem building in achieving a resilient African tech economy. Tijani has over a decade's experience mediating and propelling innovative growth within Africa by helping launch and scale startups. Whether its hosting innovation hackathons in Lagos and Nairobi or powering design in Kigali, 'CcHub' has led in defining the face of African tech, with a huge role in policy development as well. We'll learn more about what they have in store especially for a world redefined by a pandemic. Register for Friday's session here.
That's all for today,

We'll be back tomorrow.
- Alexander

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