Posts tagged as: technology

Foreign Investment Declines

By James Anyanzwa

East Africa’s investment climate is facing a litmus test following the decline in foreign direct investment, faltering intra-regional trade and continued poor performance of listed companies, which have left shareholders with reduced or no earnings at all.

Research financed by the UK’s Department for International Development in 2016 shows that the persistence of non-tariff barriers has hindered trade flows in the region and reduced the benefits of regional integration. According to the study by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a UK-based independent think tank, taxes account for 40 per cent of the unresolved NTBs while Customs and trade facilitation measures account for 28 per cent.

Although though 104 NTBs have been removed since the establishment of the NTB Monitoring Mechanism in 2009, the study shows that as of June 2016, 25 continued to restrict intra-EAC trade, according to the report, dated November 2016.

Impacted by NTBsKenya and Uganda have been impacted heavily by NTBs, most of which are generated by Tanzania. Kenya follows closely.

Foreign direct investment in the EAC declined in 2015 due to the failure by the member states to promote the region as a single investment destination.A 2015 draft trade report by the EAC Secretariat shows that the level of FDI in the region dropped by 16 per cent to $7.2 billion in 2015, from $8.6 billion in 2014.

Intra-EAC trade fell by 13 per cent in three years, with the value of the trade dipping from $5.8 billion in 2013 to $5.06 billion in 2015. Between 2014 and 2015, the value of intra-EAC trade shrank by 10 per cent, from $ 5.6 billion to $5.06 billion, due to cumbersome regulatory and administrative policies that impacted on investment promotion.

According to the report, dated August 2016, EAC partner states have complicated the procedures for registering businesses and procuring business permits while differences in the implementation of tax exemptions and incentives have also failed to promote transparency in investment promotion at the regional level. Rwanda, for instance, has established special economic zones while Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya operate export processing zones.

According to a 2016 US department of State report, East African countries exhibit varying investment climates that make it difficult to attract investments.

The report says that, in the region, Kenya has a more positive investment climate that has made it attractive to international firms seeking a location for their regional or pan-African operations.

But the country’s consistent low ranking on measures against corruption, the ease of doing business and security risks from terrorism and crime pose a key challenge.”Corruption and some weaknesses in the legislative frameworks continue to undermine Kenya’s business environment,” the report says. “Allegations of irregularities in public tenders are frequent, and corruption scandals appear almost daily in local media. Foreign companies continue to complain of significant delays in work permits.”

Historically favourable

In Tanzania, the government has a historically favourable attitude toward foreign direct investment and has had success in attracting FDI. But, according to the report, corruption remains a major concern for donors and foreign investors.It cites corruption in government procurement processes, privatisation, taxation, and Customs. US investors identified corruption, particularly among Customs and immigration agents and traffic police, as an obstacle to investment in Tanzania.

Rwanda enjoys strong economic growth, high rankings in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, and a reputation for low corruption. Kigali has instituted pro-investment policy reforms intended to improve the investment climate and increase FDI.

Rwanda presents a number of opportunities for FDI, including in renewable energy, infrastructure, agriculture, mining, tourism, and information and communications technology.

But potential and current investors still cite a number of hurdles, including Rwanda’s landlocked status and the resultant high freight costs, a small domestic market, limited access to affordable financing, and inconsistent application of tax, investment, and immigration rules.

In Uganda, the government has prioritised infrastructure, energy production, lower tariffs and trade barriers for regional trade, and generally welcomes FDI, according to the US State Department.

But bureaucracy, poor infrastructure, insufficient power supply and high costs, corruption, and government interference in the private sector make for a challenging investment climate.

Ghana: Kumasi Hive Wants to Create Maker Start-Ups That Will Generate New Manufacturing Jobs – " Ghana’s Got to Start to Add Value"

One of Ghana’s active maker spaces is the recently created Kumasi Hive in country’s second city. Russell Southwood spoke to co-founder Anna Lowe about its start-ups, the problem of finding angel investors and her desire to create new manufacturing jobs.

Kumasi Hive’s co-founder Anna Lowe came out of manufacturing and the supply chain sector:”I was getting medicines across borders in Africa and there were plenty of challenges. I was aware of the Maker Movement and digital manufacturing and got interested in producing things locally.”

Kumasi Hive’s other co-founder and CEO of the organization George Appiah ran a group of hackers and makers in Ghana’s second city, Kumasi that he had started in 2010. As Lowe tells it:”A lot of education in Ghana is very theoretical. There’s a need for people to get involved in hands-on projects. I came to Ghana for another social project and was interested in (George’s) maker space. I set up a whole lot of meetings and George was one of them.”

At that stage, it was a student network of practical projects but they had no real equipment to use. As a result, it was hard to do prototyping:”They had great ideas but no way of turning them into businesses.” They were sharing parts and each time something was created it was taken apart and cannibalized to provide the next idea.

So they joined forces to create Kumasi Hive and one of the first things it ran was an incubator programme, which was a general training in both technical and business skills.

The space itself is a large house that has been repurposed to create a maker space and rooms that are used as co-working spaces:”There are now 12 start-ups in our incubator programme and well over 100 people have come for the incubator training programmes.”

The start-ups combine maker skills with an entrepreneurial eye for possible opportunities. Dext makes science kits for High School students:”It’s addressing a practical education problem and allowing young people to do experiments.” Klack 3D is making 3D printers and Pasgid Robotics is making low-cost robotics sets for education institutions.

Although Kumasi Hive has only been going for a year, it has attracted new students to its work. It runs a Saturday Club and 3D design courses for local students:”We do programmes aimed at different sectors, particularly agriculture and run an agriculture hardware hackathon in the north of the country sponsored by a local agricultural company. We’ve been looking at the rice supply chain and our focus has been to find innovators.”

So why set up in Kumasi rather than in Ghana’s capital Accra?:”There were a number of reasons. Creativity Group which was founded by George was in Kumasi and it had 6 chapters in different communities. There’s also quite an artisan culture in Kumasi. There were already several hubs in Accra and nothing in Kumasi at the time.”

Kumasi Hive have expansion plans:”With our existing site, we want to grow our programmes and encourage more successful businesses and also to do more work with young kids in schools. We also hope to open Hives in other places in Ghana. We’re looking at Tamale, where we ran the agriculture hackathon and we might also open in Accra in partnership with an existing hub.”

So what has been the hardest thing in doing all of this?:”The hardest thing is funding and it’s not just for our activities but helping fund the businesses we find. The first proof of concept might cost US$500-2,000. Then the next tranche up takes you into angel territory, somewhere between US$50,000-100,000. There are fewer people who understand hardware in this context. Software just needs a laptop. Hardware needs materials.”

So far it’s been possible to cover programmes with grant funding but harder to find investment for the start-ups:”There’s potential to raise money locally but we’ve not seen much yet. There’s an Angel Investor Club in Accra but not one in Kumasi.”

Lowe is passionate about the potential for makers to create manufacturing jobs:”For me, it’s one of the main reasons to do this. Hardware innovation will leads to manufacturing locally, which will create jobs. Ghana basically exports raw materials and imports goods. It’s got to start to add value. A start-up like Dext is the beginning of that journey. The start-ups might create anything from hundreds to the low thousands of jobs but it’s really only in the early stages. Lots more needs to be done.”

Background Briefing – Africa’s Makers and Maker Spaces

BloLab sets up an African digital fabrication laboratory to promote technological democratization, innovation and manufacturing

http://www.smartmonkeytv.com/channel/newsletters/blolab_sets_up_an_african_digital_fabrication_laboratory_to_promote_technol

Jumanne Mtambalike, Buni Hub on making a 3D printer and drone from e-waste-mass production next?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXVe3DNCLms

South Africa: Tobias Overbeck on building a glove-controlled drone and flying in drone competitions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7sDnHvvf7A

Rick Treweek on African Robot’s 3D printing training and his passion brand Trobok Toys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJqcjXPa7vk

Robyn Farah, Kat-O on her maker space in Cape Town and what it does

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwF0QSktKBs

Rwanda: Mastercard U.S.$1 Million Grant Set to Ignite Business Growth in Rwanda

In support of Rwanda’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growthhas confirmed its commitment to a grant of up to USD$1 million over three years to support the growth of small business owners in Rwanda.

According to a press statement by Mastercard, to ensure that the first phase of the roll out of the grant is successful, Mastercard has partnered with theAfrican Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), locally known as Inkomoko. The team develops and grooms entrepreneurs in industries such as technology, agriculture and energy – three of East Africa’s biggest and fastest growing sectors, and priorities in Rwanda.

Announced during at the 2016 World Economic Forum on Africa (WEF Africa) in Kigali, Rwanda, Mastercard committed to supporting Rwanda’s vision of financially empowering its citizens, with the grant established to support achieving this goal. The commitment is in line with driving poverty out of Rwanda through job creation, ensuring gender equality through equal access to opportunities, and delivering decent work prospects which will enable economic growth.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are key drivers of the local economy – currently making up 97.8 percent of the private sector in the country.Inkomoko’s one-year programme removes the barriers local entrepreneurs face in the areas of skills development, networks, and financing, through providing mentoring, technical support, capacity building, and direct access to affordable capital. What makes the partnership between Mastercard and Inkomokouniqueis the support of both Rwandan nationals as well as some of the 160,000 refugees currently living in Rwanda.

In collaboration with the United Nations Agency on Refugees (UNHCR), the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR) and MastercardCenter for Inclusive Growth, Inkomokowill roll out aprogramme aimed at fostering the social and economic independence of refugees in Rwanda.With a large population of refugees, the role of private and public partnerships remains crucial to the inclusive growth and development of all those displaced. Mastercard, together with the African

Entrepreneur Collective,has committed to assisting entrepreneurs in Rwanda regardless of their circumstances, a vision shared and driven by the Rwandan government. “Connecting entrepreneurs, especially women and refugees, to the networks that power the modern world – like financial services – unlocks their economic potential and accelerates a cycle of equitable and sustainable economic growth,” says Shamina Singh, President of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.

The Inkomoko entrepreneurship programme aims to restore the dignity of refugees living in Rwanda by empowering these small business owners with vital support to grow their businesses. The programmewill work with 4,000 refugees in Rwandaover the next three years.

“The intention is to connectrefugees with the tools and skills necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs to improve their own livelihoods, create jobs for others in their communities, and contribute to Rwanda’s larger economic development. Rwanda’s refugee camps and host communities are places of vibrant social and economic activity with bustling markets, shops, restaurants, and industries,” says Julienne Oyler, Executive Director of African Entrepreneur Collective.

Supporting and developing entrepreneurs in these areas will have tremendous impact on the communities themselves and the country at large.Rwandahas become a bustling centre of commerce in Africa, and by implementing programmes that broadly target high potential local entrepreneurs, broad-based economic growth can be advanced by equipping the country’s next generation of business owners with the right tools to hone their financial literacy – the foundation of financial inclusion and growth.

In this way, the support provided as part of the grant not only falls in with the country’s Vision 2020 strategy to create a knowledge-based, cashless economy with 90 percent financial inclusion, it also contributes to Rwanda meeting its Sustainable Development Goals, most notably in terms of eradicating poverty and driving gender equality through the empowerment and entrepreneurship.

Facilitating inclusive growth is an important way to build social and economic development, and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth remains committed to working with partners in both the public and private spheres to drive that development.

“Microentrepreneurs drive the local economy, and through our partnership with African Entrepreneur Collective, we look forward to empowering them with the tools and training to grow their businesses and advance the lives of their families and communities,” concludes Singh.

East Africa: Half a Million Homes Now Connected to M-Kopa Solar Home Systems

M-KOPA Solar has announced the 500,000th home connected to its pioneering solar home systems.

According to a press statement, Dorothy Nabawesi became M-KOPA’s 500,000th customer when she purchased a M-KOPA 400 system at the M-KOPA Shop in Mukono, Uganda. She says, “I don’t have the money to access the grid. For so long, the good things have been passing me by, like watching national and international news on TV. My grandchildren used to go to a neighbour’s house to get information about the world. Now with M-KOPA, I have better lighting for them to read, plus extra power to charge my phone, listen to radio and watch TV.”

The M-KOPA 400 – the company’s larger solar system that includes a digital TV – has been available in Kenya since Q2 2016 and now also being rolled out in Uganda and Tanzania. Customers can purchase a M-KOPA Solar TV either by acquiring a M-KOPA 400 system, or by extending their $0.50/day M-KOPA solar home system payment plan and upgrading for more power and a solar TV.

Jesse Moore, CEO and Co-Founder, M-KOPA, said in the press statement, “Half a million customers is a terrific milestone for the M-KOPA team and the entire off-grid power sector. We’ve reached this point thanks to high quality products, a relentless commitment to customer service and a conscientious approach to pricing and credit.”

The company is also announcing that it has reported over 250,000 credit scores in Kenya through the Credit Information Sharing initiative of the Central Bank of Kenya. Ninety-two percent are positive credit reports of loans that have been completed, or are in good standing. This enables customers to access additional financial services from M-KOPA and other financial institutions.

In April 2015, M-KOPA launched its own upgrades service for productive assets – including water tanks, energy-efficient cooking stoves and smart phones. In the two years since launch, it has sold over 150,000 upgrade products.

Moore says, “Our customers don’t just need a panel and a battery. They are looking to M-KOPA to provide products and services that help them be more connected, productive and financially secure. With half a million households now on board, we really understand customer needs and aspirations. We plan to grow our customer relationships for many years to come.”

M-KOPA has also established a separate business unit – M-KOPA Labs – to conduct research and development of additional products and services that run on its power and finance platform. It currently has research projects underway with several strategic partners and is looking at new products and market extensions across a range of sectors.

On the basis of having connected 500,000 homes to solar power, M-KOPA customers now enjoy over 62.5 million hours of kerosene-free lighting per month and they will save over 600,000 tonnes of CO2 over four years.

East Africa

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South Africa: Citibank Agrees to R69.5 Million Fine

Pretoria — Citibank has agreed to pay an administrative penalty of almost R69.5 million in relation to the bank’s involvement in a forex trading cartel, the Competition Commission said on Wednesday.

Citibank has also agreed to appear as a witness in the hearings involving the prosecution of other banks, which are also accused of being involved in this cartel.

About 17 banks, including Standard Bank, Absa, JP Morgan, Investec Ltd, BNP Paribas and Nomura, have been accused of being involved in currency manipulation.

Citibank admitted to the Competition Tribunal that between 2007 and 2013, it colluded with its competitors in respect of spot trading of ZAR currency pairs, in contravention of the Competition Act. These competitors are the banks that are cited as the respondents in the complaint referral.

“The [Competition] Commission believes that the case against the banks is very clear from its papers and we will be resisting any attempts to delay proceedings at the Tribunal on the basis of technicalities.

“We therefore call upon the banks to file their answers to the case in the interest of the speedy resolution of this matter,” said the Commissioner of the Competition Commission, Tembinkosi Bonakele.

The Commission notes that despite filing its papers with the Tribunal on 15 February against 17 banks, none of the banks have to date filed their answers to the case, except HSBC, which has filed papers, disputing that it participated in the cartel.

Subsequent to the Commission filing its case, the Tribunal convened a pre-hearing on 10 March, at which most of the banks indicated that they would be filing exception applications, challenging the commission’s case on the basis that it did not have jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute the matter.

Further, other banks indicated that they require evidence in the Commission’s possession against them.

The Tribunal’ by agreement of all parties’ directed among others’ as follows: the Commission is to file a supplementary affidavit to its complaint referral by 31 March 2017, and any banks wishing to file an exception applications should do so by 3 May 2017.

A second pre-hearing will be held on 23 June, where further directives on proceedings will be given.

The hearing of the exception applications is set down for 20 – 21 July 2017.

South Africa

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Kenya: Report Lists Kenya Among Top in Wind Energy Investment

By Brian Ngugi

Kenya is among the countries poised to lead in wind energy investment in Africa this year according to a new report.

Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), the international trade association for the wind power industry, says Kenya is setting the pace in the region in the use of wind as a renewable source of energy by initiating the generation of 700 megawatts for the national grid.

“For the Middle East and Africa, the main drivers will continue to be South Africa, Morocco (and we hope) Egypt, with strong contributions from Kenya and Ethiopia as some of the smaller markets are just getting off the ground,” says GWEC in its latest annual Global Wind Report market update.

It notes that at the end of 2016, over 99 per cent of Middle East and Africa region’s total wind energy installations were spread across 10 countries – South Africa, Morocco (787 megawatts), Egypt (810 megawatts), Tunisia (245 megawatts), Ethiopia (171 megawatts), Jordan (119 megawatts), Iran (91 megawatts), Cape Verde (24 megawatts), Kenya (19 megawatts), Israel (6.25 megawatts) and Algeria (10 megawatts).

The report cites Kenya’s Lake Turkana wind project, now completed and set to be commissioning in the coming months, as an example.

The 310-megawatt project will account for almost 18 per cent of Kenya’s total installed power generation capacity.

The German Development Bank and Agence Française de Développement of France are also doing due diligence of a wind farm of the KenGen in Meru with plan to construct a 400-megawatt plant.

Kenya

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South Africa: Arrive Alive This Weekend

Pretoria — Drivers, passengers and pedestrians have been urged to be vigilant and to prioritise road safety during this long weekend.

South Africa celebrates Freedom Day and Workers’ Day, making it a bumper long weekend from 26 April to 2 May.

“We … can change our behaviour on our roads and renew, in line with our commitment to the UN Decade of Road Safety,” said Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi on Thursday.

Minister Maswanganyi warned that traffic law enforcement agencies will be out in full force on the roads this long weekend to spread the message that road safety is everyone’s responsibility and needs to be taken seriously.

“Our law enforcement officers have ramped up their road safety focus on high risk driving behaviour and will be targeting the well-known contributors to serious and fatal injury crashes, with our operations focusing on speeding, drunk/drug driving, vehicle defects, seat belt offences and inattentive driving.”

During the Easter long weekend, alcohol and speed contributed to fatalities and an escalation in serious road crashes.

About 235 people have lost their lives on South Africa’s roads during the Easter long weekend. A further 20 died last week in a bus crash involving school pupils in Bronkhorstspruit .

Minister Maswanganyi called upon all motorists to:

adhere to the speed limit

avoid driving under the influence of alcohol

avoid use of cell phones while driving

ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy

do not cross the road where it is not safe to do so

take regular breaksbuckle up, safety belts save lives.

The Minister also had other road safety advice, such as:

Road Rage – it’s not worth it!

Seat Belts: They really do save lives!

Small Children? Install and use those “baby seats!”

J-Walking? A step to disaster! Please don’t.

Speeding? Slow down, show respect and live!

Sirens? Pull to the right and stop!

Pedestrians Ahead? Let them cross safety!

Holiday parties? Your “designated driver” loves you!

He called on all those who will be drinking to be to be responsible drinkers and rather make use of public transport.

South Africa

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Gas Prices Proposals By Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation Rejected

Photo: Daily News

Liquefied Petroleum Gas.

By Louis Kolumbia

The Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura) has turned down proposals for natural gas indicative prices submitted by the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC).

TPDC had submitted indicative price proposals to Ewura on the basis of operational costs incurred when transporting and connecting natural gas to customers.

But Ewura natural gas director Charles Omujuni told The Citizen in an exclusive interview last week that TPDC indicative price proposals were rejected due to some irregularities and the failure to consider realities surrounding natural gas business in the world.

“TPDC designed indicative prices without considering realities in the global natural gas market. We have directed them to rectify the issues before we can recommend their proposals for a public hearing,” Mr Omujuni said.

But in a swift response, TPDC acting managing director Kapuulya Musomba refuted claims that their proposal was turned down by the regulator, saying there were only some minor technical and legal issues that needed to be sorted out before the process continues.

“Ewura and TPDC teams could not reach a common understanding over some minor technical and legal issues that we cannot disclose at this stage. So an agreement was reached to review the issues before the process can continue,” Mr Musomba said in a telephone interview.

Both sides declined to reveal the indicative prices that TPDC had forwarded to Ewura, but The Citizen is aware that the prices ranged between $4 and $6 per 1,000 cubic metres depending on the distance of the customers from the natural gas wells. Dangote, Tanzania’s largest cement maker located near by the natural gas fields of Mtwara, has proposed to buy gas at $4 per 1,000 cubic metres, according to media reports.

The fact that TPDC proposals were rejected well before the public hearing reveals the corporation’s lack of requisite expertise to calculate natural gas prices, according to Mr Omujuni.

He urged the petroleum development agency to seek assistance from experts in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

“They could even seek some technical assistance from outside the country,” Mr Omujuni advised.

But Mr Musomba told The Citizen that TPDC would use local experts because the country has had enough of them. According to him, TPDC issues with technical capacity were being addressed.

Tanzania has 57 trillion cubic feet natural gas reserves. The government-owned, 533km long pipeline brings gas from Madimba in Mtwara region to Dar es Salaam.

TPDC plans to connect the natural resource to hundreds of households to be used for domestic purposes and supply several planned filling stations where they would be used by cars transformed from fuel to natural gas utilising vehicles.

In January this year, TPDC told The Citizen that Sh430 billion would be spent for building a mega plant to facilitate transportation of natural gas to large-scale factories and households in Mtwara, Lindi, Kilwa and Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania

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East Africa: ITU Leads the World in Marking International Girls in ICT Day

International Girls in ICT Day was celebrated today around the globe at hundreds of events showcasing the technological skills of girls and young women. The day highlights the value of women in the field of information and communications technology (ICT), and seeks to encourage more girls to plan for a career in this expanding field.

According to the International Telecommunication Union Website, this year’s event was a virtual international meetup of girls in Geneva, Vilnius and Beirut through a shared game application and video link. This enabled them to explore ICT together in an interactive format in real-time.

In Geneva, the girls demonstrated new digital skills they learned in activities leading up to Girls in ICT Day and had the opportunity to meet women mentors from the tech sector. In Vilnius, the girls enjoyed a robotics workshop, practical demonstrations of virtual and augmented reality, and witnessed a presentation of winning projects from Lithuania’s biggest annual robotics and technology competition, ROBOTIADA.

“The important value that young women bring to ICTs was showcased today at hundreds of hands-on Girls in ICT Day events organized around the globe,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU hopes that Girls in ICT Day will continue to introduce more girls to ICTs and to the real opportunities that exist for them in this innovative and expanding field.”

Other key events also took place around the world:

In Bangkok, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and ITU launched a capacity building program aimed at imparting employable digital skills to more than 100 female university students in 2017, with support from CISCO Systems (Thailand), Microsoft (Thailand), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

In Brazil, two Girls in ICT Day events were organized by ITU and ANATEL, and attended by a combined 160 young women, encouraging them to pursue university studies in ICT.

In the Caribbean, more than 90 young female coders took part in a regional hackathon event supported by Cotton Tree Consulting and Change Makers Development Ltd. Throughout the day, young women also engaged in hands-on activities, guided by a tech mentor,that used ICT to create, innovate and generate solutions to various challenges. The activities included mobile app-building, animation, robotics, digital video production and digital artworks, and web development.

In Egypt, ITU together with the German Society for International Cooperation, the International Development Research Centre and the Aga Khan & Continuous Education Center organized an event in Aswan in which girls participated in an ICT training camp, a contest, mentoring sessions and a career fair. The event was designed to provide young women in Aswan with practical insight into the ICT sector and ICT skills that can increase their employability. Eight more similar events are planned between now and 2019, with the goal of reaching a total of 450 girls.

In Ethiopia, ITU, UN Women, UNDP, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the Africa Union Commission organized a Girls in ICT Day conference, sponsored by Huawei, Ethiopia PLC, which brought together girls from several African countries to explore and share together their ICT experiences.

In Tanzania, the entire month of March 2017 was used to conduct trainings for girls attending public school in six different zones in Tanzania. As part of the training, teams of girls developed the concept for an innovative mobile application and then competed against other teams at the local, regional and national levels. The national winners then represent their peers at the ITU Girls in ICT Day conference held in Ethiopia.

In Russia, a regional seminar on women and girls in ICT was held. Participants from across the Commonwealth of Independent States region identified plans to ensure year-long action to increase the number of women and girls in ICT.

Since its inception in 2014, over 240,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 7,200 celebrations of International Girls in ICT Day in 160 countries worldwide.

The annual event is supported by a growing number of governments, community organizations, schools and the business community. In addition to the supporters noted above, Alfa Telecom, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, and Kaunas University of Technology supported Girls in ICT Day 2017.

East Africa: Marking the World IP Day – Microsoft 4afrika Hands Its IP Hub Over to Comesa

By Lilian Mutegi

Microsoft 4Afrika has transferred full ownership and management of its IP Hub to the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), expanding its reach to more African countries in an effort to enable more cross-border trade.

This is according to a statement posted on the COMESA Website dated 26th April 2017 which coincides with World IP Day.

The IP Hub, which Microsoft 4Afrika developed and launched in 2014, is an online learning resource designed to drive awareness around intellectual property (IP) rights. Through a series of modules, it educates innovators on the ins and outs of copyright, trademarks, patents and general IP protection.

“The COMESA IP Hub is a concerted effort between the public and private sector for the development of a regional platform that can contribute to a strengthened national IP protection system, in a manner that promotes innovation, business development and trade,” says Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA Secretary General in the statement.

He also added, “the value of IP and IP protection has not yet been fully utilised within the region. This day marks a shift in our direction as the COMESA region, towards the realisation of the need to protect IP, with copyright protection being the initial step.”

Louis Otieno, Corporate Affairs Director at Microsoft 4Afrika, adds: “We developed the IP Hub with the promise to pilot it and then hand it over to local governments and authorities. This is therefore an exciting milestone for us, especially as we commemorate the 17th annual World IP Day.”

This year’s World IP Day, focused on how IP systems can support innovation that improves lives. According to the new 2017 U.S. Chamber International IP Index, economies with robust IP protection see 80% more knowledge-based, technological and creative outputs, and are 68% more likely to have supportive business climates.

In addition to handing over the IP Hub, Microsoft 4Afrika will continue to collaborate with IP authorities in COMESA member states to automate their IP registration processes.

Microsoft and COMESA are also working together to enable the creation of new IP. By promoting a trusted cloud infrastructure – underpinned by relevant policies around cybersecurity and data privacy – the two organisations hope to encourage more people to use cloud technology, develop their own IP and ultimately participate in trade and e-commerce across borders.

The COMESA IP Hub is now live and accessible at http://iphub.comesa.int/.

East Africa

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