- Facebook Adds Wifi Hotspots to Sustain African Growth
Facebook Inc. has increased the number of its African users to 170 million and plans to expand further by adding wifi hotspots and laying fiber-optic cables in a bid to spread its reach outside of developed markets.
The figure is 42 percent higher than when the U.S. social network first opened an African office in 2015, Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing, said in an interview in Johannesburg on Tuesday. The rollout of wifi in Nigeria and Kenya will be done via partnerships with international wireless carriers such as Emirates Telecommunications Group Co., known as Etisalat, and closely held Surf, she said.
Facebook also announced the construction of 770 kilometers (478 miles) of fiber-optic cables in Uganda alongside Bharti Airtel Ltd. of India earlier this year.
“There is no magic bullet to provide the internet to people on the continent,” Everson said near the site of Facebook’s new, larger office in Johannesburg. “We are using everything available to us, including rolling out express wifi, building fiber, and testing our Aquila project,” she said, referring to unmanned solar-powered planes that beam down internet connectivity.
The plans are part of a long-term investment push by Facebook in Africa, the social network’s least developed market with less than 10 percent of its 1.86 billion users worldwide. The Menlo Park, California-based company is trying to take advantage of a young population, greater connectivity and the increasing availability and affordability of smartphones to access new customers. Other U.S. companies targeting African growth include Google Inc., which said last month it’s laying fiber-optic cable and easing access to cheaper Android phones.
“People are sensitive to data prices on the continent. Infrastructure is expensive and that is why we are looking for partners,” Everson said. “We are partnering with telecommunications infrastructure projects, and, as a result, bring down the price of data.”
The company’s instant-messaging service WhatsApp is proving “very popular” in Africa, she said, more so than Facebook Messenger.
Facebook’s attempt to connect rural Africans last year was scuppered by an exploding SpaceX rocket. While the loss was disappointing, Facebook is using a combination of land-based and satellite technologies to roll out wifi hotspots and is evaluating other options as they become available, the executive said.
SpaceX To Launch DOGe-1 Mission Next Year and Accept Dogecoin As Payment
Elon Musk’s SpaceX will launch the “DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon” in the first quarter of 2022, with the company accepting the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as full payment for the lunar payload.
Geometric Energy Corporation announced the dogecoin-funded mission on Sunday, which SpaceX’s communications team confirmed in an email to reporters. The mission’s financial value was not disclosed.
DOGE-1 will fly a 40-kilogram cube satellite as a payload on a Falcon 9 rocket, with Geometric Energy Corporation saying its payload “will obtain lunar-spatial intelligence from sensors and cameras on-board with integrated communications and computational systems.”
SpaceX vice president of commercial sales Tom Ochinero said in a statement that DOGE-1 “will demonstrate the application of cryptocurrency beyond Earth orbit and set the foundation for interplanetary commerce.”
“We’re excited to launch DOGE-1 to the Moon!” Ochinero said.
Musk previously announced the company’s plans, albeit in a tweet on April Fool’s Day.
“SpaceX is going to put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon,” Musk wrote.
The DOGE-1 mission comes after Musk, the self-proclaimed “Dogefather,” made his debut as host of “Saturday Night Live.” The price of dogecoin plunged during his appearance, falling below 50 cents, despite his references to the cryptocurrency.
For SpaceX, the announcement also comes on the day the company set a new record for its Falcon 9 series of rockets. After launching another batch of Starlink satellites into orbit, SpaceX landed the Falcon 9 rocket’s booster for the 10th time — a benchmark Musk has previously described as key in the company’s progress of reusing its rockets.
“It’s designed to do 10 or more flights with no refurbishment between each flight,” Musk told reporters in May 2018.
“We believe that the [Falcon 9] boosters are capable of on the order of at least 100 flights before being retired. Maybe more.”
Twitter Legalize Giveaway, Introduces Tip Jar, A Feature Allowing Users to Send and Recieve Money
Twitter on Thursday introduced Tip Jar, a new feature that makes it easy for users to send money to their favorite creators on the micro-blogging service.
“This is a first step in our work to create new ways for people to receive and show support on Twitter — with money,” the company said in a blog post.
Users will be able to connect their Twitter accounts with Tip Jar to Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal, or Venmo. Twitter will take no cut of money sent through the feature.
According to the company’s statement in a blog post, You’ll know an account’s Tip Jar is enabled if you see a Tip Jar icon next to the Follow button on their profile page. Tap the icon, and you’ll see a list of payment services or platforms that the account has enabled. Select whichever payment service or platform you prefer and you’ll be taken off Twitter to the selected app where you can show your support in the amount you choose. The services* you can add today include Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal and Venmo. Twitter takes no cut. On Android, tips can also be sent within Spaces.
Those who use Twitter in English on iOS and Android will be able to start sending money through Tip Jar on Thursday. Certain users will be able to add Tip Jar to their profiles to begin collecting tips. This includes creators, journalists, experts and nonprofits, Twitter said.
The new feature comes as part of a broader effort by the company to build more features at a faster clip in a push to grow Twitter’s user base to 315 million daily active users by the end of 2023. Earlier this week, the company also announced the launch of Spaces, a feature that allows users to join virtual rooms where they can engage in real-time audio conversations with others.
Tip Jar comes after a rough week for Twitter, which has seen its stock fall more than 17 percent since April 29, when the company reported its first-quarter earnings. In the report, the company missed on analysts’ user growth expectations and the company provided lower revenue guidance for the second quarter than expected.
Uber To Introduce Uber Connect and Uber Hourly Service In Nigeria
Uber, a ride-hailing giant, has said it is introducing two new services for the Nigerian market. The ride-hailing company, which also offers freight, courier and other transport services, said the two services, ‘Uber Connect’ and ‘Uber Hourly’, will be available for Nigeria customers in the next few months.
The company’s country manager, Tope Akinwumi, speaking about the new services, noted that the initiative emanated from the desire to bring innovativeness in solving the transportation needs of people.
Uber’s representative, further said: “We want to bring innovations designed to help people get anywhere and get anything as cities start to move again,” Tope Akinwumi, Uber’s country manager, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
“As we want to show our commitment to improving the lives of Nigerians, and more importantly, unlocking access to earning opportunities for drivers, we believe this announcement is a step in the right direction.”
Uber Hourly, which is already operating in several cities around the world, is an alternative to on-demand, point-to-point trips that will provide riders added convenience with no need to re-book their ride.
The Hourly will enable riders to book rides by the hour, providing them with a single driver for their entire journeys especially for riders who may need extra time to complete tasks, also availing drivers the opportunity to make more money.
“Hourly already launched in several cities around the world including Dar es Salaam and based on those insights and the warm reception from both riders and drivers, we’re excited to bring this to Nigeria.
“We built this feature for those moments when you anticipate you’ll need extra time getting things done, and so drivers can access a meaningful earnings opportunity while “locking in” an upfront time frame for the service provided,” Akinwumi said.
Uber Connect leverages Uber’s logistics technology and network to provide people with a quick and affordable way to send packages to friends and family using the Uber app.
Akinwumi explains, “The agility of our platform allows us to quickly adapt our products to meet the evolving needs of communities impacted by the health crisis while experimenting with new revenue streams and earning opportunities for drivers.”
Uber Connect is already available in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, including other countries across the globe.
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