- Tecno Releases New Smartphone
TECNO Mobile has unveiled its latest mobile phone, the Camon CX, set to enter the 41 countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, including Nigeria.
The phone, which was launched at an event in the Nairobi, Kenya on March 23, is designed “specifically for young, independent smartphone users.”
The IT company, in a statement, said the device would be “the ‘selfie camera’ for this market’s generation, allowing consumers to take brighter, clearer and faster selfies than ever before.”
Tecno said since the Camon series was introduced in 2015, over five million handsets globally had been sold, helping consumers experience high-quality selfie technology at the touch of a button.
It said, “Securing their position as the leading smartphone provider in African markets such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Egypt, Kenya and Cameroon, Tecno Mobile has adopted the latest visual technology in the Camon CX.
“The smartphone uses a smart image sensor composed of 16 megapixel sensors in the front camera, coupled with unique four-in-one technology. Each pixel sensor detects light, captures individual images and converts the information into signals before forming the final image, resulting in selfies that are 30 per cent brighter, capturing special moments perfectly.”
According to Tecno, which is part of Transsion Holdings, the smartphone-manufacturing company has had over 25 per cent of the market share in sub-Saharan Africa since 2014.
Speaking at the global launch of the Camon CX smartphone, the General Manager of Tecno Mobile, Stephen Ha, said, “We are very excited to unveil the Camon CX, as our latest smartphone. The phenomenon of the selfie has, in recent years, taken over smartphone usage, and photo quality is important to not just younger consumers but increasingly wider age demographics.
Google Wins Cloud Deal From Elon Musk’s SpaceX for Starlink Internet Connectivity
Google announced on Thursday its cloud unit has won a deal to supply computing and networking resources to SpaceX, Elon Musk’s privately held space-development company, to help deliver internet service through its Starlink satellites.
SpaceX will install ground stations at Google data centers that connect to SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, with an eye toward providing fast internet service to enterprises in the second half of this year.
The deal represents a victory for Google as it works to take share from Amazon and Microsoft in the fast-growing cloud computing market.
Investors are counting on Google’s nascent cloud business to boost growth in the event that its advertising business slows down. While Google’s cloud business delivered only 7 percent of parent company Alphabet’s total revenue in the first quarter, it grew almost 46 percent year over year, compared with growth of 32 percent for Google’s advertising services.
It’s also an unusual type of deal for Google — or any other cloud provider — as it relies heavily on Google’s internal network that connects data centers, rather than simply outsourcing functions like computing power or data storage to these data centers.
“This is one of a kind. I don’t believe something like this has been done before,” said Bikash Koley, Google’s head of global networking. “The real potential of this technology became very obvious. The power of combining cloud with universal secure connectivity, it’s a very powerful combination.”
“They chose us because of the quality of our network and the distribution and reach of our network,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google’s cloud group.
In SpaceX’s case, there is no need for cell towers. Instead, customers’ devices will communicate to satellites, and then the satellites will link up to Google data centers. Inside those data centers, customers can run applications quickly using Google’s cloud services, or they can send the information on to other companies’ services that are geographically nearby, enabling low latency so there’s minimal lag. Data then comes right back through the Google data centers to satellites, and then down to end users.
The deal could last seven years, according to a person who declined to be named discussing confidential terms.
Starlink’s service might be valuable for consumers living in places with limited internet access, as well as businesses and government organizations running projects in remote areas, Kurian said. He anticipates that having Starlink draw on Google’s cloud network will lead organizations to deploy applications inside Google’s cloud to take advantage of high speeds.
Under the partnership, SpaceX will place its Starlink ground stations within Google data center properties, which can help the service support businesses requiring cloud-based applications.
Starlink is in the process of launching its satellite broadband internet service, which can reach customers without ground-based connections and is one of several space-based systems.
“Combining Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency broadband with Google’s infrastructure and capabilities provides global organizations with the secure and fast connection that modern organizations expect,” said SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell.
“We are proud to work with Google to deliver this access to businesses, public sector organizations, and many other groups operating around the world.”
Urs Hoelzle, senior vice president at Google Cloud, said the tie-up would help ensure “that organizations with distributed footprints have seamless, secure, and fast access to the critical applications and services they need to keep their teams up and running.”
This new capability for enterprise customers is expected to be available in the second half of 2021, the companies said in a joint statement.
SpaceX is seeking regulatory approval for broadband service for both consumers and businesses around the world from thousands of satellites.
Google is not the only cloud provider to be working with Starlink. In October, Microsoft said it was working with SpaceX to bring Starlink internet connectivity to modular Azure cloud data centers that customers can deploy anywhere. SpaceX would still rely on Google data centers in that scenario, a person familiar with the matter said. (Data would travel from the customer’s Azure modular data center through the Starlink satellite to Google’s data center and then out to other cloud services — and return in the opposite direction. Microsoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.)
Initially, SpaceX will deploy the ground stations at Google data centers in the U.S., but the company wants to expand internationally, the person said.
SpaceX is one of the world’s most valuable privately held start-ups, having raised money at a $74 billion valuation in February, CNBC reported. Google invested $900 million in SpaceX in 2015. SpaceX has launched over 1,500 Starlink satellites into orbit, and last week the company said more than 500,000 people have ordered or made a deposit for the internet service.
Chinese Smartphone Giant Xiaomi Shares Gains Over 6 Percent After U.S. Agrees to Remove it From Blacklist
The U.S. has agreed to remove Xiaomi from a blacklist that would have barred Americans from investing in the Chinese smartphone maker.
Shares of Chinese tech giant Xiaomi rallied as much as 6.5 percent after the news, before paring some gains.
In January, the administration under former President Donald Trump designated Xiaomi as one of several “Communist Chinese military companies” or CCMC.
This meant the world’s third-largest smartphone maker was subject to a November executive order restricting American investors from buying shares or related securities of any companies given this designation by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).
Xiaomi brought a legal challenge against the U.S. Department of Defense.
In March, a U.S. court granted Xiaomi a preliminary injunction against the Trump-era order, saying the company would “suffer irreparable harm in the form of serious reputational and unrecoverable economic injuries.”
And on Tuesday, the DOD agreed that a “final order vacating” Xiaomi’s designation as a CCMC “would be appropriate,” according to a court filing.
Xiaomi and the DOD will “negotiate over the specific terms of the order” and provide the court with a “joint proposed order” on or before May 20.
Airtel Africa Grows Revenue by 14.2 Percent to $3,908m in Q1 2021
Airtel Africa Plc, a leading telecommunications company in Africa, grew its revenue by 14.2 percent to $3,908 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, the company stated in its just-released financial statements.
The company reported growth across all its regions with East Africa leading with 23.5 percent growth. Nigeria followed with 21.9 percent growth while Francophone Africa accounted for 10 percent growth. See Airtel Africal financial highlights below.
Airtel Africa Financial Highlights
Reported revenue grew by 14.2% to $3,908m, with Q4’21 reported revenue growth of 15.4%.
Constant currency underlying revenue growth was 19.4%, with Q4’21 growth of 21.7%. Growth was recorded across all regions: Nigeria up 21.9%, East Africa up 23.5% and Francophone Africa up 10%; and across key services, with revenues for voice up 11.0%, data up 31.2% and mobile money up 35.5%.
Underlying EBITDA was $1,792m, up 18.3% in reported currency, and growing 25.2% in constant currency.
Underlying EBITDA margin was 46.1%, adding 181 basis points(210 basis points higher in constant currency). Underlying EBITDA margin for Q4’21 was 47.7%, an increase of 389 basis points in constant currency.
Operating profit increased 24.2% to $1,119m in reported currency, and by 32.8% in constant currency.
Free cash flow was $647m, up 42.8% on the prior year.
Basic EPS was 9.0 cents, down 12.6%, largely due to prior year exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain. Excluding these, basic restated EPS rose 44.5%. EPS before exceptional items was 8.2 cents.
Our customer base grew by 6.9% to 118.2 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.5%) and mobile money services (customer base up 18.5%). The recent slowdown in customer base growth has been due to new SIM registration regulationsin Nigeria.
The Board has recommended a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY21 4.0 cents per share.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, said “In these challenging timesI want to say a huge thank you to all our employees, our business partners, and governments and regulators who have supported us, and in turn facilitated our continued support to the economies and communities we serve.
“Our performance has been strong, with reported growth of 13.6% in underlying revenue and 18.3% in underlying EBITDA, and constant currency growth of 19.4% and 25.2% respectively. Contributions to this growth came across all regions, with particular improvement in Francophone Africa, and across all our major services, with mobile money, data and voice each posting double-digit revenue growth.
“Our customer base also grew strongly for most of the year with new customer registration requirements in Nigeria stemming our onboarding of new customers in the final quarter, and these restrictions were lifted in second half of April.
“In line with our strategy of unlocking value in our mobile money business, we will soon welcome two new minority investors (The Rise Fund and Mastercard) in agreed transactions which value this part of our business at $2.65bn, as well as bringing $300m into the Group. We have also agreed to sell more of our tower portfolio, yielding yet more cash for the business.
“The Covid pandemic had eased during the course of the year, however, more recently we have seen a surge in cases. So far this has had no adverse impact on the business, though we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
“In these times, our purpose of transforming lives has never been more critical. It has always meant more than simply providing mobile and financial services; it is about our drive to create a sustainable future. To that end, this year the leadership team has worked to create our sustainability framework, outlining the role we can play and the focus areas where we can make the biggest difference for each of our business, our people, our community, and our environment.
“We will report back with our goals later this year and deliver our first sustainability report in 2022. The combination of bringing connectivity to underpenetrated mobile markets and improving financial inclusion through banking the unbanked, across our territories of operation, together provide us with a sizeable runway of sustainable profitable growth potential, and one we remain very confident of delivering.”
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