- Developers Seek N500m for Blind People’s App
App developers at the Co-creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos, are seeking funding of about N500m to recreate Aipoly in Nigeria, a smartphone app that helps visually impaired persons identify people and things in their environment.
Should the recreation come through, they told our correspondent that they would be able to download and administer it on smartphones of interested Nigerians from a central system.
Those behind the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said plans had been concluded to meet the two entrepreneurs and Australian engineers who created the app – Alberto Rizzoli and Simon Edwardsson.
“We decided to do this because we realised that more Nigerians are getting blind by the day and except MTN, through its blind foundation project, no other telecommunications firm or smartphone manufacturer has come up with innovations that could help blind Nigerians, other than just making profits. The Nigerian Communications Commission is completely out of it,” said one of the app developers.
He said, “The whole idea is to give blind Nigerians a sense of belonging in the world of global communication that is fast evolving. For the fact that they are blind doesn’t mean they should be excluded from leveraging modern technology with ease and not bothering anyone for assistance.”
According to him, four Nigerians are investing in the project, saying, “We are still seeking more funding because we will need about N500m to make this reality.”
He added, “Two of us would be off to Australia anytime soon to meet with Rizzoli and Simon (Edwardsson) and conclude discussions with them. We drew inspiration from Cobhams Asuquo, the Nigerian musician and producer, who despite being blind for many years, has written and produced many songs for Nigerian artistes. He has led a normal life like every other person, unnoticed.”
Another app developer, who simply called himself Smart, said, “Aipoly was originally created in 2015, and it uses Artificial Intelligence to scan an item’s shape and patterns – after which it relays the information to the user.”
Smart said, “It recognises 1,000 everyday things without an Internet connection, including objects, animals and colours.
“Aipoly Vision is an object and colour recogniser that helps the blind, visually impaired, and colour blind understand their surroundings. Simply point your phone at the object of interest and press any of the recognition buttons at the bottom of the screen to turn on the artificial intelligence.”
He added, “Now that Artificial Intelligence and robotics is gaining so much grounds here, we are definitely going to maximise the opportunities. Aipoly speaks out loud what it sees; and recognises thousands of things in real time.”
Meanwhile, MTN recently said it was building “a robust distribution platform to enable the vast majority of Nigerians to access locally-relevant mobile software applications at a zero data cost.”
A former Chief Marketing Officer at MTN, Mr. Adebayo Adekanmbi, had said the rationale behind the initiative was to get more apps in the hands of Nigerians.
“We have organised all Nigerian-centric apps in a portal and through our special gateway Nigerians can access digital content at no cost. We are making it open for all developers in the country to join MTN by bringing the APK for their apps so that we can put it in the hands of Nigerians,” he said.
Market observers said that Nigerians had indeed succeeded in building problem-solving and life-enhancing mobile apps.
Some of the prevailing concerns being addressed by these apps are traffic, healthcare, education, transportation, e-commerce, tourism and hospitality related issues.
According to them, the huge strides being recorded in mobile applications development is going unnoticed because Nigerians are unable to quickly find relevant apps, without the distractions of applications that are only useful to people in North America and Europe.
“Every Nigerian can now download any app relevant to them free of charge for the next month,” Adekanmbi added.
Jumia Nigeria Appoints Sunil Natraj as CEO, Outlines Ambitious Expansion Plans
Former Jumia Ghana CEO to Lead E-Commerce Giant as Massimiliano Spalazzi Steps Down
Jumia Nigeria, a prominent player in the e-commerce sector, has announced the appointment of Sunil Natraj as its new CEO.
Natraj, the former CEO of Jumia Ghana, will take the helm of the e-commerce business in January 2024, succeeding Massimiliano Spalazzi, who has been with Jumia Group for 11 years and will be stepping down in December 2023.
The announcement came during a media parley held in Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria, with Francis Dufay, the CEO of Jumia Group, unveiling Natraj as the new leader.
Natraj expressed Jumia’s commitment to becoming a truly Nigerian company and continuing the initiatives started by Spalazzi.
“We want to continue what Spalazzi started,” Natraj stated, emphasizing Jumia’s vision to expand its presence beyond Lagos.
He disclosed plans to extend operations to additional Nigerian cities, with Akure and Ilorin on the radar and a focus on cities en route to Ibadan, Warri, and Benin in the first quarter of 2024.
The overarching strategy is to create a comprehensive network covering the entire country.
Dufay outlined the ambitious goal of targeting cities with populations exceeding 20,000 people, citing successful precedents in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.
He acknowledged the challenges faced by Jumia, including a workforce reduction in Q4 2022 and a 73% cut in advertising budgets in Q3 2023.
Despite the hurdles, Dufay highlighted Nigeria as Jumia’s largest market and affirmed the company’s determination to navigate and thrive in the ever-evolving e-commerce landscape.
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Flutterwave Expands Financial Frontier: Acquires Money Transfer Licenses for 13 U.S. States
Africa’s Leading Payments Tech Firm Facilitates Faster, Affordable, and Secure Transfers between the U.S. and Africa
In a significant move towards advancing financial connectivity between Africa and the United States, Flutterwave, Africa’s premier payments technology company, has proudly announced its acquisition of money transfer licenses for 13 key U.S. states.
This strategic expansion aims to expedite, streamline, and secure the transfer of money from the U.S. to Africa and back.
The states covered by the newly acquired licenses include Arizona, Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Delaware, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
These additions, combined with Flutterwave’s existing partnerships and licenses, now empower the company to serve customers seamlessly across 29 states in the U.S.
Money transfer licenses, issued by state regulators, play a pivotal role in enabling financial technology companies like Flutterwave to engage in the transmission of money.
The acquisition of these licenses fortifies Flutterwave’s commitment to regulatory compliance, safety, and the soundness of its services.
Stephen Cheng, Executive Vice President, Global Expansion and Partnerships at Flutterwave, emphasized the significance of this milestone.
“Getting these licenses expands our regulatory footprint, demonstrates our ability to deliver services with safety and soundness, and fosters trust among regulators, partners, and customers,” stated Cheng.
“We’re growing and are committed to servicing customer needs in as many geographies as possible, particularly with a significant African diaspora.”
Flutterwave’s popular solutions, such as the Send App, are set to benefit greatly from this expansion.
The Send App facilitates easy and secure money transfers between the U.S. and Africa, catering to both individual users and enterprises that rely on Flutterwave for global last-mile payouts.
“Sending money between the U.S. and Africa has been challenging for the African diaspora. These licenses pave the way for Flutterwave to make the Send App available to the African diaspora in the U.S., offering a super user-friendly money remittance experience,” explained Olugbenga Agboola, Founder and CEO at Flutterwave.
“Our mission is to connect Africa to the world and the world to Africa by simplifying payments for endless possibilities. These licenses move us one step closer to our vision, and we will continue to expand this feat to ensure coverage for all states in the U.S. and beyond.”
Flutterwave remains steadfast in its commitment to providing accessible remittance services across the U.S. and has outlined plans for further expansion of licensing coverage in the near future.
This ambitious endeavor reflects the company’s dedication to fostering financial inclusion and creating a seamless financial bridge between continents.
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