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Global Startup Awards Africa to Discover the Top Technology Innovators from across the African Continent

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For the first time ever, future-shapers from all 55 African Union member states now have the chance to participate in the largest independent startup ecosystem-driven competition in the world with the opening of nominations for the Global Startup Awards (GSA) Africa.

The Awards give the entire ecosystem value chain visibility, access to valuable global connections and the opportunity to form partnerships across the continent.

According to Partech’s 2020 Africa Tech Venture Capital Report, despite the effects of the global pandemic, more startups in Africa closed rounds in 2020 than in any previous year, something which was not experienced in any other region in the world. This trend is set to continue with over $560 million in funding deals being announced across the continent since January 2021 [1].

“This, coupled with the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area, have signalled the start of a monumental year for Africa. We knew that now was the time to place the continent on the global stage by elevating the African innovation brand and showcasing it to the world,” says Caitlin Nash, Co-Founder of the Global Innovation Initiative Group, rights holders of GSA Africa. “In addition to global exposure, startups and the individuals and organisations that support them will gain access to a global network and opportunities for cross-border collaboration.”

The competition recognises and rewards all aspects of a startup ecosystem, from the startups themselves, through to the people behind them, and the organisations that work alongside these visionaries to make great things possible. Below are the categories in this year’s contest:

  • Women in Tech celebrates a pioneering tech startup founded and owned by a woman/women.
  • AgriTech is awarded to innovative solutions in food security, food production, farming methods and nutrition.
  • HealthTech recognises a startup that has initiated medical breakthroughs through innovative solutions in BioTech, HealthTech, wellness and telemedicine to improve quality of life.
  • CommerceTech acknowledges the startup connecting Africa by enabling commerce using technologies ranging from mobile-commerce, e-commerce, blockchain, and cryptocurrency, to fintech, insurtech and big data.
  • IndustrialTech celebrates the startup that is enabling Africa’s industrialisation with innovative solutions for safety, mining, manufacturing, production, logistics, mobility and supply chain management.
  • ESG Tech is awarded to the startup that is enabling environmental, social impact or corporate governance solutions in areas such as renewable energy, CleanTech, sustainability, recycling, water and sanitation, human rights, EdTech, GovTech, policy and regulation, among others.
  • Startup of the Year salutes a startup that inspires the next generation of founders by positively impacting the economy and the world in general. It should be a product and/or service that is already a success on the market, disrupting its industry with an innovative approach.
  • Best Newcomer acknowledges a startup of up to two years in age with the potential to become Startup of the Year in the future. Its product and/or service should already be on the market and on a path to disrupt its industry and positively impact the economy and the world.
  • Founder of the Year will go to a startup founder or co-founder who has shown strong leadership skills and achieved exceptional business results while also being an inspiration to their team and a role model for the next generation of founders.
  • VC of the Year honours the VC who has created impressive financial results while investing bravely in innovative companies that can positively impact the economy and the world, supporting them with resources other than purely financial.
  • Best Accelerator/Incubator Program recognises a fixed-term, cohort-based, mentorship-driven program that helps and empowers entrepreneurs to foster the growth of their innovative companies by providing tools, resources, connections, knowledge and expertise.
  • Best Co-working Space is bestowed on a co-working space that deserves recognition for the services, support, and resources it gives to fast-growth startups, and for creating a culture and an environment that fosters innovation.

The GSA Africa mission and categories in this year’s competition are aligned to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 which strives to feed Africa, industrialise Africa, integrate Africa and, ultimately, improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

GSA Africa Country Partner and leader of Zambia’s Jacaranda Hub, Mara Zhanet concludes by saying: “This is the first year that GSA Africa will reach all 55 member states of the AU – a big step for African innovation. The Awards will bring African innovation to the world and place African innovators on the global stage, helping to connect emerging innovators in Africa to unrivalled opportunities.”

To enter, or nominate a future-shaper from the continent, go to www.GlobalStartupAwards.com/africanstartupawards. Scroll down and click on the appropriate region. Entries close on 31 July 2021.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Lack of Digital Infrastructure and Mobile Services Affecting Remittance Risks Leaving Millions of Rural Families in Poverty – IFAD

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International Day of Family Remittance- Investors King

Despite a massive increase in migrants sending money home via digital transfers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of their rural family members struggle to access mobile banking services which could help lift them out of poverty.

The President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has called for urgent investments in digital infrastructure and mobile services in developing countries to ensure rural families are not left behind.

“Migrants have shown their continued commitment to their families and communities during the pandemic with more remittances transfers made digitally than ever before,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, speaking on the International Day of Family Remittances. “Unfortunately, families in rural and remote areas – where remittances are a true lifeline – the battle to access cash outlets or even more convenient alternatives such as mobile money accounts. Governments and the private sector need to urgently invest in rural digital infrastructure to address this.”

Mobile remittances increased by 65 percent last year, rising to US$12.7 billion. This change was driven by a switch from cash due to lockdowns that limited informal channels and social distancing rules for senders and recipients alike. In spite of the global economic recession due to the pandemic, migrants continued to send money home to their families, with remittances in 2020 reaching $540 billion – a drop of only 1.6 percent compared to the previous year.

However, in many countries, people living in remote rural areas have sparse local access to banking services or limited mobile connectivity. In addition, there is limited availability of agents offering mobile money services such as payouts in cash. Often mobile money service providers are only located in urban centers. This means millions of poor, rural people have to travel long distances to towns or cities, often at significant cost, to receive the cash sent digitally by their migrant family members.

Digital transfers are cheaper than traditional cash transfers, and mobile banking services also provide the opportunity for migrants and their families in their countries of origin to access useful and affordable financial products to better manage their finances, including savings, loans and insurance.

Across the globe, 200 million migrants regularly send money to their 800 million relatives. This plays a crucial role in their lives and livelihoods. Almost half of these families live in rural areas of developing countries, where poverty and hunger are highest. Families use the funds sent by migrant workers to cover basic household needs such as food, housing, school and medical bills, as well as to start small businesses. These resources can often transform both families and local communities.

“While the pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital transfers and mobile money accounts, it also highlighted pervasive gender inequality,” said Pedro de Vasconcelos, the head of IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances. “Research shows that women are 33 percent less likely than men to have a mobile money account. We must focus on closing the gap by addressing the barriers that prevent women from accessing and using mobile financial services.”

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MainOne, West Africa’s Leading Carrier-neutral Data Center Provider to Unveil Data Center in Appolonia City, Accra

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MainOne, the leading provider of connectivity, cloud and data center solutions in West Africa is set to launch the  Appolonia Data Center of its subsidiary, MDXi.

The new facility which is located 20 kilometers from the center of Accra, Ghana will expand MainOne’s already robust infrastructure and service profile in West Africa. It was built to cater to the increasing demand for colocation and interconnection services by multinationals and businesses seeking shared services for their ICT resources in a world-class facility.

Speaking on the upcoming launch, Gbenga Adegbiji, Chief Operating Officer, MDXi stated that “Appolonia Data Center is a state of the art facility that is being built to the highest standards required for todays digital infrastructure and consistent with the MainOne brand. With the assurance of high quality of service designed to meet business requirements for digital colocation and cloud infrastructure, the Appolonia (Accra) Data Centre will provide a highly secured,resilient and scalable solution for our customers’’. Adegbiji further said “the operations of the Uptime Tier III certified Appolonia data center will be based on the global MDXI Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) which have been proven with 100% facility uptime of the Lekki Data Centre since its launch in 2015.”

Set for launch in June 2021, the 100-rack Appolonia Data Center offers customers the opportunity to host infrastructure in a facility guaranteed to provide high levels of availability and rich connectivity with a global network of customers, partners and suppliers thus ensuring 24×7 online delivery of services to businesses.

“We established this Data Center in Ghana to bring the highly sought services which MainOne is known for closer to institutions in the country,” Emmanuel Kwarteng, Country Manager, MainOne Ghana noted. “We are confident that the Data Center will not only deliver state-of-the-art services, but also create jobs and ultimately contribute to the economic growth of Ghana.” All data center staff are directly employed by the company and are trained on the latest technology deployed to keep the data center running smoothly. There are staff dedicated to monitoring all critical systems in the data center to ensure that proactive actions are taken to guarantee availability on 24X7X365 basis.

The Appolonia Data Center has also been fitted with high-definition CCTV motion detection cameras, laser-based perimeter intrusion detection systems, and three levels of security barriers before access to computer rooms. Access to the data center is restricted to pre-authorized individuals with identification only and there is an access management system to record access history for audit purposes.

A dedicated service delivery team assists customers with onboarding and ongoing service management. Remote Hands and Eyes Support services are available for customers to troubleshoot or perform various maintenance activities to ensure their equipment operates as expected while allowing our customers focus on their core business.

The Data Center will be unveiled in the coming weeks and open to multi sector businesses and industries across Ghana.

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Global VC Investments in Marketplaces Nearly Triple to Historical High of $28 Billion in Q1 2021

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Marketplaces are continuing to benefit from shifts born out of the pandemic and show no signs of slowing down.

According to the research data analyzed and published by Definanzas, global VC investments into marketplaces hit a new all-time high in Q1 2021. It rose almost threefold from $9.9 billion in Q1 2020 to $28 billion in Q1 2021. It is also $4 billion higher than the previous record.

Based on a Be STF projection, global marketplace sales are set to grow at a 20% CAGR between 2020 and 2025. In that period, the figure will rise from $3.5 trillion to $8.8 trillion. Their share of online sales will also grow, going from 19% to 24%.

Marketplace Unicorns’ Valuation More than Doubles to $5 Trillion

Besides the massive increase in VC funding into marketplace, unicorn valuations in the space have also surged remarkably. From $2.2 trillion in January 2019, the figure soared by 70% to $5 trillion in Q1 2021.

81 new unicorns joined the ranks in 2020, bringing the total number to 370. Among them, the top 30 marketplace unicorns account for 79% of total valuation or $3.9 trillion. That marked a $1.6 trillion increase in valuation.

According to eMarketer, eCommerce accounted for a 7.4% share of total retail sales globally in 2015. The figure rose to 13.6% in 2019, posting a huge increase to 18% by 2020. It is set to rise further to19.5% in 2021 and 21.8% by 2024.

B2C sales accounted for 53% of total B2C online sales in 2020 or $2.45 trillion. It will grow at a 14% CAGR between 2020 and 2025 to $4.723 trillion, accounting for a 61% share of the total. On the other hand, B2B sales, which had a 7% share and a $1 trillion valuation in 2020, will grow at a 32% CAGR in the same period. The remarkable growth will drive its total valuation to $4 trillion and the segment’s share to 14%.

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