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Meta Partners with Africa No Filter to Improve Virtual Reality in African Storytelling

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Meta, formerly known as Facebook, and Africa No Filter, a narrative change organization have announced a partnership to launch a programme which is directed at bolstering the use of Virtual Reality in storytelling within Africa.

The programme, which is titled “Future Africa: Telling Stories, Building Worlds” will provide mentorship as well as grants, as it supports Extended Reality storytellers in developing new, compelling content about the African continent.

The programme makes up a part of Meta’s focus on immersive technology, as well as Africa No Filter’s investments in innovative storytelling that directly addresses and eradicates negative stereotypes about the continent.

Africa No Filter’s Executive Director, Moky Makura said that Virtual Reality possesses the potential to elevate storytelling to a higher level. Makura mentioned that in the metaverse, audiences do not only watch a story unfold right before them but they get to partake of that story. Makura touted the programme as an opportunity for content creators in Africa to move beyond the boundaries of their creativity.

From today, the two companies are opening opportunities for Extended Reality creators to apply to the programme, and receive funding of amounts reaching $30,000. Those applying for the programmes must fulfil certain criteria: of African descent, over 18 years old, have a track record of XR (Extended Reality) content creation and have a portfolio of work which shows their creativity and innovation.

The applicants must also show how the project will tell an intriguing African story which changes pre-existing stereotypical narratives about Africa. The projects may make use of 360 Video, VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality) and MR (Mixed Reality).

In collaboration with Electric South and Imisi 3D, participants will receive ongoing mentorship, production support, and opportunities to launch their projects in either a virtual or in-person showcase, which includes the Electric South’s Creators Lab which will be held in February 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa.

The application is open to both organizations and individuals, and applications close on January 7, 2022. The programme will last from February 13 to August 13, 2022 and participants must be available on these dates. The project must also be completed within six months.

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Telecommunications

FG Launches National Policy on 5G, Assures Protection of Data

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In a bid to improve Nigeria’s digital economy, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, inaugurated the national policy on Fifth Generation Networks (5G).

Investors King recalls that the 5G network was earlier approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on September 8, 2021.

The 5G technology was put in place to promote transparency which will help tackle insecurity and create more job opportunities. 

President Buhari stated that the benefits of the 5G networks would be fully harnessed to improve the national economy, security and the general welfare of the citizens.

He explained that the issues surrounding the 5G network have been extensively discussed including health safety which has made the federal government come up with a suitable policy. 

Speaking on the treasures to be mined in the 5G technology, Buhari mentioned that the network will aid the growth of all sectors, adding that it is faster than the previous technologies available.

In his words, “The 5G technologies can support virtually every sector of the economy, including enhanced connectivity, improved healthcare, support for education while fostering smart cities, and boosting agriculture, among other advantages.

”5G technology is significantly faster than earlier digital technologies and it provides near real-time communication. This can play a key role in boosting our efforts towards enhancing security across the nation.

”It will enable our security institutions to effectively deploy robotics, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality to address any security challenges that we face.”

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, during the launch opined that the 5G technology will greatly help in curbing insecurity in the nation.

Enumerating the goals of the 5G network national policy, the minister said it will secure the ecosystem and ensure protection of data with international standards. 

He added that the 5G network will open up opportunities to explore broad information to solve security issues in the country.

“The 5G Network will enhance transparency and economic development as its potential for job creation is unprecedented.

“It is viable platform for security institutions to leverage on, in tackling the security challenges that have bedevilled the country, by harnessing the potential of digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Robotics etc. which explore real-time information for maximum efficiency,” he said.

The federal government affirmed that it would continually make the country friendly for investors to successfully build their businesses.

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Fintech

15-Month-Old P2P Credit Fintech, P2vest Celebrates 100,000 Users

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P2vest, a peer-to-peer lending platform by P2vest Technology Limited, has commemorated gaining 100,000 users on its platform since its launch in 2020.

With a mission to transform the way people access credit and lend money by bringing borrowers and lenders together, the platform states that it allows for quick loan disbursement and a flexible payback plan, safer than offers received from loan sharks.

Cash-strapped borrowers for a while now in Nigeria, have been at the mercy of lenders who use unscrupulous means to recover loans. These lenders who conduct their businesses unprofessionally go as far as marring the integrity and characters of the borrowers and their innocent guarantors.

Promising to provide a better approach to lending and borrowing within peers through the utilization of artificial intelligence, the Founder and CEO of P2vest Technology, Mr Austin Abolusoro says that, ”Our goal at P2vest is to build a platform that delivers on ease of access to credit while also building a credit history. Our approach is different, we are using Artificial Intelligence to ensure credit-worthy Nigerians have access to quick loans.”

According to Abolusoro, the 15-month old financial technology company bridged the gap of loan access by connecting authorised lenders with borrowers, while helping them take control of their debt, grow their businesses, and invest for the future.

“Since we launched (in 2020), we have provided access to quick loans to over 105,000 Nigerians. This is a big achievement for us as we have availed people the chance to access loans for their different needs like setting up of businesses, house renovations, Car loans, paying rent, school loan, medical bills on the platform faster and without delay. While also creating an opportunity for people to borrow more as long as they continue to pay back,” he said.

Speaking on its mode of operation, the company states that it uses the Sharing Economy Technology. The sharing economy technology is a new model of consumption, sharing, collaboration between individuals of goods, services, resources, with or without monetary exchanges via dedicated platforms.

The adoption of the sharing economy technology and its model has allowed the fintech credit world to develop over the years. Its growth now creates room for P2P economy to thrive as they cut out the role of third parties.

On the P2vest platform, users are encouraged to grow their money by “becoming a lender on our easy-to-use platform. Give out loans tailored to you and your income, and earn attractive returns.” Borrowers on the other hand are to provide their accurate info, including bank details, where payments of loan, when due are automatically withdrawn from the accounts.

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Startups

Angel Investors Plans to List Africa-Focused SPAC Targeting Tech Startup

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Angel Investors, Vishal Agarwal an investment banker, and Raj Kulasingam, a corporate lawyer have stated plans to list Africa-focused SPAC targeting only tech startups in the continent.

A report from Bloomberg said the two early-stage investors have been funding African startups since 2017, invested in over 50 startups, and so far made fivefold returns on their investment. They were also part of Acuity Ventures, an early-stage venture capital fund with stakes in Flutterwave Inc. and Paystack before the firms attained unicorn status.

Vishal and Raj saw the successful investment strategy of Swvl Inc. a Dubai-based ridesharing company merging with Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital, a blank-check company. The two investors believed that listing an African-focused SPAC will provide funds for startups needing capital to expand operations in the continent.

Vishal affirmed that investors have developed a keen interest in Africa, he said, “as there is more interest in Africa, we want to give founders a route to market. A SPAC gives acceleration to our founders and is overall a good thing for the ecosystem.”

The growing interest in African startups has been asserted by Briter Bridges in the 2021 African Investment Report, which released data showing that African startups secured $4.69 billion in estimated funding in 2021, where the tech companies dominated the space by gulping $2.9 billion or 62 percent of the total funding.

However, data from SPAC research revealed that less than 1 percent of the 600 New York-listed SPACs are African-focused.

The biggest investment success recorded by Vishal and raj was with Kuda Bank, the African challenger bank, where they invested $600,000 and exited with 14.5 fold gain or $8.7 million in 20 months. Kuda Bank, a unicorn startup is valued at $500 million and has so far raised $91.6 million in funding.

Vishal said, “when we do dealmaking, we are influenced not only by being able to get in at the right price, but being able to come out, We are very conscious about that, and it’s not always straightforward to come out.”

Dario Giuliani, director of Briter Bridges said, “2021 was a year of recognition, where the newly-available resources and the increasing number of international investors shifting mandates to include Africa met hundreds of promising entrepreneurs to support”.

Vishal and Raj just like every investor identified a growing economy in Africa and the increasing tech-savvy youth population, but also the lack of financial infrastructure. The duo plans to fill this gap by investing in about 20 African startups this year.

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