Tag Archives: Nigeria

IBM plans to train 25 million Africans at its IT academy

IBM is going to train 25 million Africans in digital skills development during the next 5 years. The aim is help improve the level of digital literacy and expand capabilities of the workforce. IBM will spend $70m on the program which will cultivate skills for jobs in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and the cloud computing.

The initiative is called “IBM Digital – Nation Africa” and it will offer a range of programs from basic IT literacy to highly sought-after advanced IT skills: social engagement, digital privacy, and cyber protection. Advanced students will study career-oriented IT subjects like programming, cybersecurity, data science and agile methodologies, and also business skills like critical thinking, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The initiative will be organized via platform that is based on IBM’s artificially intelligent system Watson. It will analyze several interactions that the initiative will have with it users to guide them to proper courses and help IBM enrich the courses to better adjust the topics to students’ needs. It will also gather anonymous info from students to further rationalize the service, and establish tips to help users better find adequate courses for them.

In South Africa 31% of people between 15 and 24 are unemployed. Other countries which are supposed to benefit from the IBM’s initiative are: Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt. This will let to expand the initiative across the African continent. Africa will have the biggest workforce by 2040, so IBM is already setting the base to create a digital workforce. The company has been present in Africa since the 1920’s, and has a long history of partnership with educational institutions and assuring transformational solutions concentrated on ensuring value to higher education and its input to community.

The IBM’s initiative will be merited by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), which aims to promote market-driven ICT skills in Africa and the Middle East. IBM will work together with UNDP on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills delivery, certification, and accreditation. UNDP will cooperate with their network of existing government collaborations to develop the initiative across Africa.

Bitcoin Payments Startup BitPesa closes $2.5 Million funding round

Bitcoi10325555_1493401967556864_8586931335542230519_nn payments startup BitPesa has collected $2.5m in a new Series A funding round with perspectives to broaden its services further across West and Southern Africa, and also in the UK and Europe.

The Series A round was carried by prominent US-based industry investor Draper VC, with participation from existing investors: the Digital Currency Group, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital Management, BnkToTheFuture, Zephyr Acorn and FuturePerfectVC. US venture capital firm Greycroft LLC enters as a new shareholder and investor. The latest funding round results from a strategic investment by BitFury in the company in early 2016. In February 2015, BitPesa gained $1 million in new funding, having closed its first operation in 2014 with over $.17 million in ownership. Totally, BitPesa has gained more than $5 million in funding since 2013.

BitPesa lets African users to buy and sell local African money via bitcoin, with arrangements directly handled to and from bank and mobile money accounts in Africa. BitPesa recognizes bitcoin payments and exchanges the bitcoin for local money. Then it settles local currencies into bank accounts or mobile money wallets. There is a possibility of transactions in over 30 currencies.

SEEMEA’s five unicorns for a billion of dollars

Until recently, the word “unicorn” has been referred only to a rare mythical animal. Now this word also determines startups, which are valued at over one billion dollars. On the market there are quite a few of them and they develop their ideas in various areas of life – from music streaming to virtual reality solutions for medical applications. 60% of start-ups known as unicorns come from the US. This is because the US market is very large, extremely open to projects even at an early stage of development, it is relatively easy to get financing there, and besides, it is responsible for 50-70% of global consumption. However, you can also find some interesting startup unicorns in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Here are some of them:

Flipkart – the first wort a billion e-commerce website in India. It is often referred to as the Indian Amazon. It was founded by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. The company has been operating since 2007 and in the beginning it dealt only with book sales. Currently on Flipkart you can buy almost anything. The website is worth $ 15 billion, it has has 46 million registered users, it offers over 30 million products and records 10 million daily visits.

Yandex – search engine designed for the Russian-speaking Internet users. The importance and strength of this service is best evidenced by the fact, that in Russia and Ukraine market share of the search engine market world leader – Google – barely exceeds 20%. In the Russian-speaking network, so-called Rusnet, there supremely rules Yandex. The company is valued at $ 4.9 billion. It is worth remembering that Yandex is a part of the Russian empire Internet company Mail.ru Group (formerly Digital Sky Technologies).

12% of unicorns come from Europe. It must be remembered that many companies at some point move to the United States. The rest of the world is lagging behind. But a unicorn can be born anywhere in the world, as evidenced by the first which was established in Nigeria. Nigerian unicorn is a startup called Interswitch, which offers digital financial services, and supports the African market. It uses a switching infrastructure to connect different banks in Nigeria and provides technology for ATM cards. The company has over 11000 ATMs on its network. In 2014 Interswitch acquired a majority shareholding in Paynet Group, an East-African payments provider. In 2015 Interswitch launched a $10m investment fund for African start-ups in the payments sector.

Jumia – it is an online market place from Nigeria where people can buy a wide selection of products and get them delivered at their homes or workplaces. The startup is funded by telecommunications company, MTN and Millicom which develops and operates cellular networks in Africa. It operates in 15 African countries. Last year, its parent company Africa Internet Group was purchased in 8% stake by AXA at a valuation of more than $1 billion, making AIG a unicorn.

Souq.com is the biggest online shopping destination in the Middle East. It gets 1.5 million visits a day and has about 70,000 merchants on its platform. Some of the biggest verticals include:  electronics, health and beauty and home and baby, and brands from Dell to Pampers and Aldo, and from Boss to Nespresso are on the site. Souq is called the Middle East’s first unicorn, after a $275 million funding round from Tiger Global Management, Standard Chartered Private Equity and the International Finance Corp.

In 2017 we will see Nigeria blooming

Africa is a market of great opportunities and also of lost opportunities. The second largest continent in the world is slowly rising from his knees – at least in the area of payments. According to data from the African Development Bank, the Black Continent has the fastest growing middle class in the world. More than 313 million people, or 34% of the population of Africa, spends more than $ 2.20 a day – a 100% increase in less than 20 years.

Into this introduction there fits perfectly latest financing acquired by startup Paystack. Nigerians received a $ 1.3 million investment. The startup specializes in handling online payments. In Africa such platforms are still rare.

As one of the first Nigerian companies, Paystack got admitted to Y Combinator – the famous incubator located in Silicon Valley. Paystack then received a grant of $ 120,000, It might seem modest, but in Nigerian terms it was quite a lot. This allowed the startup to build foundation of the company, gaining more than 1.5 thousand active clients and finally win that $ 1.3 million grant.

Nigeria is experiencing real business booming. Last year, Nigerian companies collected a total of $ 150 billion in revenue. Yet, majority of transactions were carried out offline. Nigeria, however, has one of the fastest growing digital markets. By 2020, the country is supposed to significantly increas the use of smartphones.

In Nigeria there also operates FinTech bank Sun Trust Bank, founded by the country’s richest man Aliko Dangote. According to the report by KPMG, in the past two years in the FinTech industries there we invested more than $ 200 million – the third result on the continent – after South Africa and Egypt.