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24Bit episode 22 :Video chat apps becoming the new normal for many

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How do you interact with your friends, colleagues and family in these times of lockdown and social distancing?

For many, with work from home becoming part of “the new normal”, the shift to operating virtually has been gradual over the last 3 months and has now become so normal it has permeated into other aspects of our lives. It’s how cousins are getting together. It’s how many celebrated Ramadan in the wake of restricted movement and not being able to travel to be with family in these “unprecedented times”.

However, as many would know, video call and chat apps, like the ones we are using to interact with friends, colleagues and family, are not created equal.

In this episode, Chenze, Dickson and Nick explore the various options available.

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Teraco adds Routed as a local cloud provider on African Cloud Exchange

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Data centre operator Teraco has today added cloud infrastructure provider Routed and VMware Cloud Verified partner, as a local cloud provider to join the African Cloud Exchange (ACX).

Teraco’s African Cloud Exchange provides secure, direct, flexible network connections to a wide range of local and global cloud service providers.

Andrew Cruise, Managing Director, Routed, says the company is also the only African provider of disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) within VMware’s vSphere 7 client software, and that bringing the VMware cloud platform to ACX is another key milestone.

“Multi-cloud strategies are growing in adoption as they mitigate service disruption and also reduce vendor lock-in. Routed, as a member of ACX, strengthens the ecosystem and will undoubtedly help in driving businesses to the cloud, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend,” he adds.

ACX will accommodate any cloud provider’s API: ultimately, we want to make it easy for the providers and clients to sell their products. By simply logging onto a portal, ACX enables provisioning of network circuits to any cloud provider, immediately reducing the administrative headaches of getting people connected,” he added.

Andrew Owens, Manager of Interconnection & Peering at Teraco, says the premise of ACX is to assist in the local drive towards the cloud, but in a secure and correct way: “While there was no time pressure for businesses to adopt a cloud methodology, it is rapidly evolving, and the cloud is becoming a vital tool for any business wanting to succeed. ACX is a technology-neutral and growing ecosystem, and we are excited to welcome a local cloud provider such as Routed and its VMware platform.”

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ACX was developed to fully integrate with all cloud providers, adopting a modular, template-driven approach and will accommodate any cloud provider’s API. Ultimately, we want to make it easy for providers and clients to sell their products. By simply logging onto a portal, ACX enables provisioning of network circuits to any cloud provider, immediately reducing the administrative headaches of getting people connected,” added Owens.

Routed offers a VMWare cloud platform for clients seeking access to multiple cloud environments adding to its four years of 100% uptime and notable market share within the ISP sector.

“The inclusion of Routed in the Africa Cloud Exchange is a great example of collaboration in the cloud market,” said Dave Funnell, senior cloud provider manager at VMware Sub-Saharan Africa.

“The benefit to customers is the availability of a fully verified VMware Private Cloud, delivered from a secure multi-tenanted platform with all the benefits expected from a cloud solution.

“Its location is also a major drawcard, with direct network connectivity to the public hyper-scale clouds in the leading data centre provider in Africa,” added Funnell.


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Africa’s Mergers and Acquisitions gain momentum during COVID19

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By Eric M.K Osiakwan

On the 10th of July 2020, Helios Holdings Limited announced a merger with Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation to form Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation – a pan Africa focused alternative investment manager.

On the same day, Eversend, an African fintech startup also announced over a $1M raise through crowdfunding. Prior to that Helios announced a $100M investment from the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) into their fund IV.

On the 1st of July 2020, our portfolio company, www.hotelonline.co announced the acquisition of two travel tech companies. On 30th June 2020, www.msfafrica.com announced the acquisition of fellow fintech Beyonic based in Tanzania.

On 23rd June, 2020 www.acumen.org announced their exit from KopaGas of Tanzania as part of the $25M acquisition by Circle Gas.Then on 22nd January 2020, www.mypaga.com announced the acquisition of Apposit an Ethiopian software company as the entry strategy into the market. These recent deals have created undeniable momentum in mergers and acquisitions in Africa – with majority in tech — setting an unexpected tone for more positive developments in the second half of 2020 during this COVID crisis.

Whilst Covid19 has brought unimaginable devastation to the world and stocked racial revolt in America. Which is now spilling over to Europe, in Africa, our fast adaptation to the new normal spared us not only mass casualties and pain, but the lockdowns triggered an unintended consequence of speeding up the digital economy.

This resulted in investments in the second quarter like our portfolio company www.zulzi.com closing $2.5M and AMP Global Technologies closing a $2M prior to COVID19 setting the stage for our Africa original content format and series launching this quarter @ www.takebackthemic.com.

Then on 24th June 2020, www.ingressive.co closed their maiden $10M seed fund to invest in tech companies across Africa. On the same day, the Africa Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (AVCA) published their VC in Africa report for 2014 to 2019 showing a total of 613 deals totaling $3.9B with 2019 recording $1.4B of those transactions. Majority of those deals happened in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana and Egypt.

South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana are four of the KINGS countries (excluding Ivory Coast) that I had postulated back in 2013 would be leading the digital economy in Africa. Ivory Coast was replaced on the list by Egypt partly because of the civil war of 2011 that ousted incumbent president Gbagbo and set back the country’s development tremendously. 

A lot of these deals were surely in the pipeline before COVID-19 but the fact that they still materialized is a function of resilience and the positive unintended consequence of the lockdowns across the continent. This momentum we are seeing in tech M&A is the result of the Capital, Capacity and Community building that has gone into the sector over the years which was accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdowns making online the new normal across Africa.

Off course some deals did not materialize, and we have seen some funds shut down due to the harsh environment.

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We have also seen African innovators launch innovations that are tackling the virus head-on and some of them could be big winners in the not too distant future. Some of these entrepreneurs have had to adapt and pivot under unusual conditions to launch these new ventures and also keep their boats sailing. The ingenuity of African entrepreneurs and tech ventures were put to great test under COVID-19 and some like HotelOnline a travel tech venture, which was severely impacted, pivoted towards a new business model. By the end of March, revenues had gone down to 20% and Endre Opdal the CEO was under intense pressure. His first move was to trim down the operations and staff which the board approved. The second step was evaluating the existing business to find the right pivot.

As investors and board members we rolled our sleeves and engaged with him to review things systematically – it was in that process that he came up with a new business line. The new line was always there in our blind spot but when necessity kicked in, we were able to spot it. We did not need to do any heavy lifting except to implement it right away with some minor tweaks. The new business line fetched $20K revenue in April increasing to $30K in May to make the business profitable again. This spoke to the speed of execution of the management team from loss-making in March to profitability in May. A second business line is now being implemented and yet to show results but a parallel process to make acquisitions of companies that were struggling under the crisis also gained momentum in April. On July 1st Hotelonline announced the acquisition of www.africabookings.com and www.cloud9.co.ke – two travel tech companies that were going under.

Cloud9 has had an existing working relationship with HotelOnline through our senior management team and that working relationship has been in place. They grew very fast and in 2019 merged with Heartbeat Venture.

Cloud9 is one of the portfolio companies of the Mesozi Group whose other company is Marketforce which raised $350K from Viktoria Business Angel Network in May 2020.

Whiles their Marketforce venture is doing well under the crisis Cloud9 got severely hit so instead of shutting it down they agreed to an acquisition which now gives them shares in Hotelonline. Africabookings was started by Bruce Tappings and had Kanak Puri as one of their investors who was also an investor in HotelOnline. In May, Endre saw that they were shutting down due to the crisis so he reached out and by the end of June they consummated another share swap that allows HotelOnline to leverage their existing customer base across Africa.

Whiles a lot of the current transactions have been in the pipeline prior to Covid, the acceleration to digital models has increased investment activity to support organic growth as well as expansion through acquisition and consolidation opportunities. This should continue to grow in H2 as existing portfolios are stabilized in the new normal. Suggesting that the continent’s resilience to the virus has far reaching implication on the business front. As the continent begins to re-open in the second half of the year, we are most likely going to see more of such deals that would propel Africa’s 21st century agenda. 


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Contact tracing critical tool in controlling COVID-19: Kagwe

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Health CS Mutahi Kagwe says contact tracing is a critical tool for controlling the pandemic through interruption of the transmission chain by early detection and isolation of cases.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Speaking Monday during the official hand over of vehicles to the County Directors of Health, Representatives of COG, and Nairobi Metropolitan Service, the CS said all counties are required to have rapid response/contact tracing.

“At the time of response to an alert on a suspected case, contacts are listed for follow-up and investigation and close contacts are tested and the rest are followed up for 14 days. I must say that this has not been an easy task, I congratulate our rapid response and surveillance teams for this great work they have been and continue doing. Initially, we were using telephone calls to get in touch with the contacts, but we are now rolling out a web based application, which is linked to the Kenya electronic medical records.” Said Kagwe

So far there are 229 teams in all the counties.

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He added that the National Response and Contact Tracing team is currently conducting training for the teams on the usage of the web based tool and data management.

He said transport has been one of the key challenges identified especially in accessing the rural areas as the government works at providing of quality health care.

“Today, as we continue with this fight, I am delighted that the contact tracing team is receiving a major boost from our development partners. It is my pleasure to preside the handover ceremony and distribution of Rapid Response Vehicles to various counties.  These vehicles have been procured by the Covid-19 Health Emergency Response Project(C-HREP) in my Ministry, at a cost of Kshs.102 million.” He added

The vehicles to be handed over to 13 counties, will boost capacity in contact tracing and surveillance as we work to curtail the spread of the virus in the country.

The counties identified to benefit from this support include; Nairobi which will get two vehicles one for Kenyatta National Hospital and the other, for the newly formed Nairobi Metropolitan Services.

Others are Mombasa, Kiambu, Kajiado, Machakos, Nyeri, Migori, Busia, Uasin Gishu, Nakuru, Taita Taveta, Elgeyo Marakwet and Kisii.

The overall C-HERP project and the outcomes are designed to assist countries to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by COVID-19, and to strengthen the national systems for public health preparedness and responsiveness.

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Kagwe said the project was selected for COVID-19 financing, because of the strategic place Kenya holds when it comes to global connectivity and travel, and the risks posed.

The C-HERP is provided through the World Bank Group Fast Track Facility, as part of a Global COVID-19 Multi-phase Program Approach (MPA).

“Swift detection of an outbreak, assessment of its epidemic potential and rapid emergency response can reduce avoidable mortality and morbidity, reduce the economic, social and security impacts. Failure in the rapid mobilization of financing and coordination of response, results in unnecessary casualties and significant socioeconomic consequences. By focusing on the containment, diagnosis and treatment of patients, the proposed project seeks to control the disease outbreak and limit socio-economic losses.” He said

He noted that critical interventions are needed to reduce morbidity and mortality rates from existing and emerging infectious diseases, curtail the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate the social impacts of the outbreak.

The development of the National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan includes, strengthening of the Public Health Emergency Operation Centre, for efficient emergency response for multiple hazards, strengthening surveillance and information systems. It also aims at increasing laboratory capacity, improved infection and prevention control, as well as case management, improve disease surveillance and emergency response in the country.

Monday, 189 people have tested positive from a sample size of 1,205 tested in the last 24 hours bringing to 10,294 the number of those who have tested positive so far in the country.

This pushes the cumulative tests figures to 216, 242.

In terms of gender 106 are males and 83 are females while the youngest is a five (5) year old child and the oldest is 71.

The distribution of the positive cases by counties is as follows; Nairobi 147, Kiambu 20, Machakos 11, Kajiado 5, Mombasa 2,Uasin Gishu, Kisumu, Laikipia and Kericho have one (1) case each.

The distribution of the cases by sub counties is as follows; in Nairobi, the 147 cases are in; Dagoretti North (77), Embakasi East (10), Makadara (10), Embakasi South (9), Kibra (9), Embakasi West (6), Langata (4), Kamukunji and Kasarani (2) cases each while Dagoretti South, Embakasi Central and Embakasi North have one (1) case each.

In Kiambu, the 20 cases are in Kiambu Town (6), Kikuyu, Kabete, Kiambaa, Ruiru and Thika have two (2) cases each, while in Machakos, the (11) cases are in Athi River (7), Machakos (3), and Masinga (1).In Gatundu South, Githunguri, Juja and Limuru have one (1) case each.

In Kajiado, the 5 cases are in Kajiado North (4), and Kajiado East (1). The 2 cases in Mombasa are in Kisauni and Nyali.

65 patients were discharged from various hospitals bringing to 2,946 the number of recoveries from the disease in the country.

However, 12 Kenyans succumbed to the virus bringing the total number of fatalities to 197.

“All the deaths are from Nairobi County, nine from various hospitals, while the three are community deaths. This is the highest number to fatalities recorded in a single day since this pandemic struck. I want to pass my sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their loved ones.” Noted the CS

 

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