Traditionally, when we think of technology in Kenya, we think about enabling access to resources, services and information — financial inclusion, healthcare (e-health) and e-government. Besides enabling access and facilitating consumption, technology can empower our youth to produce content, creating jobs in the process. That is crucial, if Africa is to reap its demographic dividend.
By 2050, Africa will contribute more than half of the world’s population growth of 2.2 billion people. Many of them will be of working age, with a crucial number having grown up in an urban setting with access to affordable bandwidth; fuelling the demand for more Afrocentric content. At this year’s Nairobi Comic Convention (NAICCON) on Saturday, August 24, 2019, I saw first-hand how African artists can tap animation and video games as an emerging art form to reach this demographic.
According to Internet World Stats, as of June 30, 2019, Africa’s internet penetration stood at 39.8 percent. Africa’s internet growth over the last 19 years was 129x the rest of the word’s 88.4 percent growth rate. The switch from satellite to submarine cable over the last twenty years, drastically reduced internet costs, fuelling this growth.
Africa has 38 countries that have seashore and 16 that are land locked. Out of these 38 countries that have seashore, 37 countries now have at least one submarine cable landing. The lone exception is Eritrea, Western Sahara is considered disputed territory. Africa’s rapidly urbanising populations have seen the most benefit.
According to Our World in Data, the urban population of Kenya and Nigeria has more than tripled in the last 50 years, Mali’s has quadrupled. Telecommunications, cable and internet service providers are utilising the benefits of urbanisation including high density of economic activity, utilisation of human capital, and shared infrastructure to connect retail customers.
Lower bandwidth costs and more affordable smart phones mean that young African consumers are looking for content to entertain themselves and news that affects their daily lives. They are downloading photo and video shooting and editing apps like Adobe Spark Post, 8mm, FiLMic Pro, Halide, Hyperlapse, LumaFusion, Mojo, Nikon SnapBridge, Photo Director, Pixaloop, ProCam, and ZY Play, to produce their own content to share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. However, in order to reduce the distressingly high levels of youth employment across the continent, our youth need to learn the skills to code and produce software and other applications that will generate new content.
At NAICCON, Donald Kiplagat, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology, at Strathmore University and Abdulfatah Mohamed, a software developer at Softsearch, demonstrated Lekura (game in Kinyarwanda), a platform they developed for African game designers to interact with each other and to promote their games.
So far, Sneak, a game they also designed is the only one by an African game designer on Lekura. The rest are popular games from North America. It demonstrates that there is still a huge gap in online content from Africa.
Samuel Muiruri another game designer, and Paul-Lucas Lambert, whose full-time job is CEO of Decomagna Ltd (Unilin Kenya), also demonstrated their facial animation programme. Instead of manually designing the facial expressions of your game character, you can use their programme to track your own facial expressions and then transpose them onto your game character.
It makes the process more efficient and it’s fun. They are working to launch what could be Kenya’s first game development studio, Supreme Potatoe. Paul-Lucas is looking to partner with Moringa School to offer computer-generated imagery, design and game development courses.
Both Donald and Paul-Lucas are alumni of Moringa School’s software development course. The course gave them the confidence to embark on game development. NAICONN provided a great opportunity for Samuel and Paul-Lucas to raise awareness about their game development studio, gauge market interest and look for potential collaborators; artists, designers and programmers.
Yes, Africa needs more engineers to build our roads and railways and to set up and run our manufacturing sector, but we also need more African artists and writers to document and tell our story. Parents have role to play in supporting their children’s’ interests in activities like gaming, animation and photography and educationists need to develop the technical courses.
It’s time Africa moved on from thinking it’s okay to consume pirated Hollywood, Bollywood and even Nollywood content, to developing our own. We will respect other’s intellectual property rights, if we have skin in the game; that means producing enough of our own content. Piracy of locally developed African content dents the profits of African businesses that employ African techies.
The writer is Kavangi Outreach Associate, Moringa School.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.