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Tecno launches new smartphone targeting Gen Z, Spark 7P

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Tecno yesterday announced the entry into the market of its latest smartphone, the Spark 7P.

The device is an addition to Tecno’s entry-level smartphone lineup, Spark.

This year, however, the lineup has been refreshed with a new focus: targeting Gen Z.

Gen Z, short for Generation Z, is the demographic born between the year 1995 and 2010, coming right after the millennials who, hitherto, have been the target market for most smartphone campaigns.

Members of Gen Z distinguish themselves by being the first social generation that, for the most part (especially those with at least an urban upbringing in the developing world), knows no life without a connected world thanks to the possibilities brought forth by the advent of technologies like the internet, the mobile phone and others.

At this point, it is hard to properly capture what Tecno is on to but we can only speculate that the Spark 7P represents the start of a journey where we will see this focus sustained over the next few years especially given the purchasing power of the people targeted.

What anyone looking to get the new Spark 7P can expect is a mix of features that, up to this time last year, were limited to more pricey devices and those that one can expect to find on a device of the Spark series’ stature, in one package.

That means, for instance, some performance chops thanks to the Helio G70 chipset from MediaTek, a high refresh rate (90Hz) display and what we have come to expect, a couple of lenses at the back that combine to give some acceptable photography and videography output. In this case, that will the 16-megapixel AI triple camera setup.

There’s also a large 6.8-inch display that Tecno says is an “edge-to-edge” – we’ll see that in our exploration of the device, soon.

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“Animations are smoother, Apps load quicker, and photos are sharper, helping connect with the world around Gen Z faster than ever before,” Tecno notes in a statement.

Other features of the Tecno Spark 7P are 128 gigabytes of internal storage, 4GB RAM and a 5,000mAh battery.

If these hardware features sound familiar then it is because, so far, the Tecno Spark 7P looks to be reading from the same playbook the Camon series was last year when it matched sister brand Infinix’s equivalent smartphone series spec by spec. In this case, the Spark 7P appears to be a mirror of the Infinix Hot 10T (which is being officially released in the Kenyan market later in the day), at least as far as the specifications go.

On the software front, the Tecno Spark 7P is one of the early devices to arrive rocking the new HiOS 7.5 which is still based on Android 11.

We are keen to see what other members of the Spark 7 series Tecno will be availing locally.

Tecno is set to launch the Camon 17 series in the country in a few hours time.

 

The featured image was taken by Nixon Kanali

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Huawei-built Mobile Money Platform launched in Ethiopia

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Government-owned Ethio Telecom this week launched a mobile money platform called Telebirr. The platform, which has been built by Huawei, is projected to have 53 Million users in the coming years and will be available in 5 languages.

It is expected that there will be a significant shift from using cash to mobile money with the Telco’s CEO saying they expect about 40 to 50 percent of Ethiopia’s economic activity to be transacted on the Telebirr platform within five years.

Ethio Telecom is the largest telco in Ethiopia. It is part of the country’s ‘Big-5’ state-owned cooperations alongside the Ethiopian Airlines, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and others. The company launched Telebirr a week after getting licence approval from the National Bank of Ethiopia to venture into financial services. This was a talking point by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, saying that the move pointed out Ethio Telecom’s preparedness.

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During the launch, the company CEO explained that Huawei built the platform in 5 months down from the 2 years that had been projected. As deployed currently, the platform is capable of up to 100 transactions per second. Huawei has said that it can, and will easily scaled up to 1000 transactions per second in the future.

Huawei’s mobile money services have been successfully setup in 19 countries, serving over 150 Million customers. In Kenya, the capabilities of Huawei Mobile Money enables Safaricom’s M-Pesa to serve customers predictably and reliably even during peak demand with up to 900 transactions per second.

With over 250,000 partners that sell Ethio Telecom’s products and services including Airtime, it is expected that the company will tap on to this when expanding Telebirr.

Telebirr will function like M-Pesa and other mobile money services allowing users to Deposit and Withdraw Cash, send and receive money, buy air time and mobile packages, pay for tickets, participate in Fundraising, pay for goods/services in different shops/locations using QR codes, receive payments from customers, and receive Remittance.

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Minimum cane price, import cuts will sweeten Kenyan Sugar – KBC

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After decades of poor performance, Kenya’s sugar industry is set for better times ahead following recent State interventions to stabilize cane prices, curbing illicit sugar imports and improved productivity.

Ana estimated 300,000 small-scale sugar farmers are set to reap the benefits.

The first intervention is the setting up of a minimum price of Ksh 4,040 per tonne of sugarcane to be paid by millers to farmers starting April this year, up from Ksh 3,700 since 2018. This will guarantee farmers better returns, ensure price stability and encourage investment in productivity.

Low cane prices coupled with delays in harvesting and transporting the crop from farms to factories due to poor road infrastructure has been a major headache for farmers. These and other factors like unreliable inputs and processing inefficiencies have been blamed for the low quality of locally produced sugar thus hampering the overall competitiveness of the industry.

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The other significant State intervention is tightening sugar imports to curb influx of the commodity in the market. Specifically, limiting the import quota to the actual sugar deficit in the market will shut the loopholes middlemen typically use to bring in cheap sugar sometimes illegally.

So lucrative is the sugar importation business in Kenya that by 2018, there were about 60 registered sugar importers, more than double the number of millers. The high sugar deficit running up to 600,000 metric tonnes per year is normally plugged using carryover stocks held by local millers and duty-free imports. Apart from refined sugar for industrial use which is not produced locally, perennial deficit in the domestic sugar market can be addressed by raising input.

The Crops (Sugar) (Imports, Exports and By-Products) Regulations 2020 introduced by the State last year compelled sugar importers to apply afresh for permits. This is expected to not only weed out cartels but also prevent cheap sugar being dumped into the domestic market leaving local millers stuck with huge inventory.

Underpinning these beneficial State-led reforms is a resurgent sugar industry that needs support to recover and grow sustainably. For instance, sugar production rose to over 600,000 metric tonnes last year compared to 440,000 metric tonnes in 2019. The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) projects this to rise to 660,000 metric tonnes in 2021.

The total area under sugarcane cultivation in the country has expanded by 60 per cent from 126,826 hectares in 2002 to 202,616 hectares in 2020. Average cane yields have also increased to 61 tonnes per hectare in 2020 from 51 tonnes in 2019, an impressive 20 per cent improvement.

AFA links this improved yield to favorable weather patterns and optimized milling capacity following investments by private sector and government through capital injections in local millers.

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However, to consolidate these recent gains, we need to urgently address factors undermining the competitiveness of the local sugar industry. First, the ex-factory price of Kenyan sugar needs to go down. It is currently at approximately  $800 (Ksh 80,000) per tonne compared to the global average of $280 (Ksh 28,000) per tonne meaning our sugar is four times more expensive than what the rest of the world has to offer.

After the costs of purchasing sugarcane, milling, processing, and sale margins are factored in, millers have to add 16 per cent VAT and 4 per cent Sugar Development Levy. Tax incentives like lowering the sugar development levy, or granting tax holidays to new sugar millers with a set threshold capacity among other measures, will further encourage the private sector to invest in new milling plants as is happening now.

Second, we need to revisit the arrangement Kenya has with COMESA where most of the sugar imported into Kenya comes from and which enjoys a preferential ad valorem duty rate of 10 per cent. Although Kenya secured a two-year extension last December under the COMESA sugar import regime, this is subject to certain conditions, like enhancing industry competitiveness and transparency of its sugar production and consumption data so as to generate a more accurate picture of the deficit to allow further extensions.

To avoid having to seek COMESA extensions, we must double production from the current 600,000 metric tonnes to match domestic consumption which stands at over one million metric tonnes. This calls for investment in the latest milling technology to boost capacity and quality, revamping infrastructure in sugar cane growing zones, and reforming governance in State-owned millers, including speeding up privatization.

There is also need to diversify sugar growing from the traditional belt in the western and coastal regions. In fact, if you ask anyone in the street, they will tell you sugar production is a Western Kenya affair. Yet, recent trends show growing interest in the crop in non-traditional producing areas, a signal that the sugar value chain is ripe for diversification.

Counties like Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu and Narok known for growing maize and wheat now have sugarcane plantations. There are also reports that private investors are planning to set up new milling plants in Siaya, Kilifi, Kisii, Uasin Gishu and Tana River counties.

Agriculture being a devolved function, counties should promote investment in commercial crops like sugarcane if the country is to achieve food security and rapid industrialization especially in food and beverage manufacturing. Counties should also spearhead fast-growing sugarcane varieties with high quality sucrose content. This will create more jobs for Kenyans and value addition opportunities for agro-driven enterprises.

Of course, sugarcane cannot grow everywhere but if we encouraged more counties to produce the sweetener, Kenya will become a net exporter of sugar as was the case in the 1970s before the industry plunged into perennial malaise owing to mismanagement and failure to invest in innovative ways of producing the crop.

The views expressed in this article don’t necessarily represent KBC’s opinion. 

 

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How to Force 4G/5G Only on Android 11 Devices

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There are instances you want to force your phone to 4G/LTE or to 5G only – for those with 5G devices. This is either because you are in an area where the network is unstable, and forcing it on 4G/5G only gives you better speeds, or because you have VoLTE Support and you want to have everything you do to be over the 4G network, or you don’t care about calls, and 5G only will mean great speeds.

We already have a guide for forcing 4G/LTE only on other phones. However we noticed that for many devices running Android 11, the guide doesn’t work. Also, the rising number of people with 5G devices, this could be useful for the times when you want those extra fast speeds.

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So here’s a simple guide for people with Android 11 devices to force 4G/LTE or 5G only:

  1. Go to Play Store and check for a “Force 4G/LTE” App with Android 11 Support. Since many don’t work, check step two.
  2. Go to Play Store and download Force LTE Only (4G/5G) by Xquare Studio.
  3. Once installed you will find a couple of methods for forcing 4G/5G only.
  4. Select the Method for Android 11 devices
  5. Click under select preferred network
  6. Select your preferred network which your phone will now be locked into
  7. For the Kenyan region 4G only is LTE. Since Safaricom and Airtel are yet to open up 5G to more areas, we aren’t sure on the 5G lock mode.
  8. Check out different modes if you’re in a region where it may work differently, or for fun.
So here's a simple guide for people with Android 11 devices to force 4G/LTE or 5G only:

Shifting back to Auto Select Mode:

If you want to go back to letting your phone automatically select the preferred network:

  1. Go to Phone Settings
  2. Go to SIM and Mobile Settings
  3. Select Mobile Networks
  4. Select Preferred networks
  5. Leave it at AUTO 5G/4G/3G

Remember:

  1. Locking on 5G only inhibits calls
  2. Locking on 4G only may inhibit calls if you don’t have VoLTE support
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