Author: Lynn Wandia

Bloodless malaria test by young Ugandan inventor wins Africa’s top engineering prize

Bloodless malaria test by young Ugandan inventor wins Africa’s top engineering prize

Technology
The $33,000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation has been awarded to a 24-year old Ugandan engineer for his invention of a bloodless malaria test. Before now, small blood samples taken from suspected patients in hospitals or pharmacies were used to test for malaria but with Matibabu, the device developed by Brian Gitta and his team, there is no need for pricking. When a person is infected, the malaria parasite takes over a vacuole of the red blood cells and significantly remodels it. For Matibabu to work, it is clipped onto a person’s finger and using light and magnetism, a red beam of light scans the finger for changes in colour, shape and concentration of the red blood cells. A result is produced within a minute and sent to a mobile phone linked to the device. Matibabu (Swah
M-Pesa Pushing Against Tax Hike on Mobile Money Services in Kenya

M-Pesa Pushing Against Tax Hike on Mobile Money Services in Kenya

Business, Governance
A proposed tax increase on mobile money transfers in Kenya is drawing protests from several services, including M-Pesa. As part of a new tax proposal to raise government revenues, Kenya’s government is pushing to raise duties on mobile cash transfers by 2%. The government expects to net around $270 million in additional revenues and claims the extra income will fund a universal health care program to cover all households by 2022. But Safaricom-owned M-Pesa says the move could take a big toll, as it will “negatively impact mobile-led transfer services and payments” and reverse the gains of financial inclusion by making it more expensive to conduct business transactions and make payments using mobile money services. Since it was launched in 2007, M-Pesa, the largest mobile money
The problem with simply growing more tech hubs in Africa

The problem with simply growing more tech hubs in Africa

Technology
More than 130 new hubs have opened in Africa over the last two years, and there are still not enough. Many hubs get financial and technical support from foundations as well as tech and telco corporates among others. More recently, Facebook and Google have both rolled out significant new Lagos centers, with NG_Hub and Launchpad respectively. There are promises of more to come elsewhere. The “tech hub” label includes a wide range of very different types of operations. Many, perhaps most, are community centers in the most important way possible. There’s immense value, for aspiring entrepreneurs to be around like-minded innovators and technology dreamers if you’re in an African city where trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the most obvious ambition. Then there are those l
Amazon CloudFront expands into Africa

Amazon CloudFront expands into Africa

Technology
Since launching Amazon CloudFront in November 2008, they’ve been continuously expanding their infrastructure footprint around the world to improve availability and performance for content delivery. Today, they are excited to announce the launch of two new Edge locations: one in Johannesburg, South Africa, and one in Bangalore, India. The Edge location in Johannesburg is Amazon CloudFront’s first PoP on the African continent. The addition of these two locations brings CloudFront’s global network to 119 Points of Presence in 58 cities, across 26 countries. AWS infrastructure comes to South Africa AWS first established its presence in South Africa with a Development Center in Cape Town in 2004. Since then, AWS has expanded its presence in South Africa by launching Direct Connect in
Untapped opportunity in Africa’s emerging startup hubs

Untapped opportunity in Africa’s emerging startup hubs

Startups
African startups are in a unique position to leverage innovation to answer some of the continent’s most pressing challenges. To achieve this, an enabling environment is mission critical, according to Abu Cassim, founder and director of Jozi Angels, an angel network that invests in early stage startups. Growing venture capital (VC) in Africa was a focal point of discussions at the recent Africa Innovation Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. “Exciting opportunities exist in VC frontier markets like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria along with other international emerging markets such as Indonesia, Poland, Mexico and the UAE,” notes Cassim. Successfully developing Africa’s VC sector hinges on a number of factors including identifying additional sources of funding for co-investment, for example, sui