The internet today is central to our lives. Many depend on the web to shop, bank, learn, work, date and play to a degree unimaginable even ten years ago. On the odd occasion our connection goes down we panic. Suddenly hundreds of simple day-to day tasks become inordinately difficult or time consuming. Yet, that's life for over half the world’s population which is still offline. The latest UN figures show that the rate of people getting connected is slowing. In 2007 people came online at a rate of 19 per cent annually. Last year this dropped to just 6 per cent – and the rate of growth is projected to fall further. A new report by the Alliance for Affordable internet says over two billion people live in countries without affordable internet. That means getting connected to the internet
Of the 690 million registered mobile-money accounts worldwide, 50% are in Africa. In Zimbabwe and Somalia, for example, both countries that have experienced decades of economic isolation and political unrest, mobile money is ubiquitous and central to economic activity. Writes Aubrey Hruby The big picture: While Apple Pay and other mobile-money platforms have been slow to grow in the U.S., with only 20%–30% of iPhone users enabling Apple Pay, a cashless economy has taken hold in unexpected places. In Africa, a continent all too often mislabeled as relatively undeveloped, major innovations are taking root and scaling quickly. The numbers: McKinsey estimates that 1 in 10 African adults actively use mobile money, compared to roughly 1 in 40 South Asians. Although Kenya paved the way
Uber was the pioneer taxi hailing app in Africa, but that seems to be changing, the Estonian company Taxify is taking the fight for market share in Africa with Uber to places where Uber isn’t. Much of Taxify’s expansion has been due to being bankrolled by its recent $175 million capital raise—a funding round which valued the company at more than $1 billion. Taxify’s backers include Daimler, the German car giant and Didi Chuxing. In South Africa, Taxify is in fierce competition with Uber in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth but has also expanded to Polokwane. It is set to also launch in East London later this month. In addition to Lagos and Abuja, the only two cities where Uber currently operates in Nigeria, Taxify has launched operations in Ibadan, Nigeria’s largest
Venture Beat reports that Jumia, one of Nigeria’s largest online retailers has allegedly laid off 300 of its workers in Nigeria, which accounts for about 30% of its 1000-person workforce in Nigeria. This has raised concerns as to whether the end is near for the online retailer and what this could mean for the Rocket-funded e-commerce outfit. The major investor in Jumia, Rocket internet has a reputation for downsizing. In a similar event, Rocket Internet closed some of its offices in Turkey in 2012, firing 400 workers in the process. While a similar event may be playing out in Nigeria, Kaymu (another Rocket Internet portfolio company) closed its Zambia office. Citing “macroeconomic reasons,” the online shopping platform shut down its operations in Zambia at the beginning of the month.
A series of ambitious new Innovation Partnerships between the UK and Africa are expected to stimulate significant economic growth and support the creation of thousands of new jobs. The partnerships, announced by the Prime Minister as the UK strengthens ties with the region, will be established in African countries with growing tech sectors where there are young, expanding populations with ideas and innovations developing at a rapid pace. Building on the UK’s already-strong investment in science and research in Africa, the partnerships will enable UK and African entrepreneurs to share skills and ideas, and encourage future trade. The increased engagement comes after the Department for International Trade announced the appointment of a dedicated HM Trade Commissioner to Africa. Emma W