July was a typically busy month in the world of African tech, with further launches by international players, funding for local companies, and many developments in the continent’s startup ecosystem.
Global players thinking big in Nigeria
It was another positive month in Africa for global taxi hailing app Uber, which a month after launching its low-cost uberX offering in Cape Town made Nigeria the second African country in which it operates by rolling out in Lagos. To inform residents about the app, Uber has appointed Nigerian hip-hop artist Ice Prince as its ambassador.
Another global firm launching in Nigeria, PayPal, confirmed the country’s oldest commercial bank FirstBank Nigeria as its official partner. PayPal in June became available in ten new markets, with Nigeria and Zimbabwe added to the platform to take the number of markets it operates in to 203.
BlackBerry is also busy in Nigeria, unveiling the Z3 smartphone in the country, offering users who buy the device free app downloads valued at US$50.
In South Africa, MasterCard launched MasterPass, allowing individuals in the country to make secure digital payments online. The service allows users to make payments without entering in payment details on every transaction.
South Africa also saw two of its official languages added to Gmail by Google, which launched 13 new languages, including Afrikaans and Zulu.
Busy month for the continent’s startups
Kenyan firm BRCK closed a US$1.2 million seed funding round in order to launch its modem-cum-router device aimed at solving last-mile connectivity issues in Africa. The company, a spinout from Kenyan crowdmapping firm Ushahidi, claims its device will bring a seamless internet connection to remote areas, a “critical innovation for a variety of sectors across Africa”.
The team behind last year’s StartupBus Africa event launched a new nonprofit – Ampion.org – which is organising five Venture Bus hackathons across Africa. StartupBus Africa last year saw a bus travel from Harare, Zimbabwe to Cape Town, South Africa, with eight startups born. This year, the concept will take place on a larger scale, with four buses travelling through 15 African countries.
The 40 finalists for startup pitching event DEMO Africa, which will this year take place in Lagos, Nigeria, were announced, with Nigerian entrepreneurs dominating the list of finalists. The 40 companies will pitch their startups live at the conference to an audience comprising VCs, investors, tech acquisition specialists, IT buyers and media.
A new incubator in Rwanda backed by mobile operator Tigo – “think” – opened applications to startups and developers from Rwanda and the rest of Africa. The incubator will select the best five teams for a six-month programme designed to support exceptional startups in developing new and innovative digital solutions.
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