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What can the rest of the world learn from Africa’s approach to tech and innovation? –

According to BCG, Africa trails other regions of the world in digital penetration, usage, and capabilities, and its companies are generally less mature.

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When it comes to listing the regions that have embraced and taken the biggest advantage of digital transformation, most commentators wouldn’t put Africa anywhere near the top. And purely based on metrics, they would be right.

According to BCG, Africa trails other regions of the world in digital penetration, usage, and capabilities, and its companies are generally less mature than those in more developed markets

That said, digital maturity levels across the continent are rising rapidly. And, outside of the broad picture, there are examples of African companies using digital transformation in exciting and innovative ways. Within these examples are lessons that can be applied to the rest of the world, not least because they show that digital transformation is an ongoing process and not a “once-and-done” exercise.

You can compete with big multinationals

During the 2010s, the “Africa Rising” narrative — brought about by unprecedented economic growth during a period of relative political stability — saw many multinational companies either enter the continent or expand their existing operations. Despite their considerable heft, however, many have struggled to compete with local companies.

That’s because these companies have been able to combine technology with on-the-ground knowledge to build a real competitive advantage.

Whatever troubles it’s faced in recent years, mobile operator MTN (itself an enabler of digital transformation) was able to enter Nigeria at a time when other international carriers were too afraid to. The other companies that had a chance to bid on spectrum in Nigeria were more focused on the country’s risks than on its opportunities, and as a result, they held back. MTN was able to use its experience and data gathering capabilities to establish and grow a massive footprint. Today, MTN is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria and has 64-million internet subscribers.

Globally, smaller companies can similarly use local knowledge, coupled with a focus on digital transformation, to remain competitive amongst much bigger players.

Utilise the technology at hand

For years, many column inches were devoted to how Africa’s high mobile penetration rates (as high as 149% in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa) would allow it to leapfrog more developed markets. More recently, there was a sense that this promise was unfulfilled and that Africa had missed out on its first-mover advantage.

There is evidence, however, that this disparaging view may have been misplaced. More and more African tech startups are being acquired by international companies. Their technologies are then baked into their acquirer’s offerings. Many of these technologies are mobile-based and are built off the back of Africans being willing to experiment and adopt new technologies that people in more developed markets might be willing to try.

Startups aren’t the only ones innovating either. Financial services giant Discovery perfected its Vitality rewards programme in South Africa, progressively integrating it with new technologies (including smartphone apps and wearables), sometimes years before its competitors. This success then allowed it to expand the programme internationally to more than 20-million users in countries like the UK, Canada, and China.

Customer experience is always crucial

When it comes to the areas in which African companies lead their international competitors on BCG’s digital maturity index, one observation stands out:

In businesses where customer-centricity is key (such as banking and telecoms), African players compete more effectively.

It’s also hardly surprising that these are two sectors where Africa has led the world when it comes to technology-led innovation.

Their success shows how important customer experience is to digital transformation. Some companies might approach digital transformation as a technology project. Implement all the right technologies, the thinking goes, and the organisation will be transformed. When they inevitably don’t get the rewards they were hoping for, they might wonder why they spent all that money and revert back to old ways of doing things.

In truth, digital transformation is more about a mindset shift within organisations than it is about technology adoption. That is, organisations need to embrace the idea that technology can help them better understand and serve the customer, allowing them to create personalised experiences rather than just lumping new technology onto old ways of doing business.

Embracing innovation

Ultimately, while Africa may be less digitally mature than other markets, there can be no doubt that businesses on the continent are unafraid to embrace technology and innovation. And, in the customer-centric ways in which they’ve done so, despite facing adversity and strong headwinds, there are lessons for the rest of the world to learn from the tenacity and ingenuity birthed and nurtured in the African soil.

This article was written by Ndagi Job Goshi, GM of Liferay Africa.

Featured image: Ndagi Job Goshi, GM of Liferay Africa (Supplied)

During the 2010s, the “Africa Rising” narrative — brought about by unprecedented economic growth during a period of relative political stability — saw many multinational companies either enter the continent or expand their existing operations. Despite their considerable heft, however, many have struggled to compete with local companies.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/04/what-can-the-rest-of-the-world-learn-from-africas-approach-to-tech-and-innovation/

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Local emotional intelligence app users significantly grow

It’sOk, an innovative tech startup that aims to promote emotional intelligence among students has experienced exponential growth.

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Based in Johannesburg, It’sOk, an innovative tech startup that aims to promote emotional intelligence among students has experienced exponential growth in the number of the users of its unique and cutting-edge platform.

ItsOk experiences massive growth in users in SA

With its hard launch only taking place a mere few months ago in March with users from a single school, King David Victory Park, the app has grown tremendously since then.

In an interview with Ventureburn Cody Gordon, co-founder, and CEO of It’sOk explains;

“It’sOk had its hard launch this March with 50 students in King David Victory Park. Since then, we have experienced a huge amount of growth both on our product side and our school client base. In 2022 we will have 10 000+ users on our app. These users are a combination of parents, teachers and students.”

According to reports from the tech startup, it will be present in the follow institutions in 2022; the Crawford International group, St Peter’s Boys and Girls, Centennial Schools, King David Victory Park, Uplands College and a few Curro schools.

Not only is the app being utilised by in-person teaching but also through online schools.

“We’ve also seen our app making a huge positive impact in schools of all backgrounds for example, The Tomorrow Trust students, which comprises of orphaned and vulnerable children all have access to It’sOk,” adds Gordon.

With innovation and emotional intelligence growth for students at the forefront of the startup focuses, Gordon explains that the app has been upgraded to meet the needs of the schools and their students.

“An example of this is that we have now developed and automatic flagging system for schools to identify at risk students. Strategic people in the schools arat-riskied of these students and this allows the school to help these students and develop specific interventions instantly,”

ItsOk

ItsOk is a tech startup that has created an innovative emotional intelligence app that is designed specifically for a school environment.

The tech startup has combined the power of technology with a holistic approach to promoting emotional awareness and intelligence among young students in South Africa.

With many institutions reaping the benefits of employing ItsOk’s platform with their students, Justin Attlee, St Peter’s Boys – Head of Pastoral Care highlights the impact that it has had on their learners.

“The huge value our schools are seeing in our technology is that the students now have a dedicated time each day to develop their emotional intelligence through our app, students now have a safe place to express how they are feeling and receive assistance when they need it. The schools are now also able to be proactive in their mental wellness strategies in the school based on the It’sOk data. This allows the school to be proactive instead of reactive in dealing with student emotions, “Thanks so much for the weekly feedback. This is giving us great insight in how the boys are feeling and allowing us to be proactive in implementing interventions.”

Read more: SA food tech startup partners with V&A Waterfront

Featured image: (Left to right) Cody Gordon, CEO and Michale Dukes CTO of It’sOk (Supplied)

In an interview with Ventureburn Cody Gordon, co-founder, and CEO of It’sOk explains;

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/10/local-emotional-intelligence-app-sees-huge-growth/

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SA fintech partners with rising global fintech to foster financial inclusion in SA –

Ukheshe Technologies has partnered with Chipper to help in the global fintech’s rollout of digital payment services and products.

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Innovative and ground-breaking local fintech Ukheshe Technologies has partnered with new-kid-on-the-block Chipper to help in the global fintech’s rollout and implementation of digital payment services and products.

Ukheshe has partnered with Chipper

The products which Chipper cahs aims to roll out include free and unlimited peer-to-peer payments across South Africa along with added benefits such as purchasing airtime, data and also the ability to legally purchase and sell cryptocurrency. Chipper’s service and digital payments aim to be a game-changer among the local community.

Not only will the partnership yield new fintech services for locals but it also will enable effective and safe financial transactions across the continent. The partnership aims to work in harmony allowing existing customers of Chipper to use this function as it will incorporate Ukheshe’s Eclipse API framework.

Clayton Hayward, CEO of Ukheshe comments on the partnership with Chipper.

“Ukheshe’s Eclipse API provides access to payment technology, products and services – all from one convenient platform. The rapid shift towards innovative digital-first solutions is undeniable and we are thrilled to partner with Chipper, a company that shares our vision and enthusiasm for credible, seamless payment solutions that drive the payments revolution in Africa.”

Chipper

Founded a mere three years ago, the ‘rising start’ tech startup has been labelled as the continents ‘biggest and fastest-growing payment app.

With Chipper users are able to easily conduct instant no-fee local and cross border money transfers and discounted airtime purchases.

Since its official launch, Chipper claims to have over four million users in eight countries in Africa and the UK.

With financial inclusion at the forefront of the aims of both of these startups, the partnership will build on fostering financial inclusion by creating accessible financial digital solutions for individuals in Africa

“The relationship between Ukheshe and Chipper aims to spearhead digital-first fintech solutions made in Africa to broaden access and financial inclusion for those who need it most. Our digital payment solution supports wallet functionality and will offer much-needed simplified payment solutions that allow users to send and receive cross-border payments safely, quickly, and efficiently, ” concludes Hayward.

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Featured image: Clayton Hayward, CEO of Ukheshe (Supplied)

Clayton Hayward, CEO of Ukheshe comments on the partnership with Chipper.

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/09/sa-fintech-partners-with-rising-global-fintech-to-foster-financial-inclusion-in-sa/

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Startup partners with Telkom to launch translation platform for SA languages

Telkom has partnered with SA startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

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Telkom has partnered with South African startup Enlabeler to launch an AI platform that translates speech into text and provides transcription services for local languages.

The platform, called izwe.ai, was unveiled at the AI Expo Africa 2021. It is described as “a multi-lingual technology platform that transforms your audio and video data to text, captions or subtitles in your local languages”.

Telkom and Enlabeler collaborated to create the platform, with the aim of providing a way to bridge the language gap in a variety of industries.

“With Enlabeler, we have built a solution that can offer a seamless transcription experience with highly localised and reliable outputs, which help us deliver as a strategic partner for our clients,” Telkom Executive of Data Science Stefan Steffen said in a statement.

“Working with an agile startup like Enlabeler has helped us accelerate our long-term plans to unlock this market segment. ”

Enlabeler

Enlabeler is a data labelling and annotation solutions provider.

Founded in 2019, the company describes itself as Africa’s first remote data labelling community. It employs people around the country to augment and train the AI solutions and services provided by the company.

The company provides video and image annotation services, computer vision and object detection models, entity extraction from text datasets, as well as translation and transcription services.

The izwe.ai translation platform

According to Telkom, the izwe.ai platform has a unique ability to interpret South African accents. It also uses machine learning to constantly improve its translations.

The aim of the platform is to provide transcription and translation across a range of industries. These include education, academia, legal services, and media production.

“This technology can be a game-changer in business, as well as education, government, and healthcare delivery,” Telkom head of Innovation Dr Mmaki Jantjies said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Telkom Foundation CEO Sarah Mthintso highlighted the education benefits of the service.

“STEM subjects are the foundation for the careers of the future, but to truly drive digital transformation in South Africa, we need learners to be able to learn in their home language,” Mthintso said in a statement.

“That’s where AI-driven speech services are so important.”

Translation and transcription service launch

The service will be launched in a phased approach. The first phase includes the launch of izwe.ai and the collection of information from potential clients via survey.

The service is offering five hours of free machine transcription in exchange for the completion of the survey.

The second phase will include the release of the machine transcription model.

“In release 2 you will have access to a market-leading machine transcription model to transcribe your files with a click of a button,” the service says on its website.

The third phase will include the implementation of human input into automatic transcription outputs. Finally, phase four will include the launch of additional services.

You can find out more about the platform on the izwe.ai website.

Feature image: Ventureburn

Read more: Fairwork Project puts out call for Pledge supporters

Read more: African global business services sector to grow to $19.8 billion by 2023 – research

Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/09/startup-partners-with-telkom-to-launch-translation-platform-for-sa-languages/

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