In the heart of Sierra Leone’s financial challenge, EziPay emerged as a transformative force. With traditional banking out of reach for many, EziPay harnessed mobile technology, uniting the unbanked. From remote villages to bustling cities, it bestowed the power of financial services to handheld devices, rewriting the narrative of exclusion. This innovation rippled through economies, breaking barriers and offering new avenues of growth. EziPay stands as a testament to the profound impact of technology when aimed at inclusivity, elevating lives, and lighting the path to a brighter, financially empowered future.
Canada has long been known for its stunning landscapes, friendly people, and thriving multicultural communities. Over the years, the country has also carved a niche in the technology and innovation space. Canada has recently unveiled a pioneering Tech Talent Strategy further to solidify its position as a global tech powerhouse.
Today, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund announces the selection of 25 African startups. Notably, 72% of these startups are led or co-founded by women, showcasing a strong representation of female leadership. The selected startups demonstrate diversity not only in their leadership composition but also in their geographical representation and sector focus. Below is the list of the startups, presented in alphabetical order.
Bank of Ghana raises alarm over 97 Illegal loan apps: Protect yourself from unregulated lenders!
These apps have been offering loans without obtaining the necessary regulatory approval. Initially, the central bank had released a list of 19 such unlawful digital lenders. However, this action did not deter these 19 and numerous others from continuing their operations, as some unsuspecting Ghanaians still fell victim to their services.
In an official statement, the BoG emphasized, “Following the Bank of Ghana notice number BG/GOV/SEC/2022/10 concerning Unlicensed Entities Engaged in Lending, we have observed the continuous operations of unlicensed entities providing loans through mobile applications to the Ghanaian public. Such activities are in direct violation of the Banks and Specialized Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).”
The BoG further highlighted that none of the 97 loan applications available on the market possess the necessary license or authorization from the Bank of Ghana.
The Bank emphasized that the activities of these entities violated customer data and privacy laws, as well as consumer protection requirements and norms, which had adverse implications for the well-being and integrity of their customers.
Illegal Digital Lenders
The illegal digital lenders engaged in practices such as capturing highly sensitive information from applicants’ mobile phones and contacting random individuals from the applicants’ contact list to inform them about the loan, using them as guarantors without their consent.
Furthermore, these lenders imposed exorbitant interest rates, sometimes as high as 80% within a two-week period. Some of them even disguised themselves under false names to register as merchants with regulated financial institutions, exploiting them for settlements. The Bank of Ghana assured that it would continue to collaborate with relevant state agencies to take action against these entities and safeguard the integrity of financial service delivery.
It is crucial for Ghanaians to remain vigilant and exercise caution when using loan apps and engaging in financial transactions. To protect personal data, privacy, and financial well-being, it is recommended to rely on licensed and regulated financial institutions. The general public is advised to consult the Bank’s website using the link below for the approved list of licensed institutions, before transacting any business with an institution. All Institutions – Bank of Ghana (bog.gov.gh)
Stay informed about the latest updates from the Bank of Ghana and report any suspicious activities or unlicensed entities to the appropriate authorities. By working together, we can ensure a safer and more secure financial environment for all individuals in Ghana.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has taken significant steps to protect the interests of Ghanaians and ensure a secure financial environment in the country. Recognizing the importance of consumer protection and financial integrity, the BoG has implemented various measures and initiatives to safeguard the rights and well-being of individuals.
Furthermore, the BoG has shown a firm commitment to combating illegal and unlicensed financial activities. The recent cautionary statement against illegal loan apps is a testament to the central bank’s dedication to identifying and addressing potential risks to consumers. By alerting the public and collaborating with relevant state agencies, the BoG works tirelessly to disrupt the operations of these unscrupulous entities and protect Ghanaians from falling victim to their fraudulent practices.
Overall, the Bank of Ghana’s proactive approach, encompassing effective supervision, financial literacy initiatives, and crackdowns on illegal activities, demonstrates its commitment to safeguarding the interests and well-being of Ghanaians. By maintaining a strong regulatory framework and promoting financial education, the central bank strives to foster a secure and inclusive financial ecosystem for the benefit of all individuals in Ghana.
Google has created an artificial intelligence solution to assist individuals in deciphering and interpreting medical providers’ handwriting.
Google has developed a new technology that uses machine learning to help read and interpret doctors’ handwriting, making the process more efficient.
At its yearly gathering in India, Google demonstrated how the feature could interpret the handwriting from a photograph uploaded by the user and draw attention to the medication that needs to be acquired. This may not fully replace handwritten instructions, but it will make life somewhat simpler.
The research prototype, which is not yet available to the public, allows users to capture a picture of the prescription or upload one from their photo library. During a demonstration by a Google executive, the app was capable of processing the image and detecting and emphasizing the drugs mentioned in the prescription.
“This will act as an assistive technology for digitizing handwritten medical documents by augmenting the humans in the loop such as pharmacists, however no decision will be made solely based on the output provided by this technology,” the company said.
How Will This Took Work?
At the conference, a Google executive demonstrated the new feature of Google Lens which will allow users to either take a photo or upload one from the photo library of their prescription. Once the image is processed, the app will detect and emphasize any medications referenced in the note.
Google Lens, an AI-powered multipurpose object recognition tool, has been utilized to detect objects and translate languages. As the company announced, they highlighted that India has the world’s highest user base for Google Lens.
Despite this, there is no concrete information concerning when the new text deciphering feature is expected to be released. The feature is still in its developmental stage with much work yet to be completed before it can be used in real-world scenarios.
Google For India
Google for India is an annual event in the South Asian region where the company displays various new products. The organization also revealed that it is creating a single, unified model to support over 100 Indian languages for speech and text to enable the digital journey of the next wave of users in the South Asian region.
The tool is still in the process of being developed, and the date of its release has not been revealed yet.
NopeaRide, Kenya’s first fully electric taxi service, is exiting the market after being unable to raise additional funding to keep it afloat.
Kenya’s first fully electric taxi service, NopeaRide, is exiting the market after its parent company EkoRent OY failed to raise additional funding to keep it afloat.
NopeaRide said EkoRent Africa, the local subsidiary of the Finnish company, has filed for insolvency in Kenya, bringing to an end the operations of the all-electric vehicle taxi player, which sought to drive a shift to environmentally-friendly transport options while stepping-up competition for early market entrants Uber and Bolt.
“We have taken our fleet of electric vehicles off the road and have notified our staff and corporate clients. We are now working with relevant authorities to ensure that our operations are wound up in accordance with local legislation,” said NopeaRide in a statement.
“We would like to extend our deepest regret to our dedicated team of staff and drivers. We would also like to thank our loyal NopeaRide customers, corporate clients and other partners who have supported NopeaRide’s vision for electric mobility in Africa,” it said.
Juha Suojanen founded EkoRent Oy in 2014 to develop solutions based on electric vehicles and solar energy, which later led to the 2018 launch of NopeaRide in Kenya.
NopeaRide service was first launched in Kenya in August of 2018 (under the name NopiaRide) by a Finnish company EkoRent Oy founded in 2014. Nopea started with a small minimum viable product in Nairobi with only 3 electric vehicles and 2 chargers, and our fleet and charging network grew very moderately in the following year. Towards the end of 2019, Nopea received new funding and placed orders for additional electric vehicles and chargers.
Unfortunately, many additional vehicles arrived in Nairobi at about the same time as the strict Covid-19 curfew rules were put in place in March 2020. Those rules lead to daily kilometres driven by Nopea vehicles dropping approximately 60% overnight. The timing of these additional Nopea vehicles arriving in Kenya could not have been much worse.
Last year, NopeaRide also received €200,000 in funding, a fraction of what it was raising, from EEP Africa, a financing facility for early-stage clean energy in Southern and East Africa, to build more solar charging hubs in Nairobi, and increase its service radius in anticipation of growth.
The startup said it was on a path to recovery this year after its business was badly hit by the Covid pandemic, which led to a dip in the number of rides as people worked from home.
“In the first half of 2022, our traffic numbers grew to about the same level as before Covid-19. We also started to put more effort into the corporate segment as their employees were returning to the office and managed to sign contracts with a few big international companies, some potentially reserving the majority of available Nopea capacity,” it said.
“However, EkoRent OY went into insolvency in Finland and was unable to secure additional financing to grow the business in Nairobi to the next level.”
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has announced a three-year, US$6 million in support of Afrobarometer`s new 10-year strategy.
To support Afrobarometer’s new 10-year strategy, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has announced a three-year, 66 million Swedish Kronor grant (roughly USD 6 million).
This will enable Afrobarometer to broaden its reach and enlighten the path forward for Africa’s development. Since the network’s launch in 1999, Sweden has given Afrobarometer its largest grant.
Afrobarometer, a non-profit company limited by guarantee with headquarters in Ghana, is a pan-African, non-partisan survey research network that conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, the economy, and society.
Niklas Wu-Hansson, a SIDA Analyst and the Deputy Head of the Section announced on Friday during the Afrobarometer Summer School 2022, which was jointly organized by the University of Pretoria in South Africa.Afrobarometer receives major boost with $6 million grant from Swedish Development Agency, SIDA. Click To Tweet
“SIDA has been a long-standing partner to Afrobarometer since the very beginning. We look forward to the expansion of Afrobarometer’s regional coverage, allowing it to continue to amplify the voice of ordinary Africans,” Wu-Hansson said.
As part of its mission to “make citizen voice a key pillar of Africa policy and decision-making,” Afrobarometer will be able to use the grant to expand its coverage of African nations.
Through gathering, analyzing, and disseminating African citizens’ aspirations and experiences on governance, democracy, gender, the environment, and other issues over the past two decades, the pan-African research network has redesigned Africa’s data landscape. 39 African nations are currently receiving surveys from Round 9 of the Afrobarometer project and its national partners.
Afrobarometer CEO – Joseph Asunka expressed his appreciation for the grant agreement by saying, “This partnership strengthens Afrobarometer’s resolve to extend its presence and intellectual leadership on the continent. We sincerely appreciate Sida’s continued belief in our abilities and support. We’re still committed to advancing Africa, and this partnership will help us do that and show how important and relevant our work is to doing so.”
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) is a federal organization. Its goal is to lessen poverty and oppression worldwide as part of Sweden’s national policy for global development. Swedish tax revenues are used to support Sida.
Afrobarometer (AB) is a trusted source of high-quality data and analysis on what Africans think. With an unmatched track record of 350,000+ interviews in 39 countries, representing the views of 80% of the African population, AB is leading the charge to bridge the continent’s data gap. AB data inform many global indices, such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, and the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators. The data are also used for country risk analyses and by credit rating and forecasting agencies such as the Economist Intelligence Unit. All Afrobarometer (AB) data sets are publicly available on the website and may be analyzed free of charge using AB’s online data analysis tool.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Afrobarometer.
Many users have been looking for a new social networking site to call home ever since Elon Musk took control of Twitter. Is Mastodon the answer?
Since Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, many users have been searching for a new social networking platform they can call home. Mastodon, a social network built on open-source software, seems to be their best bet, with just over a million active users already signed up. But is it worth the hype?
What Is Mastodon?
The events which have transpired since Elon’s takeover has sent Twitter on a tumultuous downward spiral. From the exodus (or ousting) of thousands of staff to the new Twitter Blue feature being pulled from the site in less than 24 hours, it is clear to see that the end days of Twitter are approaching faster than we think.
Many users, including those on #BlackTwitter, have adopted a wait-and-see approach before permanently leaving the platform. Despite still engaging on the app, many users have decided to explore their options with sites such as Mastodon, a decentralized platform, becoming the popular choice of networking.
If you’re confused about https://t.co/Pudk8cY0GE, many of us are learning. Don’t worry about which instance to join because migrating is easy. Join one & learn with the rest of us. The large instances are struggling with influx & can be slow.
— @timnitGebru@dair-community.social on Mastodon (@timnitGebru) November 6, 2022
The day after Musk’s acquisition, Mastodon gained an unexpected 70,000 new users, and ever since then, more people have been fleeing Twitter to download the official app every day.
Mastodon isn’t a new platform. Since debuting in March 2016, it has discreetly worked to change how we use social networking sites. The platform, which has a similar format to Twitter, allows you to follow other users and create posts that can be liked, reshared (“tooted” according to Mastodon’s dictionary), and commented on by other users.
Unlike other platforms, users can sign up on individual servers, so each individual has their theme, rules, language, and moderation policy they must abide by.
Black Twitter’s Response
The move to Mastodon has sparked a comprehensive conversation on #BlackTwitter, with many – in usual Black Twitter fashion – finding humor in the situation. In contrast, others have shared their concerns about this new shift.
Users have also opened up about the lack of adequate moderation on the app, which has left many members experiencing severe racial harassment and abuse. Despite the block and delete button proving to be more effective than other platforms, the secretive nature of the social platform has made people a lot more comfortable sharing discriminatory and abusive information online.
5 days on Mastodon before I had to report a user for racist slurs, ableism & harassment, on a cat photo. 🙄 Being Black and disabled on the internet is exhausting.
On the bright side, when you block & report on there, the racist reply was immediately deleted, not like on here. 😐
— Jay Justice♿️🇯🇲🏳️🌈 (@thatjayjustice) November 13, 2022
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, a political activist and physicist at the University of New Hampshire, shared her concerns about addressing racism on the app.
“Trying to talk [to] Mastodon about the problem of addressing racism on Mastodon is recalling memories of all my terrible experiences with Facebook groups, and I think the reason is that people on Mastodon have the confidence of people who are saying stupid stuff in private,” added Prescod-Weinstein.
“Mastodon feels private, so mostos are less worried about how they look – my Mastodon mentions are literally just white people rehashing the same conversations over and over.”
Trying to talk about Mastodon about the problem of addressing racism on Mastodon is recalling memories of all my terrible experiences with facebook groups, and I think the reason is that people on Mastodon have the confidence of people who are saying stupid stuff in private
— Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (@IBJIYONGI) November 9, 2022
Investor and founder of Backstage Capital, Arlan Hamilton, also weighed into the conversation saying, “Much like I’m not going to Mars because the Earth is a shit show, I’m not going to Mastodon. I’m gonna stick around Twitter and fight it out to try to save what we’ve got here. They JUST got an edit button.”
There is no denying Black Twitter is one of the main reasons why Twitter is so successful, and as the community remains divided, it is safe to say that the move to a new app will not be coming as soon as we think. So, how many new apps will be tailored to provide a safe and open networking space for Black and brown people?
In one of the most significant tech layoffs this year, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, fired 13% of its staff, or more than 11,000 workers.
Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has announced it will lay off 11,000 employees or around 13 percent of the company’s total staff. CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the news in a blog post, saying he was at fault for being overoptimistic about the company’s future growth based on a pandemic surge.
“At the start of Covid, the world rapidly moved online and the surge of e-commerce led to outsized revenue growth,” said Zuckerberg. “Many people predicted this would be a permanent acceleration that would continue even after the pandemic ended. I did too, so I made the decision to increase our investments significantly. Unfortunately, this did not play out the way I expected.”
The layoffs are the first broad job cuts since Meta’s founding in 2004.
As the bad news has piled up, Meta’s stock has cratered. Its stock price has dropped more than 70 percent this year, and it’s lost $700 billion in market value in recent weeks. However, following Zuckerberg’s announcement of job cuts, the company’s stock price rose more than four percent in pre-market trading.
In the blog post announcing Meta’s cuts, Zuckeberg said laid-off employees in the US would receive 16 weeks of base pay plus two additional weeks for each year of service, health insurance coverage for six months, and support for finding a new career and navigating immigration issues. Zuckerberg said the company would be instituting a hiring freeze through the first quarter of 2023 “with a small number of exceptions.”
The Meta CEO finished his note to employees with a message seemingly aimed at outside observers, including those skeptical of the company’s push into the metaverse.
“I believe we are deeply underestimated as a company today,” wrote Zuckerberg. “Billions of people use our services to connect, and our communities keep growing. Our core business is among the most profitable, with huge potential. And we’re leading in developing the technology to define the future of social connection and the next computing platform. We do historically important work. I’m confident that if we work efficiently, we’ll come out of this downturn stronger and more resilient than ever.”
“We’ll share more on how we’ll operate as a streamlined organization to achieve our priorities in the weeks ahead. For now, I’ll say once more how thankful I am to those of you who are leaving for everything you’ve done to advance our mission.” he added.
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New functionality called “Community” is being added to the app of WhatsApp, a platform owned by Meta and used worldwide.
The popular messaging service has been active this year, and the most recent feature addition is a new Communities option that appears next to the standard Chats page on the iOS and Android apps.
The Communities category organizes groups under one roof, especially if they have similar interests. Multiple threads, announcement channels, admin-approved subgroups, and other features are available in communities. If you’re a member of a community, you can create more intimate discussion groups after receiving updates posted there.
Administrators of WhatsApp Communities now have new options at their disposal, such as the ability to broadcast announcements to everyone and manage which groups can join the community. By providing their members with invite links, group administrators will be able to convert their present groups to Communities or create a brand-new Community from scratch.
End-to-end encryption will be used for all community interactions to ensure their confidentiality and security.
Meta stated that they’ll dismantle Communities that contravene the law by carrying out unlawful activities like planning violent acts, participating in human trafficking, and disseminating materials containing child sexual abuse. Both community members and administrators will face bans.
Members of Communities will only be able to forward to one group at a time to prevent the spreading of false information. Before today’s global deployment, Communities had been refined through testing with more than 50 businesses across 15 countries, according to Meta.
Aside from the new Communities page, WhatsApp also announced updates to its Groups function, including the addition of 32-person video calls and Polls to aid in decision-making without upsetting everyone in the group.
The app’s more than 3 billion daily users, who communicate 7 billion voice messages and over 200 billion text messages daily, will find the Communities feature useful. The Communities Tab has now joined the other new features that WhatsApp has added this year, such as categorizing messages by unread count, the ability to secretly leave groups, new privacy options under Last Seen settings, a redesign of the Status, an increase in the file transfer limit, and more.