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Africa’s Top 10 Stories

September 2020

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Throughout the month of August South Africa witnessed continued developments in terms of  financial inclusion. These included Telkom, its state telecommunications provider, launching its life insurance business, as well as Shoprite, one of the country’s largest retailers, launching a money market account with numerous benefits for its customers. Further into Africa, Standard Chartered Bank and Airtel Africa have also partnered to increase accessibility to mobile financial services as a way of expanding financial inclusion across Africa.

DStv, Africa’s leading broadcast satellite service provider, has introduced three new innovative products to its bouquet catalogue. These products will be launched into the South African market in the coming months. First, the new Explora 4K Ultra HD decoder, with built-in WiFi capabilities will allow viewers to access Netflix & Amazon Prime while streaming content in 4K resolution. DStv has also introduced a streaming only decoder, the DStv Streama through which customers will  be able to access DStv through the new DStv app. Customers will be able to stream across various channels including DStv, Showmax, YouTube and the Joox music app without the need for a satellite dish. These innovations have propelled DStv into a new age of television.

Telecoms operator Smile Nigeria released its first entry-level dual-SIM smartphone in August; SmileVoLTE. The company envisages capturing the market by making the smartphone affordable and accessible to the public. Pertinent features include 4G and LTE capabilities, pre-installed apps, fingerprint and facial recognition security, a 5 megapixel front camera and an 8 megapixel back camera. In parallel to this, in Malawi local operator TNM has partnered with KaiOS Technologies to introduce a 4G KaiOS-enabled smartphone aimed at first time users and users in rural Malawi.

Source: ITU, 2020; Geopoll, 2017

Cybersecurity took prominence as a topic during August. Networks Unlimited Africa and SentinelOne have partnered to bring SentinelOne’s endpoint security to managed security service providers (MSSPs). First of its kind in Africa, it aims to help small businesses to become established in the cybersecurity field by providing affordability and support as their main goals. Global anti-virus giant Kaspersky has also made an entry in the West African region through First Distribution, a leading Pan-African cybersecuirty distributor. Further south GlueVP, Africa’s first virtual and collaboration platform, has been launched in South Africa. This platform intends to assist all stakeholders in combating cyber threats in our virtual world and includes features such as video sharing and public/private chat rooms with secured end-to-end encryption.

Source: The Hague, 2016
*Spam was excluded due to the overwhelming number of incidents, totaling over 1 billion in 2016 alone. The same approach was applied in reverse to Servers and Phishing attacks given the more limited number of incidents.
^Percentages <3% are not displayed.

Mozambique’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) offshore field development continues to attract investment even with the current terrorist threat in the north of the country. The African Export-Import Bank has agreed to fund up to US$400 million in guarantees and direct lending to the project to go towards project development and onshore gas extraction. In parallel with this a slew of U.S. companies supported by the U.S. Export-Import (EXIM) Bank, have agreed to supply equipment and services, while the bank itself has offered a US$4.7 billion loan for the project’s development. With a spike in terror attacks French oil giant Total and the Mozambican government have signed a security pact to protect the project.

The Cabo Delgado Province, Northern Mozambique. Following the discovery of sizeable natural gas deposits, investments have continued to flow into developing Mozambique’s gas reserves despite the spike in terrorist insurgency in the province. Source: VOA/WikiCommons

Africa’s entertainment industry has been upgraded.  NBCUniversal International Networks has partnered with Star Timesto to bring its DreamWorks network to African consumers and distribute content from DreamWorks Animation to viewers across sub-Saharan Africa. TV enthusiasts in the region will be able to view the best in animated TV, focusing on kids and family entertainment. Alongside this new launch, Showmax Pro will be introduced into the South African market featuring music and news, as well as live sport streamed via SuperSport as new additions to their catalogue. This comes in a bid to diversify the company’s online product offering in competing with the continent’s largest and most popular streaming platform, Netflix.

Source: FAO, 2019

With the ever-increasing emphasis on digital connectivity, a number of partnerships were announced in August. Spacecom and Gilat Telecom have partnered with an aim to develop faster, more reliable and more cost-effective satellite services across the continent that can be used for home/office connectivity. African multinationals and internet service providers alike will benefit from this service through reduced operational costs and smart traffic management. Concurrently, Azercosmos has established a collaboration with iSAT Africa on the continent aimed at meeting  the growing demands for telecommunications across Africa.

The EUTELSAT service partnership announced in August will result in the AMOS and Azerspace-2 satellites joining an ever-increasing number of others already providing upgraded connectivity across Africa. Source: EUTELSAT/Flickr

There has been an exciting new development in the charcoal industry in South Africa. Toronto Group, a Western Cape charcoal manufacturer, has launched a new charcoal production facility in the Swartland municipality. The plant will produce 10,000 tons a year of export-grade charcoal from biomass with Europe and the UK being the key target markets. Toronto Group CEO Philip Mulungo noted during the launch that the facility is carbon-neutral and that the company complies with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) regulations. The plant is set for completion by April 2021, with production expected to start shortly thereafter.

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