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Google's Umoja cable bridges Africa and Australia, enhancing digital connectivity. (Image source: Google Cloud)

Internet

Google has unveiled new investments aimed at enhancing digital infrastructure and bolstering security measures to promote increased digital connectivity, spur economic growth, and fortify resilience throughout Africa

Umoja: Bridging Africa and Australia

Google introduces Umoja, a pioneering fiber optic pathway, marking the first direct connection between Africa and Australia. Originating in Kenya, this cable will traverse through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, integrating with the Google Cloud region, before spanning the Indian Ocean to reach Australia. Developed in partnership with Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Umoja is designed as a scalable network with multiple access points, enabling broader utilisation across the continent.

Named after the Swahili term for unity, Umoja is part of the Africa Connect initiative, complementing Equiano. This venture aims to bolster interconnectivity within Africa and with the global community. The establishment of a novel route, distinct from existing networks, is pivotal for ensuring network resilience in a region prone to significant outages.

The collaboration with African and Australian leaders has been instrumental in realising the Africa Connect project, which promises to benefit individuals, enterprises, and governments both in Africa and globally.

Meg Whitman, U.S. ambassador to Kenya, “Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity. This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region.”

William S Ruto, president of the Republic of Kenya, added, “I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia. The new intercontinental fiber optic route will significantly enhance our global and regional digital infrastructure. This initiative is crucial in ensuring the redundancy and resilience of our region’s connectivity to the rest of the world, especially in light of recent disruptions caused by cuts to sub-sea cables. By strengthening our digital backbone, we are not only improving reliability but also paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation, and economic opportunities for our people and businesses.”

Michelle Rowland MP, Australian minister for communications, remarked, “Diversifying Australia’s connectivity and supporting digital inclusion across the globe are both incredibly important objectives, and Google’s Umoja cable will help to do just that. Australia welcomes Google’s investment and congratulates all those involved in undertaking this crucial initiative.”

Strive Masiyiwa, chairman and founder of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, commented, “Africa’s major cities including Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, and Harare will no longer be hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites that connect Africa to the world. They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here. I am proud that this project helps us deliver a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind, regardless of how far they are from the technology centers of the world.”

GSMA report lauds PalmPay for driving mobile money adoption in Nigeria, emphasising its role in financial inclusion. (Image source: Palmpay)

Mobile

In the recently released 'The State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2024' by the GSMA, PalmPay, a prominent pan-African fintech, was highlighted as a key driver of mobile money adoption in Nigeria 

Eutelsat and Yahsat collaborate to expand broadband services in Africa, leveraging EUTELSAT KONNECT satellite capacity. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Satellite

Eutelsat Group and YahClick, the data solutions arm of Al Yah Satellite Communications Company PJSC (Yahsat), the UAE’s flagship satellite solutions provider, have collaborated to expand broadband services in Africa, leveraging EUTELSAT KONNECT satellite capacity

This agreement allows YahClick to utilise capacity on Eutelsat’s geostationary satellite, EUTELSAT KONNECT.

This collaboration between the two prominent satellite operators aligns with Yahsat’s strategic goals to enhance its services and foster growth across its satellite broadband footprint in Africa. It aims to offer improved services and extend into new markets within Africa and beyond. As part of this arrangement, Yahsat gains exclusive rights to Eutelsat’s KONNECT capacity over Ethiopia, a rapidly expanding market in Africa.

Launched in November 2020, EUTELSAT KONNECT is a high-throughput satellite that provides substantial resources for broadband services, boasting 75 Gbps of capacity across a network of 65 spotbeams. Initially serving Europe and Africa, the satellite's entire capacity is gradually being dedicated to offering coverage specifically tailored for Africa.

Sulaiman Al Ali, chief commercial officer of Yahsat, remarked, ‘We are delighted to partner with Eutelsat and have access to state-of-the-art orbital assets, to support our satellite network. This partnership shall enable us to further enhance our portfolio and drive growth of our ‘YahClick’ broadband services to consumer and enterprise markets. Yahsat supported Eutelsat in the early years of its African Broadband journey, and we are happy to be collaborating once again to ensure our existing and future customers benefit from the highest level of service and availability.”

Ghassan Murat, Eutelsat’s regional vice-president of the AMEA region added, “We are honoured to further deepen our ties with our long-standing partner, Yahsat. Yahsat’s strong presence in Africa and the Middle East through the successful deployment of its YahClick satellite broadband service, together with the uptake we are seeing as we progressively transfer EUTELSAT KONNECT capacity to Africa highlight the buoyant demand for robust broadband services in the market, and the pertinence of satellite in connecting users, even in the most remote locations.”

Orange Ventures and Digital Africa enhance support for African startups through the Orange Digital Center network, boosting investments and fostering innovation. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Commerce

At Vivatech, a significant partnership was established between Fayçal Adlouni of Orange Ventures and Grégoire de Padirac from Digital Africa, aiming to enhance the growth and support of African startups within the Orange Digital Centers (ODC) network

Asma Ennaifer, executive director of CSR, communications and the Orange Digital Center program for Orange Africa and the Middle East, welcomed this collaboration, which builds upon the strategic alliance formed with Digital Africa in June 2023 to boost startup financing and assistance.

The alliance underscores the dedication of both Orange Ventures and Digital Africa to intensify their investment in startups nurtured by the ODC network. The Fuzé initiative now allows for the doubling of investments by either party, facilitated by a collaborative evaluation of applications and potential co-financing opportunities. The Orange Digital Center, present in 17 African and Middle Eastern countries and 8 European nations, consolidates various complimentary programs—from digital education for youth to startup incubation, acceleration, and leader support—under one roof, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation across the region.

In its inaugural year, the Fuzé program by Digital Africa granted up to €50,000 to five startups within the ODC network. Among these, three are Cameroonian—Clinihome in Healthtech, Koree in Fintech, and Colorfol in cultural and creative sectors—and two are Senegalese—Tolbi in Agritech and Proboutik in Fintech. This financial support is poised to significantly bolster their operations.

The involvement of Orange Ventures, the venture capital branch of the Orange Group, marks a pivotal advancement in the shared goal of propelling startup growth. This joint support framework for African entrepreneurs seeking funding was met with enthusiasm and a unified commitment to success by representatives from Orange, OMEA, and Digital Africa during the partnership signing event.

Fayçal Adlouni, managing partner, Orange Ventures,remarked, “The Orange Group is fully committed to nurturing the future champions of the technology scene in Africa and the Middle East. This arrangement, involving Orange Middle East and Africa, Orange Ventures and Digital Africa will collectively enable us to concentrate our resources to create an environment conducive to the success of startups in Africa and the Middle East.”

Asma Ennaifer, executive director of CSR, Communications and the Orange Digital Center program for Orange Middle East and Africa, added, “Orange Digital Centers are true catalysts for innovation, where ideas take shape and dreams become reality. By joining forces with Orange Ventures and Digital Africa, we're giving African startups the means to thrive and make their mark in a rapidly expanding digital world.”

Grégoire de Padirac, CEO of Digital Africa, said: “I am delighted by this partnership with Orange, with whom we share the same commitment to supporting African entrepreneurs from the earliest stages of maturity by providing them with a comprehensive range of financing and support services.”

Africa Data Centres & DPA SA pioneer solar farm for sustainable data solutions in South Africa. (Image source: African Data Centres)

Power

Africa Data Centres, a division of the Cassava Technologies group, has announced the commencement of construction for a solar farm in the Free State in partnership with DPA Southern Africa 

Nigeria to levy 0.5% on e-money transfers for cybersecurity. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

Security

Nigeria's central bank has announced its intention to implement a levy on domestic electronic money transfers aimed at funding cybersecurity initiatives 

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