Africa tech

Late at night during a power blackout in Ghana’s capital Accra is neither the time nor the place you’d expect pop diva Celine Dion to come to your rescue. But when a rider from restaurant delivery service Hellofood Ghana lost his bearings with a customer’s dinner on the back of his motorbike, he turned to Celine for help.

Unable to find his customer’s home in the gloom, he arranged for the client to come onto the street playing “My heart will go on” on her phone. The driver, also a Dion fan, played the same music on his phone, allowing the two of them to locate each other by siren song.

“Luckily, he still had a mobile phone signal so he could phone the client,” says Yolanda Lee, a 26 year-old Canadian who runs Hellofood Ghana, a subsidiary of Hellofood Africa which manages a meal delivery service in 10 countries and 14 cities in West, East and North Africa. Read more

“If you wake me up at 2 am and ask me what I am thinking about, the answer is power,” says Pankaj Kulshrestha, chief operating officer of Eaton Towers, one of a crop of infrastructure companies that have sprung up in the past five years to control some 15 per cent of Africa’s telecoms towers.

Such nighttime frets arise from the fact that telecoms towers – which much of Africa relies upon to enable internet access – need diesel-powered generators to keep humming. And the supply of diesel in sub-Saharan Africa is prey to theft, political upheavals and economic volatility.

As a result, the business model of “towercos” such as Kulshrestha’s, as well as the operation of some 170,000 telecoms towers and the provision of wireless internet for communications, banking and commerce in large swathes of the continent all hinge on the vicissitudes of the market in the fuel. Read more

By Bright B Simons of IMANI Ghana

Since Africa emerged from colonial rule, every decade has brought its own hopes of a particular path to sustained economic success. The current model of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation might have found the right formula. Read more

By Paul Kagame and Hamadoun Touré (l)

We live in an age defined by technological change. A digital revolution is underway and, in its slipstream, a data revolution is taking place. Old systems are being eclipsed by new methods and the implications for the developing world are profound; it presents the possibility to kick development into a higher gear and transform the African continent. Read more

By Bright B Simons of IMANI Ghana

There are two prevailing and conflicting views of progress in Africa: the ‘incrementalists’ and the ‘cyclicalists’. The incrementalists say Africa is ‘catching up’; the cyclicalists say it is ‘not catching up fast enough’ because it is locked in a ‘two steps forward one step backward’ rhythm.

My opinion is that both views are muddled. Read more

The growth in sub-Saharan Africa’s telecoms industry has created global stars in the likes of M-Pesa and MTN, but its continued success rests upon having the right infrastructure to back them up.

So the acquisition of Altech Group’s east African telecoms assets by Liquid Telecom is worth noting. If it gets the nod from regulators, the deal will give Liquid access to the potentially lucrative Kenyan broadband market and a base to expand into other fast-growing data markets in the region. Read more

Research in Motion is set to unveil another disappointing set of quarterly results on Thursday. There’s the bad news. Anything happier to report?

Well, there’s the launch of a new BlackBerry 10 smartphone coming soon, which the company hopes will stem its falling market share in the US and UK. But the Canadian group is also looking to exploit other regions with strong growth prospects – particularly in AfricaRead more