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Tech Companies Making a Difference in Africa

Africa has long been touted as the continent with the most growth potential when it comes to tech and innovation. Many African countries are building their own equivalents of Silicon Valley and tech companies from all across the world have been setting up offices and launching themselves into markets across the continent. And in addition to growing their customer bases, these companies are also committing to making affecting change in Africa.Here’s how.

They are assisting in developing quality journalists and newsrooms

Over the years, Google, perhaps the biggest tech giant in the world, has been doing its fair share for small businesses, content creators and business owners across Africa. And just recently the company announced that five South African recipients have been selected as part of Google’s News Initiative (GNI) Innovation Challenge. The GNI Innovation Challenge is aimed at helping the journalism industry thrive in the digital era. Their projects are among 34 chosen from 17 countries, to receive a share of $3.2 million in funding.The recipients, among them 21 journalists and publishers from 10 countries in Africa, were selected for their work in promoting diversity, equality, and inclusion in the journalism industry. The GNI Innovation Challenge is part of Google’s $300 million commitment to helping journalism thrive in the digital era and has seen news innovators step forward with many exciting initiatives demonstrating new thinking.

They are building the right skills through access to digital media education

Today, there are local entrepreneurs in fields as diverse as fashion, healthcare, and decor who have proven that with more equal access to the digital marketing ecosystem, it’s possible to expand regionally and internationally.

In order for that to happen at scale, they also need the requisite skills to market themselves online in the markets they want to reach. At the very least, those entrepreneurs should have easy access to people with those skills. It’s important to note here, that these aren’t just fundamental digital marketing skills, but ones that relate to the specifics of marketing on the world’s leading digital advertising platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Spotify where people across the globe spend most of their time online. With the right types of messages, these platforms are the most effective places to reach new customers across a broad range of markets.

“This is something that we’re passionate about, and recently, Ad Dynamo by Aleph launched a free Digital Ad Expert programme for young people in Nigeria and Ghana, which aims to educate, certify and connect thousands of Africans with the digital skills needed to succeed in a rapidly digitising economy. While it’s entirely possible that someone with the right degree of determination and curiosity could develop those skills on their own, it’s critical that more and more resources are accessible to build them up at scale,” says Elyse Estrada, Global Chief Marketing Office, Aleph Group.

This is crucial to ensuring that markets such as Nigeria and Ghana aren’t just growth targets for international companies, but incubators for a new generation of entrepreneurs capable of competing on a global level themselves.

They are providing wider employment opportunities

Helping vulnerable domestic workers to find work in a dignified manner lies behind the creation of SweepSouth, a home-services company that operates in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt.

SweepSouth’s online platform provides clients needing their homes cleaned with pre-vetted, trustworthy home service providers, while simultaneously enabling domestic workers to find work opportunities in areas and at times that suit them, and overall earn higher than market rates.

Technology is one of the most powerful enablers of connectivity, and since it’s start up in 2014 – and subsequent pan-African expansion into big-market regions – SweepSouth has wanted to leverage that potential to ensure that domestic workers are able to connect with as many employment opportunities in the most convenient way possible.

“If the only way domestic workers can find work is through the occasional opportunities that people around them know about, it’s clear that in a country with an unemployment rate sitting at ~33% the chances of them getting access to constant dignified earnings are incredibly slim,” says Awazi Angbalaga, Country Manager for SweepSouth in Nigeria.

“Our platform allows domestic workers to take advantage of 100% of the opportunities that they are exposed to, which gives them the power to choose where they take work from. It puts control back into the hands of a group that is often exploited and underpaid. It also demonstrably improves the overall quality of their lives,” adds Angbalaga.

They are enabling mobile payment connections

MFS Africa, the continent’s largest omnichannel payment gateway, believes in a “borderless world” in which everyone has access. Their comprehensive digital networks link 320 million mobile wallets, enabling cross-border payments remittance firms, financial service providers, and worldwide merchants.

MFS Africa CEO and Founder, Dare Okoudjo believes that interoperability is crucial in allowing customers of different mobile financial services providers to interact with each other. This can be done by making direct payments from the mobile money account of one provider to the mobile money account of another provider.

To do this, MFS Africa acquired Global Technology Partners (GTP) recently, broadening its bank and fintech base and supplying tokenisation in the mobile money space by connecting with established card ecosystems like Visa and Mastercard. The ultimate objective is to give millions of mobile money users on the continent access to the global digital economy and new possibilities. For its partners, these new capabilities enable scalability, security, and new markets and consumers as technology innovation continues to penetrate and reshape societies.

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