BD Insider, Letter 105: Google's Equiano lands in Africa, Bolt internship for African women

BD Insider, Letter 105 covers Google's Equiano landing in Africa, UBA's partnership with Cellulant and Bolt's internship for women in Africa.

BD Insider, Letter 105: Google's Equiano lands in Africa, Bolt internship for African women

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Are you in Nigeria? Don't fret, flights won't be cancelled! Nigerian airlines, under the aegis of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), have backed down on their threat to shut down operations over an increase in the price of aviation fuel.

The Operators collectively agreed to suspend the shutdown to avert further disruption in economic activities, considering the key role air transportation plays in the logistic mix. AON further noted that local carriers will not increase their airfares.

What's inside this letter?

  • Google’s Equiano subsea cable to make its first African landing in Togo
  • United Bank for Africa (UBA) Partners with Cellulant to Expand its Reach in 19 Markets across Africa
  • Bolt restores internship for women to #BreakTheBias in Africa

Let's dive in!

Google’s Equiano subsea cable to make its first African landing in Togo

Google’s Equiano, a subsea internet cable will arrive in Togo this month, according to reports. Equiano is Google’s 14th investment in internet subsea cables but the first dedicated to internet access in Africa.

Globally, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most underserved region in terms of internet infrastructure. Penetration stands at 29%, while for the entire continent (including North Africa), it is 40%. A report by the International Finance Corporation shows that Africa has the lowest number of Internet connections—only 22 per cent of the continent has access.

The subsea cable will run from Portugal along the West Coast of Africa connecting Europe to Togo, Nigeria, Namibia and South Africa. “Equiano will carry approximately 20 times more network capacity than the last cable built to serve this region.” Nitin Gajria, Managing Director, Google Africa stated.

Gajria added that “between 2022 and 2025, Equiano should indirectly create 37,000 new jobs in Togo driven by the growth of the digital economy and peripheral sectors. Internet speeds in the country are expected to more than double from 10 Mbps in 2021 to 21 Mbps in 2025, while retail internet prices are forecast to decline by 14% over the same period.”

According to Google, CSquared, an international open-access wholesale broadband infrastructure company, and Societe d’Infrastructure Numeriques (SIN), a public telecommunications asset company, will manage and maintain the cable on Togolese soil.

Why Togo? Google highlighted Togo’s “strong commitment” to enabling the digital economy. Togo is a West African country, although one of the world’s youngest populations (median age of 19.4 years in 2020) lives without internet access that is affordable, reliable and of good quality. Internet access in Togo is among the least affordable on the continent, hindering uptake and limiting the country’s digital potential.

The subsea cable is named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist. “We are proud to name many subsea cable projects after historical luminaries. The Equiano cable is no different.”

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United Bank for Africa (UBA) partners with Cellulant to expand its reach in 19 markets across Africa

United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, and pan-African payments company Cellulant have announced a partnership that will extend payment services for merchants and consumers across 19 key African countries in which UBA operates.

These countries include  Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, the Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Liberia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Senegal.

“Our partnership with UBA is an opportunity to further simplify the payment experience for businesses looking to collect payments online or offline.” David Waithaka, Chief Revenue Officer at Cellulant said. Currently, over $15 billion in gross value payments are processed by Cellulant across the shared marker, this partnership has the scope to expand the numbers significantly.

Cellulant enables merchants to receive, view, and reconcile all their payments via a single application programming interface (API), cutting out the need to sign up for multiple payment providers, including mobile money and mobile money operators (MoMos).

Bolt restores internship for women to #BreakTheBias in Africa

Bolt has brought back its Drive for Women in Tech (#Drive4WITech) initiative, to mark this year's International Women’s month.

The aim is to provide equal opportunities for women in technology and improve overall gender equality in the mobility sector. The initiative includes an internship programme for young women who choose to start a career in technology regardless of their existing educational background.

The Bolt #Drive4WITech internship offers opportunities in operations, public relations, marketing, and engineering with access to excellent learning from top Bolt executives to young women across Africa.

Launched in 2021, #Drive4WITech recorded great success with massive participation. At the end of the programme, some of the interns were retained in full-time positions by the company. The 2022 internship programme aims to extend the achievement of the Bolt initiative and further bridge the gender gap in the technology sector.

Country Manager for Bolt, Oludele Dare, said “at Bolt, we understand the importance of a diverse and inclusive society for development. We provide equal opportunity to members of our community and recognise some of the barriers limiting young women from breaking into tech.

“Hence, we created the #Drive4WITech programme to ensure capacity building for young women and create a gender balance for impact in the technology industry. The internship programme provides young women with little to no experience in tech but a desire to break into the sector a rare opportunity thrive in the field.” Dare added.

The #Drive4WITech application will be open until March 30th, 2022, while recruitment will be in April. Successful candidates will be announced in May, and the internship will run through May and June. Interested applicants should fill out this form.

🧐 Interesting?

Here are some of the interesting stories that we've come across in the past week:

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  • A step by step guide for founders on how to get seed funding.
  • African tech startups are raising billions but can't find workers. How true?
  • The inside story of how Facebook's cryptocurrency died. Wow!
  • Made in Africa religious apps and software for Christians and Muslims

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Thanks for reading and sharing
Have a great week!
🖊 Johnstone and Daniel