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Kenya looks up to Google’s Project Loon for better internet coverage

Technology giant Google is looking to strike deals with Kenyan telecommunications operators to deliver mobile internet coverage to remote locations through a network of cost-efficient floating balloons

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Technology giant Google is looking to strike deals with Kenyan telecommunications operators to deliver mobile internet coverage to remote locations through a network of cost-efficient floating balloons. Google’s Project Loon, has set out on a global campaign to increase internet connectivity for millions of people living in rural poorly connected areas.

Kenya’s ICT Ministry has welcomed the move on the premise that an aerial network would cut costs and enhance internet usage across all segments of Kenya’s population. Principal secretary in the ICT Ministry Sammy Itemere says, “It is companies such as X [formerly Google X] that innovate and provide solutions that benefit our city. We welcome the use of high-altitude balloons to create an aerial wireless network that offers real benefits to consumers.”

Speaking at the opening of a workshop to sensitize stakeholders on the balloon technology, the PS said the balloon network can easily achieve 4G-LTE speeds and would help Kenya multiply ICT’s impact on the economy.

A 2017 report revealed that 67% of Kenyans have access to the internet, mainly using mobile devices, this is impressive compared to the continent’s 18% average.

The balloons enable the nearest telecommunications partner’s ground station to receive the wireless internet signals that are then transmitted across the network of balloons and then back down to users’ mobile phones on the ground. Each balloon covers up to 5000 square kilometers and runs on renewable energy.

Google has already have deployed 10 balloons for testing in Nakuru, Nanyuki, Nyeri, and Marsabit.

Project Loon has received unanimous applause worldwide for its role in providing internet to disaster-stricken areas. Google had previouly partnered with AT&T to provide internet coverage to Puerto Rico following the devastating Hurricane Maria. However, on the flipside, balloon crashes have occurred in nearly 10 countries, including Panama and the USA.

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Nigerian fintech startup, CredPal, secures more funding from Cairo Angels syndicate

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A Nigerian fintech startup, CredPal, has raised funding from the Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund (CASF), a micro-venture capital fund, to expand its “buy now, pay later” incentive to customers.

Launched in 2018 by the duo of Fehintolu Olaogun and Olorunfemi Jegede, CredPal has placed itself as one of Nigeria’s most preferred consumer credit platform that gives buyers the freedom to “buy now and pay later” and helps merchants acquire more customers to increase their sales.

According to Disrupt Africa, the Google-backed CredPal has over 85,000 active customers and over 4,000 onboarded merchants, with the company announcing in March it had raised US$15 million in funding to expand its consumer credit offerings in Nigeria and to scale across Africa.

While speaking on the new funding, Olaogun said:

“This support from Cairo Angels Syndicate Fund reinforces our mission to improve the quality of life of Africans through easy access to consumer credit.

“My co-founder and I are very pleased to have them as investment partners and can’t wait for how much we’ll achieve together.”

The Cairo Angels is Egypt’s first formal network of angel investors, and since its formation has been one of the most active early-stage investors in startups and high-growth businesses in the Middle East and Africa, with 31 investee companies across 18 different sectors.

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Nigerian auto tech startup, Autochek, partners with Kenya’s Pezesha to provide asset financing to African SMEs

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Nigerian auto-tech digital solution startup, Autochek, has entered into a partnership with Kenyan fintech, Pezesha, to provide asset financing to Africa Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

According to Autochek Kenyan Country Manager, Bilhah Muriithi, the company aims to build digital solutions that will enhance and enable a seamless and safe automotive commerce experience across Africa, with the hub starting with Nigeria and Ghana.

“Autochek has been focused on financing retail customers, we are excited to partner with Pezesha whose key focus is on enabling SME lending.

“Autochek will continue to invest in the market while exploring new partnership opportunities to deliver solutions for driving positive change in the automotive industry in Kenya and beyond,” said Muriithi.

Autochek, Muriithi said, plans to use technology to transform the automotive buying and selling experience for African consumers, by creating a single marketplace for consumers’ automotive needs, from sourcing and financing to after sales support and warranties.

Having expanded to Kenya late last year, the partnership between Autochek and Pezesha will enable SMEs to acquire auto assets for ease of business operations and growth.

Pezesha was founded in 2016 and has created a holistic digital financial infrastructure that connects small and medium-sized businesses to working capital offered by banks, MFIs, and other financial institutions or networks.

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