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Ivorian entrepreneur, Alain Capo-Chichi, creates ‘local language’ smartphone

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In Ivory Coast, an entrepreneur, Alain Capo-Chichi has created a locally-made smartphone, called “Open G”.

Capo-Chichi said he wanted to create the phone to help people like his parents, who are illiterate, use features like transferring money and sending messages.

“In Africa the problem we have… is that reading and writing is not accessible to everyone,” he said. “People can use their smartphones much more easily by simply speaking to them.”

The device aims to improve accessibility with voice commands in local languages for users who can’t read and write.

The phone adds to the growing number of African-made mobile devices. Some of them are Afrione, Imose Mobile, Pliris Mobile, and Solo Phone in Nigeria; SICO Technology in Egypt, and Onyx Connect and Mint in South Africa. There is also VMK, a Congolese start-up launched in 2009, which opened a factory in Mpila, Congo Brazzaville, in July 2015.

The device went on sale last month in the West African country. It can understand commands and respond in 16 of Ivory Coast’s approximately 60 spoken languages, including Dioula, Senoufo and Bété.

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South African calling app startup, Talk360, gets $7m seed funding following new backing

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South Africa’s international calling app, Talk360, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) startup, has secured an additional US$3 million in seed round funding, taking its total seed round to US$7 million after its first funding in May.

Talk360’s latest investors include lead angel investor, HAVAÍC, Allan Gray E2 Ventures (AGEV), Kalon Venture Partners, E4E Africa, Endeavor, and Tjaart van der Walt and Coenraad Jonker.

The app which enables people around the world to make reliable and affordable calls to any landline or mobile phone worldwide, co-founded in 2016 by South African venture builder, Dean Hiine with Dutch entrepreneurs Hans Osnabrugge and Jorne Schamp, provides phone calls to any offline landline or mobile phone in the world.

Earlier in May, the startup had secured a US$4 million seed round, which has now grown to $7 million with the additional $3m it secured on Monday

Hiine who spoke on the new investment, said the funds will help the company “grow its market share in South Africa, drive its growth on the rest of the continent and launch its market first pan-African payment platform in 2023.”

“Our mission is to bridge distance and connect lives by offering reliable, affordable, and easy-to-use digital services, delivered in a localised manner to all communities, particularly emerging countries, so they can connect to the world,” Hiine said.

“But we’re not just solving socio-economic issues: we’re also offering micro-entrepreneurship and income generating opportunities to our growing network of agents across the country,” he added.

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(VIDEO) 25-year-old Togolese inventor constructs 4-wheel-drive from recycled materials

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A 25-year-old inventor in Togo, Sourou-Edjareyo Malazouwe, has entered the history books after he constructed a 4×4 car using locally made recycled materials.

Malazouwe, who described himself as a self-taught engineer with a passion for sport cars, told journalists on Friday during an exhibition of the 4-wheel drive that he embarked upon the venture of making the car himself because he could not afford to buy one.

“I finished secondary school in 2016 and after that, I started my own business, selling and repairing mobile phones and computers. It’s because of that that I could afford to build this car,” he said.

He said he started work on the last year ago in his workshop in the Forever district of the capital, Lomé, and the first model named ‘RAF-X Raptor‘, has been out on the road for some time now.

“I used a lot of recycled parts. I paid for a few new ones. In this box you can see parts from Titan buses, from motorcycles, from cars, it depends. I get the parts from everywhere which is how I manage,” he said.

“There are plenty of people who are impressed by the car and I have received several orders for one, but I am currently working on fixing some probems with my garage,” he added.

Malazouwe’s efforts have not gone unnoticed as he was invited in May to meet with Togo’s Prime Minister, Victoire Tomégah-Dogbé Dogbé.

After the meeting, Dogbé tweeted that she was amazed and charmed by Malazouwe’s genius.

“I told him how proud we were and reiterated the government’s commitment to support him,” she wrote.

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