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Nigerian agro-tech startup, ThriveAgric, wins Visa Everywhere Initiative

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Nigerian agro-tech startup, ThriveAgric, was on Friday, crowned winner of the Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI), a global open innovation program and competition for startups and fintech companies, carting home the $100,000 prize at stake.

The startup which champions technology to transform the payments landscape for smallholder farmers, won the handsome prize at the global finale of the VEI held in Qatar amidst the FIFA World Cup 2022.

The final was preceded by a year-long competition that saw more than 4,000 fintech entrepreneurs across the world compete in regional editions before advancing to the final stage.

According to Andrew Torre, the Regional President for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) of VEI, the applicants entered the competition with “innovative payment and commerce solutions to solve the payment challenges of tomorrow.”

“A new fintech generation is transforming the way consumers and businesses make payments, making it easier for more people to access and move money when they need it ” Torre said.

“We congratulate ThriveAgric and all the winners in this year’s competition, and we look forward to continue partnering with fintechs to solve the payments challenges of tomorrow,” he added while making the presentation to the winners.

Co-founder of ThriveAgric, Ayo Arikawe, in his response, said:

“The hard work we’ve put into ThriveAgric will ensure that technology is leveraged to empower farmers across the country.

“To not only win the CEMEA regional VEI competition but also pitch at the final here in Qatar gives me great confidence in our ability to scale our solutions and continue to enrich farmers’ lives.”

Apart from ThriveAgric, other winners in the competition include Zeti, a fintech enabling pay per use financing of sustainable transport, which took second place while Huli, a platform that connects patients, doctors and other healthcare services, won the audience favourite award.

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Kenyan techpreneur wins Microsoft’s 2022 MVP award

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A Kenyan techpreneur, Shadrack Kiprotich, has been awarded the coveted 2022 Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for “actively sharing high-quality expertise with other technology professionals.”

Kiprotich made the list of over 3,000 awardees worldwide for the Microsoft MVPs, which is an “elite group of experts who share a passion for technology, a willingness to help others, and a commitment to community, making them exceptional leaders who contribute to the industry’s success through knowledge-sharing to solve problems,” according to Microsoft’s website.

After the announcement on Monday, Kiprotich, who was also nominated in the Business Applications category, said he will continue to “deliver amazing work in his local community and will hope to open up more opportunities for others to do the same.”

“The MVP award program will play a huge role in my journey since this is something I love; advocating for tech for all and making contributions to the community,” he told journalists in Nairobi.

“As the only Kenyan MVP at the moment, I am looking forward to more people joining the program and we will be able to grow the MVP community in Kenya and get to empower more people,” Kiprotich said.

Ruth Ferland, the Microsoft Africa Development Center Senior Program Manager for Ecosystem Engagements, noted that Shadrack’s journey to the award indicated the importance of introducing technical skills early, and maintaining a strong talent development pipeline for the technology industry.

“As we congratulate Shadrack Kiprotich for his unwavering efforts to becoming one of the elite global technology professionals, we must consider the value of providing technical skills early on in people’s lives,” said Ferland.

Kiprotich who holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, picked up his programming skills by learning from a friend and honed them in the Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors program, before going on to be a team lead in Season 2 of the Microsoft Game of Learners hackathon in 2021.

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Equitorial Guinea accuses French telecoms operator, Orange SA, of giving away its domain name

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Equatorial Guinea has accused French telecoms giant, Orange SA, of “fraudulently” giving out its “.gq” domain name to the Netherlands, thus forcing the African country’s institutions to pay to use the domain.

The country’s Vice President, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, who made the accusations on Saturday, said officials in Equatorial Guinea had “discovered that the French from the Orange company engaged in fraudulent manipulation by ceding our domain .gq to the Dutch”.

The .gq domain name, according to local media, was launched in 1997 by Equatorial Guinean mobile operator, Getesa, but was reported to be prone to spam, phishing and other malicious use.

While speaking at a press conference, Nguema said:

“Now, we have to pay them to use our own domain, which makes it challenging to set up an institutional website with .gq for the country,” he said at a press conference.

“What have we done to France for it to plunder African countries in this manner? We are once again hindered by their trickery. The West should stop taking advantage of Africa,” he added.

This is not the first time the son of long-serving President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, has accused European countries of various infractions in his country.

He has previously accused the United States, Spain and France of interfering in his country’s internal affairs.

In one of such instances, a French court in 2020, fined him €30 million for embezzling public funds, giving him a suspended jail term and ordering the confiscation of his assets.

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