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Vodacom deploys world’s first mobile radio equipment to bolster network resilience in Egypt

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Vodacom Group has announced the deployment of a world-first triple-band Mobile Radio Unit that combines the 1800MHz, 2100 FDD and 2600 TDD frequency bands into one single Radio Unit.

Making the announcement on the successful deployment of the device on Tuesday, Dejan Kastelic, Group Technology Officer for Vodacom Group, said the advanced Radio Unit from Ericsson would “enable Vodafone Egypt to reduce the cost of its 4G/5G network rollout in the country, the implementation time, energy consumption and tower load.”

The deployment of the world first triple-band Mobile Radio Unit, which is highly relevant for Egypt’s current radio spectrum allocation, will enable Vodafone Egypt to extend the reach of 4G and 5G services to even more customers in the country.

“I am proud of the innovative work done by the team in Vodafone Egypt in driving Vodacom Group’s vision to build networks that are future-proofed, efficient and customer focused.

“Combining three bands across FDD and TDD in a single radio unit is a milestone in simplifying the engineering, deployment, and operation of our network,” Kastelic said.

According to the statement, Vodacom, which acquired a 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt in 2022, has so far, invested R4.6 billion in its last financial year on growing and strengthening the network in Egypt to support increased demand.

Vodacom is committed to providing solutions that contribute towards Egypt’s priority national development ambitions, including the Digital Egypt strategy, which comprises numerous national projects to achieve digital transformation and upgrade digital infrastructure,” Kastelic added.

Vodafone Egypt services 48.3 million customers and contributes one quarter of the company’s revenue supported by excellent customer engagement in connectivity, mobile and fixed price adjustments, and excellent growth in its financial services platform, Vodafone Cash.

As of January 2024, Egypt’s internet penetration rate was 72.2%, with 75.66 million internet users in January 2022.

The North African country
has the second largest online population in the continent though the country’s average internet download speed is amongst the slowest in the world.

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Mastercard Foundation expands EdTech Fellowship to Egypt

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The Mastercard Foundation has extended its EdTech Fellowship Egypt following earlier programmes in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.

The EdTech Fellowship, which was launched in 2019, is an entrepreneurship acceleration programme that supports promising African ed-tech ventures.

According to the tech giant, the Fellowship provides critical business, financial, and educational support to help ed-tech companies scale, achieve sustainability, and increase impact.

“The fellowship has already supported dozens of companies in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya, and has now expanded to Egypt in partnership with EdVentures, the investment arm of Nahdet Misr Group and a leading ed-tech venture capital firm in the MENA region,” Mastercard said while announcing the launch.

“Twelve startups have been chosen for the initial eight-month programme, comprising specialised training, mentorship, workshops, networking, and access to courses.

“Each startup will receive $60,000 in equity-free funding. Over the next three years, the fellowship will support a total of 36 ed-tech startups, driving positive change in the education sector,” it said.

The inaugural Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship cohort are 5 Quarters, a dental student learning application; Armstrong, an interactive STEM e-learning platform; Business بالعربي, an Arabic self-development and business skills podcast.

Others are Career 180, a career development and job placement solutions for youth; Deaf Gain, consulting services for the deaf and hard of hearing; and Fednee, a platform for networking, career development, mentoring, and collaboration.

The cohort is completed by iSchool, which is teaching AI and coding for kids ages 6-17; Mharet Tefl: a speech therapy programme for children; Nafham by Tayro, an online learning application; OTO Courses, an online one-on-one English and other courses; Science Street, which promotes science literacy; and Bayt Alkhyata, which fosters social development for women and their communities.

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Ecobank Group launches $50,000 Fintech Challenge

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Pan-African financial services company, Ecobank Group, has opened applications for its 2024 Fintech Challenge with a whopping $50,000 prize money up for grabs.

The annual competition which is in its 7th edition, invites early-stage and mature fintech startups to partner with Ecobank, with the winner taking home the princely sum and a chance of scaling their solutions across Ecobank’s extensive network spanning 35 African countries.

Jeremy Awori, Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Group who made the announcement in a statement on Tuesday, said the Ecobank Fintech Challenge provides a unique opportunity for Fintech entrepreneurs to address their challenges by not only offering financial rewards but by also providing Ecobank’s expertise in diversified markets operations and the right solutions to scale across its pan-African footprint and international presence such as France.

“Building partnerships with fintechs is a catalyst for driving financial inclusion in Africa. At Ecobank, we prioritize fintechs in our Growth, Transformation, and Returns strategy “, said Awori.

“We have enhanced this new edition of the Ecobank Fintech Challenge to continue to provide fintech entrepreneurs with a premier platform to showcase groundbreaking solutions, while creating unparalleled opportunities for growth and expansion across 35 markets in Africa,” he added.

The Ecobank Group CEO noted that despite the fintech eruption in the African continent, a McKinsey report reveals that fintech start-ups in Africa are still facing several challenges such as reaching scale, navigating an uncertain regulatory environment, or managing scarcity of funding.

“Last year’s competition attracted 1,490 entries of real quality, which underscores the significance of this pan-African challenge.

“Successful applicants reaching the Grand Finale and Awards Ceremony in October 2024 will have the chance to join the highly coveted Ecobank Fintech Fellowship programme, with the overall winner receiving a cash prize of US$50,000.

“Ecobank Fintech Fellows will gain access to numerous opportunities through collaboration with Ecobank and its partners, potentially including:

“Other multinational product rollout include an opportunity to integrate their solutions with Ecobank, opening doors to potential product launches within Ecobank’s expansive 35-country Pan-Africannetwork.

“Selected fintechs may become Pan-African service partners within the Bank’s ecosystem while Fellows will receive exclusive access to Ecobank’s cutting-edge APIs, enabling them to test and develop their products for the Pan-African market.”

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge is designed in partnership with international advisory firm, Konfidants, and is supported by various partners.

Applications for the 7th Ecobank Fintech Challenge are now open to fintechs and developers from across Africa, as well as global Africa-centered fintechs.

Interested parties can find out more about the competition and submit their applications through the official website: EcobankFintechChallenge.com.

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