Month: November 2012

First African tablet computer: Way-C

Verona Mankou, founder and CEO of VMK, a Congolese startup who chose to build its strategy on mobile technology. In 2011 he presented his first product: a pc tablet, the Way-C, it is the first touch pad designed by an African. On sale since January 2012 in the Congo and France and soon in the rest of Africa, the tablet has opened a new era to VMK who is preparing to launch on the market, before the end of the year, a Smartphone. Here he is discussing about the Way-C tablet computer.

Burger King planning to open its first restaurant in South Africa early next year

U.S. restaurant fast food giant Burger King is planning on opening it’s first store in South Africa.

The US company has granted Grand Parade Investments an exclusive agreement, which gives the South African group the franchise in the country.

GPI plans to open its first Burger King in Capetown, before opening more outlets.

Rival McDonald’s has been operating in South Africa since the 1995.

Tough competition

GPI has made much of its money from casinos and slot machines, but it believes the Burger King franchise will prove profitable in Africa’s largest economy.

“We are really looking forward to a healthy relationship with Burger King,” said Hassen Adams, executive chairman of GPI.

 McDonald’s started operating in South Africa in 1995

“The introduction of Burger King to South Africa will bring much needed new jobs, careers for our people and help in reducing the high unemployment rate,” he said.

Jose Cil, the president of Burger King’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said the company had studied the region closely with GPI and “now is the time to develop the brand in South Africa”.

“We strongly believe the joint venture is uniquely positioned to succeed,” he said.

Burger King will find McDonald’s tough competition in South Africa. McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in the country in November 1995 and now operates 165 outlets in nine of South Africa’s provinces.

McDonald’s says South Africa is one of the most successful markets in its international history.

It has invested more than 750m rand ($86m; £53.8m) into the South African economy and says it is committed to the success of the market.

Covered about possible opening of Burger King in Africa last year, glad plan has come to fruition. Fast and growing consumer market, lots of untapped potential for growth and investment.

Ongoing security crisis in Mali

The current security environment in Mali is becoming more complex and risky, given recent developments. Main cause of instability has been the March 22 coup by soldiers who were angry over the government’s handling of the crisis. President Amadou Toumani Toure was overthrown; creating a power vacuum that enabled secular separatists Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Islamist rebels, Ansar Dine, to seize the vast desert north. The secular separatists were quickly sidelined by Islamists fighting on their flanks who had little interest in their aspirations for an independent homeland and set about implementing strict sharia.

Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith, in Arabic) along with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have implemented an extreme form of sharia in the cities they control, stoning, whipping and amputating transgressors. Ansar Dine has also destroyed centuries-old cultural treasures in the fabled city of Timbuktu which they denounced as “idolatrous” to their radical brand of Islam.

Fighters of the Ansar Dine, the largest of the Islamist groups that control northern Mali, at Kidal airport.

West African army chiefs have adopted a military plan to expel Islamist rebels controlling northern Mali reached at a meeting of army top brass in Bamako. The plan will be studied by regional heads of state for approval before being presented next week to the UN Security Council on November 26.

Given that Al Qaeda linked Islamist groups have been occupying territory larger than France, such events haven’t gone unnoticed by the world. France has sent drones to monitor activity.

A French defense official said Monday that France plans to move two surveillance drones to western Africa from Afghanistan by year-end, though he did not provide details.

The U.S. is getting involved as well. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two weeks ago visited the region to lobby for support in ousting the extremists from Mali. Algeria, with its superior military capabilities and its 1,400-kilometre (900-mile) border with Mali, is seen as key to any military operation but has been hesitant to get involved, preferring a negotiated solution. Nigeria another neighboring country which has been looked at for possible assistance in taking on the Islamists lacks the capabilities and resources.

The Nigerian army is in a shocking state,” said the source, who has seen recent assessments of Ecowas’s military capability. “In reality there is no way they are capable of forward operations in Mali – their role is more likely to be limited to manning checkpoints and loading trucks.”

“The Nigerian forces lack training and kit, so they simply don’t have the capability to carry out even basic military manoeuvres,” the source added. “They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes role in logistics and providing security.”

Reading through all the statements from police, army brass and politicians, war plans are being sketched out to take on, help drive out militant Islamists from Northeastern Mali.

Malian army, whose lack of training and equipment led directly to the country’s 22 March coup d’etat, which toppled the previous civilian government and allowed al-Qaida-linked Islamists to gain control of the country’s north will rely on international help. Fears in the region and among Western powers are high that the zone could become a haven for terrorists if nothing substantive is done.

Mediators have approached talks with the hope Ansar Dine will cut ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), whose alliance with the Islamists has triggered fears in the region and among western powers that the zone could become a new haven for terrorists.

Whether done regionally and or with help from abroad, countries in the region have to do whatever they have at their disposal to make sure that vast areas do not become sanctuaries for religious conflict fueled by Islamist groups.

Google partners with African Universities

Google is partnering with various universities across Africa.

Today, over 30 universities across Africa are partnering with Google to bring students, faculty and staff online to help them work better together. Through initiatives like the Google Apps Supporting Programs (GASP) and attendance at events like the 18th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, Google is working with Sub-Saharan and South African universities to improve Internet access, strengthen campus infrastructure, and adopt Google Apps for Education through a combination of grants, technical consulting and training.

The GASP program is partnering with African universities in a variety of ways, including offering 65,000 University of Pretoria students (South Africa) a university Gmail account for life through Google Apps for Education. Makerere University Business School (MUBS) in Uganda also integrated Google Apps for Education into their core processes such as the payroll system, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya, the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, and the University of Ghana adopted Google Apps for Education to improve cross-campus collaboration. And Inoorero University in Kenya extended their campus network infrastructure through grants and technical consulting offered through the GASP program.

At Google, we’re firm believers that we can work better together on the web. We’re excited to continue to partner with universities around the world to build out their infrastructure and get their students, faculty and staff online. Learn more about Google Apps Supporting Programs.

This is good for all sides involved. Google gets to expand it’s foot print, presence in Africa and students gain wealth of knowledge that will help them in an ever growing technology based world.

presenceThe Free Dictionary: The state or fact of being present; current existence or occurrence.

India’s growing presence in Africa

India has two reasons to take an interest in Africa – it’s deeply concerned about China’s forays into the continent’s strategic and economic space, and it’s also mindful that it requires the support of its 54 nations if it is to realize its ambitions to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. India is a latecomer in Africa, but as a demonstration of its pro-active engagement with the continent, the government this week announced that its trade target with the continent has now been revised upwards to $90 billion by 2015, up from the previous target of $70 billion. The announcement came on March 17, when the India-Africa Business Council met in New Delhi for the first time. The second meeting of India-Africa trade ministers took place the same day. The growing ties between India and African nations has seen bilateral trade soar over the past decade, and India has established a number of pan-African institutions under the umbrella of the India-Africa Forum Summit for capacity building and human resource development across many areas, including the India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade, the India-Africa Diamond Institute, the India-Africa Institute of Educational Planning and Administration and the India-Africa Civil Aviation Academy. Yet another institution, the India-Africa Business Council, was launched on March 17, with a brief to put in place a vibrant mechanism for enhancing economic and commercial relations between the two sides, especially in areas including agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, railways, energy and petroleum and natural gas. As of now, India is in no position to take on China in Africa. But the Indians are clearly making a concerted pitch to win friends and influence people there.