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Updated: 55 min 43 sec ago

MTN and MMI Holdings introduce insurance cover for Loading Airtime and Sending Funds with MTN Mobile Money  

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 16:04

MTN Uganda, in partnership with aYo, today announced innovative micro-insurance products, Recharge with Care and Send with Care. The two are the first products launched by aYo – a joint venture between MTN and MMI Holdings – announced in September last year. aYo was formulated to have a strong focus on delivering micro-insurance solutions across the African continent.

aYo Recharge with Care offers MTN pre-paid customers an easy way to get free hospital or life cover. Whenever you load MTN airtime, you will receive 30 days’ free cover. To sign up, simply dial *296# and choose the cover you prefer: MyHospital or MyLife.

Adding aYo Send with Care to MTN Mobile Money transfers means that, in the unfortunate event of your passing or should you be hospitalised for a night or more, aYo will pay triple the amount you sent to your beneficiaries, either in one lump sum or in 12 equal monthly instalments, depending on your cover level. All you have to do is dial *165*1*4# to start Sending your money with Care.

“We are very excited to bring two very innovative products to our customers in Uganda. aYo helps you look after your loved ones, and we even reward you for doing so. If you interact with either of our products on a regular basis, we give you bonus value which, when it grows to UGX2,000, can be cashed out to your MTN Mobile Money wallet, used to buy more cover or MTN airtime,” said aYo Uganda Marketing Manager, Thomas Sekanwagi.

Commenting on this new partnership, Wim Vanhelleputte, Chief Executive Officer at MTN Uganda said: “We are delighted to partner with aYo to launch yet another set of products that further expands and strengthens our bouquet of mobile financial services offerings. Send with Care adds a further layer of security and customer-facing benefit by adding cover to funds sent using MTN Mobile Money while maintaining the convenience that has become a core feature of Mobile Money itself.”
“We are also very excited about Recharge with Care because for the first time, we are able to offer free cover and consequently, peace of mind, on all airtime recharges on the MTN network,” he concluded.

Edwin Kwesiga, Chief Executive Officer at aYo Uganda commented: “aYo is delighted to partner with MTN on this exciting venture. This partnership gives us an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the value of life and healthcare cover to their subscriber base. This will be achieved by building innovative products closely aligned to the real life and healthcare needs of the Ugandan consumer and will be backed by an awesome customer experience.”

NB: This is a press release from MTN Uganda

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Mastercard launches the 2Kuze marketplace to digitize East Africa’s Agricultural sector

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 13:20

Financial Services company MasterCard has today through its Master Lab for Financial Inclusion launched 2Kuze, a digital platform that connects smallholder farmers, agents, buyers and banks in East Africa.

2Kuze enables farmers to buy, sell and receive payments for agricultural goods via feature phones, that are widely available across the region. MasterCard says that the platform brings the benefits and security of mobile commerce and payments to farmers in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

The pilot study of 2Kuze is being launched in partnership with Cafédirect Producers Foundation, a non-profit organization working with over 300,000 smallholder farmers globally. So far, 2,000 Kenyan farmers in Nandi Hills are using the solution to sell their produce with farmer friendly agents to ensure they reach the right buyers for the best price.

2KUZE makes transacting much safer and simpler for all stakeholders in the agricultural supply chain – the farmer, the buyer and the agent. Farmers using 2KUZE can conduct the entire transaction of selling produce and receiving payments via their feature phones, without having to walk for hours to the markets. The platform enables farmers to capture a greater percentage of the wholesale value of their goods by providing price transparency, more direct access to buyers and empowerment of farmer-friendly agents.

“We believe that by using mobile, a technology that is so ubiquitous among farmers in Africa, we can improve financial access, bring in operational efficiency and facilitate faster payments. The collaboration between the Lab team and farmers in the market helped to deliver a solution that can be implemented and make an impact without any major changes to the day-to-day.”

Mastercard Lab is exploring the potential for 2KUZE to help farming communities receive the right level of investment and to encourage more efficient ways of doing business with smallholder farmers.

2KUZE is one of several broad-based collaborations on which the MasterCard Lab for Financial Inclusion is working.  The Lab was established in Africa to contribute to the company’s global commitment to connect 500 million people to formal financial services through the use of public-private partnerships with governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.

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Ensibuuko closes $500,000 worth of investment

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:15

Ensibuuko  is a cloud based management information system for Savings Cooperatives (SACCOS). It uses a mobile and web based application that integrates with SMS and mobile money to enable Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOS) of small holder rural farmers mobilise savings,  receive and repay loans. As of this writing, the fintech outfit closed a $500,000 investment in seed funding yesterday according to a one, Moris Atwine.

We celebrate the signing of our first $500k of investment. Starting a new year with great opportunities. Thank you everyone who has helped us to reach this far, says David Opio who is also the founder and CEO of Ensibuuko.

While an estimated  80% of the Ugandan population comprises of small holder farmers that particularly face funding problems to increase the value of their trade, Ensibuuko works with SACCOS to address such challenges enabling them to access credit using cheaply accessible technology like mobile phones to register and apply for loans and thus improving their productivity.

Ensibuuko lists over 68 SACCOS within its network and over 430,000 customers thus demostrating keen interest by farmers over its services. However, 430,000 customers is a paltry of an estimated 27,000,000  Ugandans directly employed by Agriculture if we’re to quote estimated figures.

These farmers remain largely un-banked given most financial institutions are reluctant to extend credit to them citing lack of collateral given agricultural produce is dependent on unpredictable seasons while others charge high interests to the lucky farmers that manage to be availed credit. All these remain obstacles to an economy sustained by Agriculture since it employs majority of the population. Ensibuuko seeks to reverse this with its range of services.

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Airtel Uganda and Kafunda Kreative want you to show your Tulumbe Spirit

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 09:42

For the first time in almost 4 decades, the Uganda cranes qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 being held in Gabon from January 14th to February 5th 2017. Many Ugandan fans who would love to travel to Gabon might not be able to because of the cost or because of work and family commitments. Airtel has gone to great lengths to get as many fans down there to cheer the team.  To add more fire to that spirit Kafunda Kreative and Airtel Uganda believe more can be done to show our boys that the country is behind them.

Show your Tulumbe Spirit, is a campaign aimed at using social media to;

  1. Create some visual noise by use of twibbons on our Facebook and twitter profiles.” The premise for this is that when our boys check in online, which they will, they know they have the same support they have come to expect when they play at home.” – David Ogutu, team leader Kafunda Kreative.
  2. Rally Ugandans, mostly those skeptical about our chances in the cup, by reminding them that in each and everyone of us, there is the Tulumbe Spirit, the same spirit that runs through the cranes. A spirit that never gives up despite the odds stacked up against us.

Showing your Tulumbe Spirit is rather simple. All one has to do is click on this link here, follow the steps and a twibbon will be automatically inserted on your profile picture. It’s time we painted the timeline with the Tulumbe Spirit and showed the whole of Africa what Uganda is made of.

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Ugandans develop a smart kit called mamaope that detects pneumonia in children

Mon, 01/16/2017 - 13:33

A team of Ugandan innovators have developed a smart kit called MamaOpe that can detect pneumonia early in children. It consists of a wearable and a mobile phone application both of which help in the diagnosis.

The team comprises of Besufekad Shifferaw who is the lead technical developer, Brian Turyabagye, a telecoms engineer, Olivia Koburongo who is the project manager. They’re joined by Dr. Rodney Sekate, a medical consultant and Angella Namwase who is a medical researcher.

We use mobile technology to reduce the child mortality rate given that pneumonia is the leading child killer in Uganda and the world more that HIV, malaria and measles combined as reported by WHO. This we do by ruling out misdiagnosis of the disease with malaria which was reported as among the reasons for the increasing deaths by the Uganda Pediatrics Association (UPA), reads a statement on their blog.

Mamaope (awaiting certification) makes possible a detailed analysis and preliminary diagnosis of individual lung crackles through digitized audio obtained from the patient’s chest.

The kit with its improved accuracy  is said to diagnose pneumonia four times faster than a health practitioner would.  Using sensors, the jacket(Kit) listens to body reactions at particular points of interest, such as the lung crepitations and wheezes, measures the breathing rate, then processes and analyses this information to give a deduction. The jacket then computes the results and sends the results to a mobile app using bluetooth connection. The app then gives a conclusive result to the user,  according to Techweez.

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Snapchat redesigns its app with focus on Search to make starting chats easier

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 11:35

Snapchat has today began rolling out a new version of search designed to make starting chats easier. This puts back actual chatting into the app, unlike the current version where some chats even get lost before reading them. The update, which is rolling out first to a small group of users on Android, makes the search bar persistent across every screen of the app. This will offer an easy way to access your own profile — you can just tap the Bitmoji version of yourself to go there.

The new search bar will be used to primarily start chats with friends — or groups of friends — from anywhere in the app. Start a search and you’ll see a new “quick chat” menu with icons representing the friends you chat with the most. You’ll also see a row of “cards” for the friends you chat with most frequently.

When you’ve found the friend you’re looking for, you can tap on the card to start chatting with them. If they’ve posted a public story that day, it will show up in the card, and you can tap the thumbnail to see it. You can also press and hold the card to see your friend’s profile.

The new search feature also works for publishers and the public Our Story, which anyone can contribute to. Our Story is also getting an overhaul to let users post to it whenever they want, wherever they are. In the past, users have had to contribute posts to geographical areas (“Los Angeles”) or specific topics (“Farewell Obama”). Now users can simply add a snap to Our Story and Snap’s content team will surface it as appropriate. (Users can still suggest an Our Story snap for a particular topic if they like.)

With this move we see Snapchat moving into a direction that focuses on maintaining its focus on being the messaging app of choice for the millennials. But if wants to cultivate big brands and publishers, it’s going to have to help users find them. A new search bar, whatever its other benefits, isn’t going to get them there.

The update will come to all Android and iOS users “soon,” the company said.

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US based Hamilton Telecom officially applies for a telecom licence from UCC

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 08:43

After long rumors of a possible UTL acquisition, Hamilton Telecom has finally applied to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for its own licence to provide telecom services in Uganda under the names Hamilton Telecom Limited. If all goes as planned, UCC will award Hamilton a Data and voice Public Service Provider (PSP) licence, this means they are likely to be some kind of Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) with no telecom infrastructure of their own just like k2 telecom or even have the option use UTL’s infrastructure.

A PSP licence is a Capacity Resale licence issued to persons buying capacity from operators and reselling this to others, re-branded or otherwise. This may take on the form of international termination and calling cards. This however does not include the leasing of infrastructure facilities by a PSP to distribute the PSP’s services to its customers.

Hamilton Telecommunications is a US based telecoms that is behind the driving force behind products and services that touch all 50 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and even Saipan. Hamilton is a diversified communications and technology services provider based in Aurora, Nebraska. Founded in 1901 as a local telephone cooperative serving Hamilton County the company has grown to encompass seven primary company divisions, operating on a local, regional, and national basis.Today, Hamilton is one of the leading independent communications companies in the U.S.

Hamliton has applied for a licence together with Light house TV whose licence has been revoked and Horizon Television Broadcasting Limited and the Commission is, seeking the opinion and/or comments from the public, if any, about the applicants within a period of two weeks effective January 12, 2017.

The regulator says they shall grant licences to the applicants if, after the expiry of the above stated time, the Commission has received no opinion and/or comments.

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Masikini website review: A new dawn for online shopping in Uganda

Wed, 01/11/2017 - 09:24

We recently wrote about Masikini and its ability to accept online payments from one’s mobile money account besides VISA. The overwhelming response therefore entitled us to follow this up with a review of their main website, which they also complement with mobile apps on both the Play Store and the App Store. And yeah, this a mobile first world and so the apps addition shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Let us talk about Mobile Money payments

The surprise ingredient of this e-commerce portal is the mobile money integration many have long yawned for to purchase goods online. While you can use mobile money to buy goods intra boundaries from e-commerce portals, the same can’t be said if you wish to buy the very goods overseas on top e-commerce websites like Amazon, Ebay and Taobao but Masikini allows you do so, with a detailed “How to” in order to accomplish this.

Both MTN Mobile Money and Airtel Money are supported on top of Visa (By this writing, Visa wasn’t yet operational but Masikini promised to fix the issue by the end of the month) so either side of the curve won’t hassle to do purchase goods. It will double down to preference but we can all agree mobile money has the numbers while cards are somewhat not universal.

The items are categorized into Electronics, Jewelry and Watches, Women’s fashion , Men’s fashion finally Sports & Outdoors. The are further sub-categorized into individual constituents covering a wide array of products depending on what you’re looking for.

All goods are listed with their respective store and its Origin (The website excludes the store while the mobile app has the feature). The Features list follows, availability, sizes  and in what quantity, original cost and the extra shipping charges.

You only get to see this extra info after you’ve clicked on the displayed item. Shipping days appear stagnant with promises ranging between 5 to 10 days or approximately  2 weeks time from the date of purchase. An option to lessen the freight days isn’t available at the moment.

You can then go ahead and add the displayed item on your wish-list or buy it right away. Besides different colors of the same product appear under the variations section, so you have a list of colors to choose from.

 

The Headline feature

The headline feature here is paying through mobile money. Masikini displays a walk through  on how to use the different mobile money integration options available so that the customer gets to know what to do regardless of what network they subscribe to (Only MTN and Airtel are supported).

However with a ceiling on how much consumer mobile money accounts can hold raises questions since they’re items in excess of that amount for which you can purchase using mobile money.

I came across products in excess of UGX 4 Million, which happens to be the ceiling on one of the mobile money services. On further inquiry, the telecom rep told us that they can go beyond the ceiling on special request by the customer.

The contact page is where the helplines are displayed for any inquiries. There is email, a telephone number and the physical address displayed. You can also contact them directly through the website by inputting your details, the message to be relayed and then hit send on top of Masikini’s social channels

However there are no local deliveries. Once the item is shipped into Uganda, the customer has to pick it from Masikini offices located on Oasis Mall where verification and receipt is confirmed.

Also

On checking out several listed smartphones. I couldn’t stop but notice that most of the listed iPhone 6Ss  were actually refurbished models while other models are listed as new. While they carry a warning to any prospective buyer, actually differentiating them from their display picture is subtle and this is where human interaction reigns supreme.

Masikini has a refund policy that is applicable once the shipped product exhibits defects or isn’t to the customer’s satisfaction. You’re therefore advised to double check on your shipment’s arrival since they’re particular clauses in the EUA that might prohibit you from returning the item should verification and receipt be finalized. Checking, verification and receipt are only done at Masikini offices at Oasis mall for now.

Website Layout

The site layout looks simple, intuitive with an amazon-esque search omnibox at the top followed with one’s account details, their wish-list and contacts info. The products take up most of the homepage while extra info like Masikini’s about page, contact info, How to? take up the bottom pages.

Suggestions

Local deliveries are a positive welcome. While veterans like Jumia can do it, what about the flamboyant Masikini? Also cash is predominant in Uganda only accompanied by the likes of mobile money and cards (Not exactly VISA only, Mastercard, Paypal, American Express blah blah) owing to the fact that the competition offers these too, Masikini should think about cash on delivery options and the rest too.

Also they should extend their pickup points as they scale  for purposes of convenience.

What we liked
  • Easy Mobile Money Payments
  • Easy to Navigate website
  • Variety of Products
What we didn’t like
  • They’re no quality assurances before delivery
  • VISA integration not yet implemented
  • Paypal payments would be a welcome option

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Former ICT Minister Nyombi Thembo finally scoops job at UCC

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 08:43

Ex-ICT minister Mr. Nyombi Thembo has finally landed himself a top job at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) as Director RCDF. Hon Nyombi Thembo was among the applicants for job that was advertised in March last year at the, a government department that is under the ICT ministry he formerly headed! The 52-year old Thembo shared the news to his Facebook followers and he starts work in January 2017.

The Rural Communications development Fund (RCDF) is a Universal Service Fund (USF) to communications in Uganda. It was established in 2003 and it is administered at arms’ length by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).

Hon. Nyombi Thembo and UCC Employees pose for a selfie

The projects implemented by RCDF include; Internet points of presence (POP), Internet cafes, ICT training centres , Public payphones, District web portals , Multi Purpose Community Tele-centres (MCT) , Postal projects , School ICT laboratories , Health ICT facilities , Voice network sites, Content development projects , Local governance projects , and Other unique projects .

The activities of RCDF are guided by the RCDF policy of 2001 which was rolled over for the five year period 2003 to 2007. The RCDF policy programme defined by the Policy for the five year period is as follows;

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The iPhone makes 10 years today

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 11:08

On January 9th, 2007, the revolutionary and co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs stood on a stage and introduced the device that has redefined technology around the world— the iPhone. It has been a decade, and now Apple is celebrating that announcement at Macworld 2007. At that time Jobs described Apple’s new device a three-in-one product: “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device.”

10 years down the road, the iPhone has gone through multiple revisions since, but how Jobs envisaged the device being used is still accurate today. In his speech, he described the device not only as being a functional phone, he described a device that could play movies, podcasts, and TV shows, as well as transfer your browser bookmarks and sync your photos.

At the time, this concept seemed impossible– having a full-fledged computer that you can control with your fingers and not a stylus in your pocket — but time has shown Jobs’ vision to be entirely correct. If anything, the iPhone Jobs described in 2007 is closer to the iPhone 7 than the original model: a large-screened device that can easily stream music and movies through apps developed for iOS.

In this ten year period, the iPhone is still Apple’s most important device, as current CEO Tim Cook noted in today’s memorial post. He said

“iPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live. The iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”

Will the iPhone withstand another 10 years with the current innovations and competition? leave us a comment of what you think below.

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Masikini allows Ugandan shoppers to buy stuff from Amazon and eBay using Mobile money

Mon, 01/09/2017 - 09:28

Buying and delivery of products from abroad has always proved a one big hurdle to overcome especially here in Uganda. Many have resorted to using friends and family to accomplish such tasks but here comes masikini, an e-commerce website to help Ugandans purchase products from abroad using mobile money and VISA. Listed products are from leading online retailers in the US and China that include Amazon, EBay and Taobao.

The unique differentiation about it from the competition is that it allows one to pay directly for Goods using his/her mobile wallet in form of MTN Mobile Money, Airtel Money and Visa. Listed in its catalogue are; fashion items, electronics, jewelry and watches, beauty and health products, sports and outdoor equipment among others.

All listed products are accompanied with their respective country of origin while others offer variations that you only choose one to your liking.

Shipping days vary from 5 to 10 days. Masikini also has an option of refunding you should the product not meet the buyers satisfaction after receipt and verification.

Besides their online portal, Masikini has a physical presence with their offices found  on the Basement floor of Oasis Mall on Yusuf Lule road. Users can signup to use the website and do their shopping or download Masikini apps in both the PlayStore on Android and App Store on iOS.

Masikini joins the likes of Goods Express and Intership in allowing Ugandans to purchase goods abroad and have them delivered here.

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Not even the Galaxy Note 7 could deter Samsung’s expected earnings

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 18:00

We might have been treated to exploding Galaxy Note 7’s as the year drew to a closure, followed by a global recall of all Note 7 handsets in both consumer hands and retail outlets but it turns out the harm isn’t as painful as anticipated given Samsung has issued its projected earnings for the Q4 that are surprising than predicted.

Samsung is expecting a consolidated profit of $7.2 billion, an increase of $2 billion in profit it registered in the same quarter last year of $5.2 billion. If these figures turnout accurate, then the debacle that is the Note 7 might turnout not to have had that much impact on Samsung’s finances.

Also if these results are to be true, this will turn out to be Sammy’s strongest quarter in a little over 3 years against not only  sales of its earlier models like the well received S7 and the S7 Edge but strong sales of its memory chips and displays that many analysts believe attributed to this apparent success.

While Samsung seems to have dealt with its worst PR nightmare and had to contend with a $5 billion loss owing to the Note 7. These projected earnings  suggest otherwise and also point a rosy picture for the rumored AI powered Galaxy S8 that is due later the coming months,  owing to the confidence expressed by financial report .

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The new Toyota Concept-i is a sleek vehicle you will probably never drive

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 10:44

Toyota has unveiled its vehicle of the future called the Concept-i– and just to be clear–  for now, it is just a concept so it might probably never hit the streets of Kampala any time soon. With a futuristic design and aerodynamic shape as if it has just been used as a prop in a sci-fi movie the care comes with a bevel of futuristic features. Toyota says the car has built-in artificial intelligence, nicknamed “Yui,” designed to “learn from and grow with the driver.”

The interface begins with the visual representation of Yui, designed to communicate across cultures to a global audience. Toyota says “With Yui’s home centered on the dashboard, Concept-i’s interior emanates around the driver and passenger side and throughout the vehicle in sweeping lines, with interior shapes designed to enhance Yui’s ability to use light, sound and even touch to communicate critical information.”

Toyota Concept-i front seat

Toyota aims to make the driving experience a more “warm and friendly”, which is part of a broader trend in the automotive world to turn the inside of your car into a so-called “third space,” a place where we will spend the majority of our time outside of home and the office.

The artificial intelligence that’s powering Yui will also communicate to the world when the Concept-i is engaged in autonomous driving. Yui appears on exterior door panels to greet driver and passengers as they approach the vehicle. The rear of the vehicle shows messages to communicate about upcoming turns or warn about a potential hazard. The front of the vehicle communicates whether the Concept-i is in automated or manual drive.

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Airtel Africa announces the appointment of Rajeev Sethi as Chief Commercial Officer

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 14:47

Airtel (“Airtel”) whose operations cover over 18 countries across Asia and Africa has today announced the appointment of Rajeev Sethi as the Chief Commercial Officer for its Africa operations. He will report to Raghunath Mandava, MD & CEO, Airtel Africa.

 In his new role, Rajeev will be responsible for the formulation and implementation of customer-centric commercial strategies across all the 15 African countries where Airtel operates. His key focus will be across Consumer and Enterprise Businesses covering products and pricing, distribution, brand and customer experience.

Announcing his appointment, Raghunath Mandava said, “We are delighted to welcome Rajeev to Airtel Africa team. With his vast experience across a range of developing markets, Rajeev will contribute immensely in accelerating our growth journey. I am confident that Rajeev will take the Airtel brand to greater heights”.

 Rajeev brings with him over 21 years of diverse experience across several sectors such as Telecom, IT, Paints and Petroleum. Till recently, Rajeev was at the Telenor group where he served for more than 7 years. In his last assignment, he worked as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Grameen Phone, the largest operator in Bangladesh.

Rajeev holds an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow (1997) and is an Electrical Engineer from Gujarat University (1993).

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Uganda speeds visa issuance and strengthens border security with Gemalto Visa Management System

Thu, 01/05/2017 - 13:19

Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, is supplying Uganda’s Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC) with its CoesysVisa Management that combines swift issuance of all visas and permits with biometric enrollment upon arrival.

Gemalto is supporting the new solution with integration, deployment, maintenance and training for Ugandan immigration officers. The new scheme allows the authorities to manage the entire visa life cycle from application to issuance. It will help the country achieve its goals to facilitate travel, enhance national security and protect a traveler’s identity against theft.

This turnkey solution incorporates a convenient online portal to apply for visas and permits at any time prior to travel. Legitimate visitors receive their Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) by email. Upon arrival in Uganda, visitors get their visas after ETA check, verification of passports and the collection of their biometric data (fingerprints) to uniquely match travelers to the documents they are presenting.

Gemalto’s solution includes a link to an integrated control list from local and international sources and alert system to detect and manage undesirable applicants. It also creates a centralized traveler database secured by an Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to share, search and match electronic fingerprints accessible by authorities all over the country.

Launched on July 1st2016, the new online visa portal significantly improves the experience of traveling to Uganda and support the country’s growing business and tourism sectors. With increased migration across East Africa, Ugandan authorities can ensure that visas are issued to bona fide applicants.

Gemalto answered our need for a strong, secure solution, based on international standards and in line with Uganda’s objective to facilitate travel,” said Commissioner Mr. Anthony Namara, Project Coordinator at The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Control. “Gemalto Coesys Visa Management provides a fast and flexible response to the challenge of large-scale regional migration.”

 This new project puts Uganda at the forefront of enhanced immigration solutions in East Africa,” said Ari Bouzbib, Senior Vice President of Government Programs at Gemalto. “The new system also fits with the regional initiative to deploy a single tourist visa program across Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. This enables Ugandan authorities to readily identify travelers and reinforce national security.”

 

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Emirates is offering special fares to Ugandan travelers this New Year

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 12:42

Emirates is offering Ugandan travelers special Economy Class and Business Class return airfares to a range of exciting destinations across its global network.

Those wanting to visit family or friends, or see and experience a new and exciting destination in the New Year, can take advantage of this limited time offer by booking between 5 January and 18 January 2017. Travel must take place between 5 January and 15 June 2017. Further terms and conditions apply.

Economy Class fares from Entebbe to Mumbai for example start from USD520, to Guangzhou from USD745 and Rome from USD774, while return Business Class fares to Mumbai start from USD1321, to Guangzhou from USD2006 and to Rome from USD2136.

Special fares to a number of other selected destinations are also available, including Dubai, London Heathrow, Ahmedabad, Shanghai and New York.

Emirates hub, Dubai, offers a modern, convenient and comfortable transit to connect to flights across the airline’s worldwide network, with many key destinations having multiple departures and being serviced by the airline’s iconic double decker A380 aircraft.

Customers travelling on Emirates can look forward to world class service and hospitality from the airline’s multi-national cabin crew, while enjoying complimentary gourmet meals and beverages. Emirates also offers over 2500 channels of on demand audio and visual entertainment on its ice system, from the latest movies, music and games, including 90 dedicated channels for children.

Emirate s also offers families with young children special services and products to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable flight, from free toys to kid’s meals, entertainment and priority boarding.

To take advantage of the offer, customers can book online o‎r contact the local Emirates office or their travel agent.

 

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Telegrams allows you unsend sent messages, check network usage and more

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 12:40

The new Telegram update (v3.16) is here to solve us one of the one pressing problem that has plagued instant messaging, where you’re now able to recall a previously sent message. This might stem from a typo, an embarrassing sent message or sending a message to a wrong recipient. The message can now be retracted within a duration of 48 hours.

This is not all, Telegram users will also be able to check their network usage on the go. This will notify users on how much data they’ve consumed while telegraming especially data cautious folks that wouldn’t wish to deplete their plans within a flash.

This covers both mobile data and Wifi and also those on roaming while outside their respective country boundaries.

T.me links.

Telegram has shortened down its user links from telegram.me to just “T.me” links followed by one’s user name like T.me/username. This works especially for those that wish not to disclose their personal contact number.

They can now instead share the T.me/username link to anyone and the conversation starts from there without submitting their number.

This isn’t limited to personal chats, it will work for channels and  both groups and stickers.

Also

Chats from a single contact can be chronologically be grouped together order with corresponding sent/received dates. They can be restored as before once the user switches back to normal chats.

Telegram now displays a list of previously shared files once you toggle the sharing button. It has added support for GBoard and also added new emojis.

 

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The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 : This is the processor that will grace the next wave of smartphones

Wed, 01/04/2017 - 09:21

Outside of Apple devices, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon line has dominated the premium smartphone world, and is found in nearly every flagship Android device on the market. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile processor, is expected to grace this year’s smartphones and comes with improved performance, new capabilities for virtual reality, more efficiency and photography tweaks. The new processor consumes 25 percent less power than last year’s chip, this means about more 2.5 hours of battery time for your smartphone.

It is based on 10nm fabrication technology — a first for the Snapdragon line — which is smaller and allows for thinner phones with larger batteries compared to earlier processors.For those who love the current fast charging technologies, the Snapdragon 835 also comes with the latest version of the company’s fast charging technology, called Quick Charge 4.0. The new version is fully compatible with USB Type-C industry standards, can charge 20 percent faster than Quick Charge 3.0. With Quick charge 4.0 you can have 5 hours of use from just 5 minutes of charging according to Qualcomm.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 specifications
  • Kryo 280 CPU with four performance cores running at up to 2.45 GHz and four efficiency cores running up to 1.9GHz
  • Snapdragon X16 LTE modem with support for Category 16 LTE and Category 13 LTE upload speeds
  • 2×2 11ac MU-MIMO
  • 802.11ad Multi-gigabit Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 5
  • Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, full OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan, and DX12
  • Hexagon 682 DSP with HVX
  • Qualcomm All-Ways Aware™ technology with support for the Google Awareness API
  • dual-channel LP DDR4x memory at 1866MHz
  • Qualcomm Location with support for GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, Galileo, and QZSS systems
  • up to 32 MP single and 16 MP dual-camera with Qualcomm Spectra 180 ISP, 2x ISP, 14-bit, hybrid autofocus (laser/contrast/structured light/dual-phase detection AF), Qualcomm® Clear Sight™, optical zoom, hardware accelerated face detection and HDR video recording
  • 4K Ultra HD video capture @ 30 fps, up to 4K Ultra HD video playback @ 60 fps, support for H.264 (AVC) and H.265 (HEVC)
  • Ultra HD Premium™ ready, 4K @60fps, wide color gamut support, 10-bit color depth
  • Quick Charge 4
  • Qualcomm Aqstic™ WCD9341 audio codec with support for audiophile grade DAC with 32-bit/384kHz
  • 10nm FinFET technology

On the photography end, the new chip improves image capture, including native support for optical zoom systems and better autofocus technologies. There is also an enhanced electronic image stabilization when capturing video. The 835 is also the first Snapdragon processor to support Ultra HD 4K Premium video playback, including HDR 10.

The Snapdragon 835 expands upon the 820’s virtual and augmented reality capabilities, with faster 3D graphics rendering and 60 times more colors. The sound processing has been bumped up to produce “true to life sound” in virtual environments. The company hopes the Snapdragon 835 will find its way into dedicated virtual reality headsets.

We’ll be able to see just how good it is first hand when the first devices launch with later this year.

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Why your next Android phone should have more than 64 GB storage

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 11:59

With the next Android update, Google has made some changes to the way storage works in phones, combined with larger app sizes and more common 64GB models, means you should think twice before buying a smartphone with 4, 16 or 32GB.

As we usher in a new year, and anticipating new flagship smartphones from the top phone makers, it’s time to start the new year with a paramount resolution: We feel in 2017, its high time to stop buying flagship phones with 4, 16 and 32 gigabytes of storage.

We all have to admit, the stuff on our phones gets bigger and bigger every year and a 64GB smartphone won’t disappoint or more is that the stuff on your phone is getting bigger, and not all of

How Apps hog Internal storage on phones

this can be offloaded to an SD card (if that option is even available). Lets put this in perspective, in my case, Spotify takes about 3.14 GB the Google Play Services app can hog about 631MB or more just by itself. And staple third-party offerings like Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are storage hogs too, weighing in at between 1.47 GB and 347MB. Others, like WhatspApp, come with a massive archive of what could be months of your personal chat history, photos and video, which can’t be offloaded to an SD card. Other Apps like Instagram, Twitter and Chrome also store hundreds of megabytes, in the internal memory cache which means even your shinny new phone will fill up in a few weeks time.

More Features more storage

With better cameras that are 4k capable having us taking more photos and shooting gigabytes of ultra-high quality video, you’re going to be using much more, not less storage in future. And the option for cloud storage is not a common thing for most Ugandan smartphone users due to the poor state of data services in the country.

If you are currently doing just fine on a 32GB phone that shipped with Marshmallow, that all good. But Android devices shipping on Android Nougat and beyond (the latest Android versions) put more internal storage out of your reach, because of the way seamless updates work.

In order to be able to quickly upgrade to a new version, the space taken up by the OS on a Nougat-shipping phone could be double that of a comparable model on Marshmallow.

In a nutshell: Consider that the firmware and related stuff takes up a little over 7.27 GB on my Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. In the Nougat world that could double to over 14GB — almost half of the phone’s marketed 32GB of storage. Consider how much extra stuff other manufacturers add to Android, and how much space it takes up. It’s easy to see how 2017’s flagships could lose more than 10GB of space to just the OS before you’ve loaded a single app. That’s less space than ever for your own apps and media.

For this reason alone, we’d expect 64GB to become the standard for Android flagships in the new year. For those planning to upgrade to a new flagship device in 2017, kindly neglect any storage space less than 64 GB, assuming you can afford it.

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7 things that Telecom companies in Uganda should do in 2017

Tue, 01/03/2017 - 11:11

As we usher in the new year, telecom companies in Uganda need to looked as more closely than ever before especially in an industry dominated by big players like MTN and Airtel. Will UTL survive in 2017? Shall we have better data services? Will regulation of telecoms in Uganda be more enforced than ever before in 2017? All these questions are just a tip of the iceberg. So, lets find out in our top 7 predictions for 2017.

4G LTE and LTE -Advanced

Airtel is still catching up with the likes of Africell, MTN, Smile and Vodafone when it comes to 4G LTE network. Airtel’s 4G network is long overdue having failed to launch in Kampla last year. However this year, the launch is imminent since many Ugandans are embracing speedy networks driven by heavy data usage and the cost of 4G handsets is gradually dipping.

Already equipped with 2G, 3G and 4G-LTE, we believe MTN and Africell are some of the few carriers in Uganda that can consider an LTE Advanced network that’s if it makes business sense for them. LTE-A networks can support speeds of up to 300-450 Mbps.

Vodafone needs to increase its footprint in the country beyond the Kampala metro and extend upcountry. It is a strong value proposition given how hard it is to enjoy Vodafone’s 4G speeds outside Kampala and it suburbs. Also, it might have to reinforce its position as a true telecommunication company by reinforcing its 3G footprint since the MVNO agreements in place falls short in terms of quality.

 

Back to the drawing board

We believe companies like UTL, Smile and Roke Telecom need go back to the drawing board in order to remain competitive. Uganda telecom (UTL) is a dying company and is currently being investigated by government due to mismanagement ever since the majority shareholder stopped re-capitalizing into the telecom. We believe that once all financial UTL wrangles have been resolved, they will need to modernize the network with the latest equipment and technologies. Other carriers like Smile and Roke telecom need to look at other ways to increase their subscriber base in both the mass population and enterprise.

 

More Mobile Money innovations

MTN Uganda takes the lionshare when it comes to mobile money in Uganda followed closely by Airtel whose muscle was reinforced with Warid Pesa subscribers. Others like Africell, UTL and Smart are underdogs with numbers not enough to scare the duopoly.

MTN scored big with MoKash in 2016. Mokash is a micro-savings and loans product. The service from CBA leverages MTN Uganda’s vast network resources and its mobile money platform to disburse micro-loans, accept deposits and savings to eligible applicants. We need to see other big telecoms like Airtel and Africell with such products.

The volume of mobile payments increases two-fold each passing quarter but the applicability of mobile payments solutions is limited to only sending and receiving money or payment of services.

We anticipate MTN and Airtel to launch tap and pay merchant payments using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology on their mobile Money platforms. Users will tag their smartphones which they’ll swipe on point of sale terminals to pay for goods purchased without the hassle of using cards that remain unpopular. This product has already been rolled-out in Rwanda.

We believe MTN and Airtel can promote more innovation by opening up their APIs especially to more start-ups with great ideas in order not to stifle tech innovations on top of mobile money in Uganda.

If their road-map is to be followed, Vodafone might  join the mobile money bandwagon, however with a limited footprint in Uganda, they might suffer the same issues SmartPesa and Africell Money are facing.

This reinforces our assertion that 2017 will be the year companies like Vodafone and Smart went beyond the self imposed walls of Kampala.

 

Network Quality of Service

Dropped calls, Dropped calls, Dropped calls! In 2016, UCC never released any official benchmarking results on their website as they usually do, but this doesn’t mean the telecoms performed any better in 2016. All telecoms needs to further optimize their networks to reduce this consumer nightmare, by further improving their quality of service (QoS). This QoS should also further be extended to data services not only voice so as customers can get value for their money. In 2017 we’d like to see a better and more improved network QoS from all telecoms.

 

Mergers and Sell-offs

Airtel Uganda, originally Celtel has switched hands more than any other telecom in Uganda. But with an improving balance sheet and management shake up, it seems to be turning around, something that has since silenced the selloff rumours to Tigo or any other interested player. 2017 might be a year of miracles that the brand remains Airtel even with Bharti looking to relinquish its hold on it African operations that are yet to turn a profit at group level.

Some circles assert that it is the sole reason Airtel Africa sold off some of its units especially those in Francophone countries with more set to join them. However, we anticipate Airtel Uganda will survive a sale this year.

After UCC revoked Smart Telecom’s license and later reinstated it, Other struggling telecoms need to re-strategies to avoid any acquisitions or closures in 2017.

Beyond Data bundles

We are already making calls via 3rd party applications like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger as long as you have a smartphone. This has made services like VoLTE (Voice over LTE) less attractive for telecoms to invest in.

Smile was the first to launch VoLTE call but they were quite unpopular and hasn’t shared numbers ever since. Vodafone might sail the same waters but we hope this will manifest with a different touch than one employed by Smile.

The nitty gritty here being that VoLTE bypasses the traditional circuit-switched calls to deliver calls/data over  LTE network. In other words, calls shall be charged against one’s data volume not talktime.

 

Fiber to Home

We’ve talked about this before and seems a one company called Wananchi a leading business providing affordable entertainment and connectivity in East Africa might be closer than any telecom to provide fiber to home. The company is already doing this in Kenya and they have been building their fiber network around Kampala in partnership with Google.

 

Do you have any predictions for our telecoms 2017? Please leave a comment below.

 

 

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