Google, Facebook Back Effort to Make Internet Affordable for All


Several of the biggest names in tech have signed on to a new initiative to bring down Internet costs in the developing world.
Google has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the UK Department of International Development to create a new coalition called the Alliance for Affordable Internet. The group, which officially launched Monday, includes more than 30 members including Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo and Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web.

At the moment, the organization says that 91% of the 1.1 billion households in the world without Internet are in the developing world. The reason, according to the group, is that broadband prices remain prohibitively expensive in these regions: In developed countries, broadband costs about 1.7% of average monthly incomes as of 2012; in developing countries it costs 30.1%. To change that, the Alliance plans to help push the cost of Internet access down to less than 5% of monthly incomes worldwide.

“The reason for the Alliance is simple – the majority of the world’s people are still not online, usually because they can’t afford to be,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. “The result of high prices is a digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science. Yet with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue.”

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Ghana’s ‘Dropifi’ startup takes on Silicon Valley

(CNN) – It may be a long way from home but it took just two years for a trio of young techies to take their web-based startup from a classroom in Ghana to the world’s technology capital, California’s Silicon Valley.

In November 2011, Ghanaian entrepreneurs David Osei, Kamil Nabong and Philips Effah founded Dropifi, an online tool that helps businesses sort customer feedback online. About 20 months later, it has become the first African company to join the 500 Startups program, a Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator and investment fund.

“I never thought of moving to the Valley as soon as this, because basically we want to build a global startup company right from Ghana that is going to service the whole world,” says Osei, Dropifi’s chief executive. “But coming to the Valley is definitely a step ahead of what we had imagined.”

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10 African tech startups you need to know

(CNN) – It’s pretty simple — if you have a great company in you, Africa is a great place to go unleash it.

There is an excitement for newness here, and let’s face it, most things are still new. Access is becoming easier, mobile is booming and a tech explosion is happening.

There are some pretty amazing tech startups in Africa that are building amazing products that can compete on the international stage. I get to see a lot of interesting companies and I am always impressed by how innovative and interesting Africa’s tech startups are. This list is made of some of the most interesting companies I have come across in the last two years.

It’s hard to pick the top companies, so this list consists of companies that have done impressive work and are innovating in interesting ways.

So check out the gallery above to see, in no particular order, Africa’s bright tech future and the companies leading it.

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Africa Has 55 Billionaires


The combined fortune of Africa’s 55 billionaires is $143.88 billion. The average net worth of the members of this exclusive club is $2.6 billion, while the median age of the richest people in Africa is 65 years. The oldest billionaires are Kenyan industrialist, Manu Chandaria, and Egyptian property tycoon, Mohammed Al-Fayed, both aged 84. The youngest billionaires are Mohammed Dewji of Tanzania and Igho Sanomi, a Nigerian oil trader. They are both 38 years old.

Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt lead the pack with the highest number of billionaires at 20, nine and eight respectively. Algeria, Angola, Zimbabwe and Swaziland only have one billionaire each. In all, there are 10 African countries represented on the list.

Three women made it into the rankings. The richest of them is Folorunsho Alakija, a Nigerian fashion designer and oil tycoon worth some $7.3 billion by our estimates. Isabel Dos Santos, an Angolan investor and the daughter of Angolan President, Eduardo Dos Santos, together with Mama Ngina Kenyatta, the widow of Kenya’s first President, also made the cut.

Africa’s richest people derived their fortunes pursuing a variety of business endeavours including financial services, mining, construction, energy and retail.

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Have a Problem? Ask an Expert (Even if He, She, or It Is 3,000 Miles Away)


By Rachael McBrearty

Your smart sprinkler system is happily pumping water to your lawn in highly efficient sprays that are “aware” of the soil, the climate, the weather, the time of day, and even whether or not your kids are playing in the backyard on a Saturday. Suddenly, faulty valve bursts and an uncontrolled geyser erupts. One part of your property is about to be ruined by flooding while the rest of the lawn is left to yellow in the sun.

You and your family are miles away, yet you know all about it. Sensors throughout the system alert your smartphone. At the same time, machine-to-machine signals shut down the pumps, and an expert from the sprinkler company is dispatched to your home with the precise replacement part and the real-time knowledge to fix the system.

It’s a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) may soon funnel precise information in real time to the people — or machines — that need it most. Many of these “remote expert“ technologies are either already here or on the horizon.

And if keeping your lawn green may not seem like saving the world, think again. UNESCO estimates that in the developing world, 50 percent of all drinkable water is lost to leaks. Scale that network of sensors, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, and predictive data analytics — with experts informed and available in real-time — and you have a game-changing technology breakthrough for water utilities. Just one of many that will be enabled by the Internet of Everything.

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International relations course for developing-world higher education


The Institute of International Education, or IIE, has announced the launch of a new training course for ministry officials and university representatives in developing and transitioning countries on how to create and manage an effective international relations office.

To be piloted in Myanmar over the next few months, the course “Connecting to the World: International relations for higher education institutions” is expected to meet a vital need identified during an IIE-led higher education delegation visit to the country earlier this year.

It will also allow universities in Myanmar to link up with institutions in America and other countries so that they can increase institutional capacity and help prepare students to meet workforce needs and support rapid economic development, the IIE said in a statement.

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Mission: Jordan-based MIT startup helps those in developing world build savings



As fresh graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass., R. Blaize Wallace and Mustafa Khalifeh could have taken highly lucrative positions in the business world.

Instead, they are launching a start-up from a few spare desks at Jordan’s Oasis500 accelerator. Their idea, which won the $50,000 grand prize in social enterprise at Harvard Business School’s New Ventures competition this spring, aims to help low-income citizens save up for large purchases – such as a washing machine, which could free up women’s time and thus advance opportunities for women in the developing world.

So why Jordan? Well, it is Mr. Khalifeh’s home country, where he helped found three companies before going to Sloan, but he also made a convincing sales pitch to Mr. Wallace and their two other partners, Hoda Eydgahi and Manoah Koletty. Living expenses are relatively cheap, there’s a high concentration of talent and a burgeoning entrepreneurial community, and Jordan is small enough to test new ideas; the mobile giant Zain also launches its pilot projects here.

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Why You Should Eat at McDonald’s (When You’re in the Developing World)


Travelers who set out to explore less-visited developing countries often learn the hard way that gastronomical adventures can end in gastronomical disaster. Dinners – however fancy – in Tanzania, Guatemala, and Laos come with an attendant risk of stomach distress because food safety requirements in those countries are not what they could be. Experienced wanderers use two simple and unexpected strategies to avoid spending their vacations bear hugging the bowl: They eat street food and they unapologetically frequent McDonald’s.

In many developing countries, fast food means street meat. And though it may be viscerally unappetizing – in East Africa, goat meat spicing makes the flesh turn green – this genre of food is more often than not cooked in front of the consumer. Local food aficionados love nothing more than seeing a wok sizzling over a garbage fire because they can double check that all their food is being properly prepared. Problems in the developing world generally start when questionable ingredients are undercooked, specifically when greens grown in contaminated water don’t have the cholera sizzled out of them. Some inveterate wanderers refuse to eat any food from closed kitchens for this reason.

Questionable ingredients find their way into restaurants in cities around the world via markets where goods are sold to chefs and suppliers who never see the farms on which they were grown. Creating gourmet cuisine with limited resources is hard enough for a lot of cooks working in less than ideal circumstances; travelers shouldn’t assume that those same chefs are also sourcing their food in a responsible way. They don’t have the time or the money to invest in a massive supply chain.
Fortunately, Ronald McDonald does.

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Nigeria eCommerce Adaptation to Survive: From e-Commerce to Street Kiosk Business!


Nigerian e-Commerce is not working, so the two market leaders, Konga and Jumia, are switching to traditional street stores to survive!

After 2 years of operations and hard learning, Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor, co-founders of Jumia confessed: “Nigeria is still largely an offline market when it comes to retail. Customers have doubt about entering details online to make payments. They would rather want to have their goods in hand before parting with their hard earned cash.”

Another confession that is not made above is that Nigerians would also prefer to call the eRetailers to order, instead of filling an online form to place an order. Yet the “eCommerce” websites receive a lot of traffic because of publicity and advertising, but nigeria consumers use them as simple catalog for discovering products and comparing prices.

So last year, Nigeria eCommerce Pioneer Konga opened 6 of what they called “pick-up stores”. Customers will call to order, then they rush the product to the local proximity store for pickup.

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Mission: Build Nanotechnology for Developing Countries: the 2014 Foresight Invitational Workshop


Nanoscale technologies have the potential to bring immense benefits to developing countries, in areas ranging from water and energy to health and environmental restoration. But the challenges are correspondingly large; required steps include:

• Identify nanotechnologies that can make a difference near-term
• Design and build products that will actually be useful
• Bring these to market at affordable price points
• Balance intellectual property interests
• Speed enterprises past the “Valley of Death”
• Solve support and maintenance issues
• Avoid solving problems that local economies are already handling well

It’s time to gather the major players to tackle these in an invitational workshop, held in the center of high-tech entrepreneurship: Silicon Valley. Researchers, product developers, IP specialists, funders, and those with experience tackling real-world problems in developing countries will come together to find ways to “fast track” nanotechnologies to make a positive difference.

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‘Green growth’ is development paradigm for developing countries


by Julian Hunt

Following an Aug 13 meeting between Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao and Chinese Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, the ADB has pledged its support for green and inclusive growth in China with a major new investment. In the next two years, ADB will provide $4.2 billion for urban development, water supply and sanitation, and transport projects aligned with China’s current 12th Five Year Plan.

The ADB’s announcement comes at a time when the green growth approach is receiving growing support at the expense of an alternative “green economy” paradigm. The latter came to prominence a year ago at the U.N. Rio+20 meeting in June 2012 which concluded that developing countries should focus future development on non-polluting green industries, including renewable energies.

However, in the 12 months since, the green economy approach is increasingly viewed as politically unacceptable, especially by legislators in developing countries. This is largely because it will probably mean lower standards of living for many in the developing world.

Green growth, by contrast, implies rising consumption of resources, food, and energy – and thus higher standards of living. However, implicit in this approach is that developing countries must also introduce fundamental changes in patterns of consumption, technology, and agriculture to ensure a sustainable future for their growing populations.

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If we could Shrink The World


If we could Shrink the World

If we could shrink the earth to a village with a population of precisely 100 people with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, there would be…

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both North and South
8 Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and would be from the United States

80 would live in sub-standard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death
1 would be near birth

1 (yes only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer

When we consider our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

It you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation – you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear, harassment, arrest, torture or death you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep – you are richer than 75% of the world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet and spare change in a dish someplace – you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.

(Found at the Eden Project)

100 ideas to Start a Profitable Business in Africa


By: Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN

Here are 10 ideas to start a business targeting expatriates in your country. Overall, our purpose is to simulate your mind, and encourage you to start your next business in Africa.

1. International Aid and investment segment opportunities

The international aid for Africa is a $40-billion-a-year industry. Most of this, is easy money to take, mostly for corruption and overpaid expatriates; however smart startups would be wise to explore the needs of this huge international organizations full of the laziest people in the planet always in search of someone to do their job for them or make their life easier. Here is a list of 10 ideas to create customized services or application for their use:

#1: Personal Service provider for local expatriate

More and more foreign people are heading to Africa, the last frontier of economical opportunities. Additional to the foreign aid employees, there are also more and more expatriates coming to Africa with the $48 billion-a-year foreign investment in Africa Business.

In some cities like Nairobi, Luanda, Dakar, Accra, Addis-Ababa these expatriates are thousands. They are rich, noisy, visible. They have very specific needs compared to local people.

Any smart company that would successfully create a set of services (travel, visas, registration, residency status, dual nationality questions, legal issues of marriage and divorce, visa runs) for this community in any given country, could easily expand the same concierge service to other countries. There is lot of money here waiting for smart and opportunist entrepreneurs.

#2 First-world quality Internet, mobile services or application customized for local environment

These guys have money. They are used to some first-world internet and mobile service they won’t have locally. It’s important to study their daily life in your city, survey them about their needs, and find out about things that might be very helpful for them to survive in Africa jungle. They will thank with their easily earned dollars and smiles.

#3 Food delivery for infrastructure/construction workers

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Mission: Facebook and Other Tech Giants Aim to Bring Web Access to the Developing World


In a joint partnership between some of the world’s largest tech companies, Facebook announced on Tuesday evening the launch of, an effort to reduce the barriers to online access for developing nations across the globe.

The effort — which includes a handful of the most powerful tech operators in the world including Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung — is focused primarily on mobile devices, the most likely way that the billions of people who aren’t online will access the Internet in the coming years.

“Everything Facebook has done has been about giving all people around the world the power to connect,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “There are huge barriers in developing countries to connecting and joining the knowledge economy. brings together a global partnership that will work to overcome these challenges, including making internet access available to those who cannot currently afford it.”

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Flower Sellers at Dadar


By Arun Shanbhag

Few years ago I wrote about the Dadar Flower Market, in Mumbai. Tucked under the bridge next to the Dadar train Station, like alien slime it oozes into adjoining alleys and walkways, filling every doorway and cranny. So jam-packed, my cousin cautioned, “don’t even try to put your hand in your pocket, it will go in someone else’s.” Aaargh! Only in Mumbai.

But it IS an experience. Not just for colorful flowers, but to see up close how the poor make a living. And be bothered by seeing young girls selling flowers for a living, when they should be in school. Politicians mouth big speeches about expensive projects to eradicate poverty. The money ends up in their Dubai bank accounts, while the poor fester near open sewers.

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Mission: Scaling up Nutrition Globally


Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, is a unique Movement founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people—from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers—in a collective effort to improve nutrition.

Within the SUN Movement, national leaders are prioritizing efforts to address malnutrition. Countries are putting the right policies in place, collaborating with partners to implement programs with shared nutrition goals, and mobilizing resources to effectively scale up nutrition, with a core focus on empowering women.

With a shared understanding that many factors impact nutrition, each of us has a unique contribution to make. Together we are achieving what no one of us can do alone.

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Mission: Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Wants to Get a Million Programmers to “Code for India”


Karl Mehta has spent years doing financial startups and more recently worked as a venture capitalist, helping other technology companies get their start.

Now the Menlo Ventures partner is embarking on his boldest venture yet, though he isn’t expecting to make a dime. Mehta is announcing a venture dubbed “Code for India,” designed to get programmers to volunteer eight hours a month to develop mobile apps that can change lives.
“We are taking on real problems, hard problems,” Mehta said in an interview. Three apps have already been developed. One, done in partnership with an Indian nonprofit, is designed to help women escape violent situations by automatically texting five nearby friends who could offer aid.
“In a lot of places like India, you can only depend on your neighbors,” Mehta said. Calling the police, he said, might mean a wait of an hour or more. “The people who can help someone are the people who live right there and can just walk.”

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The Astounding Impact of Innovative Technology in the Developing World


By Rev. Larry Hollon

Nathan Myhrvold’s TEDTalk,”Could this laser zap malaria?” is an eye-opening look at how computer science and technology can help address an ancient and persistent disease that is responsible for 655,000 deaths each year. To think that it’s possible for a laser to not only kill mosquitoes in mid-flight, but determine from their wing beat frequency whether they are females (which potentially carry malaria) or males (which do not bite) is downright astonishing.

Yet even technology that’s far more accessible than what Myhrvold describes is changing the game in Africa — not only aiding in the fight against malaria, but opening a whole new world. Mobile technologies make it possible to have access to information that is transformative, whether it’s tracking disease outbreaks or educating children.

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