Thursday, June 15, 2023

Vintage Health Technologies combines Artificial Intelligence (AI) with real-world experience to boost the Nigerian health system

 Nigeria’s health system is getting a major boost from Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology through a new international health partnership. 

Vantage Health Technologies, an international health technology provider – part of the BroadReach Group - is teaming up with Nigeria’s Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED), a public health and development non-profit organisation.

NHED harnesses the power of AI and long-term in-country contextual expertise in health advocacy to build strong governance and health systems across Nigeria’s public health system.

 “Our combined experience, local knowledge and relationships with the government of Nigeria enable us to offer high impact technical assistance and best-in-class, AI-driven, technology-enabled solutions," says Dr Emmanuel Sokpo, Managing Director of NHED.

"Our expertise and solutions bring about organisational change, improved performance, and better program, population, and individual health outcomes. We are excited to see the impact that this joint effort will make in Nigeria – not only for health administrators and caregivers, but most importantly their patients, the people of Nigeria.”

The Nigeria health system is overburdened and resource-constrained resulting in poor health outcomes. Nigeria experiences a high prevalence of HIV, TB, and Malaria, ranking fourth worldwide in terms of HIV burden, accounting for 35% of cases in East and West Africa.

Additionally, Nigeria ranks sixth globally in contributing to TB cases, comprising 4% of total TB cases worldwide. Moreover, Nigeria faces the highest malaria burden globally, with an estimated 51 million cases annually, representing approximately 30% of Africa's total malaria burden.

To address these challenges, the partnership between NHED and Vantage plays a crucial role in providing the necessary support to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system, its managers, and workforce within the available resources.

Vantage’s AI-powered solutions specifically help health organisations achieve cost and operational efficiencies, improved organisational performance and better health outcomes through “next best action” workflows to empower healthcare workers at all levels with deep experience in HIV, TB, malaria and other related diseases treatment and care.

NHED, in turn, specialises in delivering high-impact public health advocacy, governance and primary health system interventions across the continent. Specifically, within Nigeria, they have driven successful interventions across nutrition and primary healthcare programmes.

“Together, we’ll bring new efficiencies into the Nigerian public health system, to overcome challenges in health service delivery, workforce empowerment, patient retention, data interoperability, health information management and data-driven leadership,” says Paul Bhuhi, Managing Director of Vantage Health Technologies.

“Vantage offers proven AI-driven, data-centric, technology-enabled solutions and innovation that empowers human action. Our goal is to enable public health systems to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. We believe this is possible in Nigeria too.

Through our health systems approach, this partnership and its unique combination AI-enabled technology, deep contextual knowledge and expertise in health leadership and governance, can help address healthcare system challenges with speed and agility,” says Bhuhi.

To introduce this powerful partnership, a round table event on “Technology enabled Health Systems Strengthening” is being co-hosted by the partnership on 20 July in Abuja, for high-level government, donor and private sector health stakeholders.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Kenya Tea Development Agency brews perfect technology mix

Over 600,000 smallholder tea farmers affiliated to the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) are reaping the harvest of a technological rollout that has streamlined the operations of their factories, making the tea business more efficient and technology driven.

The deployment of SAP by KTDA and its managed factories has provided analytical tools that are used for better decision making while making payment for farmers’ green leaf efficient and quick. 

It has also drastically improved payment processing and enhanced end-to-end visibility for better controls and safeguards.

“We wanted a solution to bring all our factories into a single system that would improve every aspect of our operations, from production planning and quality management to sales, distribution and payroll,” says KTDA CEO Wilson Muthaura.

More than 600,000 farmers paid every month for green leaf are suppliers to KTDA as well as over 10,000 employees working across the organisation. 

However, following this rollout, all farmers are now paid through the SAP system, reducing processing time by more than 80 per cent, said Muthaura.

KTDA Holdings Ltd is a wholly owned farmers company which has invested in various subsidiary companies along the tea value chain in Kenya. 

Through the KTDA Management Services company, the operations on 71 factories are seamlessly managed and SAP has come in handy in enhancing operational efficiencies with the aim of increasing transparency and profitability in the businesses.

The Agency has seven subsidiaries and a Foundation providing specialised services across the tea value chain, including factory management, engineering, insurance, tea trading and warehousing, credit provision and power production.

In late 2021, KTDA revised its monthly green leaf payment timelines to the first week of the following month. Payments for deliveries had previously been made on the third week of the following month. 

The change, aided by efficient payment processing through SAP, translated to faster access of farmers’ cash to meet their daily needs and align the payment to farmers’ monthly obligations.

The system also allows the Agency to easily incorporate other items like loans and inputs (like fertilizer) issued to the payment process allowing for easy and seamless recoveries.

Martin Mwarangu, Group General Manager for ICT Services at KTDA, says: “We worked with experienced SAP partner, OneConnect Technologies, to implement SAP ERP Central Component and Business Intelligence, covering end-to-end processes across KDTA's operations.”

System unlocks benefits across value chain

Besides payment processing, different modules of SAP have delivered multiple benefits including production planning and management and a full visibility of tea sales.

“SAP has digitally transformed the KTDA business and made it technologically ready to adopt any future solutions that would further enhance business efficiencies. The wealth of data generated is important in decision making and forecasting,” says KTDA Management Services Managing Director Julius Onguso.

Plant maintenance has also been enhanced with a solution that ensures proper maintenance and provides greater visibility over costs associated with equipment. 

In addition, all transactions are now updated to general ledgers and relevant cost/profit centres in real time, giving the finance team full visibility over the organisation’s operations.

The Agency has also rolled out a sales and distribution module that allows all tea selling processes to be done on one system; from raising sales orders; tea dispatch and revenue management.

The SAP solution generates a wealth of data and has embedded business analytical tools that generate reports and dashboards extensively used by decision makers to glean insights and make better decisions for the business.

Thirty-two KTDA-managed factories are currently running on the SAP solution, making reporting and intercompany integration easier. The deployment of SAP also means there is a uniformity and consistency in how each of the factories are run. The Agency is working to have all other factories deploy the solution for group-wide benefit.

Hardeep Sound, Regional Sales Director for East Africa at SAP, adds: “Facing inefficiency and a lack of visibility over critical business processes, KTDA embraced the benefits of the latest technology to completely transform their end-to-end business functions. 

As KTDA continues to play a vital role in in the broader Kenyan economy as well as directly in the lives of more than smallholder farmers, having real-time visibility over the entire organisation’s processes will bring vast improvements to its operations benefitting all stakeholders.”

Monday, April 24, 2023

South Korea K-Startup Global Accelerator Program Invites Applications from Tech Startups

The K-Startup Grand Challenge (KSGC), South Korea's largest accelerator program, has opened applications for its 2023 edition. 

Overseen by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and organized by the National IT Industry Promotion Agency, KSGC is accepting startup applications from April 10 to May 18, 2023. 

The program aims to assist foreign startups looking to enter the Korean market and explore business opportunities in Asia. The 2023 edition of the accelerator, running from July 25 to November 10, will focus on deep tech startups.

Lim Jungwook, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of SMEs and Startups said, “It is a great pleasure to experience the gradual increase in the level and quality of startups applying to the K-Startup Grand Challenge program every year." 

This year, through the Follow-up program after Demoday, KSGC 2023 offers further support to the Top 20 teams, including commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) project with Korean companies for approximately 8 teams with a maximum funding of $25,000, which will help startups take their innovative ideas to the next level. 

"I encourage global startups to join K-Startup Grand Challenge 2023 and be a part of this innovative journey," he said.

The program will select 60 startups that are less than seven years old, whose representatives hold foreign nationalities and wish to establish an innovative technology business in Korea. Startups with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or specific plans to relocate their headquarters or establish a company in Korea will be given preference.

The K-Startup Grand Challenge program evaluates startups and pre-startups through a two-step process (document evaluation and global audition evaluation) including criteria such as problem recognition, feasibility and differentiation, expansion plan, and team. 

The application period is from April 10 to May 18, 2023, and the program excludes startups that copy or steal others' ideas or violate contracts.

The 2023 edition is designed for startups operating in deep tech, focused on eight sectors: e-Commerce & Retail, ESG & Green Tech, Food Tech & Agri Tech, Healthcare & Bio, IT & Software, Mobility & Robotics, Manufacturing & IoT, Metaverse & Media.

What can startups expect at KSGC 2023

International startups participating in KSGC 2023 can expect several benefits including commercialization support through mentorship from Korean startup experts and accelerators, assistance with fitting their business model more closely in the Korean market, participation in meetups, and consultation and seminars related to commercialization, contract, tax, law, and policies related to doing business in Korea.

Secondly, they will receive settlement support, including administrative assistance related to incorporation, visas, and living arrangements. The program will help obtain a Business Startup Visa (D-10-2) and open bank accounts.

Thirdly, startups will have opportunities to meet Korean companies and investors through business meetings and events organized throughout the program.

Fourthly, startups will be provided with office space in Pangyo Techno Valley, easily accessible by public transportation. A Korean intern, fluent in English and Korean, will help the startups in their Korean operations.

Fifthly, each startup in the program will receive financial benefits, including settlement funds to cover living expenses over the 15-week program period ($10,840 per team). 

The final Demo Day in November 2023 will select five promising startups for grand prizes. On the final Demo Day, prizes worth approximately $270,000 will be awarded to the top five startups.

The top 20 startups from the program will receive additional follow-up support, including a 15-week paid extension in Korea from December 1, 2023, to March 29, 2024. These startups will receive all support, including issuing a business startup visa, networking opportunities, office space, finding interns, etc. 

The selected startups will also be subject to follow-up financial support of $10,840 only. Additionally, eight startup teams will have the opportunity to get further assistance of $25,000 and support with commercialization funds such as a PoC(Proof of Concept) with Korean companies.

Successful KSGC Alumni

In 2022, KSGC attracted 2,653 teams from 122 countries worldwide, recording the highest-ever
competition rate of 52:1. 51 startup teams were selected through screening and auditions for the final 15-week program. German food tech startup Koralo won the coveted ‘2022 K-Startup Grand Challenge' as the best foreign startup team at the Demo Day.

"We believe that Korea has excellent technology as well as opportunities. It takes work to enter the Korean market. But in the end, if you have the right business partner, if you connect to the Korean ecosystem, and you enlarge that network and add some value to them and also show that you are interested in staying in Korea long term, then people are super excited to work together," said Sina Albanese, co-founder of Koralo.

In the past, global startups participating in the KSGC program have had definite success in the Asian market. Since 2016, 360 teams from 168 countries have participated in KSGC, and 167 Korean subsidiaries have been established. 

Bear Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup founded by ex-googlers, participated in KSGC 2017 and is now revolutionizing self-driving serving robots tailored for Korean cuisine internationally. The startup has attracted over $100 million in investments since 2017, with an $81 million Series B round in 2022.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Brastorne Connects the Unconnected in Africa

Digital inclusion is not universal and a growing digital divide is excluding entire segments of our society from the potentially limitless benefits.

In Africa, 650 million of the continent's one billion people own mobile phones, but the majority lack meaningful digital access.  About 760 million people are unconnected in Africa. 

Economic realities are driving this digital divide. Africans use feature phones in large numbers, leaving only a few people who have both smartphones and the data plans required to be online. 

Yet more and more aspects of modern life have moved online - access to information, economic opportunities, and how we interact with our social circles are all reliant on access to the internet. 

Access to this near-limitless online world leads to empowerment for those with ready access. When they have a smartphone, digital access comes at a crippling cost. 

One gigabyte of mobile data costs an average of $6.44 in Africa, which is equivalent to a week's wages for the majority of the continent's rural poor. There are many efforts globally to promote digital inclusion, but Africa is still left behind. 

Brastorne acknowledges these realities and has implemented disruptive solutions to dissolve the barriers to digital inclusion in Africa. Using existing infrastructure, standard telco networks, Brastorne’s technology turns the continent's ubiquitous feature phones into internet portals for less than $0.05 per day. 

For these feature phone users, Brastorne's solutions provide an experience similar to that of a smartphone mobile app. This is accomplished through a suite of technology solutions including USSD, IVR, or Voice to promote digital inclusion through Brastorne’s applications Mpotsa, mAgri and Vuka.

Mpotsa, which translates to "ask me how?" in English, is a two-way telephone-based question/answer platform that aims to provide users with information on almost anything. It provides information to users by acting as a Google-like service that uses the user-friendly technology of Voice/IVR. 

Farmers use mAgri to access advisory services, wikipedia, weather/pest alerts, crop prices, and financial services, as well as trade, chat, and email in their native language. 

Vuka facilitates and accelerates convenient communication through USSD, allowing users to chat, send in-person messages, or broadcast messages on both low-end phones and smartphones. 

These solutions empower numerous communities that rely on feature phones by giving them access to essential information such as employment opportunities, health advice, and legal services.

Through Brastorne’s flagship product Smallholder Farmers experience increased access to communications and Women Smallholder Farmers see increased Crop Yield and increased revenue. 

In 2021, 36 000 farmers gained access to information, markets, & communication in Botswana through mAgri. 

Furthermore Brastorne users realized 85% Monthly Savings in costs of information and communication access compared to alternatives (data bundles, physical travel costs etc), which can cost $15+/month. 

Brastorne users in total have realized $3.4 million total annual savings across all 60,000 subscribers in 2021. 

These savings can now be put to use to improve their farm, feed their families, or buy much-needed personal items. 

Brastorne’s information access service Mpotsa has brought the power of the internet to new users, giving them increased access to information, medical treatment, COVID vaccinations, and access to jobs. 

The service is a literal lifeline with an estimated 60% of Mpotsa subscribers who cannot otherwise afford digital information. 

In 2021, Mpotsa connected 25,231 total youth, over 15,000 of whom would otherwise have remained unconnected. This resulted in $60,554 total information access cost savings. 

With its mission of connecting 760 million Africans who lack meaningful access to today's digital world, Brastorne plans to expand its solutions to 19 different African countries. 

Brastorne is currently operational in Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and most recently Cameroon (, having launched in October through partnerships with mobile network providers such as Orange. 

It plans to address the realities of Africa's lack of connectivity by enabling digital inclusion and its dividends through mAgri and Vuka.

Monday, November 28, 2022

No need for more benchmarking trips to pass Uganda National Health Insurance

By Esther Nakkazi

Each year parliament allocates 3billion Uganda shillings or USD $ 800,000 to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

Uganda urgently needs an NHIS. It should be universal, fair, with only one pool, said Fredrick Makaire, the Executive Director, Save for Health an NGO that coordinates community health insurance schemes across the country.

After many years since it was first proposed, the Uganda NHIS is not operational although discussions about how it should be implemented are on going in Parliament and among stakeholders.

One of the activities for which the UGX 3 billion allocated is spent is the benchmarking exercise by members of parliament. This involves travel to different countries.

Twenty years since talks about starting the Uganda NIHS started divisions on whether the benchmarking is even relevant anymore are raising eyebrows.

Stakeholders are divided on the way forward. While some think the exercise is not relevant arguing that if the funds for benchmarking were to be saved they would have jump started Uganda’s NIHS by now others say ‘seeing is believing’ so the new members of Parliament need a physical assessment to support it.

Makaire says there’s no need for fresh benchmarking as there’s already enough data gathered over the last fifteen years.

Joel Ssebikali Yoweri, the Vice Chairperson of the health committee in parliament says the new members of parliament on the health committee who are 32 out of the 36 team need to get proof of how NIH systems work. 

Next month, for the fourth round of benchmarking 36 members of parliamentary health committee will visit Rwanda in December and proceed to Kenya and Tanzania in early 2023, participants attending the 6th National Community Health Financing two-day conference held in Kampala heard.

Previously, MPs visited Rwanda, Namibia, Ghana and France to benchmark for the bill that was passed by parliament in 2021.

However, the Bill was rejected by president Museveni who refused to accent to it.

The bill has been in parliament for four terms. The assessment is that there is zero political will to pass it. At some point it even disappeared and could not be tabled.

“It becomes embarrassing, as politicians we get ashamed when we talk about it. We have wasted government money because we benchmarked all over the world that money was wasted, efforts were futile and time,” said Ssebikali.

He advised stakeholders to start engaging smaller groups individually. “If we finish smaller groups without achieving this we shall be ashamed.” Financing healthcare in Uganda remains a nightmare. Maybe times Ugandans who go to hospitals come out poorer.

At least 1.5 million Ugandans are pushed down the poverty line because of health care expenditure. This was even more so amplified during the Covid-19 pandemic.

As well about 40 percent Ugandan households use out of pocket expenses to finance health care. The World health Organisation (WHO) recommends 15 percent out of pocket expenditure. 

At the East African Community level only Uganda and South Sudan lack an NHIS. Uganda has only 30.9 percent health coverage compared to Rwanda at 95 percent.

Now the Bill is back at the Ministry of Health for review. Dr. Charles Olaro, the Director curative Services in the Ministry of Health, says returning the Bill back to the Ministry of Health has enabled them to consult - engaging members of parliament, private sector and they have managed to get a consensus and a ‘win-win’ situation’ for most of the items that were not accepted. 

He noted that they are ensuring that everything that missed in the 2021 bill including the fate of community health schemes and private providers are well catered for in the new document.

Leticia Nakimuli Irumba, the Board chairperson, Save for Health Uganda says if the country puts all its resources in one pool we shall achieve universal health Insurance coverage.

“We are glad that we back and counting to advocate for the bill. We are sure that an opportune time we shall have the Bill signed.”


Friday, November 11, 2022

Africa food cooling technology to be expanded

The African Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Cooling and Cold-chain (ACES) has announced at COP 27 that it will work with global cold chain provider Carrier to help advance cooling development and training in Africa.

“Turning food loss into nutritionally available food is essential for Africa’s sustainable development, as well as building the food systems that are used to feed people in times of uncertainty," said Toby Peters, Centre for Sustainable Cooling Director and Professor of Cold Economy, University of Birmingham and Heriot-Watt University.

Global leaders have recently agreed that the only way to overcome food insecurity is by working together to create innovative partnerships within the global community,” 

Carrier will collaborate in the development of the ACES cold-chain centre in Kigali, Rwanda - providing capacity building for farmers and refrigeration technicians, skills development for students and supply chain professionals, and demonstration of best-in-class sustainable cooling technology.

More than 475 million tons of the world’s food can be saved annually with effective refrigeration, and more than 50% of all perishable food loss could be avoided by using cold chain technology.

The University of Birmingham plays a leading role in ACES, which is developed with the Governments of UK and Rwanda and UN Environment Programme at the University of Rwanda.

Additionally, progress continues on the collaboration between Carrier, WFP and other leading companies to build a world-class Transport Training Centre in Accra, Ghana, aimed at enhancing transport and logistics capacities across West Africa. 

The centres are expected to inject new expertise into local transport markets, equipping them to deliver goods more efficiently throughout their respective regions.

 “We’re pleased to partner with ACES and WFP to make a meaningful difference across Africa, as the potential benefits of these collective efforts are far reaching and can positively impact the cold chain from farmers and manufacturers to consumers with wide-reaching benefits,” said Tim White, President, Refrigeration, Carrier. 

The University of Birmingham and the Indian State of Haryana recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop a Haryana Centre of Excellence on crop post-harvest management and sustainable cold chain.

The agreement builds on ACES and will conduct state-of-the-art applied research and provide capacity building and training, an innovation and business hub and technology testing/demonstration centre. 

It will connect experts, investors, agri-food business, farmer cooperatives, and energy or logistics providers to deliver sustainable cooling. 

It also follows an MoU signed earlier this year with the Indian State of Telangana for a Telangana Centre of Excellence. The UK and UN Environment technical assistance programme is funded by DEFRA.

Carrier is a leading global provider of healthy, safe, sustainable and intelligent building and cold chain solutions. 

ACES’ partnership will support Carrier’s focus on expanding the cold chain – improving health outcomes and reducing hunger, food insecurity and carbon emissions. 

ACES is being highlighted at COP27 through a series of side-events. Professor Peters will be presenting at the Clean Heating and Cooling Forum on Monday, 14 November. 

The event will explore policy, technology, and models needed across both the sustainable cooling and clean heat challenges.

As outgoing COP 26 President, the Rt. Hon. Alok Sharma MP, said when he visited ACES during CHOGM: “ACES is a demonstration of how we can work together, to help tackle rising emissions and keep alive the goal of limiting average global temperature rises. Cooling and refrigeration are the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, especially in developing countries. But this challenge gives us the opportunity to develop innovative, energy efficient technologies of the future.”

Orange Launches first 5G commercially in Botswana

Orange Botswana is the first Orange affiliate to launch 5G, with a coverage of 30% of the population, including greater Gaborone and Francistown. Other cities will follow in early 2023.

It follows the launch of Botswana’s first Orange Digital Centre this morning, which will help bridge the digital divide and prepare Batswana youth for employment in a blossoming digital ecosystem.

This 5G launch will further support innovation and digital inclusion in the country, putting Botswana at the forefront of 5G in Africa and is closely aligned with the government’s ambition to leverage Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) innovation towards transforming Botswana into a knowledge-based economy, leaving no-one behind.

Orange Botswana is the first Orange ( affiliate in Africa to launch 5G commercially. New healthcare, education and security services will be enabled in the country by the 5G technology.

5G, with its ultra-high speed and low latency, will support new disruptive services such as e-health, connected vehicles, connected cities, real-time gaming, smart homes and learning through VR and augmented reality. 

It offers a new world of possibilities to companies, innovators and society at large.

Orange Botswana has partnered with MRI Botswana to create a “Connected Ambulance” project that will allow Doctors to guide Paramedics through life saving procedures on their way to hospitals. 

This telemedicine intervention will change lives and would not have been possible without 5G. Orange Botswana is looking forward to collaborating with government and enterprises to implement 5G-based use cases.

Orange Botswana introduces new 5G fixed broadband services and mobile data bundles. The offers are available for residential customers, small and medium enterprises and include value added services.

The fixed offers are available from15Mbps for Prepaid and from 20Mbps for Postpaid with a monthly rental from BWP 699 (€53 per month). The subscription of Prepaid offers is accessible through Orange Yame App, USSD and Card to Wallet.

In other countries, regulation boards still have not officially initiated the 5G licenses attribution process although many of them, such as in Cote d’Ivoire showed a clear will to make the 5G spectrum available in 2023.

Meanwhile, Orange is collaborating with several regulatory bodies to help build a 5G deployment roadmap while testing the technology and developing use cases that fit with the local populations’ need.