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Kenya

Kenya’s Resilient Matatu Minibuses Gain Status As Public Transport Bans Loom

Kenya’s souped-up matatu minibuses — some with names, flashing lights and onboard entertainment to attract customers are often blamed for Nairobi’s snarled traffic, and Kenyan regulators have tried repeatedly to ban them. These efforts seem to elevate the status of matatus, whose owners try to outdo each other with graffiti-style artwork, custom designs, and loud music. Matatus generate jobs for 160,000 workers, many of whom have few other employment opportunities, according to a 2012 interview posted on the Magnum Foundation, website.

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How Kenya's M-Kopa Brings Prepaid Solar Power To Rural Africa

Using the pay-as-you-go model popularised by mobile phones, a remarkable Kenyan company, M-Kopa Solar, is providing rent-to-own solar energy products that will help provide cheap solar power to rural homes. The M-Kopa IV Solar Home System includes a solar panel, control unit, three low-energy LED light bulbs (one of which is a portable, rechargeable torch) and a rechargeable radio. The control unit also has a USB port for charging cellphones. It’s a perfect off-the-grid solar system for Africa, where land-based infrastructure is poor and electricity supply is frequently erratic. For a deposit of $35, buyers get the system then make 365 daily payments of $0.43 through mobile money system M-Pesa. When it is all paid off, the system belongs to the buyer outright.

M-Kopa has sold about 300,000 units in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana. It sells 500 units a day and it aims to sell 1-million M-Kopa systems by the end of 2017. It employs 650 people in the four countries and a further 1,000 field agents. This seems like a small number against the backdrop of Africa’s 1.1-billion population, but M-Kopa is a great example of disruption, not in the technology space but at the business model level.

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Inspirational African Women: 22yr old Leslie Ossete talks about her innovative Bus App taking over Nairobi

Magic Bus Ticketing is an offline ticketing system that makes use of SMS and USSD services to allow commuters to interact with bus drivers in African cities and access relevant information regarding the local public transport. By dialing a shortcode on their mobile phones, users are able to see when the next bus is coming and how much it will cost, pay for their bus fares using mobile money, choose their pick-up and drop-off destinations and, in the near future, pre-book seats.

The start-up’s aim is to optimise the public transport system (shorter waiting times, lower fares, standardised schedules) and ultimately connect commuters to bus drivers to the benefit of both parties. The company currently operates only in Nairobi, but plans to expand to the rest of east Africa by 2018. Leslie Ossete (22), one of the four co-founders, briefed How we made it in Africa on starting Magic Bus and how the company plans to, as Ossete put it, become “Uber for buses”.

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The Future Of AGOA With Trans-Pacific Partnership Rising

The number of regional trade agreements has almost quadrupled in the past 25 years, from 70 in 1990 to around nearly 280 today. The collapse of the Doha round of trade talks in Nairobi in December has deflected energy to regional trade agreements. These agreements are great in helping rejuvenate global trade, which slowed as the economic recovery tapered in recent years and the Chinese economy decelerated. Africa is well positioned to engage regional trade agreements. Signed in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, in June 2015, the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) brings the Common Market of Eastern and South Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) into the continent’s largest free-trade zone covering 26 countries from Egypt to South Africa.

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