There has been a lot happening in the tourism, technology and ecommerce industries in East Africa over the past quarter. Take a look at some of the highlights, below:
Global startup competition held in Tanzania
Seedstars World, the global seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets, returned to Tanzania in September. In line with its mission is to shine the spotlight on entrepreneurs from emerging markets, Seedstars World provides them with an opportunity to win up to $1 million USD. The prize will also enable entrepreneurs to network with investors and mentors from around the world.
The Seedstars World team searched for startups with regional and global scalability to solve regional issues and develop profitable global products to support their local businesses and growth. Seedstars World has a strong network of international partners such as Inmarsat, INADEM, Standard Bank and Deloittes.
Up to 10 of the best seed stage startups in Tanzania were invited to pitch for the opportunity to compete at the Seedstars Summit, scheduled for April 2017 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications was the main partner for Seedstars World Dar es Salaam in 2016. Director of the Ministry, Eng. Clarence Ichwekeleza, said the support was provided to “give exposure for our Tanzanian startups to gain International attention.”
The event was also supported by the Swiss Embassy. Swiss Ambassador, Arthur Mattli added: “I believe that the new generation of young entrepreneurs will shape Tanzania’s business landscape in a significant way.”
Newly Launched App Will Help Increase Trade between China, Kenya
The first Sino-Africa e-commerce platform, Amanbo, launched its online shopping endeavor in Nairobi. It offers online shoppers access to various items and direct purchasing from Chinese wholesale manufacturers and companies.
Amanbo, created by Right Net Tech Co., Ltd., launched its e-commerce platform after the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce (KNCCI) approved the company entering the local market with its platform. Mr. Kiprono Kittony, chairman of KNCCI said, "This online window offers verification for commodities, so that we ensure Kenyans are getting authentic products which conform to the website description."
Online shoppers can find more than 5,000 products in categories such as fashion, mobile phones, electronics, solar products, construction, toys and so on. Customer service is available in both English and Kiswahili. A local distribution center, to which millions of goods are regularly shipped from China to Kenya, ensures timely delivery. A sample showroom also plays a key role in the cross-border trade, helping to improve trust in online payments and product quality.
CEO of Right Net Tech Co., Ltd., Mr. Sunny Liao commented: "We are really honored that Amanbo first branch in Africa is in Kenya, Amanbo.co.ke is now the first choice for Kenyan to purchase Chinese goods online."
Rwanda’s tech initiatives prove African governments can catalyze innovation
Rwanda has become the first country in the world to launch a national drone delivery program.
Working in partnership with California-based startup Zipline, the government launched the service at the end of October. To date, there are between 50-150 deliveries every day of critical medical supplies to 21 locations across Rwanda.
The inaugural flight was launched at a drone-port in Rwanda’s Muhanga district by President Paul Kagame.
Becoming a technology hub is central to the Rwanda’s national priorities. The small aircraft lift-off from a customized “drone-nest,” drop their loads by parachute, then return to their base – guided digitally by Zipline’s California navigation system connected to Rwanda’s 3G network.
“It’s the first program of its kind,” said Zipline co-founder Keller Rinaudo. “We’re operating a commercial service at a national scale, with national regulatory approval and a customer that is paying us to do it on a daily basis.”
”We found Rwanda really forward-looking, innovative and the government was already making big investments in technology and healthcare,” Rinaudo added.
Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya Form Joint Tourism Committee
Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda collaborated in a joint tourism marketing committee to promote East African tourism sites at the World Travel Market Exhibition held in London at the beginning of November.
Godfrey Kiwanda, Ugandan State Minister for Tourism, described the initiative as the first-ever joint exhibition by the three East African countries, He said the move will enhance the growth of the tourism sector in the region. More than 20 Ugandan tour operators and Government agencies participated in the exhibition.
One of the major additional boosts to regional tourism was the launch by Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda in October of a single entry tourist visa to allow free movement of tourists within the region.
“We now promote East Africa as a region. Tourists can use a single visa to visit Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda,” Mr. Kiwanda added.
Zanzibar Hosts Major Tourism Conference
In a bid to boost the local tourism industry, the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI) organized a major private-lead tourism conference in October.
According to a statement released by ZATI Chairman, Mr. Seif Miskry, the conference was dominated by discussions on doing business and widening the sector’s benefits to reach more of the islands’ inhabitants.
At least 12 government bodies and tourism stakeholders in the isles attended the fully-booked conference.
The conference theme’s “doing business in Zanzibar – tourism for all’ drew attention and enabled stakeholders to discuss various issues related to the sector.
“We thank the government of Zanzibar for a healthy private and public partnership. We held a very useful and interesting event which featured a full day of presentations and discussions pertinent to the industry,” Mr. Miskry said.
Issues discussed focused on taxation, law, environment, labor and immigration. Other issues included skills development, utilities, sustainable tourism, and destination marketing.
The outcome of the conference was a list of advocacy issues that ZATI will adopt as its work agenda for the next 12 months.
Zambian Government intends to make Livingstone a premier Southern African conferencing center
A high-level meeting between Government ministers and a Chinese consortium has discussed plans to invest US$ 50 million to construct a world-class hotel with a 5,000 person capacity conference facility in the Victoria Falls area of Livingstone.
Furthermore, Finance Minister Felix Mutati announced in his 2017 budget speech, that the Government intended to transform Livingstone into the premier conferencing center in Southern Africa.
Zambia Tourism Agency (ZTA) managing director Felix Chaila commented: “Livingstone is already an attractive destination, but it lacks adequate conference facilities.”
He added: “Tourists are looking for destinations that have a diverse product range, including conferences. The move is also in line with the growing global trend of promoting the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry.”
Most tourism enterprises are now investing in conference rooms to capture this market which assures high room occupancy rates, and increased consumption of food and beverages.
Mr. Chaila added there was need to ensure that people who travel to Livingstone to view the Victoria Falls also had an opportunity to enjoy other facilities such as resorts and conferences.
“This move by the Government will boost the sector,” he said.