Here’s a very short update on Netflix’s planned ad-supported tier: You won’t be able to download with it.
ICYMI: Sometime in 2023, Netflix will take a stab at “financial inclusion” and release a cheaper plan that comes with ads. Think YouTube, but without the premium.
CRYPTO MARKET: BINANCE BRINGS ON RAND
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* Data as of 05:40 AM WAT, August 23, 2022.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume of transactions, Binance, has announced that its users will now be able to deposit and withdraw the South African rand (ZAR) to and from their Binance wallets.
The announcement was made by recently appointed country manager, Hannes Wessel, who said the new addition will increase the adoption and mainstream accessibility of crypto in South Africa.
The service will be rolled out in two phases. Phase 1, which went live yesterday, enables Binance users to deposit ZAR into their Binance wallets and convert ZAR to bitcoin (BTC), binance USD (BUSD), ether (ETH), tether (USDT), and binance coin (BNB).
Phase 2 will include ZAR fiat withdrawals for all Binance users and will be launched on August 25 at 8 AM UTC.
SHOPRITE CLOSES A $205 MILLION LOAN
Shoprite, South Africa’s largest retail group, has secured $205 million in green and “sustainability-linked” loans from two big banks—Standard Bank and Rand Merchant Bank (RMB). Shoprite got a record-breaking R2 billion ($176 million) loan from Standard Bank, a $47 million (R800 million) sustainability-linked loan, and a R700 million ($41.7 million) green loan from RMB.
What are green and sustainability-linked loans?
Green loans and sustainability-linked loans are given to businesses and institutions to incentivise the borrowers to achieve goals that reduce global warming. They are both slightly different from each other, though. Green loans have to be directly linked to green projects such as activities that reduce emissions of gases that cause global warming or increase energy efficiency. Sustainability-linked loans (SLLs) do not have to be used exclusively, if at all, for green projects. SLLs can be used for general corporate purposes as long as the company is achieving sustainability in some way to the satisfaction of the lender.
What will Shoprite use this loan for?
Shoprite will use the funding to do right by the planet.
Last year, it increased the installed capacity of its solar-power system by 82% and reduced electricity consumption by 150 million kWh. It will use the funding to increase the energy efficiency and the capacity of its renewable sources of electricity.
In that same year, it recycled 46,102 tons of cardboard from stores and distribution centres and diverted 10,241 tons of plastic waste from landfills. This year, it will ramp up its recycling efforts with the loan.
These loans are as earth-friendly as they are groundbreaking. The R2 billion loan from Standard Bank is the bank’s biggest in the retail sector to date. The R700 million green loan is the first of its kind in the retail sector from RMB.
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Roam, an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing company in Kenya, has launched Rome Rapid, a 90-seater electric bus for public transport in the country. The company believes that the best way to roam move around Kenya is by EVs, and they are on a mission to normalise its adoption in Africa.
Shocking as it may seem, electric vehicles are a thing in Kenya. Both public and private-sector players are hands-on trying to boost the use of EVs in the country. Roam’s announcement is coming after similar strides by BasiGo, another EV-producing company in Kenya. But really, why is Kenya going electric?
Clean transportation. That’s what Roam wants. The company has said that it is “looking to create a mobility solution that is inclusive, modern, efficient, and sustainable”. Electric vehicles are that solution.
Is Kenya ripe for this?
Kenya’s leading electricity transmission and distribution company, Kenya Power, seems to think so. Two weeks ago, the company announced its plans to start constructing electric charging centres for EVs in the country. This follows similar steps by KenGen, the country’s leading electricity generation company.
The East African country is also home to several active EV players like Opibus, Kiri, Nopea Ride, EVM Africa, Caetano, and Agilitee Africa. Together, these companies are building the infrastructure necessary for EVs adoption in Kenya.
Zoom out: What Kenya is doing with EVs is commendable, especially with the soaring emissions of carbon oxides from sub-Saharan Africa and the sustained dependence of African countries on oil imports. In the long run, it will improve the quality of Kenya’s environment and hopefully spark a trend for other African countries to follow.
TELECOM EGYPT AND ORANGE JORDAN PARTNER TO SERVE IRAQ
Telecom Egypt, one of Egypt’s leading subsea cable providers, has announced a partnership with Orange Group subsidiary Orange Jordan to build a highly dependable terrestrial infrastructure connecting Iraq to Europe. It is called the Cairo Amman Baghdad System (CAB System), and it will enhance telecommunications and internet access in Iraq.
What are both parties bringing to the table?
The collaboration aims to produce the most advanced, scalable gateway, and express route connecting Iraq to Europe. Telecom will provide its Egyptian presence, international assets, and facilities to the collaboration, while Orange Jordan will contribute its completely diversified Jordanian infrastructure.
This agreement will broaden both operators’ presence in the Iraqi market and the Middle Eastern market.
This is not the first time Telecom and Orange have shaken hands over a table. Telecom Egypt recently signed a five-year national roaming deal with Orange Egypt.
Following the expiration of Etisalat’s roaming agreement with Telecom, in December 2022, Orange will replace Etisalat as Telecom Egypt asserts that Orange offers superior technical and financial value and return.
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Applications are now open for Meta’s AR/VR Africa Metathon. XR developers, programmers, UI/UX designers, artists, animators, storytellers, and professionals resident in Africa can sign up to get curated learning resources from XR experts who will provide mentorship, and facilitate masterclasses and workshops. Apply here.
The UN’s Youth Climate Innovation Lab is calling all young innovators in MENA that are creating climate technology solutions to join a 3-day launchpad. Winners from the launchpad will participate in the 6–8 week Climate Innovation Academy Programme, and the top 3 teams will receive a cash prize as well as the chance to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) happening in Egypt this November 2022. Apply by September 4.
Fintechs focusing on financial inclusion in Africa can now apply for the CATAPULT: Inclusion Africa Programme 2022. Ten selected fintechs will participate in a one-week all-expenses-paid bootcamp, and participate in the Arch Summit event. Apply by September 15.
The GrowUp Incubator Programme is now open to applications from social business entrepreneurs who are providing sustainable solutions to tourism and mobility issues. Entrepreneurs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi can apply for the chance to get 6-month training, networking opportunities, and support. Apply by August 28.