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Is Africa’s digital infrastructural revolution maturing?2 min read

According to a recent study by the World Bank, just one in five people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the internet

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Is Africa’s digital infrastructural revolution maturing?
(File photo)

United States tech giants such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google are pushing their way into Africa’s digital market. They are investing in satellites, helium balloons and drones in the hope that remote corners of the continent can remain connected.

Despite Africa’s indigenous accomplishments in the digital sector, the market is far from fully tapped and there is a need for higher investment.

According to a recent study by the World Bank, based on a series of surveys carried out in recent years, just one in five people in sub-Saharan Africa have access to the internet. Putting the continent well below the global average of internet users, which is just over 50 per cent.

The biggest players in Africa’s internet infrastructure are multinational telecommunication giants such as South-African based MTN, French-owned Orange SA and Indian Bharti Airtel, with government-run companies now only playing a lesser role. While nearly half of all African service providers were state-owned in 2000, only around one fifth are currently active, mostly due to the increased costs of running such a company.

It’s evident that controlling a country’s digital infrastructure is now a key factor in maintaining power, especially for authoritarian regimes. In the context of elections and demonstrations, for example, some African governments have previously made it difficult to access popular individual apps such as Twitter or Facebook, while some have blocked internet access altogether.

Not all the projects which made headlines in recent years ended up being successful. Silicon Valley’s investment in Africa’s digital infrastructure is not without its problems. Google squandered its investments in internet drones. Ultimately though, this fragmentation and war which can be observed on a global scale between China and the US will directly impact Africans.

Thankfully, Africa’s backlog of infrastructure could present a vast opportunity. Africa now has the chance to produce another decentralized internet model. One stripped of the monopoly giants.

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Entertainment

Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards

Ayo Balogun (Wizkid) and songwriter, Michael Uzowuru win renowned Ashford and Simpson Songwriters’ Award alongside others

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Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards
Wizkid is pictured before the MTV Africa Music Awards 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa on October 21st, 2016.

Nigerians do not cease to make us proud both at home and abroad. This time, the news spotlights Nigeria’s own Starboy, Ayo Balogun (Wizkid) and the songwriter, Michael Uzowuru.

The duo won the 2019 Ashford and Simpson Songwriters award on Sunday, 17 November 2019.

They won the renowned Ashford and Simpson Songwriters’ Award alongside Beyonce Knowles, Carlos St. John, Adio Marchant, Blue Ivy Carter, Anathi Mnyango, Richard Isong and Saint Jhn for their efforts in the Beyonce’s song ‘Brown Skin Girl’.

The event was held at the famous Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.

Wizkid and Uzowuru win Soul Train Awards
Nigerian-American songwriter and producer, Michael Uzowuru. (File photo)

Below is a list of some of the categories, nominees and winners of the annual award:

Rhythm & Bars Award:

21 Savage feat J.Cole, A lot

Cardi B, Money (WINNER)

DaBaby, Suge

Meek Mill feat Drake, Going Bad

Megan thee  Stallion feat DaBaby, Cash

Best New Artist

Summer Walker (WINNER)

Lucky Daye

Mahalia

Nicole Bus

Pink Sweats

YK Osiris

Best R&B/Soul Female Artist

H.E.R. (WINNER)

Ari Lennox

Beyonce

Lizzo

Mary J. Blige 

Summer Walker 

Best R&B/Soul Male Artist

Khalid (WINNER)

Anderson Paak

Bruno Mars

Chris Brown

Daniel Caesar

Tank

Others include:

Album/Mixtape of the Year

Cuz I Love, Lizzo (WINNER)

Shea Butter Baby, Ari Lennox

Indigo, Chris Brown

Ella Mai, Ella Mai

I Used To Know Her, H.E.R.

Free Spirit, Khalid

Song of the Year

No Guidance, Chris Brown feat. Drake (WINNER)

Before I Let Go, Beyonce

Shot Clock, Ella Mai

Talk, Khalid

Juice, Lizzo

Girls Need Love (Remix), Summer Walker feat. Drake

Video of the Year

Lizzo, Juice (WINNER)

Alicia Key, Raise A Man

Beyonce, Spirit

Childish Gambino, Feels Like Summer

Khalid, Better.

Read: Burna Boy wins Best African Act at the EMAs

Congrats to Wizkid and Michael Uzowuru. Michael Uzowuru is a Nigerian songwriter and producer who has written songs for some of the biggest artists in America. 

Other than ‘Brown Skin Girl’, Uzowuru is also credited to have written songs like ‘Days Like This’ by Goldlink featuring Khalid, and ‘Mood 4 Eva’ by Beyonce featuring Jay-Z and Childish Gambino.

For Wizkid, this is the 4th award he has won in 2019. Others being MOBO Awards for the Best International Act, Artiste of the Year and Best West African Artiste categories.

The ‘Ojuelegba’ crooner is also expected to win big at the 2019 AFRIMA Awards which will be held from the 20-23 November 2019.

He has been nominated in 4 categories.

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Culture & Tourism

Rotimi and Stefflon Don herald Yuletide aura in Lagos with visits

The Yuletide season is here and Lagos is starting to get busy with activities and celebrities trooping in

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Rotimi and Stefflon Don herald Yuletide aura in Lagos with visits

True to her position as the entertainment capital of Africa, Lagos has begun it usual yuletide buzz with lots of activities, the kind which points to the fact that Christmas is around the corner.

Lagos was agog on Sunday as Rotimi Akinosho of “Power” television series visited the megacity. The singer, actor and model who is widely known for his roles in the series, “Boss” and “Power” visited Lagos for a series of events which included the grand opening of an unspecified club.

The singer cum actor who was born by Nigerian parents has been doing it big in America where he lives since he shot to the limelight a few years ago. Earlier this year, he announced he bought a new house.

We had an interview with Rotimi where he revealed some insights into his life, his music and role as Andre Coleman in “Power”.

Rotimi’s journey to stardom started when he secured his first acting role in the series “Boss”, where he played the role of a drug dealer perfectly. He followed it up with 3 appearances in “Betrayal”, then the Starz T.V series, “Power”. It has been success upon success ever since.

WATCH: Rotimi performs an acoustic cover of “Love Riddim”.

Just a day before Rotimi’s visit, Britsh singer, Stefflon Don had her debut concert in Lagos.

The concert, tagged “Reggae Afrobeat Jamrock Concert” went down at the Landmark Beachfront, Victoria Island. The ‘Hurtin Me’ singer thrilled fans with her scintillating performance at the concert which featured other Afrobeat artistes. 

Tickets for the concert sold at ₦3000 for Regular; VIP went for ₦7000, cabanas and cabana premium sold for ₦500k and ₦1M respectively. 

We expect more events and concerts this yuletide period in Lagos, even as we bask in the euphoria of Stefflon Don and Rotimi’s visits in the meantime.

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Business

South African Airways cancels flights ahead of strike

Around 3,000 South African Airways workers are expected to take part in the open-ended strike starting Friday

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South African Airways cancels flights ahead of strike
A South African airways flight takes off as another one is parked in a bay on the tarmac at the Johannesburg O.R Tambo International airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gianluigi GUERCIA / AFP)

South African Airways (SAA) said Wednesday it was cancelling all its flights as thousands of workers vowed to press ahead with an indefinite strike the following day after the troubled national carrier announced a major retrenchment plan.

Around 3,000 workers, including cabin crew, check-in, ticket sales, technical and ground staff, are expected to take part in the open-ended strike starting Friday, their unions said.

The looming shutdown forced SAA to announce in a late-night statement on Wednesday that it “has cancelled nearly all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday, November 15 and Saturday, November 16”.

“The airline’s key objective is to minimise the impact of disruptions for its customers,” it said.

Unions earlier Wednesday vowed their members would forge ahead with the strike, which the state-owned airline warned could collapse the embattled carrier.

“We are embarking on the mother of all strikes,” Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) told a news conference in Johannesburg.

“We are grounding that airline on Friday,” said Irvin Jim, general secretary of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

The unions are pressing for a three-year guarantee of job security and an eight per cent across-the-board wage hike. 

‘Mother of all strikes’ –

Pilots — who are not taking part in the strike – have accepted a 5.9-per cent increase, they said.

The airline had announced on Monday a restructuring process that could affect 944 employees and “lead to job losses”.

The airline, which employs more than 5,000 workers, is one of the biggest in Africa, with a fleet of more than 50 aircraft providing dozens of domestic, regional and European flights each day.

Read: Africa World Airlines and South Africa Airways sign agreement

But the company is deep in debt, despite several government bailouts, and has not recorded a profit since 2011.

The unions blamed the SAA board and executive management for the airline’s crisis.

“They have deliberately destroyed what used to be one of the world’s best airlines, because of maladministration, rampant looting and corruption,” they said in a statement.

SAA Chief Executive Officer Zuks Ramasia warned that the strike would “exacerbate rather than ameliorate our problem” and urged the unions to make affordable demands.

“The unions and all employees should be mindful of the current financial constraints the company is facing,” she said in a statement.

She said the unions were aware that the airline’s financial woes were “caused by a number of factors, including a severely distressed global airline industry.”

This, she argued, had resulted in “numerous airlines retrenching staff, embarking on cost-reduction programmes, implementing wage freezes, reducing operations, or even closing down.”

The airline has been surviving off government bailouts. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced in February that the government would reimburse the company’s 9.2-billion-rand ($620-million) debt over the next three years.

South Africa is struggling to get its state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.

Analyst Daniel Silke warned in a tweet that the planned strike “may kill an airline already on its knees affecting the jobs of thousands more.”

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