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Five Somali startups to watch out for in 2020

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Somalia is defined by a complex mix of challenges and opportunities and was once described as the world’s most dangerous country.

Despite political instability and economic struggles, people in Somalia are using technology to solve their problems.

Each year, the Somali youth create new startups determined to resolve local problems.

The Frontier highlights five startups to watch out for in 2020 and beyond.

Gulivery

Gulivery- a door-to-door delivery service. Its founder, Deeq Mohamed, says he got the idea after moving with his wife from London to the northwestern city of Hargeisa and noticed that many of the things they bought for their home couldn’t be delivered.

While hanging out with friends, he also noticed their families would ask them to buy foodstuff they would otherwise have ordered themselves.

Gulivery provides third party delivery services for restaurants, groceries, shops & e-commerce platforms. The service enables individuals and small businesses to trade and connect with the drivers to request on-demand or scheduled delivery.

The startup was first launched in Hargeisa, the capital of breakaway Somaliland, before it expanded to Mogadishu in February 2018. Its founders are Deeq Hassan and his wife Sado Baroot, who started the delivery service after returning to the country from London. There were no delivery companies or e-commerce in Somalia but Deeq and his wife took advantage of the gap in the market and came up with the idea of developing a delivery app.

Most Somalis depend on traditional taxis, donkey-carts or Indian-styled three-wheeler rickshaws, mostly used in Mogadishu, to deliver commodities from markets to their homes. The hiring of taxis is an expensive affair and sometimes, you do not get exactly what you ordered.

Go!

The Go! app promises affordable and convenient options in the city’s bustling transport sector.

The e-hailing service is starting out with 20 motorcycles, allowing customers to order their rides online or hail them on the street after identifying the drivers with their yellow helmet and bikes.

The platform was launched by Gulivery, a delivery startup that provides third-party door-to-door services.

The motor-taxi service makes the company the first in Somalia to venture into and digitise the motorcycle business.

While Uber-style taxi apps have existed before, those firms only used cars.

The increase in digital transportation options comes as life in Mogadishu regains a semblance of normalcy after decades of war. That has led to increased traffic in the city. The city also has a fragmented transportation system, with three-wheeled motorized tuk-tuk and hundreds of dilapidated buses servicing a fast-growing population that currently stands at almost three million people.

Getting around African cities like Mogadishu can be demanding given the poor infrastructure, insufficient street addresses, the absence of reliable public transportation, and increasing urbanization that is fueling congestion. As such, motorcycle taxis have grown over the last few years.

Saami Online

Saamionline is a Somali e-commerce company established in August 2014 in Hargiesa, it is one-stop shop that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business.

Saami Online, a one-stop shop that sells and delivers everything from books and cosmetics to clothing and home appliances.

Since the founder didn’t have the funds to buy the goods at first, he had to show product owners that he could take their wares and deliver them to customers away from major cities.

Clients were mostly inquiring about electronics and phones, so Saami started serving underserved cities in Somalia including Kismayo and Adado, and then went as far eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Samawat Energy

Samawat Energy is a female-founded renewable energy company that provides affordable, off-grid, solar home solutions to residents in Somalia through the use of a micro-leasing, rent-to-own system.

The discourse around gender and energy often focuses on women as under-served end-users. Samawat Energy sees women as vital actors within the energy sector at large.

The company does not only focus on electrifying communities, but empowering women within those communities to be more efficient in their household duties, make further gains in education, enter the workforce, and start businesses.

Not only will this provide opportunities for those often disenfranchised, but it will also help accelerate economic growth in Somalia.

Zapi

Zapi is an online payment system built on top of Telesom’s Zaad mobile payment service that will allow businesses to setup their websites to process payments. Zapi’s instant payments verification solution hopes to fill the missing link necessary to make running an e-commerce business in Somaliland as simple as it would be anywhere else in the world.

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Business and Finance

Kenyans to start paying more for Zoom calls starting next month

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Starting from next month, paid users of Zoom in Kenya will have to fork out an additional fee for their subscription, as the government is set to impose value-added tax (VAT) on several online services to operate in the country.

In an email sent to paid subscribers yesterday, Zoom announced that starting Aug. 1, the Kenyan government will levy a 16 per cent VAT to be borne by the customer.

“Like many companies with a growing international presence, Zoom is routinely evaluating its indirect tax collection and remittance obligations,” the company said.

“The application of these taxes to business with online activities is a complex and evolving area. Zoom continues to review such developments, as well as the nature and extent of its activities in different jurisdictions, and, based on such regular review, will start charging indirect taxes where applicable,” the message read in part.”

Zoom currently prices its lowest subscription package, which offers unlimited group meetings among other perks at Ksh15,000 (about $150), while the highest-paid package costs Ksh25,000 ($250) per year. With the VAT implementation, Kenyan individuals and companies will now pay at least Ksh2,500 ($25) more for the cheapest package and at least Ksh4,100 ($41) more for the highest-priced package.

Zoom is not the only digital service to recently fall under the microscope of the Kenyan taxman. Last year, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) introduced the Finance Act 2020 Digital Service Taxes (DST) on income from services provided through the digital marketplace in Kenya, which is charged at 1.5 per cent of the gross value of a transaction (exclusive of VAT). The regulation requires individuals and firms that supply or expects to supply taxable goods and services worth at least Ksh5 million ($50,000) in a year to register for VAT. However, Kenyans registered for VAT will be exempted from paying the tax.

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Science and Technology

Clubhouse is now open to everyone

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Mashable.

The app has ditched its invite-only policy to grant everyone access to its audio chat rooms. Now anyone can host an audio panel about business strategies for sustainable wealth growth.

The update was announced during Clubhouse’s Town Hall on Wednesday. Previously, those who wanted to enter the Clubhouse had to be invited by someone already inside, like being vouched for by a regular at an exclusive club. Now you can simply rock up and jump straight into a room full of men who are in love with Elon Musk, just like a regular bar. All users on Clubhouse’s waitlist are being granted immediate access, with the app available to everyone globally on both iOS and Android.

Clubhouse has long had plans to expand to the general unconnected public, though we had no indication of when that might be until now. In a blog post published last July, Clubhouse co-founders Paul Davison and Rohan Seth stated that the app’s invite system allowed it to grow its community slowly, enabling them to finetune features and fix problems as they arise, as well as putting less strain on their small team. Now it seems they’re finally confident enough to throw the doors wide open.

The social media audio app probably could use the burst of new users that opening up will bring. Though Clubhouse enjoyed significant interest in the months after its March 2020 launch, it seems to have cooled off notably since then. Vanity Fair reports that engagement is down in some areas of the app, and downloads of Clubhouse have also noticeably slowed, dropping to below one million in April this year — a far cry from its impressive Japan-driven surge of 9.6 million in February.

The app’s Android release being made available worldwide in May did significantly help figures. Clubhouse’s installation numbers swung back up to 3.7 million in May and 7.7 million in June, with 76 percent of June’s installs coming from India’s marketplaces according to Sensor Tower. But that spike seems to be temporary as well, with this month’s download numbers sinking to 1.7 million as of July 20.

To be fair, the likelihood that people who want to join Clubhouse are already on it increases as time goes on, which would contribute at least a bit to dropping signup numbers. Still, those aren’t figures any app wants to see drop.

Clubhouse also recently made efforts to improve its user experience by adding text messaging feature Backchannel earlier this month. Audio conversations may be Clubhouse’s big drawcard, but convenience is the real appeal of any social media app, and some things are better read than said.

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Science and Technology

How to connect your iPhone to a speaker

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You’re at a party. The music is terrible. You want to jump on aux, but you don’t know how to connect your iPhone to the speaker. Sounds like a nightmare, right?

Good thing it’s very simple and easy to connect your iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker.

Your iPhone is equipped with the ability to connect to speakers via Bluetooth, which comes in handy anytime you want to play music or anything else on a speaker.

Follow these steps to connect your iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker.

How to connect your iPhone to a Bluetooth speaker:

1. Open Settings.

2. Select “Bluetooth.”

3. Make sure your iPhone’s Bluetooth is on.

If it is on, the oval next to Bluetooth will be green, and you will see “My Devices” and “Other Devices” below Bluetooth. To turn Bluetooth on, tap the circle in the oval next to Bluetooth.

4. Make your speaker available to pair.

Hold down the button on your speaker that makes it available to pair. This may be different depending on your speaker.

5. Find your speaker under “Other Devices” on iPhone, and tap it to connect.

If you follow those simple steps you should be able to connect to any Bluetooth speaker.

If your speaker is not Bluetooth, you can connect your iPhone to it the old fashioned way…simply by plugging it into the aux cord.

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