GAMING FOR A SOCIAL CAUSE – L.A CALIFORNIA BASED KAYDABI GAMING COMPANY


By Paul Ndiho

Two West African graduates at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have created a mobile gaming company “Kaydabi “that aims to change the world, one video game at a time through philanthropy.Gaming for Social Change PKG-1

Dubbed as change makers, Ghanaian, Kwabena Osei-Larbi, and Cameroonian Kameni Ngahdeu met as students at the University of Southern California and they quickly bonded over their shared West African backgrounds and discovered that both had a passion for playing video games. But they wanted to do much more. They decided to turn that passion into a business — And Kaydabi gaming company was born — A mission-driven, African-led and Los Angeles-based mobile gaming company that pairs philanthropy and entertainment to create change.

Today they’re part of a creative team at USC who use the incubation lab to develop mobile video games. The USC Incubator accelerates the development of top students and alumni entrepreneurs through experiential education, mentor-ship, and community. Kaydabi Co-founder Kwabena Osei- Larbi explains.

“We build our games for both Android and iOS platforms and the all completely free to play. Wild Warriors built around Endangered Animals and Wildlife Conservation. The game is being used to help save and rescue some of the most endangered and at-risk animals we have over 20 species and over 67 levels.

The pair taught themselves how to code and develop games using free online resources, reading books and tapping into their passion of video playing games. Kaydabi co-founder Kameni Ngahdeu, graduated with a degree in Human Biology and a minor in entrepreneurship.

“From Human biology, one thing that helped me a lot which is the psychology behind games. I took classes in Neurosciences and Psychology, and it’s interesting you can take something that is fun and tie something positive into it.”

Kameni says a single game today has the potential to reach and entertain millions of people. However, the impact of most games usually stops there. But for these two gamers, that wasn’t enough, especially with all the problems that go unaddressed.

“The shortened goal for our first game Wild Warriors is to get 10 million+ downloads. Our target audience for this game is women ages 34-54 because they care about lot more about the cause and they are the demographic that plays these games more frequent that anyone else and they have a high spending power. Long-term for Kaydabi we want to have a multitude of games that we can shuffle in different charities and easy to raise money for them.”

Kwabena says that their company has partnered with four of the world’s largest wildlife organizations to make it happen.  Including Defenders of Wildlife, World Parrot Trust, Sea Turtle Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation.

“We have partners that range from different assets of wildlife conservation. The African Wildlife Foundation which is close to home for us as well and some others that were working with to make this happen.”

The game is pretty easy to play, even for a non-gamer like me.  I was able to quickly pick it up. This epic journey to save the world’s most endangered species from an army of powerful, mythical monsters that represent real-life threats – from poaching to pollution and climate change.

The game is free and available on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, but players can choose to buy only virtual goods in the game with real money if they want to. Kwabena and Kameni are building a team of marketers, engineers, artists and designers from all over the world.

Business and gaming analysts say Kaydabi is already brimming with unique mobile games and has committed to donating 10 percent of all proceeds from Wild Warriors to its charity partners. The developers also have their sights set on others games that will support a range of additional causes – from tackling world hunger and childhood poverty, to promoting gender equality and children’s health.

 

Ghanaian Twin Brothers behind Hollywood’s Auto Boutique shop Roadstarr Motorsports


BY PAUL NDIHO

You’ve probably seen these custom made cars in music videos, from reality stars to rappers to super-rich celebrities driving down the streets of Hollywood or even watched a TV show called “pimp my ride.” But, have you ever wondered who makes these cars? Well, ask no more! Paul Ndiho recently caught up with the owners of Roadstarr Ghanaian Twin brothers, behind the LA based automotive boutique that tunes expensive cars into Exotic automobiles. Nicki-Minajs-Pink-Lamborghini-Aventador

Most of us are happy to drive affordable vehicles, but for super rich, it’s all about status, and appearance in a custom made to car – One that meets their exquisite taste. Therefore, choosing to drive some of the market’s fastest, slickest, and most expensive cars.

“If you are one of those guys with deep pockets and you’re looking for a place to customize your vehicle, Roadstarr in LA is one place you need to check out.”

An appetite for driving expensive cars coupled with a fancy lifestyle inspired fraternal twins Hussein and Hassan Iddrisu as well as their cousin John Spio to start their customization shop Roadstarr Motorsports.

“We provide excellent services for those who have a lot of disposable income in the industry of automobile in a way we are an auto boutique company and basically what we do is provide services for those that have love and passion for most of the European cars.

The automotive shop has grown into a full-service luxury brand that caters to celebrities, From Paris Hilton, the heiress to the Hilton Hotels, Amber Rose, Sean P. Diddy, Kim Kardashian and rapper Soulja Boy just to mention but a few.

“Our most recent clients include California’s former governor, we have clients from all over the world, from heads of state to people that have disposal income. So it’s a beautiful thing because it gives us an opportunity to enter into certain people’s lives that we would probably not get the privilege to in the normal circumstances.”

Hassan says it is understandable why Hollywood celebrities, with a lot of money, can make, can afford to spend hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars for such cars.

“Price is not as important as the services you provide promptly. So their time is very precious, they have choices. You got to have them fall in love with you then they tend to pay more here than other competitors because of the after products.”

For example, this is a 2017 Lamborghini Aventador Roadstar– with this car the customer wanted us to build him a custom Aerodynamics body kit on the car.  That’s why the car is apart, and we have already used our high technology scanner to scan the car and come up with 3D’s and have already designed the car.”

Hassan Iddrisu says that whether custom captain chairs in the rear of your Mercedes Benz G Class, a complete executive conversion for your Ferrari or your Range Rover SVU. Their attention to detail and craftsmanship, along with professional highly-qualified experienced engineers, electricians, mechanics, and talented staff guarantee that your car is safe, sound and redefined in your special way.

“We take cars and redefine them into what you want it to be we’re like plastic surgeons of cars we achieve those dreams for you.”

Despite repeated hardships, their ability to succeed as a business has been remarkable. Hassan attributes his business success largely to his twin brother Hussein Iddrisu as well as their cousin John Spio and the talented staff that makes it happen.

CAMEROONIAN – AMERICAN ACTIVIST SPEAKS OUT ON TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION POLICY


By Paul Ndiho

Africans are among the most rapidly growing immigrant populations in the United States. As they become more integrated into the social fabric of this country, their participation in day to day issues becomes more important. Cameroon Immigration Activist PKG

Pamela Anchang, a Cameroonian – American publisher and immigration activist weighs in on Immigration.
“They’ve given us a bad name, are we going to own it no, are we criminals no, are we bad people, we’re proud people anti we… I want to tell you a story I’m from Cameroon … who knows Cameroon? We’re champions in soccer but guess what I’m here just like you, and we’re one people.”
Pamela Anchang came to the United States from Cameroon nearly years 20 ago, with the dream to earn a living and do better for herself. Today she’s become an icon in LA California as a publisher of the immigrant magazine, immigration activist and an outspoken critic of US President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration.

“We have an administration that seems to forget and want to penalize immigrants. I am not advocating for illegal immigration, but however, I am saying that we should have a comprehensive immigration reform that would legalize everybody. Ms. Anchang is the editor of The Immigrant Magazine, a Southern California-based news and features website that bills itself as “the voice of immigrants in America,” She has become the voice of the voiceless and made friends across the diverse spectrum of immigrant communities in the Los Angeles area. “I could not be more proud to reignite my immigrant pride.  I’m standing here with my brothers and sisters to say that we’re not criminals.” By becoming more involved in the anti- immigration campaign naturalized citizens like Pamela play a greater role in determining the fate of issues that impact other immigrants, such as comprehensive immigration reform.  “Immigrants feel like this is a land of opportunity. And now we have a president who seems to forget that immigrants build this country’s foundation. Immigrant strive made this country. This country has a lot of history of diversity regarding where we all have come from.” Pamela Anchang and her husband, Charles, started the immigrant magazine project as a print magazine in 2004 because they saw a gap in how the dominant media outlets portrayed immigrants in the United States. “The immigrant magazine started from the vision that I had for myself, talking about myself as an immigrant. I couldn’t find a place or an outlet to speak of these things, and I had that determination to want to do it. It’s all about determination, and that you don’t quit, you find all the avenues.” Over the years, the magazine has adopted a more political tone as Anchang uses it as a platform to call for an overhaul of the country’s immigration laws and a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants here without permission. “When I started it actually, I thought I would be telling stories, beautiful stories of successful immigrants, but 10-15 years down the road, more than ever, it has become really, a magazine, which captures the immigrant experience in its totality. So whether its advocacy, and being out there in the rallies, and being out there speaking up on behalf of immigrants.” Pamela Anchang says her success as a publisher and celebrity immigration activist has not come easy. But despite the challenges, she is even more determined to keep pushing the envelope and be the voice of the voiceless especially in light of President Trump’s administration travel ban targeting, immigrants, refugees and several majority-Muslim countries.

 

 

TECH COLAB OPENS IN KADUNA NORTH WESTERN NIGERIA


 

By Paul Ndiho

Over the last five years, Nigeria has seen its innovation spaces grow from a handful to hundreds.  CoLab is the first tech hub in the northern part of Nigeria and is designed to be a multi-functional space where developers and start-ups can work and grow.

colab-kaduna

Nigeria has been getting a lot of attention lately in the tech world, and for a good reason. Young talent is entering the game with something unique and they’re developing mobile applications that are transforming their communities.

Located in the north western state of Kaduna, CoLab Nigeria is a hub for tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs developers interested in solving everyday social and technological problems come to see their start-ups kick off.

Ifeanyi Mora is a regular at CoLab. He is working on an app that will help schools gather and manage their records.

“I don’t need to think of things I need to run like power and all what not. So it provides the space, it provides you know things I need to use like power and all that. And I said above all; you have people, people who have sort of the same skill set that you have that you can always mine from and share so that’s… it has been so helpful.”

There are many spaces like these around the world and a growing number in Africa – where nearly 90 technology hubs and research bases often funded by international firms such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Intel, incubate early-stage businesses in cities like Lagos, Johannesburg, and Nairobi.

CoLab founder, Sanusi Ismaila wants this space – launched just last year, to open up the state’s economy and draw investment for tech entrepreneurs and start-ups.

“What we are trying to do is get more people into co-working together. Get more people into technology because we feel like technology is one of the single biggest ways to get more people across the poverty line and especially here in this part of the country, so you know we are investing in that and we feel like where we are based now, which is Kaduna has everything that a tech ecosystem needs to flourish.”

CoLab offers training sessions on business and access to mentors and workshops to help local entrepreneurs develop their skills. It is also just a cool place to hang out. Youth unemployment is a massive problem in Nigeria; official figures show up to one in two young people are out of work.

“This is one of our work spaces; it’s the weekend so during weekends we do what we call downtime. Which is pretty much, play games, watch TV, chill, start interacting, and it’s open to everyone not just people from CoLab. So, we sought of having an avenue for people to interact with the people that are here and you know rub off each other. Get more people outside to come in and understand what we are doing, and also get user feedback on some of the things that we are working on,”

CoLab rents space out to members for between 3,100 naira (10 US dollars) and 10,500 naira (35 US dollars) a month. It can accommodate 100 people at full capacity in its indoor and outdoor areas.

Sanusi says the shared space and incubation concept is taking the time to catch on in Kaduna.

“You know the prevailing culture and mindset, so it’s one of the biggest challenges – changing people’s mindsets really and also getting people used to co-working. We also have a cultural of the problem here because everyone is sought of like siloes and you know is used to working on his own and doing everything for himself,”

Analysts say the potential market size of Africa’s most populous nation makes Nigeria, with nearly 170 million people, an attractive location.  Similar spaces in the capital Abuja and the second city Lagos, have helped many young people launch into tech business.

Perhaps it worth noting that Nigeria, is the home of Africa Internet Group (AIG), which owns several technology firms across 26 African countries including online retailer Jumia, delivery app HelloFood, hotel booking platform Jovago and online real estate marketplace Lamudi.

 

KENYA’S SAFARI COM LAUNCHES VIDEO STREAMING SERVICE


 

By Paul Ndiho

Kenyan telecom giant Safaricom wants to meet the growing demand for internet connections and online streaming services.  Until recently, the company had been focusing on mobile money, but now things are changing.

Safaricom-numbers-2016

When the name Safaricom is mentioned, many Africans immediately think of mobile money, Kenya’s most successful innovative mobile phone money transfer technology called mPesa. This technology is transforming the lives of millions of people and it has made paying for services and merchandise through your mobile phone very easy. To compete as an industry leader on the continent, Safaricom is reallocating funds to build up its fixed-data network, to connect homes to the internet, as demand for online streaming services like Netflix, grows. Chief executive officer Bob Collymore.

“We have been a bit lazy in growing our data business… you know the half year we showed it was something like 40 – 43 percent growth. If you look across the continent, that is a little bit, we are a little bit of laggards; the continent growth and data is probably being closer to 51 – 52 percent. Across the world is like 60 – 62 percent, so I think we can do better in this and that suggests therefore that the data potential in the market is huge.”

Collymore says their investment in the fixed-data network is a reallocation of its budget and it will not add to its planned expenditures.

“People want to have ideally unlimited data. Unlimited data on mobile is not economically viable in the long term so we are using fixed to give you the data access in the home and when you are roaming. What we are finding out is lots of solutions now for delivering data to customers. A lot of competitors are out there, people don’t want to fixate on the big three but there are a lot of guys who are providing now the Wi-Fi,” Safaricom has already connected nearly 6,000 homes to its new fixed-data network, using underground fiber lines and the more traditional overhead data poles.  He said the move was driven by growing local demand to download or stream content such as Netflix’ science fiction drama Sense 8, which has some scenes shot in Kenya.  To recruit new customers in Kenya, Safaricom has also partnered with ShowMax, an Internet-based video streaming service owned by South Africa’s Naspers, a broad-based multi-national internet and media group headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa.

“People don’t want to just have access to the internet, they also going to want to be downloading content and if you are downloading content, you are downloading movies. Even with short clips on mobile data is going to be relatively expensive. We are kind of pretty close to our cost base on our price of data, so we can’t really go as lower than that at the moment. Over time we might come low. So we want to give people solutions they can use, you know? You can access a Netflix movie or Showmax movie whether it’s on a TV, on a table or a phone,”

Kenya is among 130 countries that can now access internet streaming services from Netflix. Safaricom hopes to bank on the success of its mobile money transfer technology to tap into the growing demand for online streaming services.

Economic analysts say some of the factors behind Safaricom’s success cannot be copied; but others can, possibly allowing for other African companies and countries to follow Kenya’s pioneering internet building example.  Safaricom has already spent $25 million on a license for the fourth generation — 4G — network that it has rolled out to Kenya’s major urban centers.

ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES REVENUES RISE


 

 

 

By Paul Ndiho

Ethiopian airlines is one of Africa’s most profitable air carriers, reporting an increase in revenues over its last fiscal quarter.  However, the airline was unable to repatriate about $220 million held in local currency in Nigeria, Egypt and some other African countries because of foreign exchange shortages in those countries. "Sahara" taxing via Quebec for take-off, Runway 23, Toronto

Africa’s Ethiopian airlines is a profitable carrier in a troubled industry, but, it has been experiencing steady growth.

Despite us president Donald trump’s executive order on immigration.  The order imposes a 90-day entry ban for people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. The carrier flies to more than 69 international destinations including the United States. Ethiopian airlines’ chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam said the order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority states was creating confusion for passengers but was not having much impact overall on its operations.

“Well operationally it has not created any disruption to us; either in our schedule or customer service because once the executive order was issued, we distributed to our system, and there was no big issue. But it is creating an atmosphere that people are confused, so they are not traveling so it is going to bring our travel demand down, and it is going to create a big problem to our performance.”

Ethiopian airline’s revenue rose 10.3 percent about $2.43 billion in the 2015/16 fiscal year, while passenger numbers climbed 18 percent to 7.6 million. Net profit was up 70 percent. The state carrier is sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest by revenue and has been rapidly expanding in its bid to become a global player through its increasingly crowded hub in Addis Ababa.  The carrier wants to increase revenue to $10 billion by 2025, and expand its fleet to 140 aircraft from less than 90 now, with sights on Asia but the airline still faced challenges, particularly in African states where foreign exchange shortages meant it could not repatriate earnings held in local currency.

“So today among these four countries between Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Egypt, we have 220 million worth dollars of local currencies. Whether it is in naira in Nigeria or kwanza in Angola or the Egyptian pound or the Sudanese pound. Because there is a severe shortage of foreign currency and foreign exchange, so we are not able to take whatever we sold. So it is stuck there, it has been trapped for more than two years and it is subject to devaluation and this is a huge challenge for us and for the other African countries.”

Gebremariam also added that the issue undermined the benefits of an oil price drop during 2015/2016. The falling oil prices in the period had also undermined business from those African nations.  With the addition of the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner’s and airbus a350 planes to its fleet, Ethiopian airlines, a state  owned carrier, will be stiff competition for other African carriers — including south African airlines and Kenya airways.

In addition to adding routes to china, Ethiopian airlines is also considering adding Jakarta and Singapore to its destinations this year.

AFRICAN UNION ELECTS NEW BOSS


 

By Paul Ndiho

The 28th African Union Summit has ended, but not before its leaders made two major decisions; selecting the foreign minister of chad to the top post of the continental body — and readmitting morocco to the group. 61c5ab2d2c7714c2b17c25d8cafe21f97ca296a4

The African Union on Monday elected Chadian Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, as its new commission chairperson.  In the final round of voting, he beat out Kenya’s top diplomat, Amina Mohamed. The 56-year old Faki takes over from South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who remained in the post an extra six months, after leaders failed to agree on a candidate last July. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth.” AU members also discussed the divisive issue of Africa’s relationship to the International Criminal Court.

Dlamini Zuma, who now is widely believed to be in the running for the presidency of the African National Congress, also spoke out against the new travel ban by U.S. President Donald Trump barring travelers from seven muslim-majority countries including the African nations of Libya, Sudan and Somalia.

“The very country (where) our people were taken as slaves… has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries,”

The new U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres spoke at the summit, and commended African countries for opening their borders to refugees and people fleeing violence, while nations in other parts of the world, including the West, are closing their borders and making plans to build walls.

“African nations are among the world’s largest and most generous hosts of refugees… `African borders remain open for those in need of protection when so many borders are being closed, even in the most developed countries in the world.”

Sub-Saharan Africa hosts more than 18 million refugees, about 26 percent of the world’s refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency. The refugees have fled conflicts in Somalia, Central African Republic, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burundi.  The world’s largest refugee camp is the Dadaab facility in Kenya, which houses more than 300-thousand people, mostly from neighboring Somalia. However, last year, the Kenyan government announced its intentions to close Dadaab, which has been open for more than 20 years. Kenyan officials say the camp harbors Islamic extremists and is a security threat.

In another related development, guinea’s president Alpha Conde has succeeded Chad’s president Idris Deby as chairman of the African union.

Meanwhile, The African Union formally admitted Morocco as a member on Tuesday, more than three decades after Rabat withdrew from the predecessor organization.

Morocco’s King Mohammad, who had been campaigning since last year to join, waved to applauding heads of state and delegates at the end of an annual summit.

The North African kingdom quit the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, three decades ago amid a dispute about the body’s recognition of Western Sahara, most of which has been controlled by Morocco since 1976.

 

 

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