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How Ghanaian CEO Built A Million-Dollar Tech Firm From School.

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ACCRA, GHANA, February 25th, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ The idea of running a business had always enthused Nana Osei Kwasi Afrifa since University days.

His frenetic interest for business was fuelled by a strong will to be self-reliant and the desire to create great products that people are willing to pay for.

Now, he is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of Vokacom – a company with grounded experience in offering Information Technology, Digital Addressing, Content Aggregation, Financial Advisory, Agribusiness and Real Estate services in Africa.

Currently, he is pursuing a more ambitious goal to develop solutions to improve lives and increase the company’s portfolio to become a billion dollar conglomerate in Africa by 2035.

But the journey towards such a goal didn’t start today.

Back on the campus of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology (KNUST) between 2001 to 2005, he started Vokacom with the help of a group of friends as a side hustle.

“The idea of Vokacom emanated from a normal conversation I was having with an insurance manager who was complaining about his inability to access the right software for his work. He asked that I design a software within two weeks and if he likes it, he pays for it,” Kwasi Afrifa said in an interview on the KSM show.

Enterprising as he was, he quickly organised a team and beat a month deadline to submit a software that could help streamline the insurance business.

“We knocked things together and in 3 weeks, we submitted the package to them, he loved it and immediately paid,” he explained.

This lucky break stirred his confidence and caused him to look at the business more seriously.

He registered the company and named it Vokacom enterprise after his uncle because he (uncle) set him on the ICT path by buying him his first computer when his dad didn’t approve of his career trajectory.

“My father wanted me to be a medical doctor but I wanted to be an IT professional and there was a little tussle as a result till my uncle stepped in and bought me my first computer,” he narrated on the show.

Still on campus, the team saw a ramp up in gigs from referrals leading to building more data-based software for many companies.

At a peak, according to him, they could rake in $1500 dollars a month.

This rising success he explained got a better part of them subsequently veering them off the vision.

In the ensuing months, the company suffered a severe setback.

“That was our peak, we were on top of the world and we weren’t afraid of anybody-we could do whatever we liked.”

Little did he know that his new lifestyle and lack of sound managerial skills was setting him up for a downturn.

In August 2005, reality sets in after he obviously failed to handle the then fledgling business.

“By then, the company completely went bankrupt: we stopped running the business, had no money and so I have to go learn again how to properly run a business”

Luckily for him, he had applied to hitherto telecommunications company, Spacefon, now MTN. He worked there for a while and through time spent there, learnt the rudiments of running a business and sustaining it.

Today, he prides himself with MTN as his biggest client.

Apart from MTN, Vokacom has worked with a cadre of Telecommunications Company in Ghana including AirtelTigo, Vodafone, with clients in the hospitality industry.

If there’s anything that life has taught him on his entrepreneurial journey, it is humility.

“It’s important we know that no matter how far we go or travel, we constantly remember that we came from somewhere,” he said making reference to Vokacom’s formative years in 2011 when his biggest contract paid GH?5000 a year compared to an annual turnover of $ 10 million now.

He believes that his employees are the drivers of the business and takes keen interest in their wellbeing.

Employees numbering 60 are flown outside the country on yearly retreat to have fun. In 2016, they were in Dubai and in 2017 they converged at South Africa.

In all these, he doesn’t fear competition around his circles because the very tech company CEO (Alex Bram) that inspires him, “competes with me and at the same time work with me and inspires me to get better and do well.”

The company has won several awards over the last two years including Mobile VAS Company of the year, Software Company of the Year, Global SME Award for best business model, 2019 ITU Telecom World Awards among others.

“Cimg Marketing Man of the Year award; that is the one award I want to win. I don’t know how to get it but I just need to keep working hard and I know one day it will come true,” he concluded

Source: Ghana Web

Business

‘TOILET PAPER, GENTLY USED/ How Facebook Marketplace Has Become An Unlikely Platform For Comedy

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In the two days since he advertised “unprocessed toilet paper” for sale on Facebook Marketplace next to a photo of logs, David Traichel says the response has been better than expected. No actual buyers, just hundreds of views, laughs, and “you made my day” from other users browsing through the online classifieds.

“So many people are so freaked out about the idea of not having toilet paper,” says Traichel, 39. The aerospace technician and welder from Northford, Connecticut generally uses Facebook Marketplace to sell vintage car and bicycle parts. He decided to offer his oak and cedar woodpile (price, $1) to jog users out of their shopping panic. “Maybe those people would see the ad and think, ‘OK, maybe I’m overreacting.”

Homebound Americans have turned to scavenging on ecommerce sites like Amazon, eBay and Facebook Marketplace for the boring household goods that have become hot items during the coronavirus pandemic. The shortages have inspired some mercenary sellers to excessive pricing (say, hand sanitizer for $149) and prompted the tech companies to crack down on price gougers. The hoarding frenzy has also been catnip for armchair humorists, who have found an unlikely platform to yuk it up in the free classifieds of Facebook Marketplace.

On the social network’s 800 million-user shopping site, one Internet standup is offering “toilet paper, extra long roll” for $69,4202—it’s a CVS receipt wound around the toilet paper dispenser. Another wants to sell you the “last roll of toilet paper in the world,” marked at $10,000. As a last resort, yet another smart aleck is advertising $90 toilet paper alongside a photo of sandpaper. “Don’t go without during this crisis,” it reads.

In reality, there’s no toilet paper crisis. Unlike imports such as iPhones and flat-screen TVs, most U.S. toilet paper comes from domestic factories, buffering supplies from a drop in production in China, where the viral outbreak started. Georgia-Pacific, maker of AngelSoft and Quilted Northern, is boosting its U.S. production. Proctor & Gamble, which makes Charmin brand toilet paper, Bounty paper towels and Puffs facial tissue, says production at its U.S. plants is at record highs. “Demand continues to outpace supply, but we are working diligently to get product to our retailers as fast as humanly possible,” says P&G spokeswoman Loren Fanroy.

Which makes it all the more absurd that anxious shoppers stripped supermarket shelves of every last double-ply roll. Relishing the irony, Kim Marie, a 42-year-old naturopathic practitioner from Manorville, New York, decided this week to flog “vintage toilet paper” on Facebook Marketplace. For just $55,990, she’s showcasing a water-damaged and rotting roll mounted on a rustic wall, closing with the Craigslist battlecry of overpriced junker listings, “no low ballers, I know what I got.” Marie, who regularly sells vintage housewares on the site, says she has received no serious inquiries. Just as well, since the item listed isn’t actually in Marie’s possession— it was a funny photo texted to her by her husband. She threw it up on Marketplace “to lighten the mood.”

It was the “organic toilet paper,” a $10 baggie of leaves listed on Facebook Marketplace by her brother’s girlfriend, that inspired Liz Stoppiello, 27. The stay-at-home mom usually sells items like car seats and books on Facebook Marketplace. This week she’s offering “washable crochet toilet paper! Been used only a cpl times” for a cool $100. The advertised off-white crochet squares, wrapped around a cardboard tube, look worthy of an Etsy storefront. It took about 30 minutes to make. She just wanted to “get a good laugh” from people and to promote her crochet-oriented Facebook page. “You never know if anyone will start to desperately need handmade items in the near future lol,” she said via email.

Her fellow Marketplace posters might be in on the joke, but Facebook’s bots are not. The social network, which uses artificial intelligence to help monitor content and warned Monday that its systems may have removed some COVID-19-related posts in error, had flagged Traichel’s toilet paper ad for unprocessed wood as “under review.”

Facebook “must be so flooded they don’t know what to do,” Traichel emailed, adding an “lol.” He isn’t interested in making a profit, at least not on his firewood. “If people really need toilet paper, I’ll give ‘em a roll.”

–Helen A. S. Popkin, Forbes Staff, Innovation

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Tech & Innovation

SA Minister Warns Over Coronav!rus And 5G Link Claims.

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, April 1st, 2020/www.gbafrica.net/ South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned against a conspiracy theory that links coronavirus to 5G technology.

Dr Mkhize in a tweet said: “5G is a technology issue and Covid is a virus. You cannot link the virus to technology.”

Claims that 5G technology could be linked to the spread of the coronavirus have been spreading online for weeks.

They got more traction last month after popular American singer and songwriter Keri Hilson shared the claims with her 4.2m Twitter followers and on Instagram – although she later deleted the posts.

An American medical doctor Thomas Cowan – speaking in Tuscon, Arizona in March – also advanced the conspiracy theory, in a video that has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube.

But to date, there has been no scientific connection between the spread of the virus and the 5G technology.

The South African health minister said people need to use facts to fight coronavirus.

“We have tracked the virus from animals to human beings. Let’s tell the truth. We can prevent the spread,” Dr Mkhize says.

Source: Ghana Web.

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Music

YouTube Music app now shows lyrics during playback

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American online video-sharing platform headquartered in San Bruno, California, YouTube Music, announced that it now displays lyrics on its iOS and Android apps that will help listeners view lyrics by tapping the ‘i’ button while a song is playing.

The feature is only available on the apps and not on the web player, although YouYube said it would be available on desktop soon. However, real-time lyrics aren’t supported yet and users have to scroll through manually to view them.

YouTube joins Apple Music and Spotify who added lyrics on their platforms last year. Apple Music has an official partnership with Genius, while Spotify uses Musixmatch. YouTube has opted to use LyricFind, accused of stealing lyrics from Genius last year, as its main partner.

YouTube says it receives lyrics from LyricFind on a daily basis, but there isn’t a specific time frame for when a song will get its lyrics. Lyrics appear for ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ by Taylor Swift but none are currently available for recent albums such as Childish Gambino’s 3.15.2020.

Song lyrics are now a popular service offered by music streaming platforms and YouTube may have some catching up to do on this front. The streaming platform has more than 20 million paying subscribers, while Spotify and Apple Music have reported over 124 million and 60 million, respectively.

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Tech & Innovation

Spotify Launches COV!D-19 Music Relief Project, Pledges $10m.

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Spotify on Wednesday launched COVID-19 Music Relief project to support the global music community.

The project, which is aimed at music industry professionals, will not provide financial support. Instead, it will recommend organisations that offer financial relief to musicians around the world who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The company will also donate to these organisations.

The music streaming platform has already partnered with relief funds such as MusiCares, PRS Foundation and Help Musicians. More partners around the world are expected to be added.

Spotify will also match the donations made on the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $10m.

Music professionals who need assistance can get more information about applying for relief here.

Additionally, Spotify is introducing a new feature that will enable artists to fundraise directly from fans during this difficult time. Through their Spotify artist profile pages, the new service will give users the ability to direct listeners to the fundraising destination of the artist’s choice. Artists will be able to link a verified funding page for themselves, another musician in need of funds, or a separate initiative of their choice. The feature will be optional to artists with no extra costs.

Spotify for Artists users interested in this feature can sign up here ahead of its launch.

The music streaming platform also revealed some changes on a number of its Creator Tools programmes: music talent marketplace SoundBetter has reduced costs, cloud-based audio recording platform SoundTrap will offer extended free trials for educators, and Anchor will waive fees on its Listener Support feature.

The news comes after Spotify was criticised recently for its lack of response to the COVID-19 crisis, with musicians signing a petition that asks the streaming service to triple royalty payments.

Source: Music Africa

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