Spotify Launches In 39 Nations; RwandAir First To Trial IATA Travel Pass; Standard Bank First To Join Hashgraph – Africa’s Week in Firsts

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A number of first ever occurrences caught our eyes in the fastest growing continent on earth, that is, Africa.

From Spotify announcing its plans to launch in several African countries, to Rwandair becoming the first African airline to trial the IATA Travel Pass, to South Africa’s Standard Bank Group debuting the continent’s first ever use of the Hedera Hashgraph.

SPOTIFY ANNOUNCES HISTORIC LAUNCH IN 39 AFRICAN COUNTRIES

The world’s leading music streaming platform, Spotify, announced on February 22, that they were to launch in 80 new markets across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, with 48.75 percent of its new outreach centred around Africa.

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The Swedish-based music streaming service which launched 12 years ago on October, 7 2008, is the most popular music streaming service in the world, but has remained a peripheral figure in Africa, with only South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia able to freely experience its platform since 2018, while the rest of the continent had to hide behind a VPN.

However, the company HAS now announced their long overdue launch in 39 African countries which will expand their reach on the continent to 44 of a possible 54, an 81.48 percent total.

The debuting countries will be:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Capo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Estwani, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. The rest are Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Nigeria and Rwanda. Others include Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

RWANDAIR, AFRICA’S FIRST TO TRIAL IATA TRAVEL PASS

Rwanda’s flag carrier airline, RwandAir, has become the first airline in Africa to incorporate the IATA Travel Pass in its operation on an initial 3-week trial.

The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile application that assists travellers to store and manage their verified certifications for COVID-19 tests or COVID-19 vaccines, so that they could meet the government requirements of their designated country. The software is more secure and efficient than regular healthcare paper work.

With the app, designed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passengers could easily note the COVID-19 requirements and guidelines of the country they are flying to.

“RwandAir is proud to be the first African airline to trial IATA Travel Pass, which could reinforce all the health and safety measures and protocols which we have put in place to restore customer confidence to fly once more. We are incredibly proud to be part of IATA’s Industry Advisory Panel, to ensure we guide the technology development in a way that covers the unique requirements of our passenger profile,” Yvonne Manzi Makolo, CEO of RwandAir.

IATA’s innovative solution simplifies and digitally transmits the information required by countries and governments around the world into our airline systems, securely and efficiently,” he added.

Travel Pass will make it easy for our customers to resume flying – and just as easy for RwandAir, and airlines around the world, to accept them.”

Director General and CEO of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, expressed optimism and enthusiasm on the partnership,

RwandAir is showing its industry leadership in Africa by becoming the first airline on the continent to trial IATA Travel Pass. RwandAir has long used IATA products as the most reliable source of information on entry requirements. This trial will build on that history of working in partnership and takes us a step further in the context of COVID-19. IATA Travel Pass will give governments the confidence to re-open their borders knowing that arriving passengers are in full compliance with any testing or vaccination requirements.”

RwandAir joins other leading global airlines trialling the pass, including Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Copa Airlines and Air New Zealand.

STANDARD BANK GROUP ESTABLISHES AFRICA’S FIRST HEDERA NETWORK NODE 

Africa’s largest Bank by asset, Standard Bank Group, during the week partnered with distributed ledger technology company, Hedera Hashgraph, which subsequently saw them join the Hedera Governor Council.

According to the firm’s original press release, the partnership will “establish the continent’s first Hedera network node, which is set to solve some of the sore points that have historically beset the development of cross-border trade.”

Hashgraph, like blockchain, is an algorithm that allows the secure sharing of information between two parties involved in a transaction without a central organisation.

However the most significant difference is the speed of the network as it is over two hundred times faster than Bitcoin and more than 66 times faster than Ethereum. The technology was created by Leemon Baird and is the intellectual property of Baird’s own company, Swirlds Corporation.

As an organisation, we have established that blockchain technology can track and leapfrog legacy issues that prevent a seamless and transparent payment experience for the customer, which ultimately enables cost savings for all stakeholders,” said Adrian Vermooten, Standard Bank’s Chief Innovation Officer.

“It is within our vision to enable the group and our clients to connect with networks, within and outside of the Standard Bank Group. These developments form part of our strategic objective to drive digital transformation both within the organisation, and with our partners as a key tenet of delivering value for clients.”

Mance Harmon, CEO and co-founder of Hedera Hashgraph, also commented on the partnership,

We are seeing an evolution, as organizations and their business partners recognize the value of harnessing the best of private and public distributed ledgers together. Standard Bank has been a trailblazer in its use of DLT to further its mission of developing platforms to engage with and support communities and businesses wherever they operate, and creating more value socially, economically and environmentally for these communities.”

In utilising the hashgraph, Standard Bank joined an elite list of governing council or body comprising of the world’s leading organizations including Google, Avery Dennison, Boeing, Denton, Deutsche Telekom, FiS, IBM, LG, Magalu, Zain, Tata Communications and six other firms.

 

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