Untapped Global and Asaak Partner to Finance 2,000+ Motorbikes in Uganda

Partnership expands financing options for African entrepreneurs through Smart Asset Financing™

KAMPALA, Uganda, Dec. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Untapped Global, an innovative investment company focused on emerging markets, announced today a scale up of its partnership with Asaak, a financial services provider to unbanked Ugandan entrepreneurs, to provide financing for over 2,000 motorcycles over the next 12 months.

Asaak Boda Boda Driver

The partnership will revolutionise motorcycle leasing in Uganda, by leveraging the rapid digitization happening across the continent. In the past, access to money-making assets such as motorbikes was limited to those who could afford to purchase them in full, and markets were dominated by informal lenders. Now, companies like Asaak are digitizing the lending process, making it safer and easier for entrepreneurs to lease and finance their own assets – a key to economic development on the continent.

Asaak offers financial services via a digital platform to entrepreneurs who otherwise would not have access. Asaak’s boda boda (motorbike) financing program approves drivers for loans based on financial and behavioral data, such as the number of trips completed on mobility apps, including Bolt (Taxify), Safeboda, Uber and Jumia. Most boda drivers rent motorcycles because they cannot afford to buy one in cash, nor do they have the formal credit or income history to qualify for a bank loan. This is where Smart Asset Financing™ comes in.

Untapped Global’s Smart Asset Financing investment model finances revenue-generating assets for entrepreneurs and SMEs in the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets, such as Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, and Mexico. Untapped and Asaak had a successful initial pilot in November 2020 to finance 40 motorbikes, and this month, Untapped signed on to provide scale-up financing for over 2000 vehicles in the next 12 months.

The pilot and scale up prove Untapped Global’s innovative Smart Asset Financing model offers great potential for follow-on funding for growing partners. The company uses real-time IoT data for the assets it finances to track key metrics such as usage and revenue, allowing for faster due diligence. While Asaak’s fast growth and expansion have enabled an equally fast scale-up of investment from its financing partner.

“Mobility is an important driver of economic development in Africa, and digitizing financing for boda bodas is key to making transport more accessible and affordable,” says Jim Chu, Founder and CEO at Untapped. “We look forward to providing the financing to help Asaak scale their business as much as they, and their entrepreneurs, need.”

“Our goal at Asaak is to make it easier for gig economy workers across Africa to access sustainable financial services,” Dylan Terrill, Chief Business Officer of Asaak said. “The team at Untapped is aligned with that goal and our growing partnership underscores the dedication to ensure that business owners have the opportunity to reach their full economic potential.”

Untapped Global is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder to enable any investor large or small to participate in the movement to empower entrepreneurship around the world.

About Untapped Global
Based in San Francisco with teams in East Africa, West Africa, the Caribbean, and Europe, Untapped Global is reshaping profitable investing in frontier markets. On a mission to empower the next billion entrepreneurs to scale to their full potential, Untapped creates opportunity by connecting frontier market innovators to global investors through its Smart Asset Financing™ platform that provides CAPEX financing for revenue-generating assets. Press or other inquiries please reach out to Lundie@untapped-global.com.

About Asaak
Asaak  is an African fintech company that provides asset financing to entrepreneurs across Africa. In 2019, they launched a motorcycle financing product for taxi (“boda”) drivers in partnership with the country’s largest ride hailing apps: Jumia, Uber, SafeBoda, and Bolt. Asaak is backed by leading American and African VCs (Resolute Ventures, Social Capital, 500 Startups, HOF Capital, Catalyst Fund). For more information, visit www.asaak.com or contact press@asaak.com

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FAO Food Price Index rises in November

Rome -The barometer of food commodity prices in international markets rose for the fourth consecutive month in November, led by strong demand for wheat and dairy products, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported today.

The FAO Food Price Index averaged 134.4 points in the month, its highest level since June 2011 and 1.2 percent higher than during October. The index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly-traded food commodities, was 27.3 percent higher than its level in November 2020.

The FAO Dairy Price Index led November’s aggregate rise, increasing by 3.4 percent from the previous month. Strong global import demand persisted for butter and milk powders as buyers sought to secure spot supplies in anticipating of tightening markets.

The FAO Cereal Price Index increased by 3.1 percent in November from the previous month and was 23.2 percent higher than its year-ago level. Maize export prices rose slightly and international rice prices remained broadly steady, while wheat prices hit their highest level since May 2011. The increase reflected strong demand amid tight supplies, especially of higher quality wheat, while prices were also supported by concerns about untimely rains in Australia and uncertainty regarding potential changes to export measures in the Russian Federation.

The FAO Sugar Price Index was 1.4 percent higher in November than in October and nearly 40 percent above its level in November 2020. The increase was primarily driven by higher ethanol prices, though large shipments from India and a positive outlook for sugar exports by Thailand tempered the upward pressure on quotations.

The FAO Vegetable Oil Price Index declined by 0.3 percent from a record high reached in October, reflecting lower values for soy and rapeseed oils as well as lower crude oil prices. International palm oil prices remained firm.

The FAO Meat Price Index decreased by 0.9 percent, its fourth consecutive monthly decline. Influenced by reduced purchases of pig meat by China led to lower international quotations, while ovine prices also fell steeply on increased exportable supplies from Australia. Bovine and poultry meat prices were largely stable.

Record cereal production to keep markets supplied

FAO’s new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also published today, forecasts world cereal production at 2 791 million tonnes in 2021, a new record and 0.7 percent higher than the previous year. Compared to 2020, worldwide coarse grains and rice outputs are expected to increase, respectively, by 1.4 percent and 0.9 percent, while that for wheat to drop by 1.0 percent.

World cereal utilization in 2021/22 is forecast to rise by 1.7 percent to 2 810 million tonnes, while world cereal stocks by the close of seasons in 2022 are predicted to decline by 0.9 percent form opening levels. The consequent stocks-to-use ratio of 28.6 percent “would still indicate a comfortable supply situation overall,” according to FAO.

FAO forecasts global trade in cereals in 2021/22 to increase by 0.7 percent to 480 million tonnes, with an anticipated 2.2-percent expansion in world wheat trade more than offsetting a likely contraction in coarse grains trade.

Crop production to fall in low-income food deficit countries

Conflicts and drought are exacerbating food insecurity conditions in several parts of the world, particularly in East and West Africa, according to the latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report, also released today. FAO assesses that globally 44 countries, including 33 in Africa, nine in Asia and two in Latin America and the Caribbean, are in need of external assistance for food.

The 44 countries in need of external assistance for food are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The quarterly report also provides updates on cereal harvest trends, forecasting production in 2022 to grow by 2.0 percent in developed countries but slightly contracting by 0.1 percent in developing countries. For Low-Income Food Deficit Countries, the contraction is expected to be 2.4 percent, due to significant drops foreseen in Near East and East Africa.


Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Regional Meeting Conducted To Review Of Status Of Community Animal Health Workers (CAHW)/ Community Disease Reporters In IGAD Region

(Naivasha, Kenya): In the IGAD region, countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Uganda recognize the services of CAHW particularly in pastoralist setting, where we do not have adequate professionals while Kenya operate through community disease reporters (CDR)/ para-veterinarian with more elaborate training. Several localized studies on CAHW’s participation and role in animal health service delivery have concluded that the approach has offered viable alternatives to the resource-constrained (public and private sector human and financial resources) and poorly functioning veterinary services in vast pastoral communities.

A survey questionnaire was developed by IGAD Center for Pastoral Areas and Livestock Development (ICPALD) administered by trained enumerators from four member States (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Sudan) in order to review the regional Status of CAHW/CDR in terms of Service delivery and support received to enhance their performance. Feedback was received, analyzed and draft report developed by ICPALD that required further synthesis and validation by national regulatory authorities. A one-day meeting was convened on 23rd November 2021 in Naivasha, Kenya in order to validate and enriched the report findings as well as agree on way forward on how to further improve the CAHW/CDR services. The following recommendations were made in order to tackle the challenges both from national and regional levels:

  1. Nationally standardized training curriculum: national veterinary services and regulatory bodies should support the review and development of CAHW competency and curriculum guidelines that is standardized and operationalized across actors and the region,
  2. One health: veterinary regulatory authorities and other stakeholders should explore supportive policy framework that strengthen collaboration among CAHWs/CDR, Community Health Volunteers and local environmental Champions in order to exercise One-Heath approach at local/community level,
  3. Harmonized training curriculum for the region: because of cross-border mobility of pastoralists, CAHW/CDR services have regional dimension. Thus, it is important to standardize/ harmonize training of CAHWs across IGAD member states for effective management of transboundary animal disease (TADs) in terms of epidemio-surveillance and vaccination among others,
  4. CAHW/CDR policy and legal frameworks: In countries where legal and policy framework is not well articulated, it is important to work on these including code of ethics for CAHW/CDR in order to enhance their recognition and clearly define their roles in the context they are allowed to operate,
  5. Selection of trainee: At entry to CAHW/CDR training it is important to consider future carrier development by considering young and relatively educated member of the community,
  6. CAHW/CDR associations: Supporting formation of CAHW/CDR associations helps in both service quality control and tackle counterfeit.


Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development

Three-Day Capacity Building Workshop Concludes With A Road Map For Enhancing Intergovernmental Relations And Systems In Somalia’s Federal Structure

(Bishoftu, Ethiopia): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) organized a first of its kind three-day workshop on Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) and systems in Somalia.

The workshop brought together senior officials of the Federal Government pf Somalia (FGS) and Federal Member States (FMS) to exchange information and learn about the concept, principles, approaches, institutionalization, benefits and challenges of intergovernmental relations in Somalia.

The workshop established a road map aimed at strengthening federalism and inclusive processes in Somalia by promoting IGR. The roadmap also aims at operationalizing intergovernmental mechanism through policy, legal and institutional interventions. The roadmap sets out a series of recommendations and priorities, and among others, agreed on leveraging on the support of all relevant government ministries, department and agencies. In addition, ensuring extensive engagement to enhance coordination and create awareness and set in motion processes to complete the Somalia IGR legislation.

In his opening remarks on behalf of the IGAD Special Envoy for Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Somalia, Mr Walter Ochanda stated that the workshop served to enlighten participants on how to strengthen intergovernmental relations with a view to providing an effective platform for the FGS and FMS to break the barriers to communication and to enhance the capacities for seamless communication, collaboration, coordination, as well as dialogue to develop consensus on emerging issues.

On his part, H.E Mohamed Ibrahim Nor (PhD), Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister Office emphasized the importance of sustaining and building Intergovernmental relations mechanism to contribute towards inclusive political processes and service delivery in Somalia. He also thanked IGAD for convening such an important workshop and look forward to the fruitful conclusion of this process.


Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development

CREI Holds 18th In-Campus Seminar

Ethiopian Civil Service University, Center for Research in Ethics and Integrity (CREI) held its 18th In-campus Seminar on 30th November 2021, at Hidasse  Hall. The seminar was held under the theme of “Ethiopian Diplomacy and the Great Renaissance Dam: What Should We Do as Scholars?”

The speaker in the seminar Ambassador Ibrahim Idris, Boundary and Trans-Boundary Affairs Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave a detailed explanation on the issues related to the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Egyptians conspiracy on the construction of the Dam.

According to Ambassador Ibrahim, Ethiopia is a source of about eighty five percent of Nile River water but it is unable to utilize its Nile water for a number of reasons. Egypt is one of the causes for Ethiopian underdevelopment in many ways. By exploiting Great Ethiopian Renascence Dam, Egypt intends to deprive Ethiopia of using and development of Nile water including construction of Dam and irrigation. In contrast it has been engaged in constriction of Aswan Dam, Peace Canal and Toshka Canal. With a great desire to disrupt the construction of the Dam, Egypt furthermore continues to pressure Ethiopia, including political and diplomatic pressure by internationalizing the issue and moved it to the Security Council level seeking a political solution for the technical issues. After the inauguration of the GERD project, Egypt has started aggressive diplomatic campaign across the globe and is trying to hinder the progress of the project.

Ambassador Ibrahim also noted that, over the years Egypt has employed different strategies to subdue Ethiopia through different mechanisms including forcing Ethiopian into a legal trap-binding agreement and has been working not only for protection of its acquired right as ensuring in the 1959 agreement, but also wants to continue dominating the Nile water and stay stronger by depriving Ethiopia of the strategic value of the Nile river.  Ethiopian’s policy regarding the issues over the Nile River is very clear with a total commitment to cooperation on the basis of equitable and reasonable utilization of the water.  Ethiopia’s official position on the Nile is a sovereign right to use the Nile water for hydroelectric power, irrigation and to meet its needs for domestic and industrial purposes. Ethiopia has a firm stance on the issues as it is not a party to any of the treaties on the allocation of the Nile water that Egypt invoke to justify its uncontested right and the construction of the dam proceeds parallel with the development of rules and regulations on the filling of the dam. Ethiopia consented to consultation with Egypt and Sudan in circumstances where there are no treaty obligations on part of Ethiopia concerning the Nile water and believes consultation is the only avenue for the sustainable use of the Nile. It also believes that the dam will be a symbol of the integration of the regions.

With regard to the responsibilities and what should scholars do concerning the Egyptian conspiracy and hold out the pressures over the construction of the Dam, Ambassador Ibrahim, called upon every scholar to stand as an ambassador and exert utmost effort to make the international community aware of the truth. Scholar diplomats are the most appropriate actors of public diplomacy and should stand in unison behind the Ethiopian government against the conspiration of Egypt and Sudan. Being part of the scholar diplomats, we should urge the international community to impress upon Egypt and Egyptian to abandon the politics of the zero-sum game and should remain that it is in the best interest of Egypt to work on win-win cooperation, ambassador Ibrahim underscored.

Ambassador Ibrahim is a well-known diplomat, lecturer, Boundary and Trans-Boundary Affairs Advisor and member of the GERD negotiation team and is serving his country in different higher positions with his ample experiences.


Source: Ethiopian Civil Service University

AAU Students Get Software Development Training from ODC

Office of Industry Linkage and Technology Transfer (ILTT) of Addis Ababa University (AAU), in partnership with the Orange Digital Centre (ODC), organized practical modern software development training to AAU students at the Main Campus (Sidist Kilo) digital library of the University from November 22 to 24, 2021.

According to the information from ILTT, the training was conducted for 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students from information science, software engineering and computer science fields.  Fifty (50) students attended the training, the Office added.

Sources show that “Orange Digital Centre is a centre dedicated to delivering digital innovation and training to all, with a vision to support everyone to gain digital and entrepreneurial skills which increase the employability of the world youth in this area”.

This first-round training conducted to AAU students is part of the collaborative engagement under the auspices of the AAU-ODC partnership agreement, designed and delivered by the ODC to introduce the main principles, best practices and supporting tools in the process of software development, ILTT indicated.

As mentioned by the Office, the training course included key tools that are a must to know in today’s developers’ community with a how to efficiently use them to be able to complete in the market.

The Office also stated that the second-round software development training will be given to the graduating class students on the course “Practical Agile Software Development”, designed to facilitate the understanding and practices of agile software development.

Practical Agile Software Development, the current professional software development, training will be conducted for those who would like to join the job market, freelance works, or even for those who are engaged to start their own start-ups, the Office (ILTT) finally remarked.


Source: Addis Ababa University

Ethiopian government says it retook string of towns from Tigray forces

The Ethiopian government says its forces recaptured Shewa Robit, a town some 220km (135 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa, which was claimed last week by fighters from the northern Tigray region.

Government spokesman Legesse Tulu said on Wednesday Shewa Robit was among several small towns retaken by Ethiopia’s army and regional forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who last week announced he would head to the battlefield to lead a counteroffensive after the Tigrayan fighters threatened to march on Addis Ababa.

“In Shewa front, the Mezezo, Molale, Shewa Robit, Rasa and its surroundings have been freed from the terrorist TPLF,” Legesse said in comments broadcast on state media, referring to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front which has been locked in a war with Abiy’s government for more than a year.

The brutal conflict took a sharp turn about a month ago when Tigrayan forces claimed to have captured the strategic towns of Dessie and Kombolcha, located on a key highway to Addis Ababa.

Legesse said the government would “in a short period” retake Dessie and Lalibela, a UNESCO World Heritage site that fell to the Tigrayan forces in August, even as fighting reportedly rages on at least three fronts.

There was no immediate comment by the Tigrayan forces.

In recent days, state media has broadcast images of a uniformed Abiy, who is a former military lieutenant colonel and the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in what appeared to be the northeastern region of Afar.

On Sunday, state media said the army controlled the lowland Afar town of Chifra, and Abiy said Tuesday such gains would be replicated in the Amhara region, where Dessie lies.

Much of northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and access for journalists is heavily restricted, making battlefield claims difficult to corroborate.

Fears of a Tigrayan forces’ march on Addis Ababa have prompted the United States, France, Britain, and other countries to urge their citizens to leave Ethiopia as soon as possible as international mediation attempts have so far failed to yield any results.

Abiy’s government says their rivals’ gains are overstated and the capital is secure.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands have been driven to famine-like conditions, according to UN estimates, since fighting broke out in early November 2020. In late November, government forces had seized Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, but by June, Tigrayan forces had retaken most of the region and pushed into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions.