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YouTube Unveils Reading Challenge to Boost African literature

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YouTube Unveils Reading Challenge to Boost African literature, SiliconNigeria

YouTube has launched its first YouTube Africa Reading Challenge, an online reading marathon featuring authors, influencers and key opinion leaders across Africa. 

 In a bid to help popularise the work of African authors across the continent, the personalities will read extracts from The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, a novel by the African-born Nigerian poet Lola Shoneyin. The book is an entertaining, perceptive and enlightening portrayal of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria. It reveals the struggles, rivalries, intricate family politics, and the interplay of personalities and relationships within the complex private world of a polygamous union.


The novel emerged as the top choice by Africans in a Google Africa survey conducted last July, which asked social media followers which novel by an African author they would like to see read live on YouTube. A total 40 people across Africa have since been selected to kick off the YouTube Africa Challenge, and will be reading from its pages, encouraging others to join them too.

Among the notable names joining the reading challenge are:

  • From Kenya:  Writers and storytellers Muthoni Garland and James Murua, creative writers Anne Moraa and Aleya Kassam, actor and journalist John Sibi-Okumu, poet and actress Laura Ekumbo, and actor and writer Mugambi Nthiga.
  • From Nigeria:  Media entrepreneur and talk show host Agatha Amatha, motivational speaker Olujimi Tewe, philanthropist and writer Betty Irabor, performance coach and strategist Steve Harris, and career and business coach Muyiwa Afolabi.
  • From South Africa: TV presenter and philanthropist Maps Maponyane, media personality Penny Lebyane, actress and model Pearl Thusi, storyteller and sociologist Upile Chisala,  and award-winning marketer Khaya Dlanga.

“We are extremely excited about the YouTube Africa Reading Challenge. Reading novels  is such a critical skill and we hope this event will help fuel a reading culture on the continent, while also highlighting some of the exceptional literary works by African writers,” says Nitin Gajria, Google’s Managing Director for Africa. 

Bookworms can join the challenge by sharing a 10-second video on their social channels, reading the same book, and nominating their friends to do the same. 

Free access to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives is available for one month via the OneRead app. This offer is aimed specifically at those eager to join the challenge, but who don’t have access to a physical copy of the book. They simply have to download the app from the App Store, and find the book under ‘News and Updates’.

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Google Arts & Culture’s Eko for Show to Showcase Lagos’s Creative Genius to the World

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Google Arts & Culture’s Eko for Show to Showcase Lagos’s Creative Genius to the World, SiliconNigeria

Google Arts & Culture has announced the launch of Eko for Show, an initiative to showcase and celebrate Lagos, one of the world’s most vibrant cities for youth, creativity and technology.

Profiling over 100 creatives across the spectrum of music, art, photography, fashion, musicals, literature and food, the online exhibition will shine a light on the city’s thriving creative communities and aims to inspire the next generation of creatives. 

In partnership with seven of Lagos’s top cultural institutions, the Eko for Show online exhibition will enable audiences to virtually “meet” some of the city’s music makers, visual artists, trendsetters, storytellers and foodies.

The seven cultural institutions include the African Artists Foundation, Homecoming, Lagos Fashion Week, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Rele Arts Foundation, Terra Kulture and the Centenary Project. The partners have shared over 8000 photographs, 80 online stories, 3 Street View experiences and 175 videos, which is presented in one unified online experience. 

Eko for Show can be explored via g.co/ekoforshow and by downloading the free Google Arts & Culture app. Highlights include essays by ten women writers who share their personal reflections on Lagos, including Mọlará Wood and Lọlá Shónẹ́yìn. Watch behind-the-scenes interviews with Afrobeats stars Teni the Entertainer, Kizz Daniel and Reekado Banks. Explore an exhibition by artist Victor Ehikamenor and step inside the galleries at the African Artists Foundation, Rele Arts Foundation and Terra Kulture with Street View. Let paintings of Lagos lagoon take your breath away with the Art Camera, and learn more about the thriving arts scene with curator Azu Nwagbogu, artist Nike Davies-Okundaye and creative director Bolanle Austen-Peters. Learn more about Nigerian culture though its musicals, movies, Alté sounds and Homecoming festival with Grace Ladoja. 

“Google Arts & Culture’s mission is to preserve and promote the world’s art and culture online to everyone, anywhere in the world.  With Eko for Show, we celebrate the creative industry of Lagos and share the buzz, even if virtually, through the works and stories of its incredible youth and culture” says Amit Sood, Director, Google Arts & Culture.

Lagos is one of Africa’s fastest growing cities and a major financial hub on the continent, boasting the fourth highest GDP. In the past, it has garnered international attention for being a hub for creativity, thanks to the more than 25 million people who comprise this community of talent and excellence.

“The coronavirus regrettably resulted in the cancellation of many creative events in Lagos State, which is why I am so excited about the Eko for Show project, a continuation of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation’s partnership with Google Arts & Culture. It highlights the impressive body of creative talent to which Lagos is home, spreading the news across the world,” says Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State.

Folorunsho Coker, Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, adds: “The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation is committed to fuelling Nigeria’s economy by supporting creativity, youth and entrepreneurs. Since 2020, we have collaborated with Google Arts & Culture on a programme to shine a light on Nigeria’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, spectacular nature, bustling cities and our welcoming spirit.

“Our partnership with Google Arts & Culture has a crucial role to play in seeing us achieve our mission of accelerating growth of domestic tourism, and fostering economic development in Nigeria,” Coker says.

Juliet Ehimuan, Google Director West Africa, credited the Taste of Nigeria project, announced in 2019, for giving  people across the world the chance to experience Nigerian arts and culture. “The launch of Eko for Show further reinforces Google’s commitment to Nigeria’s art and creative industry, and its support for the recovery and growth of Nigeria’s tourism sector ,” she says.

Nigeria’s fast growing tech, music, film and fashion sectors have become strong exporters of culture, with music sales revenues estimated to reach $88 million by 2019. The creative industry in Nigeria is teeming with the potential for economic growth, and the Eko for Show project is focused on spotlighting Lagos as home to some of Africa’s most brilliant creatives. 

Eko for Show is available free online via g.co/ekoforshow. Google Arts & Culture is available free to everyone on the web or via the Arts & Culture App on iOS and Android. Google Arts & Culture is a new way to experience art, history, culture, and world wonders from over 1000 organisations worldwide. 

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Startweb Africa Launches Platform To Help Business Owners Create & Launch Websites In Minutes

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African Tech Startup Startweb Africa Launches Platform To Help Business Owners Create & Launch Websites In Minutes, SiliconNigeria

StartWeb Africa, a tech startup and foremost all-in-one website builder, has released a drag and drop, mobile-friendly website building tool. The platform which automates the entire website building process helps businesses and entrepreneurs reach a wider audience and increase sales.

StartWeb Africa features an integrated solution with tools to help businesses (SMEs), entrepreneurs, digital marketers and professionals build world-class websites in minutes. StartWeb Africa offers smart, responsive, mobile and Google-friendly website templates that require no coding or technical knowledge. 

StartWeb Africa also integrates perfectly with applications helping business owners connect seamlessly with automation tools and payment processors like Stripe, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Google Analytics, Zapier, PayPal and Getresponse to name a few.

“By building Africa’s easiest website creation platform, we have made everything simple for business owners and online professionals. We’re excited about the new tool because it is an easy-to-use drag and drop website builder that is perfect for anyone looking to get a website for their business, build funnels, landing pages & e-commerce stores. Our library of templates and sales funnels is geared towards introducing people to your business, and increasing your earnings”, remarked StartWeb Co-founder, Kelvin Orifa.  

The platform also features an affiliate programme that does not require start up costs or an advertising budget but yields high ROI for all marketing and promotional efforts. 

StartWeb Africa, in addition, offers earnings for users on referrals of first time buyers with no referral limit and a lifetime attribution as well as professional support and an intuitive dashboard on all activities on the platform.

Although Nigeria is the key driver of international trade in all of West Africa, GSMA states that about 65% of small businesses are still offline. PWC also reports that 55% to 68% of formal SMEs are either unserved or underserved by technology and financial institutions. StartWeb Africa is designed to help these business owners benefit from the untapped potentials of technology. 

The world is fast becoming a global village due to innovations underpinned principally by technological advancements. Technology has brought about changes in consumer perceptions, tastes and preferences. The pace and transformative power of technology means that Nigerian businesses cannot afford to ignore the trend.

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E-commerce: Covid-19 Increases Global Online Shopping By $900 Billion

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E-commerce: Covid-19 Increases Global Online Shopping By $900 Billion, SiliconNigeria

As Covid-19 kept consumers around the world at home, nearly everything from groceries to gardening supplies was purchased online. According to Mastercard’s latest Recovery Insights report, this amounted to an additional $900 billion being spent in retail online around the world in 2020.

Put another way: in 2020, e-commerce made up roughly $1 out of every $5 spent on retail, up from about $1 out of every $7 spent in 2019.

For retailers, restaurants and other businesses large and small, being able to sell online provided a much-needed lifeline as in-person consumer spending was disrupted.

Roughly 20-30% of the Covid-related shift to digital globally is expected to be permanent, according to Mastercard’s Recovery Insights: Commerce E-volution. The report draws on anonymized and aggregated sales activity in the Mastercard network and proprietary analysis by the Mastercard Economics Institute. The analysis dives into what this means by country and by sector, for goods and services, and within countries and across borders.

“While consumers were stuck at home, their dollars traveled far and wide thanks to e-commerce,” says Bricklin Dwyer, Mastercard chief economist and head of the Mastercard Economics Institute. “This has significant implications, with the countries and companies that have prioritized digital continuing to reap the benefits. Our analysis shows that even the smallest businesses see gains when they shift to digital.”

While the digital transformation has been neither universal nor consistent – due to geographical, economic, and household differences – the report uncovers several key overarching trends:

  • Grocery and discount store digital gains look sticky: Essential retail sectors, which had the smallest digital share before the crisis, saw some of the biggest gains as consumers adapted. With new consumer habits forming and given the low pre-Covid user base, we anticipate globally that 70-80% of the grocery e-commerce surge to stick around for good.
  • Global International eCommerce rose 25-30% during the pandemic: International e-commerce got a boost both in sales volume and the number of different countries where shoppers placed orders. With infinitely more choices at their fingertips, consumer spending on international e-commerce grew around 25-30% year over year from March 2020 through February 2021.
  • Consumers increase their e-commerce footprints, buying from up to 30% more online retailers: Reflecting expanded consumer choice, our analysis shows that consumers worldwide are making purchases at a greater number of websites and online marketplaces than before. Residents in countries like Italy and Saudi Arabia are buying from 33% more online stores, on average, followed closely by Russia (29%), UK (22%) and the UAE (21%).

Mastercard launched Recovery Insights last year to help businesses and governments better manage the health, safety and economic risks presented by Covid-19. The initiative draws on Mastercard’s analytics and experimentation platforms, its longstanding consulting practice and unique data-driven insights to deliver relevant and timely tools, innovation and research.

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