Starlink launches in Rwanda

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February 23, 2023
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5 min read

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Mirë dita,

I've got some news for you.

One: WhatsApp is reportedly testing a “private newsletter tool” for a future app update.

It's still in early development, so it's not ready to be released to beta testers.

Two: Spotify has launched a new artificial intelligence-powered feature, DJ, to help you with music curation.

DJ helps you navigate your listening experience by recommending music it thinks you'll enjoy and providing computer-generated commentary on what makes those songs great.

Three: Google is rolling out Radio Builder, a feature that allows YouTube Music subscribers to create custom stations based on particular artists.

When creating your custom station, you can select up to 30 artists and specify whether you want to hear only music from them or songs from similar musicians.

On the YouTube Music homepage in the iOS or Android app, scroll to the "Your music tuner" section to find Radio Builder, which began rolling out on Tuesday.

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Here's what I've got for you today:

  • Going cashless in Nigeria
  • Starlink launches in Rwanda
  • Baidu releases info on its ChatGPT-like AI bot

Going cashless in Nigeria

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Nigerians, how long have you gone without cash since the old naira notes stopped being legal tender? How has your experience been?

I've never been a big fan of carrying cash. And for two weeks in a row in Lagos, I've gone cashless.

Before the ban on the old naira notes, I rarely withdrew more than ₦‎5,000 at a time, and I always used my ATM card at the supermarket.

I only remember withdrawing as high as ₦‎8,000 because I wanted to spend some of it on roadside purchases, including fruit, junk, and transportation.

So, the cash crunch has had little impact on me; maybe it's because I don't get out much. But, I truly empathise with every Nigerian who needs cash daily.

Before you read on: I've chosen not to withdraw via Point of Sale (PoS) operators because of their ridiculous charges. I mean, why does an average Nigerian harm another?

We all live in the country and suffer the brunt of the situation. What distinguishes us from the politicians we despise?

I'm not saying don't try to get some profit, but these outrageous prices aren't the way to go.

In his latest story, Bolu discussed how he set out to test the possibility of making it through a day in Lagos without spending cash. Unlike me, he went to the heart of Lagos: Oshodi.

You can read it here: I tried going cashless for 24 hours in Lagos. Here’s what happened

Starlink launches in Rwanda

Starlink dish

Yesterday, US-based space exploration company, SpaceX, launched Starlink, its satellite Internet service, in Rwanda.

According to the New Times, the service will initially offer no contracts but instead provide a 90-day trial period.

Per an official from the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, “You can expect Starlink’s typical high speed, low-latency service intermixed with brief periods of poor connectivity. However, this will improve dramatically over time.”

The monthly fee will cost Rwf 48,000 ($43.55), with a one-time payment of Rwf 572,000 ($519.02) for hardware — a dish, router, power supply, and cable.

Last week, Rwanda got permission to provide Starlink’s satellite service in the country.

Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) also mentioned that Starlink would start operations in April 2023.

However, Rwanda will be the first East African country to offer Starlink's services.

Remember that SpaceX announced plans to launch in Kenya, pending regulatory approval.

Baidu releases info on its AI bot similar to ChatGPT

Baidu

Remember this? Chinese Baidu to launch an AI bot similar to ChatGPT

Well, yesterday, the Chinese tech company, Baidu, released additional details on its artificial intelligence chatbot similar to ChatGPT, known as “Wenxin Yiyan” in Chinese and “ERNIE Bot” in English.

Robin Li (CEO) claims Baidu will integrate ERNIE Bot with Baidu Search, providing better search service and answers. This is similar to Bing with ChatGPT built-in.

The company will provide an interactive chat experience and exclusively-generated content.

ERNIE Bot will also offer public services via Baidu AI Cloud. Previously, the company selected cloud vendors primarily based on cloud services, including computing power and storage.

However, in the future, it will concentrate on framework, model, and the synergy between the model, framework, chip, and application.

What’s more, Baidu plans to use ERNIE to improve its in-car voice assistant. It recently developed the Apollo operating system for smart cars (think Android for cars) and some in-house applications.

Remember, the company said it'd launch the bot publicly in March 2023.

Interestingly, Chinese regulators have reportedly instructed the country's tech behemoths not to make ChatGPT accessible due to concerns that the tool will provide "uncensored replies" to politically sensitive questions.

So, what do you think this means for ERNIE Bot?

In case you missed it

What I'm reading and watching

Opportunities  

  • Netflix and GOBELINS have announced that they will be offering six Master’s scholarships to African students for their September 2023 intake. You can apply here.
  • Apply for the Code for Africa (CFA) CivicTech Fellowship 2023 here.
  • Applications are now open for NAMIP's Sustainability Challenge for Nigerian media. Winners will be awarded up to $50,000 for their project and join NAMIP’s innovation and capacity building program that extends up till 2024. Apply here.
  • If you are a software engineer, creative designer, product manager, design researcher, or a techie looking for an internship role, please, check out this website.

Have a terrific Thursday.

Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.

She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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