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Infinix S4 with teardrop notch and 32-megapixel selfie camera launched in Kenya

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After much teasing over the last few days, Infinix has officially unveiled its latest smartphone, the Infinix S4, in the country.

The device comes on the back of other smartphone releases by Infinix: the Zero 6/Pro and the Hot 7.

The device, at least going by the specs sheet, keeps up with the expectations that its predecessors in the “S” lineup have built up over the years of being both pioneers of various features as well as cameras that raise the bar.

It is the first smartphone from the Infinix brand to feature a teardrop notch, for instance. While that shouldn’t count much as an achievement, the notch has been a reality for most of us for a while now and the little that cutout becomes the better, as companies work towards totally eliminating it.

The camera highlight for the Infinix S4 shows up on the front of the device where a 32-megapixel selfie shooter awaits anyone who will be picking one up next week after the end of the pre-order period which started today.

At the back is something that is not exactly new on the budget smartphone front as both Samsung and Huawei have done it over the last few months  but is still new to the Infinix brand: a tri-camera setup.

The main camera system on the Infinix S4 comprises 13, 8 and 2-megapixel sensors to capture “depth, distance and field of view respectively”, according to a statement from the company.

The wide-angle lens allows for one to capture a field of view of as much as 120 degrees, according to the same statement.

There is also mention of an avalanche of AI features baked into the camera to aid the hardware achieve the intended results. Those are the things we will be looking forward to testing when we take the device for a spin over coming days – look out for that.

As we had hinted to when word leaked that the S4 was on the way, this marks the end of the Hot branding that had previously characterized the naming of S series devices. “The S series branched out of the Hot series to focus on selfie optimization,” the company notes.

Going by this, the S series is higher in the pecking order, coming ahead of both the entry-level Smart and Hot series while staying below the Note and Zero range.

Beyond the camera and the aesthetic appeal of only a tiny portion of the 6.2-inch display being eaten into, Infinix is banking on the device’s 4,000mAh battery and its double glass design to drive consumer interest in the device.

Price and availability

The Infinix S4  comes in two memory and storage configurations: 3GB RAM + 32GB internal storage and 6GB RAM + 64GB internal storage.

The 3GB RAM variant is going for Kshs 15,000 while the 6GB RAM variant costs Kshs 19,000.

Both devices will go on sale on April 23rd.

Before then, though, they are available for pre-order in Infinix-branded retail stores across the country. That process requires one to pay Kshs 4,000 for either model upfront and clearing the balance next week before picking up the device. Infinix is promising those who do so a gift hamper worth Kshs 10,000.

Those who opt to place their pre-orders through Infinix’s own online store, Infinix Mall, will get the same gift hamper as well as Kshs 1,000 off the device’s purchase price.





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KawiSafi Ventures raises $70m for clean energy accelerate in East Africa

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Acumen today announced that its for-profit fund, KawiSafi Ventures has raised approximately $70 million to drive energy access for millions of low-income people in East Africa and scale the clean energy sector.

Acumen, through Acumen Capital Partners has invested $22 million of patient, philanthropic capital across the off-grid ecosystem and impacting 81 million lives. Acumen is now going into for-profit investments away from philanthropic capital.

KawiSafi will use the funds to accelerate growth of clean energy companies in East Africa. Some of KawiSafi’s early supporters include anchor investor the Green Climate Fund along with Steve Jurvetson, Chris Anderson and the Skoll Foundation. Acumen, as sponsor, holds an equity interest in the fund.

According to Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO of Acumen, “We created KawiSafi to prove that renewable, off-grid energy can be a faster, cheaper and cleaner way to electrify the continent. By building scalable solutions that can bring power to low-income communities that have lived without electricity for too long, we can create a seismic shift in off-grid energy, releasing immense levels of human productivity and minimizing impact on the environment. Given that Africa’s population is expected to nearly double by 2030, a clean energy strategy is good not just for the continent but for everyone.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million people currently live without electricity and spend $17 billion a year on dirty, inefficient energy. KawiSafi aims to deliver clean, affordable energy to 10 million people, at least half of whom live in poverty, and displace more than one million tons of carbon dioxide in the next 10 years, to address energy poverty and help avert the current climate crisis. To date, KawiSafi has invested $21 million to impact 4.3 million people and avert 360 thousand tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“The energy landscape has changed drastically in the last decade, and we have seen proven, profitable businesses emerge that are already transforming how low-income people access electricity,” said KawiSafi’s Managing Director Amar Inamdar. “These companies need early-growth capital to scale so they meet customer demand and drive innovation in a rapidly evolving ecosystem. KawiSafi will fill critical market gaps to create a sustainable, off-grid ecosystem, supporting countries to realize their UN Sustainable Development Goal of universal energy access.

d.light, a longtime Acumen investee, is one of KawiSafi’s first investments. The company, which manufactures and distributes a broad range of high-quality, affordable solar products, has impacted more than 90 million lives and offset 21 million tons of CO2. d.light recently closed $41 million in Series E financing, demonstrating how KawiSafi can help accelerate growth for companies with proven business models poised to generate significant financial and social returns.

KawiSafi is managed by Acumen Capital Partners LLC, an Acumen-owned subsidiary that structures and manages funds investing in social enterprises poised to scale to transform the lives of low-income people everywhere and solve some of poverty’s greatest challenges. .


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BBM to shut down on 31st May

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BBM is shutting down on 31st May 2019, a statement on the BBM blog notes.

“Today we’re announcing that we will be closing BBM consumer service on 31 May 2019.”

BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, like we all used to call it had a good run.

Back in the day, being on BBM was almost a status symbol in some quarters.

You know, long before the smartphone era began in earnest, those who had BlackBerry devices from RIM (Research in Motion, what the maker of BlackBerry phones used to be known as), had this exclusive club where they could chat with each other for hours on end. Heck, those who not only managed to break into that exclusive club but could also afford to splurge even more on the limited edition BlackBerry smartphones from Porsche Design had special BBM PINs to announce their status to the world.

Such were the good old days.

However, like many other technologies and technology companies before it, BlackBerry failed to move with the masses and the times. Not only did it miss the mass movement occasioned by the arrival of the iPhone, it also held on to BBM for far too long instead of availing it on every platform and attracting new users. It’s not lost on us the irony of Apple being accused of doing pretty much the same thing with iMessage today.

As BlackBerry took its sweet time, other messenger apps took root. WhatsApp, which had existed briefly in the pre-iOS/Android era, slowly built itself up as the messenger app of choice for the masses, including even BlackBerry users since both the sender and the recipient both needed BlackBerry devices in order to use BBM.

By the time BBM was being made available to other platforms, like our beloved Android, in May 2013, its would-be users were already hooked to other services and that move only served to, mostly, excite existing BlackBerry users who were increasingly beginning to sample what was on offer on other platforms.

As the blog post announcing the service’s shuttering next month correctly notes, “users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”

It is worth noting that the BBM service being shut down is the consumer service. Those who rely on BBM for their workplace chatter are still safe as the enterprise version is staying put.

Those who had made in-app purchases – like BBM stickers, for instance – on the Android app can request for refunds and those will be processed through Google Play. BBMoji purchases, however, are not eligible for any refund.

It is rather sad to see BBM go but it would be dishonest to say it will be missed. What with the likes of Telegram Messenger and their endless capabilities around.

UPDATE

BlackBerry, just like it had done with its hardware services, had outsourced BBM to Indonesian firm Emtek. It is Emtek that is responsible for pulling the plug on BBM as communicated today. As a result, BlackBerry is opening up the enterprise version of BBM to ordinary users who will still want to stick around after May 31st. The BBMe app is available on the Google Play Store.

It is worth noting, though, that the app is not as full-featured with all the fun stuff (BBMojis, stickets and all) as the consumer version and just caters to the usual stuff – chats, video calls. Importantly, it emphasizes on the security credentials that BlackBerry has been known for for years. After the first year, though, it will cost upwards of Kshs 250 to keep on using the service.





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Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya team up to offer up to 30% discount on electronics and appliances

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Both Airtel Kenya and LG Electronics are marginal names in their respective arenas here in Kenya. Perhaps with something common between them, the two have decided to team up and offer discounts of up to 30% off on LG electronics and appliances sold through the official LG Brand Shop.

Airtel Kenya and LG Kenya are running a promotion that could save you a good amount of money going into Easter holidays, but unfortunately, this discount can’t be utilized on our favorite Android gizmos, smartphones. This is because the said LG online shop doesn’t stock LG smartphones, but there’s still plenty of Android over there, including some of the best Smart TVs on the market.

In order to get the (up to) 30% discount off your next LG purchase from the LG Brand Shop, you must make your payment through Airtel Money. We all know how unpopular Airtel Money is compared to industry leader, M-PESA, but with this promo, Airtel Kenya hopes it will see an improvement in the service’s intake.

Similarly, LG hopes to see a jump in purchases of their electronics and appliances as more Kenyans look to take advantage of the offer and make savings of up to Sh 40,000.

A great move, no doubt, but as noted earlier, both Airtel and LG are not names that regularly pop up in conversations around mobile devices. We all know how essential mobile devices are if either is to realize any significant success from this partnership.

What is still unclear is for how long this promo will be around, so be sure to take advantage of it while it lasts. That is, NOW!





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