Stephanie Ode Wilson sees the potential in everything and everyone and possesses the audacity to pursue against all odds. For her, there is latent possibility everywhere. Possessing a unique ability to see beyond the surface, she finds the extraordinary in the seemingly simple. Not yet 22-years old Stephanie is one of Ghana’s leading silent entrepreneurs, who is making a huge dent in two heavily male dominated Industries across the Region.
Stephanie saved for her first land from running errands and doing follow ups on building materials from vendors on behalf of her boss who owns and runs one of the biggest Real Estate Firms in Ghana. She built a 3-Bedroom Apartment on a 100 x 70 Plot and completed her fist sale in November 2017 at age 20.
An alumni of Kumasi Girls Senior High School and currently in her 3rd Semester at Bluecrest University, the ever industrious visionary worked for Shieldsoft Consult as Accounts Manager from 2016.
After picking interest in Construction as a child and having her ambitions shattered by a JHS tutor, the inexperienced 17-year-old at the time committed to learning by any means necessary and surrounded herself with constructors and architects at any given time during her days in High School. With support from her family, she started importing building interior materials such as tiles, wall coverings and security doors. She also launched a Clothing Line in 2016.
After 3 years of gaining knowledge, expertise and a strong network, she coordinated and built a team of constructors with over 25 years of experience. She thus led the client acquisition campaigns, brought in the contracts under her company name and executed with her team. In 2017, she proceeded to sell 3 more houses for clients abroad.
She officially launched her Company Scown Properties Ghana in October of 2017 after clearly displaying an unparalleled knack for the Real Estate business. She is currently completing Phase One of Scown Court; a 12-Unit Gated Community at Dawhenya. Her plan is to have SCOWN Courts all across the country.
Stephanie’s love for Technology came naturally to her as a child fueled by an intense passion to break and fix electronics. During her time at Shieldsoft Consult, a leading IT Firm in Ghana owned by her uncle she took the opportunity to learn basic programming, networking and hardware.
Her technology Business, SCOWN TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS helps customers use technology to slash the time it takes to turn ideas into value. They offer services in Cabling and Fibre Optics, Data and Network Security Infrastructure, Home Automation and Security System Installation.
How a 21-year-old juggles her education with an overly demanding field such as Real Estate and a supper immersive field as Technology will always be a wonder, but this young industrious daughter of the Mother land is breaking the glass ceiling and defying all odds.
She is set to launch her GIRL CODE AFRICA Initiative later this year aimed at teaching 100,000 girls across the continent basic Coding, Web and App Development and equip them with Digital Skills across a 10-year period. The Project is set to launch June of this year.
Stephanie embodies elegance and the spirit of a new breed of Young Female Leaders rising across the continent. She runs all her three companies with a culture of intangibles, a unique leadership style that she understands is necessary to ignite others.
“Unused Mobile Data Should Not Expire. – Mrs. Ursula Owusu To Telcos
The Ministry of Communications wants mobile network operators (MNO) in Ghana to desist from allowing all unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers from expiring.
In a new directive issued by the Ministry to the network operators, it said, "all unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge."
The directive was contained in a letter dated October 9, 2019, signed by the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful and addressed to the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr Joe Anokye with a copy to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of MTN and Vodafone as well as the two Deputy Ministers of Communication, Mr George Nenyi Andah and Mr Vincent Sowah-Odotei.
The letter, a copy of which has been by Graphic Online states that the move was following a series of meetings held between the Ministry, NCA and the MNOs.
The letter explained that the directive was coming as a result of the increase in the Communication Service Tax (CST) from 6% to 9% and the subsequent decision by the MNOs to pass the entire burden of CST to subscribers contrary to a previous arrangement.
"We must emphasise that the fact that CST was increased from the existing rate of 6% to 9% effective 4th September 2019. The tax has been in existence since 2008 and was increased to provide revenue for cybersecurity initiatives to protect the digital infrastructure and policies being used by both the public and private sector."
The letter stated that, "At the series of meetings held between the Ministry of Communications, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the NCA on 7th and 8th October, 2019, we were informed that prior to 4th September 2019, MNOs had not been passing on the CST to subscribers but had decided to take advantage of the 3% increase to pass on the entire tax to subscribers. This has effectively increased their profit margin at the expense of subscribers."
It said all efforts to get them [MNOs) to revert to the September 2019 situation has failed as they "literally exact their pound of flesh from their consumers."
The Ministry explained that to help minimise the negative impact of the current mode of deduction of the CST, it has therefore directed that "CST should be treated the same way VAT, NHIL, GETFund levy and all other taxes and levies imposed on entities doing business in Ghana are treated."
It said the "extraordinary upfront deduction of CST and notification of same to subscribers must stop with immediate effect."
"All unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge."
"MNOs will be subjected to strict compliance with existing Quality of Service (QoS) standard to ensure value for the subscribers' money in accordance with their license obligations," it added.
The letter indicated that the directives were to take immediate effect.
Google Might Announce A 5G Pixel 4 Next Week.
Google appears to be working on a 5G version of the Pixel 4, and it’s possible the phone will be shown as early as next week, according to Nikkei. The standard versions of the Pixel 4, which will be announced at an event next Tuesday, will only support LTE. But Nikkei says that Google has begun “test production” on a model of the phone that includes 5G, too.
It’s not clear when the 5G model will be previewed or released, though. Nikkei says it could be shown next week, but its sources said the announcement could also be held until spring to appear alongside a new budget phone, a successor to the Pixel 3A.
If the phone is revealed on Tuesday, it’s likely that it would just be a teaser for a launch later on. It sounds as though development isn’t finished, and devices aren’t ready to go into production yet. Such an early tease seems somewhat unlikely: Pixel 3 sales were slow at launch last year, and Google would risk slowing sales of this year’s model by previewing a higher-end version that no one can buy yet.
Either way, the goal seems to be getting a 5G phone on the market within the next year, ahead of a 5G iPhone that’s expected next September. 5G networks are still in their infancy, and for consumers, there’s still not a lot of reason to get one of these phones. But being early to 5G could still help Google get some attention for its phone line.
Nikkei reports that Google might also unveil a new smartwatch and a laptop at Tuesday’s event. A new version of the Pixelbook has already been rumored, but a smartwatch isn’t something we’ve heard about. Google hasn’t had much luck with smartwatches in the past (and Android smartwatches aren’t in a particularly great place right now), but given how many are on the market, it doesn’t seem like it’d be all that hard for Google to put one together if it really wanted to.
Volvo’s First EV Will Run Native Android.
Volvo is one week away from unveiling the first EV under its own brand, an all-electric version of the company’s popular XC40 SUV. On Wednesday, the Swedish automaker said the car will mark another first, too: it will be the first Volvo car with an infotainment system built on Google’s new embedded Android Automotive software.
That means the new electric XC40 will come with features and apps like Google Assistant and Google Maps built in, with no need for an Android smartphone. The SUV’s infotainment system will also have access to the Play Store, allowing owners to download apps that Google’s approved for automotive use. Built-in maps, assistant, and Play Store — no phone required
We’ve known for more than two years that Volvo was working on integrating Android into its cars. In fact, Google showed off an early version of the software running on a gas-powered XC40 at its 2018 I/O conference. Now, this won’t necessarily be the first car with embedded Android, nor will it be the first all-electric in the wider Volvo Group. Volvo’s performance sub-brand Polestar has claimed both of those titles with its Polestar 2 EV, which is slated to go on sale in 2020. But Volvo’s XC40 is a more affordable, higher-volume car that will reach more customers.
The deep integration of Android will allow drivers and passengers to use Google Assistant to change things like climate settings, and it will also enable over-the-air updates that can add new features or address some maintenance issues, according to Volvo. And yes, Google and Volvo’s system will allow people to plug their iPhones in and use Apple CarPlay.
While all of this added functionality will make for a different experience compared to what is currently available inside a Volvo car, the new infotainment system will still look familiar to anyone who’s used the automaker’s existing Sensus software.
That’s one of the main goals of this whole partnership model Google’s pursuing. The tech giant provides a reliable software backbone, which each automaker gets to develop and brand to their liking. Beyond Volvo, Google’s also signed up big names like General Motors and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. It’s a far cry from a few years ago when automakers were so hesitant to let tech companies take over any small slice of the in-car experience that many slow-rolled their initial adoptions of Android Auto and CarPlay.
Rwanda Launches First ‘Made in Africa’ Smartphones.
Mara Phones, a subsidiary company of the Mara Group owned by businessman Ashish J. Thakkar, has built a high tech smartphone manufacturing facility in Kigali’s Special Economic Zone, Rwanda.
The factory, which was launched by Rwandan President Paul Kagame at a ceremony on Monday, has the capacity to manufacture more than 2 million smartphones in a year. Speaking at the launch ceremony, Thakkar said the company aims to manufacture high quality smartphones at an affordable price while improving smartphone growth in Africa.
“We realized a few years ago that to create positive social impact on our continent and in emerging markets we need to have high quality and affordable smartphones. That’s when we came up with Mara Phones,” Ashish Thakkar said during the launch.
Smartphone penetration in Rwanda currently stands at around 15% with the most basic Tecno and Samsung models sold at $40 and $70 respectively. Mara Phones’ new factory will start manufacturing two phone models, the Mara X and Mara Z. Thakkar says both phones will retail for less than $200 and among other things will have a longer-lasting battery than other smartphones, greater storage space and a 2-year Android version update courtesy of a partnership with Google. Mara Phones has also partnered with local banks and telecommunications firms to create a finance model which will allows users to pay for their phones over a two-year period.
Mara Group says the new facility is Africa's first high tech smartphone factory.
“What we have around Africa are basically mobile phone assembling plants. What we have built is Africa’s first smartphone manufacturing plant,” Thakkar said during the launch.
The factory already employs 200 people with women representing 60% of the workforce. Launching the factory, Rwandan President Paul Kagame commended Mara Group’s entry into the affordable smartphone market and underlined the need to boost the adoption of high-tech products in the East African country.
“The smartphone is no longer a luxury item, it is rapidly becoming a requirement of everyday life,” President Kagame said.
“That trend is bound to increase in the years to come as more and more services migrate to digital platforms. We want to enable many more Rwandans to use smartphones. The cost and quality is very important and the introduction of Mara Phones will put smartphone ownership within reach of more Rwandans.”
Mara Phones will be launching its second factory in South Africa later this month.
Ashish Thakkar, 38, is the founder of Mara Group, a Dubai-based, African-focused conglomerate with interests in the technology, financial services, manufacturing, real estate & agriculture industries.