Rice says he was shocked when a version of a product Cassava was developing was presented to the African Union.
The HSR was “strikingly similar to the product we had previously presented in confidence to Cassava FinTech months before under the protection of a mutual confidentiality agreement”.
The irony is that this mutual confidentiality agreement was insisted on by Cassava. After the competing platform was presented, relations between the two groups rapidly went sour, with furious letters being sent by all sides. These include a “cease and desist” demand sent to Cassava, and letters to the AMSP.
It got even more serious when Cassava’s product was allegedly presented to an informal group of funders very loosely associated with the African Union’s efforts. That group includes the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation has declined to comment, but it is understood that it is funding neither product.
This narrative is hotly disputed by Cassava. Jerome Lombard, Cassava’s legal counsel, says Rice’s claim that his company has been working with Cassava FinTech for years to develop the idea is “simply… not true”.
Lombard acknowledges that Cassava did provide PocketPatientMD with the nondisclosure agreement. “However, to the best of our knowledge, this agreement was never concluded.” (Rice produced the nondisclosure agreement, which was signed by him, but was not signed by Cassava.)
Cassava Fintech was approached by Rice to invest in his start-up in January 2019.
“There was never any collaboration or discussions that led to the development of anything.”
The communication between the parties ended approximately in November 2019, some 11 months later.
Masiyiwa developed and funded AMSP as part of his philanthropic initiative. “This platform is a nonprofit platform to help African countries procure Covid-19 medical supplies.
“It has moved hundreds of millions of medical supplies. It has nothing to do with digital apps.”
However, the announcement of the launch does quote Masiyiwa as saying: “We are excited to be working with African Union member states, Africa CDC [Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention] and our implementation partners by offering the Health Status Report, a mobile-based, global health information platform – powered by secure blockchain technology – that captures a person’s Covid-19 testing data and results.”
He is quoted as the executive chairman of Econet, and African Union Special Envoy for the Continental Fight Against Covid-19.
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