Nigeria’s TradeDepot Raises $3 Million From Pan-African VC, Partech

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TradeDepot Raises $3 Million From Pan-African VC, Partech Ventures

As part of its expansion plans, Nigerian SaaS web platform TradeDepot recently raised $3 million in funding from Partech Ventures.

Earlier this year, Partech Ventures launched Partech Africa, an African Fund that will cater for and provide early-stage funding to African startups. In realization of this drive, Partech Africa, thus, headquartered itself in Dakar-Senegal as its first move.

Nigerian-based startup TradeDepot, recently raised $3 million in funding, becoming the first African startup to benefit from this scheme.

This investment is part of the global investment firm’s commitment to revive francophone Africa’s ailing startup ecosystem.

Partech’s recent fund injection into Nigeria’s TradeDepot affirms not only its commitment to revive francophone African startups but also, extend a helping hand to redefine and reshape Africa’s global startup scene.

The Lagos-based startup, TradeDepot, helps retailers in the fast-moving consumer goods sector to distribute goods in Africa.

A dream come true for TradeDepot

Partech said the funding will help establish TradeDepot’s footprint in Nigeria to start with, and its development in other countries.

But what is TradeDepot saying?

According to Onyekachi Izukame, co-founder, and CEO of TradeDepot, this first external funding round is critical for the company.

 

TradeDepot Raises $3 Million From Pan-African VC, Partech Ventures

Onyekachi Izukanne, Co-founder, and CEO of TradeDepot

“This first external funding round was critical for us: we have proven that there is a strong demand for such a distribution platform among consumer goods companies and retailers in emerging markets, and we now wish to use these funds to support our growth strategy,” he said.

Since TradeDepot’s launched in 2016, the platform has developed a “360-degree solution,” that helps it coordinate all players in the trade value chain:

  • Manufacturers
  • Distributors, and
  • Retailers.

TradeDepot leverages a hyperlocal marketplace to help small-scale retailers have access to prices and discounts available from every major brand. Through the platform, retailers can also directly order for their products. Manufacturers on their part, have full control over the distribution and delivery of their products.

This solution nevertheless, has been deployed across Nigeria in distributors’ warehouses.

Why the need for distribution platforms?

Over the years, Nigeria has bred several consumer goods companies and millions of retailers. However, Onyekachi believes existing tech platforms have not effectively addressed the distribution of consumer goods problem in emerging markets.

“In Nigeria alone, this $340-billion market loses more than $4-billion every year due to a lack of visibility and the resulting waste in logistics. Thus, making retailers in African countries subject to some of the highest product distribution costs in the world,” he stated.

He, therefore, saw the need for the creation of direct-to-store distribution platforms like TradeDepot.  

Now, his goal is to enable every convenience store in Africa to consistently receive their supplies at the best possible prices. Through this, TradeDepot, thus, aims to be the supply partner for Africa’s retail outlets.

TradeDepot Raises $3 Million From Pan-African VC, Partech Ventures

TradeDepot founders: Onyekachi Izukanne (Left), Michael Ukpong (Middle), Ruke Awaritefe (Right)

Partech general partner, Cyril Collon describes the platform as a game-changer in Africa’s fast-moving consumer goods industry.

“We couldn’t be happier to have TradeDepot as the first investment of our African fund, as it characterizes what we want to do in Africa in the coming years: support extraordinary tech entrepreneurs to solve pan-African problems,” he said.

Fellow Partech general partner, Tidjane Deme said the company was a strong believer in tech platforms that digitize huge informal markets present across Africa.

“TradeDepot is one of them. They are addressing the largest market in Africa that is today 98% informal and 99% offline. The opportunity there is massive,” he noted.

The TradeDepot investment comes after Partech in January, launched Partech Africa, with a $122 million investment target for Africa. This fund which is dedicated to helping Africa’s digital champions with Pan-African ambitions could, however, turn out to be the continent’s next best alternative source of funding for fledgling startups.

After TradeDepot, which startup’s next?

The Hustler’s Digest – Submarine Cable: Africa’s New Source of Reliable Internet

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The Hustler's Digest - Submarine Cable: Africa's New Source of Reliable Internet

Today’s Quote

“High-capacity fiber optic networks will be the information superhighways of tomorrow.”

Al Gore

Africa

Globacom and Huawei partnership brings Glo 2 to Southern Nigeria

Glo 2 will be the first fiber submarine cable in Nigeria to land outside the shores of Lagos. This is as a result of the partnership between Globacom and Huawei on Tuesday. Speaking about the partnership, the Regional Managing Director, Technical at Globacom, Sanjib Roy affirmed that Glo 2 will ensure high-speed connectivity towards enriching the social and economic activities of the region.

This will, however, follow an upgrade of Glo 1 which will be completed in May 2018. The upgrade will ensure Globacom has the highest transmission speed in Nigeria from Lagos to London.

With Glo 2, Globacom is looking forward to expanding to other African nations, thereby making Nigeria the aggregator to international voice and data services.

MainOne secures license to deliver its services in Ivory Coast

On Tuesday, MainOne secured the C1B  license to expand national and international connectivity services in Ivory Coast. Minister Bruno Koné, the country’s Minister for Communication, Digital Economy and Postal Services gave them the license as part of a West African expansion plan.

As a Connectivity and data center solutions operator, this will enable MainOne to deploy its submarine cable and build transmission infrastructure in Ivory Coast. It will equally strengthen connectivity, reduce international capacity costs and support wholesale customers, major operators and Internet Service Providers.

This license thus adds Ivory Coast as the tenth African country to benefit from Main One’s services.

Fulani herdsmen on rampage in Nigeria, as Parliament summons President Buhari to explain

It has been a deadly week in the North Central State of Benue, Nigeria as Fulani herdsmen slaughtered at least 25 persons. These are common occurrences in the North Central region of the country, where these herdsmen often attack and kill local inhabitants who are mostly farmers. The reason for these attacks is the quest for grazing land for their cattle. President Mohammadu Buhari has however claimed that the sporadic attackers are mostly foreigners, trained by the late Gadhafi, former leader of Libya.

Tempers have been flaring, with threats of a religious crisis in the wake of recent attacks in churches that saw the slaughtering of two Roman Catholic priests and more than 20 others. The Nigerian Parliament has in reaction summoned President Buhari to appear before it and explain the reasons behind the deteriorating security situation. It is left to be seen if President Buhari will honor the invitation.       

Cameroon

MINPOSTEL pays a disappointing visit telecoms regulators

Cameroon’s minister of post and telecommunication Minette Libom Li Likeng visited CAMTEL, the telecommunication regulatory agency (ART) and the national ICT agency ANTIC. Her visit was based on the telecommunication measures that were prescribed by an audit, published on October 27, 2017.     

According to the audit, the quality of the service offered by the operators was in no way helpful because of their non-compliance with the terms of agreement and regulation. However, the shortcomings of the telecommunications sector were discovered and reported by the Cybercom Group.

Cameroon’s Trade Minister denounces the low-cost price of cocoa

For some time now the faces of cocoa farmers haven’t been bright. Recently, it looks like fortune is about to smile on them. In a world Cocoa campaign which held from the 22-25 of April 2018. The Cameroonian trade minister, Luc Magloire Mbarga Atangana, denounced the current cocoa prices. Nevertheless, the world cocoa campaign is been done annually. This campaign gives room for each country trade representative to suggest about the rise and fall of world cocoa price.

“The producer countries can no more agree with the actual cocoa prices which sound like slavery,” said Luc Magloire. However, he sounded like the German Minister of Agriculture who, called for transparency in the international cocoa market at the opening of the occasion. According to her, the market is one of the world’s shadiest which reserves only a meager part to the producers.

Cameroon’s Military Tribunal finds activists guilty

Cameroon’s Anglophone activist, popularly referred to as the leader of the Coffin Revolution, Mancho Bibixy, was within the week declared guilty of terrorism, secession and revolution by a military tribunal in the nation’s capital Yaoundé. Before now, the same court had found other activists guilty. However, the court allocated different prison sentences ranging from 11 to 13 years, including heavy financial fines.

That of Mancho Bibixy, was however adjourned to May 8, 2018, for sentencing. The activists were all arrested in 2016 and 2017 at the early stage of the Anglophone crisis. The crisis has now metamorphosed into a full-blown armed conflict, with sporadic clashes between government soldiers and armed separatists.

World

Why is Bose interested in the leftovers of an unsuccessful travel app?

Speaker-maker Bose, just purchased Andrew Mason’s audio tour startup Detour. The acquisition, which involves only the software and tour content – not the team – was quietly announced on Detour’s blog a few days ago.

Mason and the Detour team had been working on a new company called Descript for like six months now. Descript aims to make editing sound files as easy as editing a Word document. It just launched last year in December with $5 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz. Given Mason’s new focus, it’s not surprising that Detour was shutting down. Plus, Detour was already performing very poorly in the app store. But it is a little surprising it found an acquirer.

Bose, initially, seems like an unlikely acquirer for an app designed to help people discover a city through narrated walking tours. But its interest in the product is linked to its upcoming AR platform, which involves audio experiences delivered through a pair of sensor-laden glasses. The app, at the time of sale, had around 120 available tours. Besides, one techie’s trash is another techie’s treasure, right?

Telemedicine startup, DoD raises $74 million to bring more patients into their digital doctor’s office

Doctor on Demand which provides telemedicine services to patients who are uncomfortable meeting a doctor in person recently raised $74 million. This new cash comes in as the San Francisco-based startup seeks to gulp the telemedicine industry projected to be worth $64 billion by 2022.

The company aims to use this new funding to continue its rapid expansion in the U.S. and abroad. It brings the company’s total financing to $160 million.

Global healthcare’s got a fever. And the best prescription is more investment in on-demand medicine. At least, that’s what Goldman Sachs, Shasta Ventures, Tenaya Capital and some other big checkbooks who all threw money into DoD’s coffers, seem to think. By offering inexpensive, on-demand healthcare services 24/7, DoD hopes to win over millions of skeptics.

North & South Korean Leaders in historic meeting

North Korean strongman, Kim Jong-un and the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, have come face to face at the inter-Korean meeting in the demilitarized zone. This was their first-time meeting in which they agreed to end the Korean war, 65 years after the armistice. At Kim’s beckoning, President Moon briefly stepped over into the Northside, in a highly symbolic moment.

How sustainable is this meeting and declaration? In a reactionary tweet to the meeting, U. S President Donald Trump described the historic even as a good sign. He, however, stated that only time shall tell.

Silicon Times

 

Events                                        

Jobs

  • Danish Refugee Council needs the service of a Logistics Assistant – National Contract in Attika –Greece. Closing date: May 9, 2018.
  • Work as Project Manager officer at INTERSOS Cameroon. Deadline: May 9, 2018.
  • International Fertilizer Development Center is in need of a Fertility Expert in Ghana and Kenya. Closing date: May 2, 2018.
  • Apply as a Legal Assistant at Watan Syria in Izmir- Turkey. Closing date: May 3, 2018.
  • Welthungerhilfe is in need of an Engineering Expert in Bangui- Central Africa. Deadline: May 6, 2018.
  • International Rescue Committee needs the service of a Protection and Rule of Law Coordinator. Cameroon. Closing date: May 15, 2018.

Opportunities

Featured Articles

JuvCom Launches Maiden Edition of the Cameroon Youth Assembly

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JuvCom Launches First Edition of the Cameroon Youth Assembly

The youth-focused, Buea-based organization JuvCom, has announced the launch of the first edition of the Cameroon Youth Assembly (CYA). Scheduled to take place on May 12, 2018, at Mountain Hotel Buea, this event will launch under the theme: “Transforming Innovative Vision into Action for a Sustainable Cameroon.”

Young entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators will converge in Buea to strategize new and better ways of making Cameroon more sustainable.

From diverse occupational backgrounds, this event will expose these youngsters to private sector businesses, thus linking them to potential sponsors.

The Cameroon Youth Assembly (CYA) and its launch

Endorsed by the Youth Assembly at the United Nations, the CYA serves as a platform for dialogue and partnership between youths, the private sector, the civil society and the government. It empowers youths with the necessary tools, opportunities, and experiences aimed at achieving a peaceful and sustainable society.

It is also a gathering of young leaders, social entrepreneurs, innovators, community builders and promoters. Their aim; to promote sustainable development in Cameroon and beyond.

According to Nghateng Donald, founder of the Cameroon Youth Assembly, this maiden edition “will feature the launch of the Cameroon Innovative Incubator Project Award wherein, the best projects for community development will be awarded the sum of FCFA 50.000 each. The event will also feature the launch of the African Artistic Festival.”

Other activities during the event will include lightning talks from topnotch entrepreneurs in and around the Silicon Mountain community.  There will also be exhibition stands from other businesses displaying and educating the public on the myriad of services and products they offer as well as an evening festival.

The organizers, therefore, urge interested entrepreneurs to register their projects on Eventbrite. Thus, they will stand a chance of winning FCFA 50.000 at the end of the challenge.

Follow this link to register as a participant and this link to register your project.

Nigerians in the Diaspora & the Home Remittances Market

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nigerians in the diaspora

Nigerians in the Diaspora have broken Africa’s record of remittance injection. The World Bank revealed that Nigerians abroad wired over $22 billion back home in 2017. This inflow is the largest remittance by immigrants and an African record.

Nigerians break record on remittances

In the same year, officially recorded remittances to low and middle-income countries reached $466 billion, an increase of 8.5% over $429 billion in 2016, the bank disclosed.

In 2018, the amount of remittances is also expected to increase by At least 4%.

World Bank’s Reaction to Nigerians in the Diaspora

Nigerians in the diaspora contribute to nigeria's remittance market

World Bank

Consequently, the World Bank has launched a global call to Nigerians in particular to take steps to simplify the fund wiring process in order to reduce cost.

However, rumours have it that the World Bank could just be peeking on Nigerians in Diaspora. This is because Nigeria is not the only country to record a drastic increase in remittance in 2017.

Nigerians in the diaspora contribute to nigeria's remittance market

Reports from reliable sources hold that, the top recipients of these remittances were India with $69 billion, followed by China with $64 billion, the Philippines with $33 billion and Mexico with $31 billion. Nigeria and Egypt followed afterwards.

On a region-by-region basis, Europe and Central Asia recorded the biggest growth in 2017 with Sub-Saharan Africa rising by 11%.

East Asia and the Pacific equally registered the biggest inflow of remittances which took in $130 billion. South Asia took in $117 billion and Latin America recorded remittances of only $80 billion.

Nigerians in the diaspora & the home remittance market

World Bank reports that the stronger than expected recovery in remittances is as a result of growth in Europe, Russia and the United States.

Dilip Ratha, lead author of the report stated that, “while remittances are growing, countries, institutions, and development agencies must continue to chip away at high costs of remitting so that families receive more of the money.”

 In the first quarter of 2018, the global average cost of sending $200 was 7.1%.  

Remarkably, sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive place to send money to, where

the average cost is 9.4%.

The World Bank calls on countries to take steps to simplify the process to reduce the costs. This including, “introducing more efficient technology”.

The increase in remittances by Nigerians abroad, therefore indicates they will play a leading role in supporting Nigeria’s economy in future.

 

Taxing Blogging in Africa: A new Challenge for Ugandan and Tanzanian Bloggers

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Taxing Blogging in Africa: A new Challenge for Ugandan and Tanzanian Bloggers.

Blogging has been popular in Africa for more than a decade, enabling writers and independent journalists to report news, express views and analyze situations that might not otherwise appear in mainstream media. But as of last month, this type of jobbing will come with a price tag in Tanzania and Uganda.

With the aim of regulating online activities and generating government revenue, the President of Tanzania, John Magufuli, issued a decree instituting yearly charges for all blogging activities. Uganda is also following the trend. No one knows which Africa country will follow next.

Internet taxing in Tanzania and Uganda

Recently, Tanzania’s President issued the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations. These regulations demand that bloggers pay over USD 930 per year as registration fee for online publishing.

Taxing Blogging in Africa: A new Challenge for Ugandan and Tanzanian Bloggers.

The new regulations, apart from the financial obligation, has far-reaching implications on the human rights of freedom of expression. Bloggers are expected to fill out official regulatory forms and avoid publishing prohibited content. These include among others, nudity, hate speech, explicit sex acts, extreme violence and fake news.

A similar scenario is playing out in Uganda.

Taxing Blogging in Africa: A new Challenge for Ugandan and Tanzanian Bloggers.

Starting from July 2018, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, wants to institute a social media tax. This will include a daily price of 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.05) to mobile phone subscribers using social media services including Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc.

Apart from his intention of raising billions of shillings in government revenue, the tax is also aimed at curbing online gossiping.  

“We’re looking for money to maintain the security of the country and extend electricity so that you people can enjoy more of social media, more often, more frequently,” Uganda’s Financial Minister Matia Kasaija told Reuters.

After taxing blogging in Africa: What fate for African bloggers?

Despite the challenges Africans have getting online, blogging on the continent has enjoyed explosive growth, helping to shape a positive African narrative in recent years.  

Over the years, the internet has been a source of job creation for so many Africans and beyond. It has also become a reliable source of income for many startups.

The idea of taxing bloggers might be plausible, considering the needs to generate more government revenues.

However, it becomes problematic when such taxing is discriminating and un-proportionate. For example, instituting a uniform tax of USD 930 as yearly blogging charges in Tanzania is un-proportionate and discriminating.

Why’s that?

Because income generated by different bloggers are never the same. And most certainly, will never be.   

There are possibilities of more African leaders embracing this new trend of taxing blogging in their various countries. This might sound good as a revenue generating strategy. But its un-proportionality makes it appear more of an internet regulation strategy.

If such regulations spread across Africa, there are high probabilities of young African startups folding up and rendering young Africans unemployed.

 

Makonjo Media on a Mission To Promote Digital Evangelism In Africa

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Makonjo Media Wraps up 4 days Web Development Training for Evangelism

Makonjo Media, just concluded a 4-day training on web development for Christians and Muslims across Cameroon.

Digital evangelism and discipleship in Africa are growing in significance. Over the years, this growth has continued with one mission – to evangelize. Yet, many religious bodies still lack the necessary skills and technology to realize this mission.

In line with its mission to create a truly digital Africa, Makonjo Media launched a free-to-attend training program earlier in April, 2018 to help forge these skills by using the right technology to deliver the right results.

The workshop which had as theme, Web Development for Evangelism, began on April 18, closed its doors on April 21, 2018, with over 20 representatives from churches and mosques going home with the necessary skills needed to build websites for evangelical purposes.

It was therefore, Makonjo’s way of giving back to a community that has played a significant role in its rapid growth. There was no better way to help than to expose churches and mosques to the many advantages of digital evangelism, which have proven to be quite successful in recent years.

Makonjo Media teaches Christians and Muslims how to build websites for evangelism

According to the Managing Director of Makonjo Media, Otto Akama, the company will continue to work with interested participants. And in order to support the community, the Silicon Mountain-based firm will subsequently, organize programs to encourage talent and skill development.

What does this mean to Makonjo Media?

Impacting one’s community positively might sound like a good idea to many but to Makonjo, it is a lifestyle. The training therefore provided Makonjo Media an opportunity to impact her host community with skills on what she does best – Web development.

Makonjo Media on a Mission to Promote Digital Evangelism in Africa

Tanue Eugen-Bleck, Makonjo Media’s Software Engineer

During the training, Makonjo ICT experts, Tanue Eugen-Bleck and Tabi Idris, took delight in expatiating on helpful tools including:

  • WordPress as a tool for Web Design
  • How to plan a church or mosque website
  • Practical lessons on creating pages
  • Feature events, announcements, and sermons on their pages, etc.   

Being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, many representatives of Christian and Muslim communities thronged the Makonjo Media premises.

Makonjo Media teaches Christians and Muslims how to build websites for evangelism

With smiles engraved on the faces of the participants while leaving the Makonjo premises, the workshop’s impact was overwhelming.

“It was an awesome experience. Now, I can create a website that will enable me to evangelize to other youths online,” Giles Ndondi, a Christian from Full Gospel Bomaka said.

In appreciation, Yusuf Mohammed a Muslim faithful expressed his utmost gratitude on behalf of the entire Muslim community.

“Thanks to Makonjo Media, I believe I am armed with what it takes to build a platform online and evangelize to other youths to join the Muslim community. I have not only discovered WordPress but equally, how easy it is to create a website,” he said.

A mutually beneficial opportunity

Notwithstanding, the participants and the staff of Makonjo shared a mutual feeling.

“I’m happy with the output of the workshop. It was a privilege to see this number of participants being able to build websites though not from scratch,” Tabi Idris said.

Makonjo Media on a Mission to Promote Digital Evangelism in Africa

Tabi Idris, Makonjo Media’s Software Engineer

Otto Akama in an interview revealed that the company “organized this workshop as an act of corporate social responsibility. We believe we have a duty to contribute to the community.”

According to him, the lent period which characterized the early months of 2018, was remarkable to Makonjo.

No one organizes an event without objectives. Otto Akama, therefore, had just one – that the skills he has amassed over the years will not only help Christians and Muslims build websites but equally, help them fulfill their evangelistic missions much easier.

As Makonjo Media’s boss revealed, over 80% of the participants were able to set up and run simple WordPress applications.

“We believe the seed has been planted,” Otto said with a broad and contagious smile.

About Makonjo

Makonjo Media, is a software development and marketing technology company in the Silicon
Mountain. It special focus therefore, is on supporting Africans in the Diaspora to build technology companies back home in Africa.

 

Governments’ Social Media Regulation in Africa: How Possible?

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Social Media Regulation has become a song on the lips of most African leaders.

Recently, some African leaders, have been threatening to regulate the use of social media, especially Facebook in their respective countries. While some have tried to institute laws governing its use, some are considering the introduction of social media taxes as a regulatory tool.

 

Five years ago, when the Social Media Week launched in Lagos, it was the first of its kind in Africa on that scale. At the time, social media seemed mostly a fun and useful marketing and communications platform. Social media is undoubtedly a lot of fun and many brands have established themselves with it, including personal brands.

However, the narratives on the social media platforms have given most African countries reasons to contemplate whether to regulate it or not. Some of these countries include, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Tanzania ,etc.

The government of South Africa, for instance, is currently contemplating the regulation of social media to halt the spread of misinformation. Going by recent events, one can take misinformation to mean “information that the government does not agree with.” Officials in the federal government have said that the spread of ‘fake news’ and scam on social media is a growing problem and they see regulation as one way to curb that.

Social Media and it’s Importance in Africa.

Five years ago, it would have been a bit difficult to anticipate the importance of social media in Africa as a communication tool. With platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Viber and most recently WeChat, its importance can no longer be overemphasized.

For some Africans, the newsgroups within Facebook and WhatsApp have become a primary source of news and entertainment. But in countries where the press has been weakened or compromised, having social media outlets to share news has been more important than ever. Local newspapers do great work across the continent but they also need social media to reach as many readers as possible, particularly younger ones. TV news is also still very relevant but there are fewer. Traditional TV news isn’t reaching everyone.

Meanwhile, the mobile phone already has a higher penetration and smartphones use has been more than doubled since 2014. YouTube has been a source of great entertainment but it also makes it easier to share important videos.

The Increasing Use of Social Media

According to global digital agencies, Africa has seen the fastest growth rates in internet penetration. The number of Internet users across the continent has increased by more than 20%, compared to 2017. The global annual digital report shows that over half of the world’s population is now online. The latest data reveals that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017.

Social media users in Africa are up by more than 20%, mail increased by almost 6 times since last year January. More than 3 billion people around the world now use social media each month, with 9 in 10 of those users accessing their chosen platforms via mobile devices. Furthermore, most people, see the social media sites as a place where they can get news

Social media as a political tool and the burden of its regulation

Social media has connected people in a way never before. But what does it mean for governments, citizens and the exercise of democracy? The social media has served a way for many politicians to proclaim their policies and influence the political climate. It presents novel challenges to strategic policy and has become a managerial issue for many governments.

It also offers a free platform for public participation in government affairs. Many argue that the rise of social media technologies can give citizens and observers a better opportunity to identify pitfalls of government and their politics. As governments embrace the role of social media influence, negative or positive feedback on the success of their project, they are also using this tool to their advantage by spreading fabricated news.

Most African politicians have successfully used social media as a tool for political electioneering. It is the same politicians who are presently calling for its regulation. Some are not doing so with the intention of instilling sanity in online content, but to stifle the voices of opposition citizens. It is like trying to destroy a bridge which they crossed to get to power.     

How possible it is to successfully regulate social media in Africa?

In order to successfully regulate the social media, some African countries have considered following the lead of South Africa. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa  set up a committee to look into regulating over-the-top (OTTs) in the country. They said OTT services stimulated demand for network access. But made no direct contribution to infrastructural development.

However, they pointed out that regulation that apply to OTT services would be very difficult to enforce. This has prompted an observation on the evolution of the social market before passing any laws. Maybe other countries should also follow the path of South Africa. African governments cannot expect the citizenry to stop using these services just because views expressed do not align with those of the leaderships.

While there are valid reasons for the call for social media regulation, the implementation and enforcement of such regulations could be prohibitively expensive and problematic. Individuals need to play their part by being proactive and reporting/flagging fake news. Regulating might seem to be a good idea but it might take away the very essence of social media.

 

The Hustler’s Digest – IMF Boss Endorses Cryptocurrency

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The Hustler's Digest - IMF Boss Endorses Cryptocurrency

Today’s Quote

“If privately issued crypto-assets remain risky and unstable, there may be demand for central banks to provide digital forms of money.”

Christine Lagarde

Africa

Ghana’s Agrocenta raises $500,000 from Seedstars

The grand finale of Seedstars World’s early-stage competition took place on April 12, with 21 African startups among 65 finalists competing in Switzerland. A shortlist of 12 startups went head-to-head in the live final pitching face-off with four African startups chosen to take to the stage. Ghana’s online sales platform for smallholder farmers AgroCenta, was named the global winner of the contest, as it took home $500,000 investment from Seedstars World.

Agrocenta is an online platform that connects smallholder farmers to a wider online market to trade, access truck delivery services at the click of a button and also get real-time market information delivered to their mobile phones via SMS and voice services. Founded in 2013, Seedstars World is the global startup competition aiming at impacting people’s lives in emerging markets.

9mobile sales on halt!

Earlier on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Federal High Court in the Abuja Division said, ‘wait’ with 9mobile’s sale. Some aggrieved shareholders of 9mobile took the major stakeholders of the company to court. According to Vanguard, their plight was that they were left out of the telecommunications company’s decision-making process. 

The plaintiffs — Afdin Ventures Limited and Dirbia Nigeria Limited — claimed to be major stakeholders of the company and asked for a refund of $43,330,950, being the amount they invested in the telco.

However, Justice Binta Nyako, who presided over the case, ordered that every party involved should maintain status quo pending the outcome of the case which was adjourned until May 14, 2018.

Tek Experts officially launches in Nigeria

The global IT support company officially opened operations in Nigeria on Thursday, April 18, 2018. The firm provides business and IT support solutions for companies across the world and provides the services of a uniquely passionate and expert workforce that take intense pride in helping companies manage their business-critical operations. Their services include Software Support, Training and Education, Customer Success, Sales Support and Application Development.

A first of its kind in Nigeria, Tek Experts, in partnership with Microsoft, has set up a world class customer service and support center in Nigeria. The arrival of Tek Experts in Nigeria brings with it hundreds of jobs for the teeming number of unemployed citizens. So far, 300 employees are currently undergoing the best-in-class training. Tek Experts plans to additionally employ hundreds more to help develop infrastructure that will provide exceptional services to its clients.

After Lagos launch, Kenya’s mSurvey raises $3.5 million in funding

Kenyan mobile-first consumer feedback company, mSurvey, recently raised $3.5 million in a Series A round. The firm secured this funding in an investment round led by the Africa-focused VC firm, TLcom Capital. This funding will supposedly enable the company to continue building out its infrastructure and partnerships, in order to scale and expand across Africa. Just recently, mSurvey launched an office in Lagos, Nigeria

Commenting on the announcement, Kenfield Griffith, mSurvey co-founder and CEO says, “Completing our Series A round allows us to tackle this difficult, yet enormous opportunity that exists in connecting African consumers with businesses to develop trust, and ensuring that millions more two-way conversations can take place each year.” 

Nigerian Youths go wild on Social Media, over President Buhari’s London comments

Nigerian youths, on Wednesday, fired Social Media tirades at President Mohammadou Buhari. They accused him of describing the majority of them as lazy citizens who want the government to give them everything for free. Using the #lazyNigerians, Nigerians on Social Media, described his comment as derogatory. Reckless. And non-reflective of a president who aims to attract foreign investors in his country. They promised to get back to him in the upcoming 2019 presidential elections.

President Buhari was answering questions on a keynote address he made on; Making Business Easier in the country. In an instance where he had to speak about Nigeian youths, he said;

“We have a very young population; our population is estimated conservatively to be 180 million. More than 60 percent of the population is below the age of 30. A lot of them have not been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria has been an oil producing country, therefore they should sit and do nothing and get housing, healthcare, and education free.”

Cameroon

Cameroonians are gradually getting into UBA’s good book

Every good thing comes with hard work, and every hard work comes with a reward. Martin Che, erstwhile Managing Director of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Congo, is now the Regional Managing Director within CEMAC. Che has served the bank as a hardworking Cameroonian for many years. His new appointment has given him a responsibility to oversee the bank’s business operations in Cameroon, Congo, Brazzaville, Gabon and Chad.

Nevertheless, he wasn’t the only Cameroonian that was appointed. Vincent Ngimbock is now the new Managing Director of UBA Congo. Asu Ellis, Marcel Bitang and Dominique Mahend are now managing directors of UBA’s subsidiaries in Benin, DR Congo and Cameroon, respectively.  

A fresh round of fake news hits Douala International Airport

Earlier this week, news broke out about the urgent closure of the Douala International Airport that melted the hearts of most travelers. As it turns out, however, this was just another round of the ‘fake news’ mantra that has, in the recent past, helped some political candidates to win elections. In the wake of this news, many have been asking tons of questions such as; do I really have to get to Yaoundé before boarding a plane?

The Director General of the Airports of Cameroon, however, indicated that the audit which is supposed to have led to the suspension of the airport, was to take place. According to the director, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) team’s audit mission in Cameroon only began on April 18, 2018 starting with the Nsimalen airport in Yaoundé. From the April 22 to 27, they will be at the Douala Airport.    

Cameroon’s President promises an opportunity to personally meet the Queen and discuss Anglophone crisis

Cameroon’s Prime Minister, Head of Government, Philemon Yang represented the President, Paul Biya, in the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit that held in London, the United Kingdom from April 18 to 20, 2018. The Commonwealth Summit held under the theme; “Towards our common future.”

President Paul Biya was expected to attend the meeting, considering the recent visits of two top Commonwealth officials in the country. Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the gentle man’s club, and Harriet Baldwine, Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office visited Cameroon on working visits. They discussed issues relating to the Anglophone crisis that has held the country hostage for almost two years now. The Commonwealth summit was, therefore, an opportunity for the President to meet and discuss the crisis with the Queen.

World

IMF boss, Christine Lagarde endorses cryptocurrency

In what seems unexpected, IMF’s Managing Director Christine Lagarde, has underscored the importance of crypto-assets. In fact, she claims cryptos can transform how we save and invest. Lagarde affirms that cryptocurrency could help financial markets function more efficiently. However, trust is still a major challenge as governments across the world are distancing themselves from crypto-assets.

“An important initial step will be to reach a consensus within the global regulatory community on the role crypto-assets should play,” Lagarde wrote. Despite the recent crackdown on cryptos, businesses are still adding it as a payment option. Lagarde’s stance might change the way governments across the globe see digital currencies.

Basis, a year-old crypto startup just raised $133 million to launch stable version of bitcoin

Last year in New Jersey, Nader Al-Naji and two other Princeton graduates launched a cryptocurrency startup, Basis. Their goal was to stabilize cryptocurrency. Until recently, the 1-year-old startup announced a $133 million round of funding from monolithic VCs including, Bain Capital, GV, Lightspeed, and Andreessen Horowitz. The value of popular tokens like bitcoin and etherium, fluctuate wildly from day to day. But according to a Basis spokesperson, “A currency needs to be stable for people to really use it.”

According to Nader Al-Naji, co-founder and CEO of Basis, unlike bitcoin which relies on a fixed supply of coins that are mined, the supply of basecoin (formerly known as Basis) is “determined algorithmically.” The idea is to keep the value of one basecoin as close to $1 as possible, by issuing additional Basecoin when prices spike. However, systems like Basis will require a huge amount of initial capital to build a sustainable ecosystem of users. 

World War II bomb successfully defused in Germany

A bomb disposal unit of the German Police successfully defused an unexploded World War II bomb in Berlin, on Friday 20, 2018, after its discovery disrupted activities in the city. The 500kg (1100 pounds) explosive was found during a construction project near the city’s central train station.

The Police have since called on the people to return to their homes. The police had taken precautionary measures by evacuating all residents inside the 800-meter radius of the bomb discovery site. In September, 2017, a similar incident occurred when a 1,400-kilogram bomb was discovered in Frankfurt, displacing about 60,000 people.

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Google’s New App to Bypass Slow Internet Speed in Africa

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Google has released Africa’s anti-slow Internet speed app, Google Go that will supercharge Africa’s Internet speed.

Internet speeds across Africa are still far below the global minimum standard. Feeble data connectivity, high data costs, and low storage space often make it hard for Africans to enjoy online benefits. Google, however, has released Google Go to fix just that. This app will help Internet users overcome obstacles including the lack of high-speed connectivity and high data cost in Africa.

The U.S search giant’s release of Google Go is its latest crusade in expanding its reach into emerging markets like sub-Saharan Africa, where Facebook is also negotiating inroads.

Google Go, already available in 26 sub-Saharan African countries, will operate on Android devices with low storage. The app will also have the ability to load on slow and unstable connections including 2G networks.

Taking into account Google’s futuristic plan of using voice search, the app will allow users to search using voice recognition instead of typing.

A pan-African partnership for Google Go

To achieve this ambitious goal, Google will partner with pan-African wireless carriers like the MTN Group and Vodacom Group to preload the app on some of their low-end devices, to start with.

The new app promises to reduce the amount of data needed to display search results by 40%. It will also allow users to access their previous online searches offline.

Over the last few months, Google has continuously released lightweight operating “Go” systems of its popular apps for less capable phones including Gmail and Google Assistant. Last year, it launched YouTube Go in Nigeria, an “offline first” version of the video sharing platform. This system allows users to preview and download videos rather than stream, and essentially, save on data costs.

For years, the scarcity of adequate data centers has undermined content delivery in Africa. This is particularly true with websites loading from servers placed thousands of miles away in Europe or the United States. Internet speeds are bound to be sluggish.

Google Launches Google Go in Africa

Africa’s Internet penetration rate is far below the global average

The scramble for Africa

U.S. tech behemoths see Africa as a relatively untapped market for smartphones. However, mobile telephony remains a game-changer for sub-Saharan Africa. The GSM Association projects the number of unique mobile subscribers in the region to reach 535 million by 2020, up from 420 million in 2016 – a subscriber base that is growing faster than any other region globally.

While the continent’s internet bandwidth capacity is fast-growing, mobile broadband connections are set to reach half a billion by 2020. This positions mobile broadband as the driving force behind innovation on the continent.

Over the years, more U.S tech companies have launched no-cost apps to ease internet access across the continent. Advocates, however, believe this connectivity has a hidden cost attached to it. This is especially problematic in a region where local regulations might not be as effective to protect consumer data from commercial interests.

Google’s entry into the African marketplace is, however, not the first as it competes with Facebook and Alibaba, who are already scouting for investment opportunities in Africa.

The reality of slow internet speeds is crucial in several African countries with fledgling tech hubs and ecosystems. Startup founders often cite slow internet speed as a major limitation in Lagos, home to a $2 billion tech ecosystem. Beyond tech startups, regular Africans also find difficulty to plug into the digital economy.

While high data cost and low storage space rank high among the reasons why internet connectivity is extremely slow in Africa, some African governments have intentionally reduced internet bandwidth. All, in an attempt to silence political uprisings which have otherwise, proven futile.

 

Could the Ecobank-MTN Mobile Money Partnership Be another MTN Jackpot?

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Ecobannk-MTN Mobile Money Partnership

 On April 11, 2018 the Nigerian banking group Ecobank and the South African MTN telecommunications giant signed a partnership. Their aim was to increase financial inclusion in Africa and provide banking to Africa’s unbanked population through mobile money.

According to a  close source, they aim to do this by offering mobile money and digital banking to their  users. This includes “leveraging each other’s assets that will ultimately offer more value to their respective customers across the continent.” They equally said in a statement:

“The use of network will enable the link between MTN’s large subscriber base and Ecobank’s trail-blazing digital banking products to provide instant bank accounts and remittances through Africa’s largest bank”. 

Furtheremore, they  aim to leverage their assets to “digitise international remittance and foster product innovation in the field of mobile saving and lending. As well as offer digital payment solutions to consumers, merchants and corporates”.

Rumours have it that the partnership could just be one of MTN’s many strategies to extort money from its customers. In reaction ,  Ecobank’s Group CEO withsays the rumours and states that the partnership is for the benefit of their customers in  Africa.

Ecobank's Group CEO, Ade Ayemi speaks about Mobile Money partnership.

Ecobank’s Group CEO, Ade Ayemi speaks about Mobile Money partnership.

Benefits of the Mobile Money Partnership

This also allows them – Ecobank and MTN Mobile Money customers to transfer money between mobile money wallets and bank accounts.

Furthermore, Africa will need to digitize financial services to rapidly scale up client acquisition and patronage. As such, MTN and Ecobank are taking the big step today  at this grand event to support this agenda. 

Therefore, MTN Mobile Money customers will transfer money between mobile money portfolios and bank accounts. The new partnership will allow, among other things, to digitize international remittances.

It will equally encourage product innovation in the field of mobile savings and credit. As well as offer digital payment solutions to consumers, merchants and businesses.