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#21: September's African Tech Roundup.
Summary of September's tech news, trends and country specific startup news.
👋🏾 Hello, my peopleee!
I hope you're all doing well! It's that time of the month again, where I get to spill all the tea about what's been bubbling in the African tech scene.
We've had quite the month as an ecosystem, and I've gathered all the noteworthy highlights for you. It's a little lengthy, but trust me, it's worth every minute. So, let's dive straight in.
Interesting Product Finds:
So, you know the eternal struggle of finding parking in bustling cities like Lagos, right? Well, I stumbled upon Parkwell, and it seems like a handy solution to that headache. They’re working to help people find affordable and available parking spots.
What caught my attention is that you can even list your own space—maybe even your front yard—as a potential parking spot for others. Sounds like an easy way to earn some extra cash, which we Nigerians always appreciate. I'm genuinely curious to see how this pans out.
If you're into eating better and need a little help with meal planning, Pocketfood is worth a look.
It's an online platform that offers healthy meal subscriptions. What's intriguing here is that they don't just give you a menu; they tailor your meal plans to your specific diet.
A side note, and one worth pondering: I've been noticing a surge in foodtech startups lately, and it's reminding me of how this trend played out in other ecosystems. Foodtech can be a challenging space, both financially and competitively, so I'm curious to see how it evolves in our ecosystem.
Key Moves in the Market: Acquisitions & Expansions:
Chaka, an investment fintech, was acquired by Risevest, marking a strategic merger in the fintech sector.
Btrust, co-founded by Twitter's Jack Dorsey and Jay Z, acquired African Bitcoin talent trainer, Qala. A strategic move, given Qala's prior funding challenges.
Nigerian cloud firm, WhoGoHost, acquired integrated cloud-communication startup, SendChamp, enhancing its digital service offerings and marking a notable exit for SendChamp's founders.
Turaco, the insurtech star from Ghana, acquired MicroEnsure, expanding its footprint in the microinsurance domain.
Wasoko is spreading its wings further into Africa. After a recent foray into Zambia, the Kenyan B2B e-commerce startup now marks its presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In a cross-continent move, Asaak, a Ugandan fintech, acquired FlexClub, a Mexican mobility-tech startup, signalling its Latin American ambitions.
Moniepoint expands its fintech prowess to Kenya with the acquisition of Kopo Kopo.
Around Africa in one glance:
Keep an eye on these African Product & Startup News. More details in the related readings doc.
Mauritania: Taking strides towards innovation, they have announced a startup act to foster and elevate their entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Namibia: With foresight and ambition, Namibia is reinforcing its internet ecosystem, aiming to be a beacon of economic innovation.
Kenya: Recently, Kenya’s President sought partnerships in Silicon Valley, aiming to attract tech investors. The subsequent cleantech agreement with the US speaks volumes about Kenya’s ambition. It seems Kenya is actively sculpting a tech-forward future, perhaps inspired by the likes of Rwanda and Tunisia. The ongoing tech renaissance across Africa is a spectacle to behold.
Somalia: An initiative in Somalia is garnering attention – a coding bootcamp that prioritizes teaching in the native language. A commendable fusion of technology and cultural heritage.
Zimbabwe: Visionaries from the diaspora are working to establish a multi-billion dollar biotech city in the country.
Tanzania: Their economic landscape is witnessing exponential growth, with investments rising by an impressive 120% in merely a month. This growth is significantly propelled by a 37% upswing in tourism, drawing visitors predominantly from Europe and the US.
The fintech powerhouse, Piggyvest has disbursed an impressive ₦1.1 trillion ($1.42 billion) to its clientele since its 2016 debut. To me, this is pretty commendable for a company that raised just $1.1 million, last in 2018.
On a separate note, Nigerian-born startup, Mainstack, made waves by pitching at the coveted TechCrunch Disrupt Conference's Startup Battlefield.
On a mission to construct Africa's premier digital free zone, Itana recently raised $2 million in funding to support their efforts.
AltSchool, known for technical skill education, has expanded its offerings to include a Creative Economy program, supporting content creators and artists in acquiring new skills for career advancement. They've also introduced sales and digital marketing courses tailored to African contexts, addressing the unique needs of business professionals.
Musings on AI in Africa:
Lately, I've been musing about the remarkable developments in the world of AI, and its potential in Africa.
Bosun Tijani, Nigeria's Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, recently laid out an ambitious vision for Nigeria's tech landscape. Among the three pillars of this plan, "Positioning Nigeria as a Hub for AI Training" stands out.
It's a vision that hinges on tapping into the abundant talent within the nation, with the ultimate goal of making Nigeria a premier hub for AI model training. The potential outcomes? Job creation and the development of more inclusive AI datasets.
Yet, the excitement surrounding AI isn't confined to Nigeria's borders. A recent IBM study uncovered a fascinating trend among African CEOs. These leaders, spanning various industries, share an insatiable curiosity about how AI can elevate customer experiences, supercharge productivity, and boost overall business profitability.
Also recently, in my search for remarkable AI companies, I stumbled upon a true gem—FinanceGPT. This pioneering generative AI startup has a mission: to assist companies in their financial analysis endeavours. What truly sets them apart is their unwavering commitment to serving African startups. Even more astonishing is their AI models' proficiency in native African languages—a truly spectacular feat.
But the story doesn't end there. A captivating Google-sponsored conversation between two luminaries in the tech world, Strive Masiyiwa and James Manyika, succinctly encapsulates the fervour for AI in Africa. Notably, Google has joined the African AI movement, announcing an initiative aimed at investing in AI-first African startups.
The message is crystal clear: Africans are bullish on AI, and this presents a colossal opportunity for our continent to harness its exceptional talent and intellectual prowess to make a mark on the global stage.
Surge of Climate Tech Fund Announcements:
It's quite fascinating to see a significant influx of funding in the African Climate Tech space. This month alone, several funds have emerged, exclusively dedicated to supporting African Climate Tech startups. Among these announcements, two stand out:
The AFDB has made an impressive commitment, pledging to invest $1 billion in Climate Tech startups in the coming months.
Catalyst Fund has successfully raised $8.6 million to support African climate-tech startups.
We know that where there's funding, innovation often follows. I anticipate a notable surge in the number of climate-tech startups in the near future.
Some *interesting* ecosystem gist
You might have caught wind of the Patricia conundrum that's been setting the airwaves abuzz. To offer some context, this Nigerian crypto startup recently faced a daunting $2 million security breach. The aftermath? A series of measures that have left many eyebrows raised and customers vexed.
Patricia's move to introduce their stablecoin, Patricia Token (PTK), intended as a debt management tool post the hack, was met with scepticism. Matters took a more perplexing turn when Patricia suggested that reimbursements might hinge on company profitability, a move that many rightfully found absurd.
As the saga unfolds, with murmurs of Patricia seeking fundraising and the air thick with discontent from customers, all eyes remain fixed on their next move.
The PayDay Saga:
In the ever-evolving fintech sphere, PayDay's story has undoubtedly captured widespread attention. Just months after an impressive $3 million fundraising achievement, this Nigerian fintech is now charting a new trajectory—potentially selling the company. The central character in this intricate narrative is CEO and co-founder, Favour Ori.
It raised eyebrows when word spread of Favour's new venture, especially in the light of his recent controversies. The digital grapevine, including platforms like Twitter, was abuzz with recollections of Favour's questionable management practices at Wejapa, where allegations of manipulating and shortchanging software developers had once made headlines.
Additionally, PayDay's customer support had its own share of challenges. While teething issues are anticipated for startups, what stood out were the instances of unprofessionalism in their responses, which, not surprisingly, pointed back to Favour.
Digging deeper into the PayDay saga, revelations around Favour's remuneration were indeed startling. Despite having a full-time commitment at GitHub, Favour drew a hefty $15,000 monthly salary from PayDay, even though he hinted to his team that PayDay wasn't his main focus. The disparity here is glaring.
Furthermore, murmurs about Favour's leadership style painted a picture of a domineering and impetuous leader, often sidelining team input and making hasty decisions that weren't always in the best interest of the company.
For many who had observed the Wejapa episode and Favour's handling of it, the current situation wasn't entirely unforeseen. There were even some prescient voices in the past who had anticipated such a turn of events, and it's intriguing to see their predictions come to fruition.
On an unrelated note:
Here are four of my favourite reads and listens this week:
Alright, folks! We’ve come to the end of another newsletter issue.
I have to say, I had a great time putting it together. From the interesting tech news to the exciting happenings in our space, it's all part of the interesting journey we're on as an ecosystem.
I hope you found it as interesting as I did.
Your thoughts light up my day, so I'd love to hear them! Please drop them in the chat and let me know what you think of this issue or the topics covered.
Also, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions, or if you just want to connect — I'm always here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sending you early wishes for a joyful and promising new month ahead! 🥂
Yours in Product Discovery,
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