Top Ten Tech Roundup – African Edition #1

If you’re reading this, it’s the debut issue of Top 10 Tech roundups in Africa. We understand it’s hard to keep up with everything happening in a post Buhari/Ramaphosa Africa, so every week, Sundays to be precise on morebranches, I’ll be curating a roundup of the hottest happenings in Africa’s technology ecosystem.

1. MTN NIGERIA.

On May 16, MTN Nigeria, the largest telecoms player in the region listed its shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It wasn’t an IPO though, MTNN opted for a listing by introduction – the company converted some of its privately-held shares and made them available to NSE. Although  MTNN isn’t raising new money, we’re convinced they need public money to actualize their expansion and penetration plans. According to Stears Business, “MTNN’s entrance gives the NSE more legitimacy; it reduces Dangote Cement’s influence (previously 30% of the market) and gives more impetus to the NSE Premium Board, the exclusive club of the top-tier companies that MTN has been admitted into. But will this break the dam and encourage other large corporates to list? Unlikely.”

2. UBER SPEEDS

Uber has launched a new feature called ‘Speeds’ in its Nairobi, USA and U.K. markets. The new feature is part of Uber’s Movement Project built to provide historical aggregated speed data along street segments for select metropolitan area and assist city planners to understand how people move and help them address pressing urban transportation challenges.

3. PITCHDRIVE II

Co-Creation Hub in partnership with Google for Startups have announced PitchDrive II, an initiative that will engage 10 of Africa’s top hardware and deeptech based startups on a tour of exciting tech cities in Asia. The focus of PitchDrive II is to facilitate Africa-Asia collaborations to strengthen deep technology companies in Africa by creating a platform for startups to take learnings from the Asian technology market and apply them locally to improve their businesses, discover and engage suppliers/manufacturers and explore funding opportunities. From Kigali (Rwanda), the tour spans through Singapore, Shenzhen, Hong Kong (China), Seoul (South Korea) and Tokyo (Japan).

4. G-MEDIC BY GOKADA

Gokada, a fast growing Motorcycle taxi-hailing company in Nigeria, has launched a rapid response service, G-Medic. The service will provide first aid treatment to accident victims before they are transferred to health care centers for full medical attention. Rapid response in Lagos in the event of an accident is still problematic especially with the almost constant gridlock traffic situation around the state. The company says it now completes about 5,000 rides in Lagos daily. 

5. OH DAMN! IT’S JUMIA AGAIN

Still on shares and ‘africanness’, a class action lawsuit has been filed by American Attorneys Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP against JUMIA on behalf of purchasers of Jumia Technologies AG (NYSE:JMIA) shares as listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) between 12 April 2019 and 9 May 2019. The class action revolves around some of the allegations raised in the Citron Research report where Andrew Left stated that JUMIA had failed to state in their F-1 filing that they had order returns of 41% and had overstated the number of their customers. The company further stated, during the earnings call, that they would not issue a written statement or rebuttal to the Citron report simply saying that they did not want to fuel the biased, unverified claims aimed at “damaging JUMIA.”

6. LIKE BITCOIN, BUT FOR SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) is looking to develop a central bank digital rand for the country. The central bank has issued a document calling on prospective solution providers to contact the body in relation to a feasibility study it launched in 2016. The study will seek to validate technical solutions with the development of the digital currency and also highlight participation channels with other financial industry players. According to SARB, the conclusion of the feasibility project will either result in the launch of a digital currency issued by the bank itself at one-to-one parity with the rand or enable it provide regulatory frameworks around the central digital currency.

7. MAKE TWITTER GREAT AGAIN

Twitter executives are working on an overhaul of the platform in an attempt to improve civility, but the open nature of Twitter may make such retroactive changes near impossibleCEO Jack Dorsey has talked a lot recently about wanting to “increase the health of public conversation” and reduce the level of toxicity on the platform. BuzzFeed sat in on some of the internal discussions happening at the company, particularly concerning how the beta-testing app twttr is being used to try out new ways of making conversations more cogent, and less reactionary. Hiding likes and better organization of replies will only take the platform so far, and Dorsey himself has admitted that “Twitter tends to incentivize outrage, fast takes, short term thinking, echo chambers, and fragmented conversation and consideration.” In other words, Twitter is hoping to change people’s behavior, which seems ambitious to say the least, says BuzzFeed. 

8. EBRIMA FATTY’s AFRICASOKONI

Kenyan e-commerce marketplace AfricaSokoni has so far banked US$995,000 in total funding as it plans expansion both within and outside Africa. AfricaSokoni raised US$150,000 in pre-seed funding, and has had a seed round open since last year that has so far banked US$845,000 more. It hopes to increase this figure to US$1.5 million by the time the round ends in June.

PLEASE DON’T BREAK US! – FACEBOOK

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg went on CNBC today to push back on talk about breaking up the company. Sandberg said she’s all for government regulation of tech companies generally, but breaking up Facebook won’t “address the underlying issues people are concerned about.” She says that Facebook is actively working to earn back the public’s trust on the privacy front, but this won’t be impacted by spinning off WhatsApp and Instagram. Also, she says, “While people are concerned with the size and power of tech companies, there’s also a concern in the United States with the size and power of Chinese companies, and the realization that those companies are not going to be broken up.” – CNBC

10. ENDEAVOR AFRICA

11 African entrepreneurs have been selected to join the global Endeavor network, gaining access to various support services to help them scale their businesses. Endeavor works to catalyse long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs worldwide. It supports entrepreneurs that have passed through the initial startup phase and demonstrate the potential for rapid expansion and scale. The entrepreneurs include four from Egypt, Ameer Sherif, the founder of jobs companies WUZZUF and Forasna, Marwan Kenawy, Momtaz Moussa and Ayman Essawy, the co-founders of loyalty solutions developer Dsquares. Nigeria is also represented by Flutterwave CEO Olugbenga Agboola and HealthPlus’ Bukky George, and Moses Babatope and Kene Okwuosa of the FilmHouse and FilmOne Group. Others include Zineb Drissi-Kaitouni (Morocco) who founded e-health platform DabaDoc, along with Ramla Jarrar and Firas Jabloun, the co-founders of Tunisian marketing company MASS Analytics.

Top Ten Tech Roundup is written and curated by Richard Ogundiya, Publisher at Morebranches. Richard has spent the past four years interacting with Nigeria’s burgeoning technology and media space. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @koredeogundiya.

Richard Ogundiya

Journalist & Techpreneur. Africa, communications and data.

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