Week 03, 2023
Read time: 5 minutes
In this week’s edition of TC Weekender, the telcos take center stage. From MTN Ghana fighting a hefty fine from the government to MTN SA being embroiled in a three-way tussle in South Africa, to Africell acquiring a new momo license, the telcos are starting the year off hot, it seems.
Also, congratulations are in order for Kuda, as they’ve just acquired a shiny new banking license. For more stories from the tech industry around the world, dive into this week’s edition. Happy reading!
Pamela Tetteh Editor, TechCabal.
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Kuda receives banking license in Pakistan
On Friday, Pakistan issued licenses to five digital banks to operate in the country, and Nigeria-born Kuda was one of them. The license is Kuda’s first step towards becoming a full-fledged bank that provides all banking services without any need for Pakistanis to visit the bank branches physically.
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Tanzania backtracks on ride-hailing fees
Tanzanian ride-hailing drivers probably feel like they have laboured in vain. Almost nine months ago, in response to their protests, the Land and Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) set a 15% ceiling on the commissions deducted by ride-hailing services like Bolt and Uber. LATRA has now backtracked and adopted a 25% commission rate due to lobbying.
Tanzania slows down CBDC plans
In other news, Tanzania is slowing down on its Central Bank Digital currency (CBDC) adoption. Last year, it joined 19 African countries exploring CBDCs but will be taking a “phased, cautious and risk-based” approach.
Kenya to begin monitoring mobile money
You’re not the only one making New Year’s resolutions. Kenya’s government has set revenue goals for the year, and they are pretty high—Ksh3 trillion ($24.1 million). To achieve this, it has decided to link the Kenya Revenue Authority to mobile money services so that it can ensure everyone pays taxes, such as the 16% VAT on sales, and 20% excise duty on transactions.
Somalia redesigns its 1000 shillings
Can redesigning the currency restore the health of an economy? This week, the Central Bank of Somalia announced that it will be redesigning its 1,000 shilling notes to curb inflation. This news comes two months after Nigeria also announced the issuance of new banknotes for its ₦200, ₦500, and ₦1,000 notes.
Big tech continue big chops
Before Christmas, Amazon announced that it would fire 10,000 employees. It made fresh layoffs this week, affecting 8,000 more workers. Additionally, India’s GoMechanic fired 70% of its workers this week—more than 800 people, Microsoft and Google have also started to lay off employees, cutting 10,000 and 12,000 jobs, respectively.
The State of Tech in Africa Report
TechCabal Insights’ State of Tech report for Q3 2022 is still available for download.
The report entails analyses of data on acquisitions, expansions, and funding in Africa’s tech ecosystem. These insights are contexualised based on discussions with stakeholders in the ecosystem.
It presents easy-to-digest insight and data points based on evidence-based research that anyone from founders to investors will find useful.
The report is available for download here.
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Ghana slaps MTN with $773 million fine
A hefty fine—the kind that is usually thrown at big tech companies like TikTok and Facebook—has landed close to home. The Ghana Revenue Authority slammed MTN Ghana with a $773 million fine for outstanding tax obligations from 2014–2018. MTN is contesting the fine like it successfully did when the Nigerian government played the same hand in 2020.
Vodacom sues the SA police
MTN is embroiled in another controversy in South Africa—a lawsuit involving another telecommunications provider, Vodacom, and the South African Police (SAPs). The SAPs awarded MTN its cellular contract, ending its 20-year deal with Vodacom. Now, Vodacom is suing SAPs to nullify the cellular contract which pays MTN R20 million ($1.2 million) per month.
Africell gets MoMo licence in Angola
Mobile money (MoMo) isn’t slowing down, it seems. Africa-focused telecom services provider, Africell, has received a licence to operate its mobile money (MoMo) service, Afrimoney, in Angola. In fact, it received the license in October 2022 and is already in the middle of a six-month testing phase. It is scheduled to launch in April 2023.
Fincra obtains PSSP licence
Six months after issuing fintech startup Fincra an approval-in-principle, Nigeria’s central bank has awarded the fintech a PSSP license, enabling it to operate as a payment solutions service provider within the country.
Djibouti’s billion-dollar spaceport
Africa could be getting its first orbital spaceport, as Djibouti has signed a deal with Hong Kong Aerospace Technology to build one. So far, fourteen African countries have launched 52 satellites into space. The value of the continent’s space and satellite industry will continue to grow as it acquires more space infrastructure.
Starlink is coming to more African countries
Last year, Starlink received approval to launch in Nigeria and Mozambique. This week, the internet service provider also announced plans to set up in Kenya and 20 more African countries, which curiously does not include CEO Elon Musk’s birth country, South Africa
Apple’s new Macbooks
Apple has released new MacBook Pros and they have the longest battery life ever in a Mac—up to 22 hours. They are also more efficient than their predecessors and have updated custom technologies that significantly extend their capabilities. This is all thanks to the new Apple chips— the M2 Pro and M2 Max.
Who brought the money this week?
Carry1st, a South-African based gaming company, raised $27 million in an undisclosed round from Bitkraft Ventures and a16z.
Kenyan fintech company Kwara raised $3 million in seed funding from backers DOB Equity, Globivest, One Day Yes, Base Capital, and Mikko Salovaara.
AgroEknor, a Nigerian food and agricultural company, raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Aruwa Capital.
Ethiopia-based Pan-African talent marketplace Gebeya received an undisclosed amount in pre-Series A funding from Inclusion Japan.
TC Game: How many words can you form with the letters in “salary”?
Salary week is upon us. Celebrate in advance by playing this simple game.
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What else to read this weekend?
Two years on, Kenyan court pauses resumption of M-Pesa charges.
Digital shake-up: Kenyan banks take on an African mobile money behemoth.
How DER became a one-stop shop for startups in Senegal.
Google’s Nigeria Election Hub cannot protect voters, but these five tools might.
Africa needs to ditch survivalist entrepreneurship.
Africa’s response in the age of digital mercantilism.
Kennedy Ng’ang’a’s blockchain of trust for Kenya’s smallholder farmers.
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Written by: Ngozi Chukwu
Edited by: Pamela Tetteh
18, Nnobi Street, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria
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