TechCabal daily: Don’t shoot the messenger

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Good morning. It’s Thursday. There’s a lot to get through today – most of it, about Uber.

1Shuffled off this mortal coil. An Uber driver in Lagos named Emmanuel Innevosa was murdered on Sunday night, and his vehicle, stolen. Lagos State Police have arrested two of three suspects, who are said to have made a trade out of ambushing Uber drivers and selling their cars on the black market. Apparently, they called this victim to pick them up at a restaurant, strangled him with a belt while on the trip, and dumped his body at a church, before making their way to Benin City, where they were finally apprehended. Man…😓

+ I italicised the word “called” up there ☝️️ because after reading multiple accounts of the story, I don’t think the suspects are likely to have hailed the ride using Uber’s app – a position corroborated by Uber’s statement to TechCabal. It is not uncommon for riders to disintermediate the platform by keeping the phone numbers of drivers who they have been paired with and contacting them directly for future trips.📲

+ The Guardian’s report – which wrongly names him Alex Ehobosa – says the victim was beaten up, stabbed, and had his teeth broken before he was killed. [Unconfirmed.]

+ It’s all especially gut-wrenching when you consider this is only one of a few such killings reported in mere weeks (not counting the many that never see the light of day).😳

+ Rest in peace, Emmanuel.🙁

2. More Uber news. Uber is reducing their coverage in Lagos. Riders in fringe areas like Ikorodu, Satellite Town, and Sangotedo will no longer be able to request rides. I think there are two things going on here.

i) Increasing driver liquidity without onboarding more drivers. Each driver deployed to a low-density area is a driver that’s not available to take rides in the city centre (where requests are more frequent). This is important because of the ongoing competition with Taxify. Because there is not much of a difference between any two ridesharing apps, they have to compete on low-hanging fruit like price and wait times, and putting all their drivers in the same area reduces the amount of time each rider has to wait to get a ride. Uber has onboarded close to 4000 drivers, at last count. Taxify has a few hundred (and growing). It is not clear what percentage of each of those numbers counts as “active”, or how many double agents there are.👀

ii) They are not stopping drivers from dropping people off outside the coverage area. That suggests to me that they want to improve the unit economics for drivers. The driver bears the cost of getting to the pickup location, not the rider. So, cutting that down as much as possible makes driving for Uber look that much more attractive to drivers since they will get to keep a bigger piece of the pie. (Of course, concentrating all the drivers in a small service area also reduces the size of the pie that’s available for each driver, but… 🤐)

+ Check this out, if you find any of this stuff as interesting as I do.

+ For those of you who will be affected. It is not clear whether Uber will implement this by blocking rider requests, or stopping drivers from starting trips from outside the new service area. You may be able to game the system by moving the pin inside the coverage area, and telling the driver to come pick you up from the great beyond. I’m not in Lagos, so I can’t test my theory, but will someone try it and let me know?

+ Over in Cape Town, Uber is testing a programme to provide special assistance to elderly people and others with limited mobility. It’s not clear from the MyBroadband report, how exactly the service will differ (they are using cars already on the network and most of them don’t have wheelchair ramps, but…😶)

3. Taifa Moja. That’s “One Nation” in Swahili. Airtel, Tigo, and Zantel in Tanzania have figured out that getting more people comfortable with cashless transactions is more beneficial to all three of them than building silos and fighting for a small addressable market. In the same vein, they are launching a cross-network mobile money service called, you guessed it, Taifa Moja.💸

+ Let’s hope Google Translate did not just fail me. Gulp.👀

4. Silver lining to this dark continent. Seedstars travelled the World, and discovered three things I could have told them for free – African startups perform poorly in direct comparison with their global counterparts when it comes to revenues, fundraising, and job creation. The context, obviously, is that startups around the world are not locked in a fierce battle against lack of basic infrastructure, poor policy, and non-consumption – at the same time, with their hands tied, and their eyes blindfolded.

+ That’s why I celebrate all the African entrepreneurs who are hard at work, trying to build the future, when the odds are not in their favour. In the same vein, Dotun Olowoporoku (you probably receive his emails every few days), the Managing Partner at Starta, is starting a podcast called Building The Future. Expect one-on-one interviews with entrepreneurs across Africa who are using technology to. Read his announcement post/lineup, and subscribe.

5. Day 86. Do you know who is working keep some parts of Africa dark? The Cameroonian Government, that’s who. The internet shutdown in Anglophone Cameroon persists.🙁 #BringBackOurInternet


Chatclass NG is offering a social media management course where participants will learn how to develop and execute social media strategies that deliver results. The program will feature thorough masterclasses to help you launch and grow a successful social media career. School’s already in session for April but you can register for May classes which begin on the 7th. Register here.


These are interesting…

+ If I jailed someone for calling me a pair of buttocks, wouldn’t that make me a bit of an…asshole? Link.

+ “I managed to write a tech story about Kenya without mentioning Mpesa, and I’m proud of it.” Link

+ Youth unemployment is a problem all over Africa except in Ethiopia. Link

+ Tayo Oviosu ran the Paris Marathon. It did not quite go as expected, but he ran all 26.2 miles of it. I think that’s remarkable, and you should all go congratulate him.

+ Two Nigerians – Prosper Otemuyiwa and Femi Taiwo – will be speaking at CakeFest 2017 in NYC. They are both GDEs as well. Whoop?

+ Facebook Messenger has 1.2 Billion monthly active users. Wait, what?

+ Fibre.ng is looking for a marketing manager. If you’re interested, be a great writer, have a passion for their mission, understand user experience design, and send an email to apply@fibre.ng.


Today’s Radar AMA will be with Ferdinand Ezeaniekwe. Ferdinand owns Ferdicon, an e-commerce site that sells phone cases, smartwatches, and computer accessories. Before launching Ferdicon, Ferdinand was as a vendor on other platforms like Jumia and Konga, but decided to venture out on his own after realising he had a strong enough customer base. He’ll be available to answer all your questions on Thursday at 2pm (GMT + 1). Mark your calendars!


Upcoming events…

Lagos and Abuja: Open day at re:Learn, an opportunity for kids (5-18) to experience programming first hand. April 14th. Link

Nairobi: East Africa Gaming Convention. April 15th and 16th. Link

Want to see your event in here? Add your event


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