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First off, major stuff happening

1. Every step you take; I’ll be watching you: That’s from a The Police song, and it seems to have inspired the Kenyan government. According to Daily Nation, come next week Tuesday, the government will be able to access citizens’ calls, texts and mobile money transactions. They’ve actually ordered telcos to provide access to their computers using a third party company called M/S Broadband Communications Networks Ltd. Why this Peeping Tom behaviour? Well, they say it’s to fish out counterfeit devices, which doesn’t make sense because apparently all you need for that is IMEI numbers and the Equipment Identity Register.

+ There has to be a particular thing about the upcoming Kenyan elections that’s scaring the government. I mean, they did say they were going to shut down the Internet during that period if things got “out of hand.” Remember the KES2 billion they spent on surveillance systems? This is one of the fruits of that labour (that nobody asked them to do).

+ This is a serious breach of privacy, and it’s sad that the Data Protection Bill has not yet been passed in Kenya. There’s basically nothing to protect citizen data. Good thing the telcos are planning to resist this order. Here’s hoping they succeed.

+ This article by Nanjira Sambuli on why privacy protection shouldn’t lag behind surveillance powers is important. So is this thread about online privacy in Africa.

2. Let’s shake on it: Hospitality technology management startup, HotelOga has decided to “bury the hatchet” and merge with its East African rival, Savanna Sunrise. This move will see the two startups unite to become one of the biggest hospitality marketing technology groups in Africa. This means a wider, Pan-African audience, and a better shot at expanding to new markets (they plan to branch out to Asia and Eastern Europe, actually). For now, both companies will operate as separate entities pending the time they work out a unified marketing strategy.

3. New kid on the block: Flutterwave has been nominated for Best Newcomer at the 2017 Innovator Awards (that’s the Grammys for payments –  Iyin Aboyeji’s words, not mine). They’re up against DocuSign, AutoGravity, Blispay, PayKey, and SupportPay. It’d be great if they won; they are the first African startup to be nominated. It’d be great if you voted too.

4. Is it up or down?: Paga has created a dashboard that lets users monitor Nigerian banks’ transfer uptime and downtime statuses. So far the dashboard contains data for the last 90 days (from November 19, 2016), and 11 out of the 19 banks represented have recorded 100% uptime in that period. Which I think is great. Know what would be greater? If there was an API so someone could build an app that allows users check the status of their bank’s transfer service at the moment. I know some people asking for that.

5. Necessity is the mother of investment: 88mph has announced an investment in Ahoy, a flight booking app, after taking a two-year break from investing. According to founder Kresten Buch, the decision is as a result of the troubles the 88mph team faced while travelling around Africa in the past year. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they’re fully returning to the investment business. Kresten says they’ll only focus on later stage startups because they “don’t have the time resources necessary to invest in very early stage startups at this point.”

6. Light it up: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a $4 million funding initiative for early growth stage solar startups in sub-Saharan Africa.

7. Still on this: Today marks Day 32 of the internet shutdown in Anglophone Cameroon. #BringBackOurInternet

You can now apply for Ventures Platform‘s (VP) accelerator program. It’s a 4-month program that’s designed to support startups at the MVP stage with mentorship, business re-engineering, work space, living space, back office support, shared services and seed funding. Link.

What else is going on?

+ The Central Bank of Kenya just won Central Banking’s Website of the Year award. The site got revamped last September and it looks like that move paid off.

+ It started out as a tweet about unfair working conditions in Nigerian startups. This tweet birthed threads and threads about how employers treat their workers. Basically, a lot of startup employees in Nigeria, past and present, aren’t happy. If you’re part of Nigerian Twitter, chances are you witnessed the exchange yesterday (if you missed it, you can catch up here). The result? A form where startup employees can share their experiences anonymously. Form responses soon come

+ Tech Turks is Diamond Banks’ new YouTube that contains interviews with Nigerian startup co-founders. So far they’ve had Paystack’s Shola Akinlade and  MAX’s Adetayo Bamiduro.

Hot topic(s) on TechCabal Radar

+ Someone just discovered Silicon Valley and is looking for other TV shows that are about startups. The good people of Radar are chipping in with their contributions.

Upcoming events

Lagos: Hackers Meetup, by Hack Afrique, February 18. Link.

Lagos: Silicon Drinkup, by Starta, February 17th. Link.

Lagos: Nerds Unite, by MainOne, February 17th. Link.

Lagos: The 2017 edition of Connect Nigeria’s Business Fair is going down on the 18th. Link.

Lagos: MEST is hosting a fireside chat on Saturday, February 18. Link.

Lagos: The Afropreneur Pitchdeck Workshop, February 18th. Link.

Lagos: Hackaday Hardware Lagos, February 18th. Link.

Add your event

Registration is now open for Starta’s Side Hustle Bootcamp taking place in Lagos in February. 25 entrepreneurs will undergo one weekend of intensive practical learning on how to ideate, start, launch and get funding for tech-enabled businesses. The bootcamp is from Friday, February 24 to Sunday, February 26. The fee starts at N60,000 but digest subscribers can get 10% off using our discount code – SHBTC10. Apply here.

Thank you!

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Tola Agunbiade Author

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