Vital signs.

Hello, it’s me again, Lil’ Trafficate*, AKA Yung Hatchback. Q: Why can’t cars play football? A: Because they only have one boot [Ba-dum-tsss ??]. Oh, and I found a tweet (?) yesterday, that perfectly captures the Nigerian ride-sharing zeitgeist:

If you took a sample of Uber and Taxify drivers in Lagos (and Nairobi), you’d probably find that most of them are reasonably smart people. I also don’t think they have allergic reactions to navigation software. “So why don’t they use Google Maps”, you ask?

My theory is that some of the routing data Google has about our cities is incomplete, and doesn’t take local context (like the Lagos State government’s arbitrary one-way roads) into account. That has caused drivers to develop a fundamental distrust of the Maps app, and so they now rely on good luck and the grace of Jesus Christ.

A reverse network effect has kicked in, such that: i) drivers don’t use navigation software because it has failed them before. ii) it failed them because not enough people are using/correcting it.

I propose a solution: reverse ride-sharing. Take over the wheel of the next Uber/Taxify ride you get into, and lead by example (needless to say, you shouldn’t do this while the vehicle is in motion). If enough of us do it enough times, we’ll have taught all the drivers all the routes in all the cities, in a few months. And I hope to g(G?)od nobody was taking me seriously.

Good morning.

1. ?? Andela has launched in Uganda, making Kampala their third location in Africa, 35 months after launching in Lagos (??), and 22 months after launching in Nairobi (??). According to a post on their blog, they picked Uganda as the next locus by looking at all African countries with a population of over 3 million, and ranking them based on technology prevalence, quality, median age, etc.

+ It makes sense because Uganda is one of the youngest countries in the world (median age of 15.9), second only to Niger Republic (14.8). Plus, it’s got a bubbling technology community, with collectives like Hive CoLab, WIT, and Outbox. (And since you asked, yes, they stuck with their famous 1% acceptance rate: 8 developers for the first cohort, selected from more than 800 applicants). ??

+ Yesterday’s Radar AMA with Country Director, Seni Sulyman and Director of Learning, Nad Enegesi. ?

2. ?? Free != Free. Tanda One, a retail value chain startup from Kenya, is distributing their software to small businesses by giving out free Android smartphones with the app preloaded. They are calling it “the world’s first $0 smartphone”, which is bullshit because my father gave me my first smartphone for free in 2008, and you didn’t see him sending out press releases. ?

3. ?? Have you heard of Onu’s Law? Obviously not, because I just made it up. It goes: “Whenever there is news of any non-Nigerian country doing anything remotely technologically interesting, a Nigerian on Twitter will respond to the news by saying ‘But Nigeria wants to start manufacturing pencils by 2018’, especially if Elon Musk is involved in the project in any way, provided temperature and pressure remain constant.” ?

+ Yesterday, the Akwa Ibom state government “inaugurated” a factory to produce toothpicks and pencils, a year ahead of the famous prediction made by Nigeria’s Minister for Science and Technology. The governor, Emmanuel Udom thinks it’s shameful for a country of more than 170 million people to import toothpicks and pencils (psst. what does population have to do with pencil production?), so they set up the factory to carry out the technologically-interesting process of chopping up blocks of wood, cutting grooves in them and filling them with lead. Seriously.

+ From the photos I’ve seen (??), the pencils aren’t the prettiest princesses in the kingdom, but they don’t need to be – it’s a very good start. Hurray? ??‍♂️

4. ? Flutterwave is now enabling payments for Telegram bot developers in Nigeria ??, Kenya ??, Ghana ??, South Africa ??, and Uganda ?? Link.

5. ? No more cooking. EatOut, a restaurant discovery + review service has raised $500,000 from Craft Silicon (the company behind the Little ride-hailing service). They plan to use the cash to build an app that lets users pay for their food using their mobile phones, which is interesting because mobile payment isn’t an unsolved problem in Kenya (hello? MPesa?).

Afrobytes is an annual international Tech Conference connecting businesses and technology leaders, founders, investors, and policy experts with the fastest-growing African tech startups. The inaugural conference will take place in Paris on June 8-9, 2017, at Le Medef. Find out more and register here.


+ We are all Kasparov, aren’t we? AREN’T WE?!

+ Safaricom’s new Ksh. 200 million telecommunications lab.

+ Google’s Women Tech Makers program is giving Udacity scholarships to 100 women. Link.

+ Key convertible note terms that no one understands and cost you big. Link.

+ And now, a brief definition of the web. Link.

+ Lexi Novitske, on how differently startup founders and investors view company valuations. Link.

+ This marvelous piece of Nigerian journalism gives me hope that Facebook won’t steamroll us all.

+ I’m sad because my father drove a Tesla before I did. Link.

The Greentree Startup Lab is providing access to funding, governance structure, financial planning, legal advice, and technical support to innovative businesses to scale rapidly. So if you are interested, apply here.

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Deadline: Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors Programme Application, May 27th. Link

Abuja: The Abuja WeCode Hackathon, May 27th. Link

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