Cogito Zero Sum ??

Telkom Kenya (FKA Orange Kenya) has been trying to reinvent itself since it was taken over by Helios, and (like everyone else) wants to appeal to a younger, more tech savvy demographic. Apparently. It has started marketing its data products aggressively, offering 1GB per day for free to 4G subscribers and zero rating WhatsApp. The issue is that 4G coverage is limited in Kenya and the growth spurt (200,000 new subscribers within two months of the rebrand) will soon tap out. It has a choice to make: grow the pie, or play a zero sum game by stealing subscribers from its competitors.

Going by this Techweez report, it is leaning towards the former. A big part of its growth strategy is to seed the market with underpriced 4G-enabled phones in the hope that their adoption will i) become a point of differentiation for the Telkom brand, and ii) justify investment in 4G infrastructure. At first glance, the strategy makes sense, but there is the big green and red elephant sucking out a lot of the oxygen in the room. Safaricom’s last financial report showed they gained 3 million new subscribers, and became more profitable amid a 3.7% drop in SMS revenue – which suggests that at least some Kenyans are willing to buy a new SIM or switch carriers for M-Pesa. Telkom Kenya has promised a mobile money service, but…??‍♂️

+ The sweet irony that Safaricom was technically once a Telkom Kenya subsidiary.

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What else is interesting?

+ Shameless plug: I composed the score for a motion capture animation project that tries to reimagine Sango, the Yoruba god of thunder. We have put together the first demo and will begin fundraising soon. Check it out & let me know what you think? Link. (Yes, I was composing film music and building synths long before I started writing about tech.)

+ This interesting profile of the Egyptian tech ecosystem. Link.

+ Taxify Kenya expands to Mombasa, its second city. Link.

+ SA’s government may sell its stake in Telkom. Link.

+ The Guardian is reporting that the NCC has ordered financial checks on Nigerian telcos because no one wants a repeat of (*whispers*) the 9mobile situation. Link.

+ This CNN profile of Rural Technology Fund, a nonprofit providing STEM training resources to children in underfunded schools. Link.

+ Today, I learned that Uber Nairobi uses driver rating, no of trips made, and earnings and as some form of credit score to allow its drivers access financing for cars. Link.

+ Devcenter curated the 10 best Nigerian songs to listen to while you code, and I don’t know if these will do a good job of keeping you in your seat. Link

+ The Archer’s Paradox. Link.

Upcoming events

Lagos: MEST Masterclass, on September 1st: A Masterclass session for startup entrepreneurs looking to learn what angel Investors look for in startups. Link

London: Africans in AI is a meetup for Africans living in London who are interested or involved in Artificial Intelligence. It will hold tomorrow, September 1, and you can find out more/register here: Link.

Lagos: Paystack is organizing a Y-Combinator Lagos Meetup on September 23. Meet YC founders and gain insight into the process. Link.

That’s all for today.

Eid Mubarak to our Muslim friends. 🙂

Osarumen Osamuyi Author

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