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01 - 08 - 2019

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Nigerian logistics company, Red Star Express has expanded its operations to Benin Republic.Its expansion into Benin is part of plans to set up shop across West Africa. Red Star Express, which is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, launched operations in Niger in 2016 and began operating in Burkina Faso in 2018. The company said it has plans to launch in more West African countries, although it did not mention any timeline.

Oluwatobi Boshoro has resigned as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian fintech, Renmoney. She had only been in that position for less than a year, but has decided to quit in order to focus on personal matters. She will be replaced by Keiran Donnelly, who will serve as CEO on a temporary until a more permanent appointment is made.
Founder of Ventures Platform Hub, Kola Aina, has stepped down from his role as Executive Director of Ventures Platform Foundation. The company announced on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, that Aina will join the board and also head Ventures Platform Fund, the firm's investment arm. Headquartered in Abuja, Aina founded Ventures Platform in 2016. Under his watch, the firm invested and supported different startups, including Paystack, Thrive Agric, Reliance HMO and Tizeti. He will be succeeded as Executive Director by Mimshach Obioha, the firm's current Director of Partnerships.
What's the difference between a block and a blackout? Who's responsible? What can be done? This African Arguments article provides some answers.

Google is bringing Google Station, a free public Wi-Fi initiative, to South Africa. Google Station is one of the companies different approaches to providing free internet in different countries of the world. By targeting high-traffic public areas like markets, shopping malls and airports, Google deploys free to connect hotspots for people. According to a report, the search engine company wants to partner mobile operators and internet service providers in South Africa. It plans to deploy free WiFi in 100 locations in that country. This is not the first country in Africa Google Station will operate in however. Over the last three years, the service has been deployed in different locations in Nigeria. Like South Africa, the company wants to deploy free internet in 200 locations in Nigeria.

However, Google Station has drawn some regulatory concern in Nigeria. In February 2019, Nigerian telecom industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), faulted the initiative on security and licencing grounds. The commission noted that because Google Station is not licenced, it “does not pay applicable fees, levies and taxes that are paid by other players in the telecommunication sector.” Despite this, the NCC has not made any public move against Google.

The US Senate is proposing a bill that would ban autoplaying videos and infinite scrolling on social media. Drafted by Senator Josh Hawley, the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology (Smart) Act wants to ban “practices that exploit human psychology or brain physiology to substantially impede freedom of choice.” Specifically the bill will ban infinite scrolling on pages, such as the ones found on Twitter and Facebook. Autoplaying videos which start “without an express, separate prompt by the user”, like on YouTube; but it won’t ban autoplaying video ads, surprisingly. The move aims to control addictive social media usage fostered by attention seeking tactics of social media companies. But the US is not alone in this effort as the UK government is also planning to investigate “addictive technologies”.

Applications are open for the third edition of the Union Bank Edtech Challenge. The competition aims to discover, showcase and support innovative technologies with the potential to transform Nigeria’s education system. The challenge is open to individuals, teams and startups with solutions that demonstrate a strong potential to transform the education system in Nigeria. Winners will gain access to Union Bank’s 12-week accelerator programme, venture support and access to the Bank’s education sector customers. The winner of the challenge will receive N2.5 million prize money, with the second and third place getting N1.5 million and N1 million respectively. Deadline for applications is August 23, 2019. Click here for more details

The Ghanaian government is working on a cyber security bill to protect the country's growing number of internet users. According to the country's Ministry of Communications, the internet population of Ghana is 10.32 million. The proposed bill, which will be presented to Parliament later this year, will cover issues like child safety, incident reporting and licensing of security providers. It will also contain legal provisions for the "interception of both traffic and contents data for the purposes of law enforcement and intelligence," according to the country's Minister of Communications, Ms Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.

Correction: In the email version of this newsletter, I mentioned that Mr Kola Aina was stepping down as Executive Director at Ventures Platform Foundation, but I did not mention his appointment to the company's board or his new role as head of VP Fund. I apologize for this. The correction will also be included in tomorrow's newsletter.

From TechCabal

+ Mobile money penetration in Nigeria is set to grow as the Nigeria's Central Bank recently approved a fintech licence for the country's biggest telco, MTN Nigeria. I write that the road to MTN's financial services pivot intensified as the CBN proposed new licences to allow innovators reach Nigeria's unbanked population. +  58% of online shoppers abandon their carts when they realize that the shipping cost is beyond their expectations. Jumia is trying to fix this problem in Nigeria with Jumia Prime, a monthly delivery subscriptions service that frees users from worrying about shipping cost for each order. I wrote about how this plays into Jumia's growth plans in its 14 African markets.

That's it for today,

We'll see you tomorrow.   - Abubakar
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