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27 - 09 - 2019

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South Africa’s The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) is making a $375 million commitment to Liquid Telecom, a Pan African digital infrastructure company. According to Bloomberg sources, the investment is part of a carefully negotiated loan arrangement. The PIC will guarantee Liquid Telecom’s $375 million from Deutsche Bank, in return Liquid Telecom will offer to sell its shares at a discount to the PIC. However, this arrangement depends on whether the infrastructure builder is planning an initial public offering (IPO). If an IPO doesn’t happen, The PIC will not “be required to spend any money.” Majority owned by Econet Group, Liquid Telecom is one of Africa’s biggest connectivity providers with over 70,000 km cable across the continent. It has an implied valuation of $1.8 billion and planned for an IPO in 2018. But due to market conditions, the listing was no longer a “primary objective.” They plan to take another shot at it, but even that is uncertain.
In more connectivity related news, Nigerian broadband company, MainOne is expanding its MDXi data centre operations to Ghana. The data centre will be located in Appolonia City and will go live in the fourth quarter of 2020.
In Africa, digital mobility players are building the infrastructure that supports future economic growth and development, writes Nnena P. Nkongho, a Principal at Digital Growth Africa (DiGAME). In an opinion piece for TechCabal, she explains why the Swvl bus innovation is important for booming African cities like Lagos, Nigeria. Nkongho writes that “increased urbanization will likely strain existing infrastructure and urban planners and governments may struggle.” This is where Swvl and other tech-enabled mobility companies come in.
Uche Ogboi, COO of Lori Systems
TCMobility townhall is holding today. We are convening the most knowledgeable and most influential mobility investors, entrepreneurs and policymakers in Africa to discuss the future of Africa's transport and logistics tech sector. TCMobility is holding at the Zone Tech Park and it starts at 9:00 am. To attend, get your tickets via this link. There will also be a series of workshops which you can register to attend via this link once you've purchased your tickets to the event.
South African payment company, Yoco, announced the introduction of the Yoco Go, a new card reader that costs $50 and will increase access to more South African small businesses. Backed by $23 million funding, the startup has been doubling down efforts to reach South Africa’s five million businesses. It currently has 50,000 customers operating its point of sales (POS) solutions across the country and plans to double this by next year, along. It is also planning an international expansion by 2020 as it gears for another funding round. “Our focus to 2020 is becoming dominant in South Africa, but we have started looking at other markets. We will do a regional play and may even look beyond the continent. We do want to build a global company," CEO and co-founder Katlego Maphai said.
Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB), the Nigeria innovation centre, has acquired Kenya’s iHub for an undisclosed fee. This is the first tech hub acquisition on the continent and it is interesting to see that the deal involves hubs in two African countries. Kay Ugwuede takes a deeper look at what this deal means and what changes it will bring to both hubs.
I am not a fan of snakes; many of us aren't. So imagine how surprised I was when I saw my colleague, Fu'ad Lawal, holding a full-grown python (dangerous == true) on his neck and smiling while on a visit to the Door of No Return and the Temple of Pythons in Benin Republic. I stan! Of course he was scared, but this is what #JollofRoad is all about: adventure. Check-in with the team at http://jollofroad.com every day for a journal entry/video from the road as Fu'ad, Kayode and Toke are travel across 14 West African countries for a total of 80 days bringing you the best culture content from the continent.  

TemTem, an Algerian ride hailing startup, has secured a $4 million Series A funding round. Tell Venture Automotive, a Luxemburg-based company, led the round, with other unnamed investors participating. Founded in 2014, TemTem provides car and bike hailing services to individuals and over 150 companies. It operates in in three Algerian cities and claims it has over 4,000 drivers signed to its platform serving around 200,000 customers. With the new funding, TemTem has now raised $5.7 million. It’s last funding was in 2018 when it secured $1.7 million seed funding. It said it will use the new funds to diversify its products, scale its marketing and hire more staff. It has confirmed plans to release two new products, beginning in December this year.

Globally, the emergence of ride hailing mirrored the rise of the gig economy, as drivers are considered to be freelancers rather than employees. Drivers are expected to work at their own pace, in a flexible manner and earn relatively higher incomes. But in Nigeria, many ride hailing drivers (including bikers) do not own their own vehicles. For car hailing, some drivers are part of fleet management companies who provide the cars and expect a percentage on what drivers earn. Meanwhile, for bike hailing the leading companies have contractual arrangements with bikers. Due to a regulatory grey area in Lagos, only motorbikes with certain specifications may operate, albeit with some transport union challenges. In most cases, bike hailing startups provide motorbikes to many riders. In turn, the riders pay back over time – some agreements require they make payments daily. One rider told me the cost of his bike was over ₦1 million ($2,753), so he is locked into the payment circle for the next several months. This reality is why Gokada could go on hiatus for two weeks, change the type of motorbikes it used and "retrain" riders without worrying about losing bikers to other startups. There is more to this discussion with implications, particularly for bike hailing companies. But basically: Are these bikers employees or freelancers leveraging the gig economy? Osagie Alonge, the Director of Growth at ORide, told me that bikers are “our partners" – what does this actually mean?  However, in this article, TechPoint’s Ifeanyi Ndiomewese writes, although in a limited context, about the challenges of fleet management in Nigeria.
That's it for today,  
Have a great weekend!   - Abubakar
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