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10- 10 - 2019

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Ethiopia is considering whether to issue mobile banking licenses. Balcha Reba, director-general at the Ethiopian Communications Authority told Bloomberg in an interview that work is underway to lift current restrictions. While plans are ongoing to privatize Ethio Telecom, the state-owned telco next year, Balcha says the country could eventually give up its majority stake. After the planned sale of 49% of the company, the government could sell part of the remaining take. Ethiopia is looking to open up its restrictive telecoms sector as well as boost scarce foreign exchange reserves.  Orange SA, MTN Group and Vodafone Group Plc’s African unit are among companies that are interested in expanding in Ethiopia.
Nigeria's tech leaders and entrepreneurs are taking action to advance the mission of the #StopRobbingUs campaign. The leaders of the campaign are engaging stakeholders in government to bring an end to police brutality. As part of the strategy to stem harassment and kidnapping from police officers, stakeholders met with police representatives to discuss possible solutions and are also testing some technology solutions. Alexander Onukwue, one of the newest members of the Cabal has the full story here.
What does a border free of 'agents' look like? At the Ivorian border, the Zikoko #JollofRoad team (Fu'ad, Toke and Kayode) experienced a border without "palms to grease." Toke writes about their not-so-hospitable experience here and Fu'ad shows in this tweet the effect of the closure of Seme border. Visit jollofroad.com so you don't miss out on all the stories about culture, trade, people and food as they travel the rest of West Africa in the remaining 63 days!
Have you ever got back home after a long day at work and realised you were too tired to clean up your house? Or do the laundry. If you live in Lagos, chances are, you've been there. A newly-minted startup, Eden Life, wants to make your life easier by helping automate your tasks using what it calls professional home managers. But there are concerns over its prices, especially in a country with the highest number of the world's poor. Abubakar Idris sat with one of the co-founders for an insightful piece on a startup perhaps worth keeping an eye on.
Econet subscribers in Zimbabwe are freaking out over unsolicited text messages from the telco asking them to download its social payments app, Sasai. According to TechZim, some users say they receive a text message every time someone on their contact list uses the app. One user reported that anytime they buy airtime/bundles via EcoCash they no longer get their balance but instead they’re urged to download Sasai. The allegations if confirmed raise concerns about how Econet is handling customer data.
Mara Group recently launched$24million smartphone manufacturing factory. But there are a number of questions. There are concerns about the company's ownership and CEO as well as whether the company can achieve its ambitious sales and growth projections. Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega, another new member of the Cabal explores these concerns and also what impact the African Continental Free Trade Agreement will have on Mara's smartphone business.
In Zimbabwe, Cabinet has approved a cybercrime bill drafted in 2016. Back then, the bill was criticized for its focus on offences like social media abuse. Critics expressed concerns that it could be used to persecute political opponents and activists. It is not yet confirmed what parts of the draft will remain but the government says the approved bill will combat cybersecurity and provides penalties for people inciting violence. The bill will now proceed to parliament for debate.
Following Paypal's announcement last week that it has left Facebook-led Libra Association, South Africa's Naspers has affirmed its support for the project.  Its subsidiary PayU is one of about 30 firms that signed up as initial members of the association. The Libra Association is responsible for bringing Libra, a new kind of blockchain digital currency to life. The project is facing a backlash from politicians and regulators in Europe and the US who are concerned that it could become a competitor to the fiat currencies of nation-states.
A bill that provides for the design and installation of a criminal tracking system has passed first reading at Nigeria's House of Representatives. The bill which aims to enhance national security states that criminal data should be accessible online. According to TechPoint, a company called Richfield Technologies is the sole contractor for the digital registry and became so without bidding for the project. Richfield will receive 90% of the return on investment for the next 35 years with a mutual option to renew. This raises serious questions about the motivation behind the project.
Applications are open to the MBTN Africa Innovation Accelerator program. Startups creating the future of Africa's development story with promising new technologies including deep tech startups can learn more and apply here before October 31st.
Tech company Play Data Africa has launched Whofast, a web and mobile tool that helps users in Africa decide the best internet network. The tool is currently in beta but its value proposition is to help consumers identify what mobile network has the fastest internet service in their location before they purchase a data bundle. Users can test the service by entering their location at Whofast.net.
That's all,
We'll be back tomorrow - Olanrewaju Remember, if you read something, share something!
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