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21 - 10 - 2019

Hello, welcome to another Monday's edition of TC Daily. Are you a subscriber? Please take a moment to subscribe and have the latest tech news from Africa delivered to your mailbox every weekday.

Timon Capital is an early-stage venture firm that's been active in Africa for the last 18 months, closing over six investments in Sub-Saharan Africa in that time. This week, they've released a compensation survey with 50 participating companies across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa as a tool for entrepreneurs, hiring managers, investors, and job seekers. You can find more about the survey at: https://www.timoncapital.com/african-startup-compensation-survey timoncapital.com | @timoncap
Microsoft has hired 50 engineers for its Africa Development Centre (ADC) in Kenya and Nigeria, Ventures Africa has reported. It plans to recruit 100 engineers by the end of 2019 and grow to around 500 engineers by 2023. The engineers will leverage Microsoft’s cloud, artificial intelligence and mixed reality products to develop innovative solutions for domestic small and medium-size businesses. According to its website, the centre will develop innovations for healthcare, agriculture and finance. The development centre will also allow Africa-based developers to gain more experience and develop careers across different technologies.
The Ethiopian government is using technologies like drones to improve food security in the country. Although agriculture employs 80% of the country’s workforce and contributes 45% of GDP, the sector remains vulnerable to climate-related events like droughts. Ethiopia’s Agriculture Transformation Agency wants to reduce these risks. It is leveraging satellite soil mapping, toll-free numbers and drone technology to help farmers to improve their production. Satellite technology is making it easier for people to search for farmers by location or product, while drones are used to assess the condition of farm products.
Nigeria's Minister of Communication has ordered the suspension of MTN's planned charges on USSD banking transactions. During the weekend, the telecom company had sent notifications to customers that starting from Monday, October 21, it would charge N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services. According to one of the notifications from MTN, the change was "requested" by banks and it told subscribers to contact their banks for more information. But according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), it is the telcos, not banks, who are pushing for the charge. "They [telcos] said it [USSD] was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it [the charge]," said Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the CBN. However, on Sunday, Nigeria's Ministry of Communication swiftly issued a statement instructing telecom industry regulator, the Nigerian Communication Commissions, to ensure the operator suspends the plan until the Minister is "fully and properly briefed". This is the latest in a line of charges and levies on communications and banking transactions in Nigeria. Earlier this month, the Communications Service Tax bill was re-introduced by the Senate and will see Nigerians pay a 9% tax on voice calls, data consumption, SMS, MMS and pay TV if passed into law. Also, the government has already concluded plans to introduce a new VAT on online transactions beginning from 2020 and has imposed new charges on withdrawals and deposits.
TechCabal is holding a fireside chat with Funke Opeke, CEO of MainOne Services, on the 31st of October at the #StartupSouth conference in Uyo. She will share thoughts about deepening broadband penetration within Nigeria’s South-South/South-East region and beyond. What questions would you like us to ask her about broadband penetration in the region? Click here to ask your question.
How does money work in Liberia? It's not that simple, Fu'ad explained in this journal entry. Liberians use the US Dollars, the real US Dollars, more than the Liberian Dollars; and most ATMs dispensed US Dollars rather than the local currency. It was a "currency gymnastic" that the #JollofRoad team tried to understand when they arrived in the country. Also, mobile money adoption in Liberia is so high that people rarely use POS machines. You can read all about this experience here. Don't miss all the stories they will share about the Liberian people, culture, food and how they do business. Visit jollofroad.com every day to catch up on all the stories from the road!
Ethiopia’s state-owned telecom, Ethio Telecom, has reported $343 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2019, according to Reuters. This represents a 21 percent growth over the same period in 2018. Ethio Telecom’s subscriber base has grown by 10 percent to 44.45 million fuelled in part by internet and data discounts. The news comes at a time when the Ethiopian government has stepped up efforts to privatize the telecom industry. With a population of over 100 million, Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country, but much of its economy is under state control. However, the government of Abiy Ahmed wants to liberalise the economy and the telecom sector is by far the most attractive sector. Taking clues from Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, opening up the telecom sector could unlock value and innovation for Ethiopia. Foreign telcos like Orange, MTN, Vodacom and Airtel want to enter the market and are actively monitoring developments in the country. A few weeks ago, the government appointed two advisers to lead the privatisation process. One adviser will oversee the privatization of Ethio Telecom and the other will oversee telecom licences for new operators. There is no timeline for the completion of the process.
Rwanda is set to launch Volkswagen’s electric car, the e-Golf in the country. Rwanda will be the first country to introduce the car in Africa. The German carmaker had previously announced its plans to introduce electric vehicles in the country and said it will add 50 of them to its ride-hailing service, Move. The car will be launched in partnership with Siemens on October 29 at the Kigali Convention Centre, The New Times of Rwanda reported.
Orange, the French telecoms company, is selling its business in Niger, Reuters has reported. The telco is already holding talks with a buyer, Zamani Com S.A.S to settle debts owed to creditors and unpaid taxes. Orange Niger had been in dispute with government over back taxes worth $38 million. In November 2018, the government ordered it to shut down its offices in the country. In February, the company started assessing all options for the business in the country.
15 young Africans ICT specialists have been selected for the maiden edition of the Digital Explorers programme in Lithuania. Over the next year, the cohorts will spend time working at one of seven Lithuanian company and will also take part in a fintech hackathon. Both activities aim to accelerate career advancement and increase exposure for Nigerian ICT talents. Financed by the European Union, the Digital Explorers programme was developed through a partnership between Ventures Platform, Lithuanian Africa research and consultancy centre “AfriKo”, and public agency “Enterprise Lithuania”. The aim is to improve tech partnership between Nigeria and the European country.
Cars45, the Nigerian car auction service, has expanded to Kenya. Founded in 2016, Cars45 is a platform where people can buy and sell used cars. It raised $5 million Series A funding from the Frontier Car Group which invests in used-car marketplaces. TechCabal's Alexander Onukwue has more on this story.
Mauritian edtech startup Eco-Warriors won the Seedstars Port Louis event on Friday. Established just this year, its ecological education mobile game and comic book use gamification to teach children waste sorting and recycling. Eco-Warrirors, which was recently recognised by the UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), will now represent Mauritius at the Seedstars Africa Summit in December in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Join key regulators at the Nigeria Fintech Week (29th and 30th October 2019) including the DG, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Aishah Ahmad; DG, Securities & Exchange Commission, Ms Mary Uduk; Immediate Past Governor, Central Bank of Sierre Leone, Dr Patrick Conteh, CEO, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, among others. Learn more here. Secure your seat by registering on the website or send your inquiries to enquiries@nigeriafintechweek.org.
Have a productive week,  
We'll see you tomorrow   - Abubakar Remember to share TC Daily with your friends!
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