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12 - 12 - 2019

Good morning and welcome to your daily dose of tech news from across Africa. Please take a moment to subscribe if you haven't. Also, join us on Telegram. Don't miss out on all the tech news and analysis on digital innovations from around the continent!

MallforAfrica provides a platform for Africans to purchase items directly from international online retailers - companies that, otherwise, would be inaccessible to the African population. By powering MallforAfrica's payments, Flutterwave gives users access to hundreds of US and UK e-commerce retailers and more than 8.5 billion products combined. Start shopping here.
What takes a Nigerian to Saudi Arabia to work in the desert where the weather gets as hot as 60°C? This is despite that fact "the Saudi government controls everything, and so regulates their internet." As a follow up to TechCabal's story last week about a Nigerian's culture shock with tech in China, Muyiwa spoke with a Nigerian in Saudi Arabia. John tells Muyiwa the story of a Canadian who was deported because he was sexting a Saudi lady. To avoid the government’s prying eyes, VPN is a necessity for many people who live in Saudi Arabia. Sometimes, using a VPN is the difference between life and death. Read the rest of the story.
In a first for early-stage VC firm, Microtraction, it has invested in Bit Sika, a Ghanaian fin-tech startup. Bit Sika is Microtraction's first portfolio company that is not Nigerian. The startup provides a platform that uses digital currencies to move money across borders at negligible/no fees. Using blockchain technology, it is looking to address the problem of sending money within and to Africa. Its remittance service which makes it easier to transfer money between Ghana and Nigeria has reportedly attracted nearly 1000 users. The app has processed a total volume of over $860,000 in transactions within 12 weeks of operation. Bit Sika faces competition from Kenya's BitPesa which recently rebranded as AZA Group and raised US$15 million in debt funding. Although Microtraction didn't disclose how much it invested in Bit Sika, it typically invests $65,000 in two stages. It first invests $15,000 for a 7.5% equity stake, followed by an additional $50,000 convertible note at a $1 million valuation cap.
But Bit Sika and Bit Pesa aren't the only ones thinking about making it easier to send money to Africa. Through a new partnership deal with digital payments hub, MFS Africa, Visa wants to help 180 million mobile wallets on the continent get access to online digital payments. MFS Africa will provide Visa payment credentials to mobile wallet holders on the continent via an API. These holders will then receive instant Visa virtual cards with a 16-digit number linked to their mobile money accounts which they can use for remittances and e-commerce transactions.
This week's #MyLifeInTech entry is about the multiplicity of paths; the idea that there is not one place an individual is destined to arrive at. Titi Akinsanmi came into technology "because someone abused her." It's been over 19 years since that incident. Now Policy and Government Relations Lead (West/Francophone Africa) at Google, her life and career are built on three pillars; a four-word mandate, a Latin mantra and actionable faith. Her role involves education (digital training), growing the digital economy and influencing digital policy development. But Titi's career path has been anything but straightforward. She's gone from reporter and sports presenter to policy advocate. Learn all about her journey and life's work here.
Chinese-backed fintech company, OPay has launched a USSD feature that will allow its users to easily buy airtime, send money (OPay - OPay), withdraw funds and other financial transactions. Over the past few years, Nigerian banks and financial institutions have doubled down on USSD including launching massive marketing campaigns; TV ads, billboards et al. The play? USSD is readily available and accessible on all types of phones, unlike native mobile apps. Also, it has proved to be another source of revenue for banks. However, some of the issues users face with the channel include network disruptions and failed transactions.
Mozilla and the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have joined forces to support local innovation in Africa for voice-enabled products and technologies. Both organizations are planning to partner and collaborate with African start-ups, which need respective training data to build locally suitable, voice-enabled products or technologies that are relevant to their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The initiative seeks to build on a pilot project with Digital Umuganda, a Rwandan startup that collects language data in Kinyarwanda, an African language spoken by over 12 million people. More languages in Africa and Asia are expected to be added.
EDigital Africa is holding a social media workshop this Saturday, December 14th. The workshop will provide an avenue for startups and freelancers to learn how best to leverage social media to enhance growth. The workshop is part of EDigital Africa's offline digital skills training series, Let's Go Digital. Learn more and register for the event here.
Turaco, a Kenyan insurtech startup has closed a US$1.2 million seed round. Investors in the round include GAN Ventures, Mercy Corps Ventures and Musha Ventures, as well as some angel investors. Turaco will use the funds to expand into new markets and to secure new partnerships. The startup launched in 2018. It works with partners with local companies and mobile lenders to provide simple and affordable medical cover to underserved and unserved communities. To date, Turaco has insured more than 30,000 users in Kenya and Uganda by offering medical cover for monthly premiums as low as US$2.
Samsung now leads Africa's phone market in dollar terms according to the latest report by market intelligence firm, IDC. Although Transsion still leads the market with regards to the number of units sold, Samsung has essentially become a threat to the former especially in the market segment for lower-priced smartphones. In the third quarter of the year, Samsung recorded a 61.4% growth year-on-year with phones priced between $100 and $200, reportedly pushing Chinese brands to offer more affordable devices.
Fresh from its $3.1 million seed funding round, edtech startup, uLesson is looking for a Head of Faculty. The ideal candidate will have an academic background and an interest around the intersect of education and technology. If this is you, get in here.
That's All
See you tomorrow!  - Olanrewaju       Share TC Daily with your friends!
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