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24 – 12 – 2019

Hey there! Happy Holidays! Welcome to TC Daily! If this mail was forwarded to you, please take a moment to subscribe, and join us on Telegram. We are bringing you important stories about technology and digital innovation from Africa!

Nigeria’s biggest asset managers, ARM, and Ventures Platform, one of Africa’s most active early-stage investors, have launched Labs by ARM 2.0, a FinTech focused Accelerator. Selected startups will get access to distribution capabilities, $20,000+ in funding, deep industry insight, mentorship and lots more. Application ends 30th of December 2019.  Click here to apply.

Follow @vp_fund and @armengage on Twitter to keep up with activities.

Festival Coin, a Nigerian event and ticketing startup has raised funding from Microtraction, an early-stage investment firm. The startup helps event organisers plan and take charge of things like access control, ticketing and understand data about their audience.

With this investment, Microtraction has now invested in over 9 startups. Microtraction backed CowryWise,, 54Gene, BuyCoins, among a few others. How does this VC firm make its bets? What is its investment philosophy? And how did it become a popular VC so quickly? TechCabal’s Alexander Onukwue provides answers in this exclusive.

Julaya, a fintech startup from Ivory Coast, has raised $550,000 from French angel investors. Founded in 2018, Julaya is payments company that focuses on the informal market and small and medium businesses. It allows users to make transfers, recharge their phones and do mobile money transactions. With the new funding, the company wants to grow its operations in Ivory Coast.

In 2019, there have been a number of awards and startup competitions involving African startups. Venture Burn compiled this list of startups who won competitions this year.

Bamboo, a Flutterwave merchant, gives you unrestricted access to buy and sell U.S. stocks right from your mobile phone.

Start 2020 right, create and fund your Bamboo account with your Naira or Dollar cards or through bank transfers and start buying and selling shares in just a few taps. It’s quick and easy.

Be more than just another consumer. Become a smart investor. Download the app right now to get started.

IHS Towers, a Nigerian telecom company, is expanding to Latin America. It has acquired Brazilian telco Cell Site Solutions (CSS) from an affiliate of Goldman Sachs and Centaurus Capital for an undisclosed amount. The deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

This sounds interesting. But what’s the game plan?

IHS Towers is a cell tower infrastructure builder. It owns over 700 towers in Nigeria and operates 24,000 towers globally. Within the last decade, IHS raised over $4.5 billion from investors including the IFC, Investec, Goldman Sachs and MTN Group. It had plans for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 but it abandoned that plan by mid-2018. However, over the last two years, the company has been on the expansion path.

The plan is to capture investor interest once again. The company wants to become the biggest telco infrastructure operator in emerging markets. It has already expanded to the Middle East. IHS signed a $135 million deal with Kuwait’s Zain in 2017 that could increase its tower count to 33,100.

By acquiring Brazil’s CSS, IHS is making a strategic entry to the South American region. It will own the company’s 2,290 cell towers located in Brazil, Peru and Colombia. While IHS home region, Africa, is still slow to adopt 5G, South America is ripe and it plans to deploy the technology in Brazil.

There has been an influx of fake phones in Uganda over the last couple of months, said the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). The commission now plans to install a technology that would block any fake device before a user unknowingly starts using them. By blacklisting the device using its IMEI number, it won’t work with any telecom network in Uganda.

The Nigerian government is considering how to regulate drones. Although the technology is not yet widespread in the West African country, there is a belief that drone technology is “scaling rapidly”. It is now crucial to identify what technical support will be needed.

After trying so hard to ridicule its own cashless policy this year, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) now wants to redeem itself. In a new policy guide coming few days to Christmas, the regulator has slashed a number of bank charges for customers. Electronic bank transfer charges have been slashed three-way.
  1. Customers will pay N10 for transfers below N5,000.
  2. N25 for transfers between N5,000 and N50,000,
  3. While transfers above N50,000 will incur a N50 charge.

ATM charges have also been reviewed downwards. Previously customers paid N65 after the first three withdrawals on ATMs of other banks. Now that charge has been slashed N35. Charges on card maintenance have also been reviewed.

Why is this important?

Bank charges in Nigeria are too many, ridiculous and sometimes expensive. Banks recorded revenue of over N135 billion ($374 million) from just electronic transfer charges in the first nine months of 2019. A number of fintech startups focused on payment believe these charges are unneeded and transfers charges could be lesser, if not free. Some fintechs charge N10 for interbank transfers; this is cheaper than the N52 banks offered before now.

While the new CBN policy guide is great news for customers, it reminds us that it is challenging for fintechs to compete with banks, especially in terms of pricing. And startups that try to use this as their value proposition could be in for more shocks. This means startups may have to look deeper to provide services that banks don’t or can’t.

Interestingly this is the second time this year that a CBN policy would threaten the value proposition of startups in favour of banks. In July it asked banks to increase their lending or face a penalty. This threat caused bank credit to grow by N1.16 trillion ($3.2 billion) between May and October. Isn’t it weird that regulatory threat was what it took for banks to do what they were established to do in the first place?

Meanwhile, because banks had not been doing much retail lending before, lending startups emerged, issuing loans with relatively high interest rates. The CBN’s loan policy has forced banks to lend more with low interest rates. Once again the customer benefits. But the move puts question marks around the playbook of lending apps even though many believe banks won’t lend to non-customers.

These policies aren’t designed to kill startups, rather they provide more benefits to customers. Yet it seems the CBN isn’t just a regulator. It is the guardian angel of banks, instituting policies that favour banks; policies that force banks to innovate. At this rate, if all banks across the world become fully digital tomorrow, many Nigerian banks still won’t do anything until Uncle CBN tells them to.

Heads up!
The next TechCabal townhall holds on February 28, 2020

What’s the focus for February 2020?
Emerging technologies including 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Cryptocurrencies, Robotics and 3D Printing. TC Townhall: Emerging Tech will examine how these technologies are changing (and will change) how Africans live and do business.

Want to attend?
Indicate interest by filling this form. Are you a member of the press, fill this form to qualify for a pass. Do you have a startup or project with any of these technologies at the core? Tell us about your project or startup here.

Have any ideas about the event or suggestions about speakers? Send us an email via and we just might make your wish come true. For sponsorship inquiries, please email Chidi via

Whew, that’s it for today,
Merry Christmas tomorrow.

– Abubakar

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