Welcome to TC Daily! In today’s digest: Google’s internet balloons have launched commercially in Kenya; connecting rural residents with 4G, SA fintech Yoco has released an online payment gateway and Tizeti has absolved its CEO of any wrongdoing.
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Two years ago, Telkom Kenya and Google’s parent company, Alphabet began testing Loon, its network of stratospheric balloons designed to bring Internet
connectivity to rural and remote communities. The project has officially launched commercially in Kenya after securing government approval in March.
Loon will use a fleet of 35 balloons to beam 4G signals to Telkom Kenya subscribers. It will cover an area of around 50,000 square kilometres across western and central areas of the country, including its capital, Nairobi.
Although Loon has been used during disasters; in Puerto Rico in 2017 after Hurricane Maria and in Peru after a 2019 earthquake, its Kenya deployment is its first large-scale commercial roll-out. But even that didn’t come easy. It witnessed a prolonged delay awaiting authorization from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Transport.
According to the Verge, Loon says it has already connected 35,000 unique Kenyan users to the internet since it began testing it several months ago. “The company says that it achieved a downlink speed of 18.9Mbps back in June, along with an uplink speed of 4.74Mbps and a latency of 19ms,” the Verge reports. “It’s tested a range of services — including email, voice and video calls, web browsing, WhatsApp, and YouTube viewing — on its service,” the report added.
Loon plans to launch its internet service in Mozambique in partnership with Vodacom. In December 2019, it signed an airspace agreement with Uganda and said it was seeking a local telco to partner with. The company faces criticism for launching its service in locations where connectivity exists and there are concerns whether rural residents can afford 4G-enabled phones.
NIGERIAN TECH’S #METOO
Following a sexual harassment accusation against its CEO/Co-founder, Kendall Ananyi, last month, Tizeti says it has completed an independent investigation and has released a statement to that effect. The statement absolved Ananyi of any wrongdoing.
While Tizeti says the independent investigation was carried out by law firm, Olumide Sofowora Chambers, led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who it claims spoke to multiple sources including the victim, there’s no clear reason why the law firm wasn’t allowed to make its report or investigation public. A special investigation committee comprising its Board of Directors proceeded to use the investigation by the law firm to determine that Ananyi did not sexually harass the victim, Kelechi Udoagwu.
People familiar with the matter have publicly denounced Tizeti’s statement and decision to re-instate Ananyi, further questioning the integrity of the investigation. The board of directors who determined that its accused CEO wasn’t guilty previously comprised Ananyi, COO, Ifeanyi Okonkwo and 4DX one of its investors, according to Jason Njoku. 4DX has since resigned from the board as TechCabal previously reported. This left just the founders on the board to assess the outcome of the investigation.
Tizeti needs to either allow the law firm that it
engaged to release a detailed report of its investigation and who it spoke with or allow another independent and neutral party to conduct an investigation that can’t be influenced by the founders. Nigeria’s nascent tech community needs a fair, neutral and conclusive Tizeti investigation to support efforts to build an inclusive and diverse industry.
Our next TechCabal Live session holds on Friday, July 10 at 11 am and this time we are having Omowale David-Ashiru, Vice President – Global Operations at Andela.
The global tech talent provider recently pivoted to a fully remote model and has had to make tough decisions in the middle of the pandemic. Omowale’s team is responsible for creating an environment that fosters effective work for its fully remote workforce across seven countries with unit economics that is viable for sustained growth and scaling of the company.
Multichoice has launched Showmax Pro, a hybrid version of its streaming platform Showmax. Showmax Pro will offer regular Showmax video-on-demand content in addition to live TV programmings such as music channels, news, and live sport streaming from SuperSport.
The satellite TV company told TechCabal “Showmax Pro features all Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, and PSL games as well as a wide range of live sports events including IAAF Athletics, professional boxing, and the world’s biggest marathons.” The service went live in Nigeria and Kenya on July 7.
Why does this matter? Showmax is a Netflix-clone that is now trying to fight for consumers’ attention with the latter. Its latest addition of lives sports is a move that could attract new users to the platform. It could also allow it to reach new audiences beyond its key African markets.
South African fintech Yoco has launched a new payment gateway that merchants can use to collect payments online. The tool (read: plugin) will allow users to collect payments from their WordPress websites.
Yoco which launched in 2013 by providing POS
solutions for in-person payments, announced in April that it was rolling out online payments. The new suite of online payment solutions it said at the time was necessitated by a 90% decrease in in-person transactions when South Africa enforced a coronavirus lockdown.
The fintech startup says there are no monthly, upfront or payout costs. It will only collect transaction fees starting at 2.95% excluding VAT. Yoco’s new slew of online payment features now put it in direct competition with fintech startups such as Paystack and Flutterwave.
From the Series B (in which Mark Zuckerberg invested) to January 2019 when they raised $100million in a Series D, Andela was the standard-bearer of Africa’s attractiveness and readiness for tech investment. Having evolved from a source of talent to a full cycle talent partner, Alex Onukwue argues that Andela is now a talent matching agency that doesn’t seem much different from job matching platforms.
defence, CEO/co-founder, Jeremy Johnson says Andela engages developers longer than other talent matching platforms. “Andela is where the best companies and engineers come to find stable, long-term, value-creating relationships,” he said.
Onukwue concludes that “Andela will be alright as long as a steady supply of developers comes through, but Africa’s ecosystem should look elsewhere to feed its appetite for innovation.”
On Monday, based on a WeeTracker story, we reported that African freelancers who used Payoneer have had their funds frozen or completely gone as a result of a fraud fiasco involving German fintech company, Wirecard. Wirecard UK issue cards to Payoneer that users can, in turn, use to access their freelance payments.
In response to our report, Payoneer has shared an update stating that all its
services have been reactivated. “The UK regulator ran an audit of Wirecard Card Solutions Limited in the UK and found that in line with their responsibilities under the e-money license, all customer funds are held in safeguarded bank accounts and lifted the freeze they imposed 3 days beforehand,” the company’s media rep said via email.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Ethiopia’s latest internet shutdown has entered its eighth day. Will it undermine its attempts to open up its telecoms sector? Muyiwa Olowogboyega asks.
Paystack has launched Paystack CLI, a new tool that will help software developers set up, run, and manage Paystack integrations without having to switch between multiple platforms.
South Africa’s Media24 plans to close a number of its print publications and move some to digital-only publishing.
Matching, racial diversity and the grand hypocrisy of (Silicon Valley) big tech media by Oo Nwoye.