A $328 million Chinese loan to expand Nigeria's broadband access
South Africa's largest bitcoin exchange raises Series A
in partnership with FLUTTERWAVE & ATARAPAY 22.07.2020
Hello there, Welcome to TC Daily! In today's digest: Nigeria is planning to expand broadband to its Northern region; South Africa's largest bitcoin exchange closes Series A funding and Zimbabwe is fighting its largest mobile money platform. Please take a moment to subscribe to our newsletter if this email was forwarded to you.

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Backed by a $328 million credit facility from China's EXIM bank, the Nigerian government is looking to expand fibre infrastructure to 19 states in its Northern region. The states include Abuja, Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Kano and others in Northwest Nigeria. The project has been called the National Information Communications Technology Infrastructure Backbone, NICTIB II and is a result of an agreement between Galaxy Backbone Limited, the broadband company owned by the government and Huawei. The agreement was signed two years ago. Nigeria is looking to double down on its broadband plan. There has been a lot of talk about it in the past but the government now appears to be showing some seriousness about the plans. In December 2019, the country's minister of digital economy appointed Funke Opeke, CEO of leading West African broadband company, MainOne to co-chair a broadband committee. The committee's job was to create a new 5-year broadband plan to help it achieve a 70% penetration by 2025. Also recently, states have been crashing right of way fees to attract broadband operators. While there are questions about sufficient demand for broadband in states that very have low per capita income especially in the Northern region, expanding access to broadband is key to making states more competitive and building knowledge economies. Hopefully, the government further backs its talk and plans with more action.

Yahui Zhou, Chinese billionaire and Chairman of Nigerian fintech, OPay is planning an IPO for the company, according to company insiders. Zhou has set ambitious growth targets and committed serious finances to achieve his vision. The Chinese businessman already has two IPOs under his belt. He led Beijing Kunlun Tech Co, a Chinese video game company to the Shenzen Stock Exchange in China and two years after acquiring Opera, he listed the Norwegian company on the NASDAQ. Perhaps in a bid to achieve his IPO vision for OPay, Zhou resigned as Chairman of Beijing Kunlun to become full-time CEO of the fintech. However, his hands-on appears to be making employees uncomfortable. "He is using the Chinese method of corporate organisation to drive results at the fintech," Abubakar reports. Here's the full story.

South African bitcoin exchange, VALR has closed a $3.4m Series A funding round. 100x Ventures was the lead investor in the round while South Africa's 4Di Capital, US-based Bittrex and Montegray Capital participated. The company will use the capital to launch in new locations and to develop new products and services. VALR allows customers to buy, sell, store and transfer more than 50 cryptocurrencies seamlessly and securely. Last year it raised $1.5 million and currently has over 40,000 customers.

AtaraPay, insured by Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc., enhances its escrow service in a way that can be trusted and relied upon by sellers and buyers involved in any offline or online commercial transaction, taking away the risk of any financial loss. Read More.

Malian-based solar company, SolarX has raised an undisclosed amount from Energy Access Ventures and the UK’s CDC Group. The company will use the Series A funding to develop and operate projects in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. SolarX describes itself as a one-stop-shop for renewable energy solutions. It designs, installs and provides financing for commercial and industrial solar systems.
Zimbabwe is asking EcoCash, its biggest mobile money platform to provide subscriber and transaction details for the period January to June 2020. Police officers visited the company's HQ last Friday with a search and seize warrant to confiscate data files. The government has accused the mobile money company of money laundering activities and for fueling street market foreign currency rates. Econet, the telco that owns EcoCash has challenged the warrant in Harare courts. It has described the demand for subscriber data as “unlawful.” Zimbabwe is suffering from foreign exchange and currency shortages. Ecocash has been a lifeline for millions of citizens because it is difficult to get cash. It currently has 7 million users and recently defied a government ban to keep serving them. The government's assault on the mobile money operator could further increase the hardship citizens are facing.
In a TEDxLagos talk, Chika Nwobi, Founder at Decagon and serial investor described an economy and government rescued by startups. Using the history of the country, he shares models, that have once worked in the past, to illustrate how this charge has a high likelihood of success if adopted right by members of the startup community. Check out Nwobi's talk here.
That's It For Today,

See you tomorrow.
- Olanrewaju

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