A Zambian startup has received $2.1 million to prevent food shortages

in partnership
Every time I was prompted to use my token, that pesky little device, to complete an online transaction, it irked me. I bailed at the first taste of freedom.

Today’s digest examines whether the investment of Nigerian banks in digital channels is paying off from a user experience perspective. We also identify what banks are winning the race.

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When I discovered GTBank’s mobile app, I immediately dumped internet banking.
First, it meant freedom from my token. Also, it was just way quicker. I wanted to take back the years I had spent using internet banking and a token.

Over the past few years, Nigerian banks have invested heavily in digital channels, oftentimes as a way to seem cool. You get that feeling when you use some banking apps because they just seem quite difficult to navigate. You also see
it when you walk into bank branches; they are often packed.

So Alex did some homework. He tried to answer the question; how are banking apps and digital channels faring from a user-experience perspective? Using data from a KPMG survey, Alex tried to understand if they are really serving customer needs.

Well, it turns out GTBank’s mobile app and Wema Bank’s ALAT are the leaders when it comes to digital payments. For onboarding new users, Standard Chartered’s mobile banking app is the industry leader. When it comes to onboarding new users on a USSD service, Stanbic IBTC and Zenith Bank lead the pack.

The next logical questions are probably; what are these banks doing right and by what criteria were they judged? Also, if their apps are so good, why are banking halls still packed? This latest installment of the BackEnd provides all the answers.


You may not realize it, but if you are having breakfast or lunch right now anywhere in Africa, the chances that all or part of what you are eating came from a small farm owned by a family on the outskirts of town is very high.

Smallholder farmers produce the majority of food for the developing world. They are crucial to ensuring your favorite food (ingredients) remain available in the open market. But they have challenges that could threaten food security.

That’s where the Zambian
startup, Good Nature Agro (GNA) comes in. It wants to help smallholder farmers thrive. It offers them seeds on loan, guides them on what to grow and buys what they grow off them so they can survive to keep farming.

GNA has received $2.1 million in Series A funding from Goodwell Investments and
existing seed investors
, Global Partnerships and FINCA Ventures. GNA will use the money to develop its food processing infrastructure and will connect these farmers to larger agriculture businesses and food processors.

For smallholder farmers to make a huge dent on food security, there needs to be many of them. GNA plans to support 15,000 farmers over the next few years.

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If you’ve been following very closely, you must have heard that Facebook is opening a Nigerian office.

The question that you might have been unable to truly answer is why? Yes, there’s the Facebook press release. In fact, following the announcement, we already attempted to evaluate the significance of Facebook’s Nigeria project. But the more you poke around the question, the higher the possibility that a new line of reasoning will emerge.

And that’s what Abubakar
has done. His own quest has led him to; data centers.

Is Facebook doubling down on Nigeria to make it a hub for a data center serving the region? There are three reasons why it’s possible; geographically, it’s in the middle point of these timezones: east to the US and west of Asia; the Nigerian government has made very few requests for user data and there’s a growing cloud computing industry.

But the biggest evidence yet that data centers are a huge possibility is Facebook’s 2FA undersea cable system which circles Africa. Here’s the rest of the story.

South Africa has one of the highest data costs in Africa. 1GB of data costs about $6.4 and it’s ranked 143 out of 230 countries, globally.

One major reason, according to mobile operators, is the limited access to spectrum, the lifeblood of the telecoms industry. Spectrum are the invisible radio frequencies that the wireless signals that help us make phone calls travel over. Vodacom’s CEO argues that increased access to spectrum could reduce data costs by half.

In 2016, South Africa’s ICT minister pushed back against the allocation of spectrum to mobile operators. According to them, broadcasters were in need of spectrum, some of which were being allocated to the former. Digital migration and policy bottlenecks are some of the other reasons behind the lack of access to spectrum.

But the South African government appears to be responding to calls to auction spectrum. It has invited mobile operators to bid for 4G and 5G spectrum starting today. While there’s no gaurantee that this will definitely result in a drop in data costs, it will improve the service experience for consumers.


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If you go to Google Search right now, there’s a fifth tab right under the search bar that says News. Google aggregates news content from different media publications and delivers it to users.

But over the past few years, Google has faced calls to pay media publications for their content. In July, the Australian government released a code of conduct that sought to penalize Google and Facebook if they didn’t pay media companies for their content.

This week, Google has announced that it will invest $1 billion to support premium journalism and to launch a new product called News Showcase. The money, which will be invested over the next 3 years, is its biggest financial
commitment to journalism according to CEO, Sundar Pichai.

Its new product, Showcase will “give readers more insight on the stories that matter.” The service is rolling out in Germany and Brazil this week and other countries around the world soon after.

But experts are questioning Google’s motives. “They want the money to earn them happy headlines like “Google Pledges $1 Billion to News Publishers,” get the press off their backs, and ideally lower the heat on calls for government regulation or taxation,” a Neiman Lab report reads.

There’s however no doubt that the money will be very useful to small newsrooms that have suffered as a result of the pandemic.

Chop life this weekend.
See you on Monday.

– Olanrewaju

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